TEL AVIV (Feb. 7)
Israel’s chief of staff of its defense forces, General Yitzhak Rabin, warned here today that, if ordered to do so, Israel’s army could prevent the Arabs from carrying out their intentions to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River. He reiterated also previous warnings to the effect that Israel will hold Arab countries responsible if their people should try infiltration or sabotage against Israel’s National Water Carrier.
Addressing the biannual convention of the Tel Aviv Journalists Association. General Rabin spoke of Israel’s need to strengthen its army as a deterrent factor. “But if the Arabs continue with their aggressive acts against Israel, whether against Israel’s waters or against our borders,” he stated, “this deterrent force could be utilized as a decisive factor.”
Up to now, he said, Syria has begun to carry out only preliminary work toward diversion of the Jordan River headwaters, in accordance with the decision of the Arab states. Neither Lebanon nor Jordan, he declared, has done anything as yet along this line. For the time being, he reported, Syria has begun to level and open water routes for a distance of about three and a half miles from the Banias river, one of the Jordan tributaries, but “no work has been done on actual digging of a canal, nor has any work been done as yet in difficult terrain.”
“If and when,” he continued, “the canals are built, they will be close to Israel’s border. The Banias springs are within one mile of the Israel border, and the Wazani springs are within two and a half miles of our border. In view of Israel’s latest performance, there is no doubt that, if and when action is called for, it would not be among the toughest tasks for our army to prevent the Arabs from carrying out their plans.”