Israeli minister cancels Cairo visit over 1967 war allegations
A scheduled visit to Cairo by Israel's Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has been postponed amid a controversy over media reports that during the 1967 War, a commando unit, then led by Ben-Eliezer, killed 250 captured Egyptian soldiers, Haaretz reported.
Ben-Eliezer was to have met with Egyptian Chief of Intelligence Omar Suleiman on Thursday.
The allegations arose from a documentary film, which was aired on Israel Channel One television last week. The film indicated that the unit have killed 250 prisoners of war in the Sinai peninsula rather than transferring them to special camps. The film sparked outrage in Egypt.
However, the film author Ron Edelist said Monday that the media reports misrepresented the material. He said the dead were not Egyptian POWs, but Palestinian "fedayoun" fighters, and that they were killed in battle, not executerd.
"The Egyptians are speaking of murder, of 250 of their soldiers." In fact, Edelist told Israel's Army Radio "This was not murder, this was in the course of a battle."
According to Edelist, hardline opposition elements in Egypt had misrepresented the facts and the message of the film in order to attack Israel's peace with Egypt.
On Sunday, Egypt's deputy foreign minister for legal affairs, Abdel Aziz Seif al-Nasr, said Egypt had summoned Israeli ambassador Shalom Cohen to demand an explanation for the contents of the documentary. Two lawmakers also demanded the ambassador's expulsion, calling him a dog and an apostate. Another called in a special parliamentary session for a declaration of war on Israel.
Egypt also asked its ambassador in Tel Aviv to obtain a copy of the film from the Israeli government, al-Nasr said.