Syria Opens Fire on Israeli Planes; Displays Extreme Nervousness

Israeli officials reported today that Syrian gunners opened anti-aircraft fire yesterday on Israeli planes over Israeli territory but that none of the planes were hit. The shooting was considered here evidence of extreme nervousness on the part of Syrian authorities fearing an Israeli air attack because of repeated Syrian-backed guerrilla incursions into Israel.

Observers here meanwhile maintained a close watch on the latest developments in Syrian-Egyptian negotiations in Cairo, where delegations for the two Arab countries decided last night to set up a joint committee to determine what effective help Egypt could give to Syria in case of an open clash with Israel. Syrian Premier Yussef Zayyen, head of the Syrian delegation, reportedly asked Egyptian President Nasser for an open pledge of full military support to Syria if such a clash developed.

Fear that Israel’s security situation was deteriorating for long-range reasons was expressed today by former Premier David Ben-Gurion in a talk to correspondents in Haifa. He cited the “increased birthrate and technical-cultural development in Arab countries.” In 1948, he said, Egypt had 16,000,000 people and now has 30,000,000, while the birthrate among Israeli Jews was going down. He stressed the fact, however, that while Arab military strength was rising steadily, Israel sill had military superiority over the Arabs.

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