Israeli troops began digging into defensive positions around the Mitla Pass in Sinai on Wednesday (30 January), under the terms of the disengagement agreement signed by Egypt and Israel on January 18.
GV Military debris
LV Israeli half-tracks and trucks passing through Mitla Pass
SV & CU Troops lay new telephone cables (3 shots)
SV & CU Troops surfacing road (3 shots)
SV Trucks with tarmac
SV & CU tanks manoeuvering
SV PAN Line of tanks with mountains in background
CU Tank crewmembers out of tank
SV & CU crewmembers dumb shell cases (2 shots)
LV Half-track passing in front of tank
Initials AE/23.07 AE/23.28
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Background: Israeli troops began digging into defensive positions around the Mitla Pass in Sinai on Wednesday (30 January), under the terms of the disengagement agreement signed by Egypt and Israel on January 18.
The agreement calls for the re-drawing of the military map east of the Suez Canal where a United Nations Emergency Force buffer zone will be flanked by two strips -- Egyptian and Israeli -- in which only limited forces and weapons are allowed.
The limitation involves the reduction of forces on the Sinai front to about 7,000 troops and 700 tanks east of the Suez Canal.
Under the agreement, Israel must - by February 21 - pull out of the 1,600 square kilometres (640 square miles) of territory it has held on the West bank of the Suez Canal since the October war, and pull back to a new line in the Sinai about 20 kilometres (12 and a half miles) east of the Canal by March 5.
The Israelis moved quickly, and by Wednesday (January 30) were already establishing their new front at the Mitla Pass, one of three strategic routes leading from the Sinal desert into Israel. The defence of these passes has always been considered vital by the israelis.
Defence Minister Moshe Dayan said the new positions were "a gamble for the Israelis". The disengagement agreement has been hailed by some Israeli leaders as the first step towards genuine peace, but the Opposition has called it a "Munich-type" surrender.
Military sources in Tel A iv said it was still too early to say whether the Egyptians had begun to thin out their forces from the Second Army on the eastern bank of the Suez canal. A United Nations spokesman in Jerusalem said he was not at liberty to give out details of the activities of the two sides, saying this should come from Israeli and Egyptian military spokesmen.