JERUSALEM (Dec. 16)
Israel’s Cabinet, holding its regular Sunday meeting here today, heard a detailed report on the Syrian border situation from Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion, while the situation in the North, along the Syrian frontier, was quiet but tense.
Informed sources reported that Syria has moved half of its army to the area in the demilitarized zone, on its side of the border, overlooking Lake Tiberias. Heavy Syrian armor, not permitted in the zone according to the terms of the 1949 Syrian-Israeli armistice, has been placed in positions overlooking the Israeli villages of Tel Katzir and Haon. Heavy tanks have also been placed by the Syrians in those positions threatening Israeli territory.
Observers saw also twin-barreled Russian machineguns of unusually long range. These Soviet guns have a bore of 14 millimeters–whereas the armistice terms limit each side to guns of a maximum bore of eight millimeters.
Israel may file formal complaints against this Syrian mobilization before the United Nations, it was indicated here after the Cabinet session.
Western diplomatic sources here and at Tel Aviv expressed the opinion that Syria may be facing an internal crisis and has mobilized forces along the Israeli border in order to solidify Arab backing in case of internal troubles. There were reports that, while half the Syrian army was on Israel’s border, the rest of its soldiers have fanned out over the countryside to suppress any trouble that may arise inside the country.
In the Arab world, there has been prompt reaction to. Syria’s provocative calls for support against the Israelis. Statements backing Syria have been issued in the capitals of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, Mr. Ben-Gurion has made clear that Israel will defend itself against Syrian aggression. Israel, he said, will “hunt out” Syrian snipers, not only those firing from military positions but also “in places where, perhaps, they think we cannot harm them.”