TEL AVIV (May. 14)
Premier Levi Eshkol declared in an interview on Kol Israel on the eve of Israel’s 19th Independence Day that “Israel will react to prevent continuation of waging ‘popular war’ against Israel.” Syrian authorities have used that phrase to describe their support of Syrian-based guerrilla attacks within Israeli territory.
“There will be no such situation under which quiet and tranquility would prevail only on one side of the border,” the Premier added in the latest of a series of warnings by Israeli officials to the Syrian regime. “There will be no immunity to the state that encourages and initiates such war.” He cited Syria as the source of all the border troubles but warned that “it is our policy to decide on the timing, place and means to react.”
Mr. Eshkol also declared that the Israeli army would prevent any diversion of the waters of the Jordan River, and that Israel would assure safe passage of shipping through the Red Sea. FLOSY, the Aden “liberation organization,” has warned it will bar the tip of the Red Sea to Israeli shipping when the British withdraw from Aden later this year.
The Premier reiterated that Israel was taking from the Jordan River for its irrigation needs only the water provided for in the plan developed by the late Eric Johnston as the personal emissary of then President Eisenhower, which was approved at the technical level by both the Arab states and Israel but rejected at the political level by the Arab rulers. There have been several clashes over Arab diversion efforts, but the issue had been dormant for several months. The Premier said any diversion of the Jordan River would be met by the Israeli army because such a diversion was a violation of Israel’s sovereignty.
Mr. Eshkol also declared that the Israel army had been strengthened in recent years not only by foreign sources but also by Israeli industry. He said American Skyhawk bombers would be absorbed by the Air Force this year, while the armored corps and artillery units would be given new weapons. He reported also that the Navy would be overhauled and new equipment added.