Eshkol Tours Sinai, Suez with Dayan and Bar-lev, Voices Confidence in Israeli Strength

Premier Levi Eshkol toured Israeli military positions throughout the Sinat Peninsula and along the Suez Canal yesterday and later expressed optimism that any military action there by Egypt would fail. The Premier inspected the living and working conditions of the Armed Forces by helicopter and military vehicle along with Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff Chaim Bar-Lev, and Brig. Gen. Yeshayahu Gavish, commander of the southern district.

Among the places he visited were the Mitla pass, where Egyptian armor was devastated during the Six-Day War; Port Tewfik, overlooking Port Ibrahim on the Egyptian side of the canal; and the Great Bitter Lake, where 15 ships have been blocked since Egypt closed the canal during the war. He also toured the sites of other routes that Israel’s Armed Forces took during the war and the sites of several clashes.

Summing up his impressions of Mitla, Mr. Eshkol said he still felt “the fear of the collapsed Egyptian war machine whose remnants and embers are still scattered there, and the fear of the Egyptian soldier who went to war at (President Nasser’s) command and, at the end. fled to save his life.”

On the Israeli side, he said, heroism was “grounded in conscious understanding.” If it were not for “Nasser’s indifference to suffering, none of his people would have suffered nor would the ships be trapped in the lake,” Mr. Eshkol said. “The world has come to know how to evaluate the words of peace uttered by Mr. Nasser’s messengers such as his Foreign Minister (Mahmoud) Riad,” Mr. Eshkol said. “We are obliged to believe him when he said he wished to destroy us.” Mr. Rias said recently in Scandinavia that Egypt accepted the “reality” of Israel, a remark that was later denied in Cairo.

(It was reported from Istanbul that Soviet flat-boats weighing about 300-400 tons each passed through the Bosporus over the weekend, and possibly were heading for dredging operations in the Suez Canal. Authorities in Istanbul said the boats were going to join a 10,000 ton Russian dredger that passed through the Bosporus earlier this month.)

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