JERUSALEM (May. 18)
The current Middle East tensions, which have provoked headlines and alarm in western capitals, had no reflection today in Israel where life continued at a normal pace.
Few external signs were evident of the “preventive measures.” The Israel army spokesman announced this morning that Israel had taken as a counter to the widely-publicized Egyptian troop concentrations in Sinai. Both the man on the street and Israeli authorities maintained an unperturbed and detached attitude to convey the idea that “the initiative belongs to the Arabs; let them decide what they want to do — we are ready for both peace and war.”
In such major cities as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, conditions appeared normal. People sat in cafes, lined up before movie theaters and proceeded with their routine shopping. Officials said there had been no rush on food shops or unusual banking transactions. The only visible indications of the increased tenseness on Israel’s borders was an increase in newspaper circulation and more people walking the streets with transistor radios held at their ears during news broadcasts.
The most significant fact, many observers felt, was that none of the Embassies had evacuated dependents of diplomats stationed in Israel. This included the United States, which was the first to withdraw dependents on the eve of Israel’s 1956 Sinai campaign.
The Israeli general mood of calm readiness did not bar a close watch on Arab troop movements. It was generally felt here that Egyptian troop movements in Sinai had serious implications for Israel’s security and that the very presence of the troops in that area had changed the status quo and required a new appraisal by Israel of the overall situation.
It was assumed that the special precautions announced today by the Army spokesman referred to a callup of certain categories of reservists but no general mobilization has been ordered. Such measures would conform to Israel’s stand of caution but no fear.