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Officials See Assault As Possible Test of U.S. and Israelis

Observers here believe that Saturday’s Egyptian artillery assault across the Suez Canal may have been a Moscow-devised test of United States and Israeli reactions prior to other moves such as the clearing of the canal by Russian dredges.

They pointed out that the attack was apparently timed to occur when Washington was pre-occupied with the election campaign and anxious to avoid a confrontation with the Soviets. U.S. officials noted the presence of Soviet gunnery officers at all echelons of the Egyptian artillery command but carefully avoided comment or involvement in the latest incident.

(The influential and authoritative Cairo daily, Al Ahram, asserted Monday that the artillery clashes and commando attacks at the Canal marked a “turning point” in the undeclared war in the Middle East. It quoted Gen. Mohammed Fawzi, Egyptian War Minister, as asserting that Egyptian troops had given “a living example of offensive fighting spirit.” The paper added that the engagement “showed the Arabs’ increasing ability to resist and check the enemy and impose on the Israelis a solution other than what they want.”)

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