Three months after the end of the Middle East war, there are still about 5000 Egyptian soldiers, including nine generals, in Israeli prisoner-of-war camps, pending the conclusion of a general agreement for an exchange of war prisoners.
Guards in camp; soldiers; prisoners behind barbed wire; several shots of prisoners; prisoner talks to guard; various improvised recreations; man draws pin-up; prisoners prays.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Three months after the end of the Middle East war, there are still about 5000 Egyptian soldiers, including nine generals, in Israeli prisoner-of-war camps, pending the conclusion of a general agreement for an exchange of war prisoners. A camp at Atlit, near Haifa, houses 4,600 Egyptians, waiting to return.
Most of the prisoners in this costal plain camp have been there since mid-June. At one point, the camp was overflowing with 7000 men, but the captured Jordanians and Syrians have been sent home.
As yet, no work-programmes of recreational pursuits have been arranged for the prisoners, who include five hundred officers. A day's work includes little more than an early rise, the eating of meals, the cleaning of compounds, an afternoon siesta, and a similarly early return to bed with nightfall at about 7.
Talks are underway for their repatriation between General Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Minister of Defense, and representatives of the International Red Cross. But progress is said to be slow. There is some repatriation taking place - 348 Egyptian nationals returned to the U.A.R. on September 11 - but a general agreement has still to be reached.
The Israeli commander of the Atlit camp, a former British military station, suggests that the Egyptian authorities are reluctant to take the soldiers back too early, fearing that they will spread despondency concerning the extent of the Egyptian defeat. But the prisoners scoff at this idea.
However, until terms for prisoner exchange can be arranged, these 4,600 soldiers are obliged to learn to do nothing.