TEL AVIV (Sep. 10)
Egyptian artillery was deployed well in advance for a concerted attack all along the Suez Canal demarcation line and was waiting only for a pretext to commence firing. Israeli military circles indicated today. The pretext came on Sunday when Israeli sappers detonated a mine found on a road near the canal’s East Bank. The evidence of considerable advance planning for the attack is the swiftness with which the Egyptian guns were brought into action on the entire 105-mile front and the fact that the guns were placed close together so that their fire was concentrated on various targets, military experts said. They linked Sunday’s barrage to a deliberate escalation by Egypt from relatively minor incidents along the Sinai front to the ambush killing of two Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of a third on Aug. 26. The Egyptians apparently believe that they have military superiority on this front, they said. They noted a report in the semi-official Cairo newspaper Al Ahram to the effect that Egypt had resolved to “react forcefully” to any Israeli action.
(A Beirut dispatch to the Guardian in London by David Hurst today said that Egypt is adopting a more aggressive attitude in confronting Israeli troops across the Suez Canal and has declared that it will initiate “preventive defense operations.” Mr. Hurst observed that there are political as well as military motives behind this stance which, he noted, coincided with various alarums in the Arab world about an impending Israeli attack. President Nasser has a compelling need to remind the world that Egypt is still to be reckoned with, especially now that the Soviet Union is pre-occupied in Czechoslovakia, Mr. Hurst wrote. The Telegraph said however that the impression persisted that Russia is provoking such incidents as the Suez artillery clash in an attempt to extend its military and political power in the Mediterranean by putting Israel on the political and military defensive.