251. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

367. Message contained Tel Aviv 2062 to Department conveyed to General Hakim Amer by me and Fawzi through Ahmed Hussein.Hakim Amer stated he would get it to Prime Minister without delay. Told him in my opinion it represented cease-fire by Israel without condition previously stipulated in last paragraph their public statement. Urged that he do all within his power restrain refugees and contact marauders still in Israel.

[Page 438]

He replied with feeling that they deeply appreciated our efforts during this recent crisis. Egypt in difficult position as she could, of course, not publicly indicate, commandos out of control. Refugees probably could not be completely controlled and individuals likely to go across border to revenge refugee deaths of last night.3 I asked if he did not have enough people to picket borders. He replied he only had his troops and obviously could not place them in such a drawn-out and exposed position. Stated I felt if Israel convinced Egypt doing what it could there was at least a chance things could be kept under control, but if Egypt made decision to retaliate re last night, then I felt situation hopeless. He told me there were no such orders now. He had in fact issued orders to retaliate (in operation to be “smaller” than Israeli action last night) but Nasser had stopped him. I said day would come when he would thank Nasser for this act. Obtained impression matter probably not completely settled and that he may still try get Nasser’s approval conduct small operation. Arrival Sharett’s message therefore timely and hope this new factor will [apparent omission]Nasser stick to his position.

This is indeed touchy situation and hope in assessing it history of past period not be forgotten.Nasser said today he felt I knew in my six months here that he had ordered no operations inside Israel until these past few days. Things, he admits, now very difficult and in some cases out of control.

Can appreciate extreme difficulties being experienced by GOI. Nevertheless, still feel that we would not be in this situation but for February 28.

There has been, and even is today, in my mind quite a contrast between situation such as here and one that is reflected by a long history of Cabinet decisions to conduct military operations across Arab borders.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/9–155. Secret;Niact. Received at 5:56 p.m. Repeated niact to Tel Aviv and priority to London and Paris.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 246.
  3. On the evening of August 31, the Israelis attacked Khan Yunis in the southern portion of the Gaza Strip, killing more than 30 Palestinian refugees and Egyptian soldiers. The Embassy in Tel Aviv reported on September 1 that Israeli casualties were one killed and eight wounded and that the Israeli justification for the attack was self-defense against Egyptian terrorist gangs. (Telegram 200; Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/9–155)