CABLEGRAM DATED 22 MARCH 1949 FROM THE ACTING MEDIATOR TO THE
SECRETARY-GENERAL TRANSMITTING A SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT
ON THE SITUATION IN THE SOUTHERN NEGEV
For President off Security Council:
I have the honour to present a detailed report on the situation in the Southern Negev further to my previous preliminary reports dated 10 and 13 March (documents S/1285 and S/1286). This report sets forth
all the facts that could be ascertained in regard to the situation in this area as the result of an intensive investigation by United Nations Observers of the Truce Supervision Organization, undertaken since
7 March 1949. (All MR are to survey of Palestine 1:250,000, South Sheet.)
Since 1 March, the Head of the Transjordan delegation in Rhodes has submitted to me a number of complaints of incidents in the region of the Gulf of Aqaba as follows: an 25 and 26 February, forces approaching from the Egyptian border, 35 kilometres Northwest of Aqaba town attempted to cross lines occupied by Transjordan forces North of Aqaba. On 25 February, it was alleged that an Egyptian police Sergeant saw 7 Israeli vehicles inside the Egyptian frontier in Sinai coming South from the direction of El Auja (MR 096 032) and crossing into Palestine near Kuntilla (MR 118 934). This force was alleged to have spent the night of 25-26 February at Bir Melhan (MR 143 916). On 26 February, three vehicles of the patrol encountered an Arab Legion patrol but withdrew by Huniek (MR 147 940). On 3 March, it was reported by the Arab Legion from Aqaba that an Israeli Auster aircraft passed over El Ghamr (MR 170 991) in Transjordan territory. On 7 (?) March, Transjordan authorities complained that "Military Operations against the Arab Legion in Wadi Araba continue, Israeli forces attacking Arab Legion forces with tanks and armoured cars". In a note dated 28 February and delivered to me at Rhodes on 2 March, the Transjordan Minister of Defence protested "most strongly at this Jewish attempt to achieve a fait accompli, just at the moment when the Transjordan delegation is leaving for Rhodes".
In an additional note submitted to me on 15 March summarizing their point of view, the Transjordan authorities claimed to have been in occupation of Kurnub (MR 156 048) and Ain Hasb (MR 174 024) between 12 June 1948 and 6 November 1948, and that Israeli Forces occupied these two places on 8 November 1948. On 1 December 1948 the Israelis, according to Transjordan authorities, advanced Southwards and Arab Legion forces fell back to positions North of Wadi Masalle (MR 170 006). Later the Israelis withdrew to Ain Hasb and Arab Legion forces occupied Ain El Weiba (MR 167 004) and El Ghamr. It was also claimed that on 7 March Transjordan forces were in occupation of posts at Bir Ibn Ode (MR 140 170) and Ideid (MR 125 967) and that on that date Israeli forces advanced in two columns, one passing 1 kilometre West of Bir Ibn Ode and the other down the main track to El Ghamr, from which the Transjordan forces withdrew. On 8 March, a skirmish was alleged to have taken place near Ain El Weniba, one Arab Legion armoured car being knocked out by an Israeli tank. On 9 March an Israeli force was said to be 8 miles inside the Transjordan border. The Transjordan note also alleged that on the same evening, an Israeli column reached Ras En Negeb (MR 137 890) and attacked the Arab Legion there.
As stated in my earlier reports to the Security Council, these complaints were referred by me to the Israeli authorities for their comments. On 10 March, I received a reply from Dr. Eytan on behalf of the Government of Israel stating that Israeli land and air forces were nowhere operating outside the borders of Israel, and that they had not crossed and did not intend to cross the Transjordan frontier at any point.
This statement complained that Transjordan forces had crossed the frontier into Palestine in this area and that this constituted an unjustified invasion of Israeli territory, which was a serious embarrassment to the
present negotiations. I was requested by this message to submit to the Government of Transjordan the strong protest of the Government of Israel against this action of Transjordan forces.
Those complaints and the situation in the Southern Negev were fully investigated between 7 and 18 March by United Nations Military Observers whose numbers in the area were temporarily increased, and by a senior civilian member of the Secretariat who went to the area as my personal representative. On 17 and 18 March, General Riley, Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization also visited the area. The following facts have been established from this investigation:
I an quite convinced that any positions other than at Aqaba, established in this area either by Transjordan or Israeli forces have all been established since the existing Truce came into effect on 18 July 1948, with the possible exception of Transjordan positions at Ain Habd and Kurnub, and have, therefore, been established contrary to the terms of that Truce. Similarly, patrolling activity and reinforcement of pre-Truce forces on either side of the frontier in this sector are in conflict with Truce conditions which have been accepted by both sides.