JERUSALEM (Sep. 27)
The decision by the United States to sell Hawk ground-to-air missiles to Israel was received in Israel with great satisfaction today.
The general tenor of comment was that, while the Hawk missiles will not serve as an answer to the threat of Egypt’s ground-to-ground rockets, the United States decision constituted a most important move to strengthening Israel’s security and a forceful deterrent to any threat of Arab attack.
The decision also was seen as a significant departure from prior United States policy and as an acceptance of Israel’s view that Egyptian President Nasser’s military buildup posed a threat to Israel’s security. It was seen as well as a demonstration of active United States concern for maintenance of the military balance of power in the Middle East.
The Washington announcement received banner headline treatment in the Israeli press, one newspaper heading its story with a drawing of a Hawk missile trailing a “L’Shono Tovo” card signed by President Kennedy. Another leading daily declared that, while the announcement “does not solve all our security worries, it signifies a welcome change in the direction of United States policy.”
No official statement was issued by the Israel Government but a Foreign Ministry spokesman, in reply to a question, confirmed that the Israel Government had approached the United States with a request for Hawk missiles, and that Israel had been informed some time ago that the United States was ready to meet the request.
Israeli newspapers indicated that the decision was the result of tireless efforts by Israeli officials in the United States to explain to Washington officials that, if Nasser became convinced he had weapons superiority, another war against Israel might result. The newspapers also remarked that, while the Hawk is one of the smaller U.S. missiles, it would still serve as a deterrent to Nasser’s powerful, Soviet-equipped air force, the pride of Egypt.