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Israel’s New Army Chief Rules out Soviet Fighting in Mideast at This Time

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The possibility that Israel may some day have to fight “foreign armies” from outside the Middle East–Soviet forces by implication–was raised today by the new Chief of Staff of Israel’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Chaim Bar-Lev, in his first press interview since assuming his new post. But the veteran of last June’s Six Day War declared that, while Israel’s army is sufficiently trained and experienced to meet the most modern armies in the world, he did not “envisage any intervention–physical and active–by a foreign power against us.” Such power, he said, will continue to train and equip the Arab nations, “but there is a long way from this to an actual fighting force.”

Gen. Bar-Lev met the press following a morning of military parades at army posts all over Israel, which marked his take-over of command from Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, retiring Chief of Staff. Both military leaders issued orders of the day to their troops. Gen. Rabin, in his final order, warned that “it cannot be said with certainty that the June war was the last war.” He cautioned further that security cannot be achieved “simply by offering a hand of peace, but first and foremost by being prepared for war at all times.” Gen. Bar-Lev, in his first order of the day, noted that, while the Arab states are still licking their wounds, they are already talking of a new round, apparently having not given up their ambition to destroy Israel.”

The new Chief of Staff elaborated on this subject at his press conference. He also discussed the problem of increasing Arab terrorist activity, and said that it was “certainly a possibility” that Israel would retaliate against such acts by taking countermeasures “across the borders.” He disclosed that some 700 terrorists have been captured by Israeli security forces since the June war.

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