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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 11:16 GMT
Sinai war film maker admits error
Israeli troops in 1967 war
Israeli forces routed the Egyptian army in the Sinai in 1967
An Israeli documentary maker whose film provoked a diplomatic row with Egypt has admitted he misidentified Palestinian war dead as Egyptians.

Ron Edelist told Jerusalem Post about his erroneous identification of 250 fighters killed in action by a crack Israeli unit during the 1967 war.

After the film aired last week, Israel strongly denied the dead had been Egyptian POWs executed by its forces.

An Israeli cabinet member who led the unit postponed a trip to Egypt.

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel's infrastructure minister, had been due in Cairo to discuss natural gas imports.

The film, Spirit of Shaked, describes how soldiers pursued an "Egyptian commando" unit, 250 of whose fighters were killed in the ensuing battle.

Mr Edelist admitted to the Post that he subsequently received documents showing that the commando unit - while technically under the auspices of the Egyptian army - were actually Palestinians.

Mr Edelist insists he does not believe the mistake has detracted from the film's overall message, which he said was meant to show that the unit did not use excessive force in its missions.

He acknowledged in the Jerusalem Post he had made a further mistake in using incorrect archival footage to illustrate the incident.

Arrest threat

Last week Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who takes a lead role in Egypt's negotiations with Israel, reportedly told Mr Ben-Eliezer not to come because he could be arrested.

Egyptian media reported that the film alleged Egyptian POWs were executed by Israeli forces.

The affair has dominated Egyptian headlines and sparked an angry debate in parliament. The foreign ministry summoned Israel's ambassador in Cairo for an explanation.

Israel captured the arid Sinai peninsula from Egypt in the Six Day war of 1967. The two sides signed a peace treaty in 1979 and Sinai was returned to Egypt.

Claims that Israeli troops massacred about 1,000 Egyptian POWs in several incidents in 1967 were first raised in 1995 by Israeli military researcher Aryeh Yitzhaki.

The government denied systematically killing POWs at the end of the war, but the story soured relations between Israel and Egypt for months.

At the time Mr Ben-Eliezer said he was not aware of any POW killings by his troops.


SEE ALSO
Egypt anger over 1967 'massacre'
05 Mar 07 |  Middle East
Cold peace over Sinai's borders
08 Oct 04 |  Middle East
Shifting sands: Israel and the Sinai
08 Oct 04 |  Middle East

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