Egypt Urges Israel to Probe Allegations of POW Massacre

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged Israel yesterday to probe allegations that Israeli troops killed unarmed Egyptian prisoners captured during the Six-Day War in 1967.

"The Egyptian people and society are extremely angry, and we hope the issue will be tackled in a manner that understands and feels that Egyptian anger," he said after a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Brussels.

Livni told Aboul Gheit the government regretted the fact that elements in Egypt were "making mistaken and misleading use of this film, without any proper checks and without any connection to reality, in order to sabotage relations between the countries." She pointed out that the documentary did not claim that prisoners of war were indeed murdered, and asked her counterpart to act to calm the atmosphere in Egypt on this issue.

Livni and Aboul Gheit agreed that a copy of the film and its text would be transferred to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

However, the Egyptian media continues to give the issue extensive coverage. The Egyptian daily, El-Gomhoria, reported "official and public outrage aimed at Israel," quoting Aboul Gheit as saying that Egypt would consider legal action against Israel unless it addressed the issue in the coming days. El-Aharam labeled the affair "the POW massacre."

The Egyptian Parliament Committee for Arab Interests threatened to reevaluate Egypt's financial ties with Israel if the Israeli parties responsible for the events were not brought to trial. The committee hinted that the peace accord with Israel would also be reexamined, threatening to annul "all prior agreements" with Israel.

Several members of the Egyptian parliament have demanded that Egypt cancel the peace accord, and even declare war on Israel.

The Committee went on to compare the alleged actions of the IDF to the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis. The Egyptian national news agency, MENA, reported that members of the committee stated that Israelis must know that just as they have never forgotten the crimes of the Nazis, so too, "the Arab and Egyptian peoples would never forget the crimes of the Israelis."

The cause of the public outcry in Egypt is a documentary film about the activity of the Shaked commando unit during the Six-Day War, aired on Channel 1. In it, witnesses claimed that some 250 Egyptian soldiers were executed by the Israeli troops under the command of National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, then in active military service.

Ben-Eliezer has denied the allegations, claiming all 250 casualties were armed Palestinian terrorists. Following the affair, Ben-Eliezer had to cancel his visit to Egypt planned for Thursday.