TEL AVIV (Mar. 12)
A high-ranking senior staff officer said today that the series of heavy artillery duels initiated by Egypt along the Canal were part of a calculated policy dictated by internal and external pressures and hopes for gaining political advantage in any Big Four discussions of the Mideast conflict.
The officer, who asked not to be identified, said the regime of President Gamal Abdel Nasser was under pressure at home from opposition groups on one hand, and on the other from restless young military officers who are demanding action against Israel. Additional heavy pressure is being brought to bear on Col. Nasser from other Arab states which, unlike Egypt, have not limited their aid to Palestinian terrorists to “moral support,” he said. These other regimes argue that if Egypt hopes to retain its supremacy in the Arab world, it had better show some action–hence the heating up of the Suez front, he said. In addition, Cairo believes that by creating the impression that the Mideast is on the verge of a new explosion, it can precipitate hasty Big Four action for an imposed solution in the Arab’s favor.
Israel estimated that Egypt suffered up to 50 casualties yesterday. Israelis say the Egyptian forces are especially vulnerable to counter-attacks because they are densely concentrated along the canal’s West Bank where they have deployed an estimated six or seven divisions.