JERUSALEM (May. 16)
Israeli leaders were reported today to be just as determined as before to use whatever means are at Israel’s disposal if the Syrian regime continued its backing of Arab guerrilla raids into Israel causing destruction and death. Informed sources declared that whether Egyptian troop concentrations in Sinai and related Egyptian military moves were propaganda or more serious, Israel would not budge from its position that continued Syrian aggression must be halted at any cost, including the use of force if necessary.
There was a tendency here to discount the troop concentration and the declaration of an emergency for the Egyptian army as a purely propaganda move and one of “lip service” in support of the Syrian regime. Israeli sources also rejected Egyptian assertions of Israeli troop concentrations in the southern part of Israel. A Foreign Ministry spokesman remarked in jest that “the only concentration we now have is the numerous foreign tourists.”
Experts here also felt that the Egyptian troop concentration stemmed from repeated Syrian protests about the lack of support by Egypt for Syria in recent Israeli-Syrian clashes, particularly the land-sea-air battle on April 7 when Israeli planes shot down six Syrian Soviet-made MIG jets. The expert also linked the highly-publicized Egyptian moves with the presence currently in Damascus of Egyptian Chief of Staff Gen. Mahmoud Fawzi, who is conferring with Syrian Chief of Staff Ahmed Sweidany and Defense Minister Hafez Assad.
Two more terrorist attacks last night, both of them near the Jordanian border, added to the tension. An explosive charge detonated near Hamatzia in the Lachish area about five miles from the border. Early this morning another blast in the same area damaged a telephone pole. Observers said that while these were relatively small and harmless attacks, they could bring an escalation in view of the Egyptian troop concentrations and that what was currently a war of nerves might become real war.
Israeli state flags were desecrated last night by unknown vandals in two Arab villages in Israel, Kafr Kassem and Taibeh, officials reported today. The flags flew over Government schools. They were found to have been lowered and ripped and reportedly insulted. Police opened an investigation and it was reported that arrests were imminent.