JOHANNESBURG (May. 11)
Reports that Israel has built five atomic bombs were described here as "nonsense" by visiting former Premier David Ben-Gurion at a heavily attended press conference. The report was published in a Montreal newspaper and attributed to newsmen of Der Spiegel, the West German weekly.
Ben-Gurion used the same comment on allegations by other foreign press sources that lsrael was hiding figures on losses from Egyptian attacks across the Suez Canal and from Arab guerrilla raids. He said Israel’s policy was to stick to the facts and its casualty reports were always accurate. He also said he did not expect any radical change in France’s Middle East policy as a result of Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s resignation as President, but he considered an eventual change more favorable to Israel as possible. He repeated earlier statements that he regarded Arab-Israel peace as more important than territories and added that while Israel wanted peace, that could come only by the interested parties meeting in talks which the Arabs have until now refused. He said the present Big Four talks at the UN could not make decisions for Israel or the Arab countries, which were sovereign states.
Some 4,000 pupils of the Jewish day schools in Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere feted the visitor at a ma? cally held at the King David high school here. They presented him with a check for the Paula Ben-Gurion fund named in memory of the former Premier’s wife. The pupils had collected the money since the June, 1967 war. Principal Norman Sandler and Louis Sachs, chairman of the South African Board of Jewish Education, welcomed Mr. Ben-Gurion. They told him that the host school had been started in the same year as Israel with seven pupils and now had an enrollment of 3,200. The visitor was deeply moved when he found pupils who could speak Hebrew and chatted with them in that language. Later he addressed a school assembly in English on Jewish education and settlement in Israel.