JERUSALEM (Jul. 22)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion –who is also Minister of Defense– gave today’s session of the Cabinet here a report on Egypt’s launching of rockets in the desert, about 50 miles from Cairo, yesterday. He analyzed the development from its military aspects, as these affect Israel.
A spokesman for the Government disclosed that Egypt’s rocket firing was “no surprise” to the Israeli Government, which was aware of its imminence. Mr. Ben-Gurion, in his report, emphasized the role played in Egypt’s rocketry program by foreign experts.
Today’s Cabinet meeting also received from Mr. Ben-Gurion a proposal for the establishment of an Israeli War College. The proposal was approved. The War College is expected to be opened in October, 1963. It will deal with basic studies of national security, and will include a one-year course to which about 20 senior army officers, from the rank of colonel upward, will be eligible each year.
Military experts here do not consider Egypt’s rocketry program as a major Egyptian technical achievement. It is known here that some of the major components of Egypt’s rocket had been shipped to Cairo from West Germany. Electronic and guidance equipment for the Egyptian rockets had come from other European countries, and the rocket assembly was developed by a group of West German experts headed by Eugen Sanger.
Egypt’s claim that the Cairo rockets are capable of hitting a target at 400 miles is believed here to be exaggerated. However, even with a range of half that distance, an Egyptian rocket could hit a large area of Israel.
According to the information available here, no single-stage rocket manufactured in Egypt can go the distance claimed. It is believed that the rockets fired yesterday were not controllable in flight, and were more closely akin to ballistic missiles. It was pointed out here that, while target accuracy is not required by rockets with atomic warhead, the effect of rockets carrying conventional explosives is “minimal.”
The use of the Egyptian rockets on any intensive pattern would require construction of a complete network of launching bases which would not be likely to remain undetected, and would be vulnerable to destruction, it was stated here.