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Israel’s Destroyers Prepared for Anti-submarine Action, Commander Says

Israel’s destroyers are prepared for anti-submarine action, Lt, Col. Itzhak Dvir, commander of the destroyer “Haifa,” revealed today. Lt. Col. Dvir, whose vessel is the former Egyptian ship Ibrahim el Awal, said that all Israeli destroyers are equipped with anti-submarine weapons and devices and that the navy is carrying out anti-submarine exercises and training.

Israeli sources indicated today there is a growing belief that the question of Israel’s freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Akaba and in the Suez Canal ultimately will be turned over to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for a ruling.

Israel’s position on such a move remains unchanged, these sources said. Israel contends that the 1951 ruling of the United Nations Security Council, ordering Egypt to halt its Suez blockade against Israel, is specific and of higher authority than a Hague court ruling. The Israel position on Akaba transit is that there is no basis for litigation,

Israeli circles, however, were reportedly becoming convinced that during the coming General Assembly, one of the Western countries, possibly a small one with Great Power backing, may propose that the UN ask The Hague court for an advisory opinion on Israel’s rights of the Suez Canal.

(The New York Times reported from Cairo today that Egypt and the Arab states are preparing to argue that Israel has no legal right to the port of Elath or the Gulf of Akaba and therefore, Israel has no legal right to send her ships through the gulf. The Arab contention, Cairo official sources said, will be that Elath is rightfully the property either of Egypt or of Jordan, since it lies between those two countries at a narrow point of the Negev, where it meets the gulf. “The Arab states are preparing to make this point as part of a second round of a joint effort to induce the United States to abandon its support of Israel’s claim to the right of free passage through the gulf,” the Times report said.)

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