LONDON (Jul. 8)
Egypt was reported today to be calling up its military reserves and to have ordered a partial mobilization. The reports, emanating from Arab diplomatic sources, did not indicate the size of the call-up but said the mobilization included amphibious training on the Nile River and was accompanied by a continuing purge of Egyptian Air Force officers. Convoys of heavy arms trucks and trailers loaded with military equipment under blankets were reported to have passed through Cairo suburbs yesterday on the way to the Suez Canal.
According to the informants, Egyptian soldiers were crossing the Nile in rubber boats apparently practicing for a large scale crossing of the Suez Canal. Scores of Air Force officers were said to have been pensioned off–in effect purged–since June 24 when President Gamal Abdel Nasser ousted his Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Mustafa Shalabi El-Henawi and the chief of air defense. Maj. Gen. Hassan Kamel. The purges were said to have been prompted by the continued low state of efficiency of the Egyptian Air Force despite the fact that it has been completely re-equipped by Russia since its destruction by Israeli jets in the opening hours of the June, 1967 Six-Day War.
President Nasser was said to have been infuriated by regular Israeli penetrations of Egyptian air space without opposition. Israeli jets flew over Egypt for 20 minutes on June 17 and buzzed Cairo for six minutes while no Egyptian jets were sent up to intercept them. There have also been reports of serious training accidents in the Air Force. Egyptian leaders are said to be deeply disturbed with the condition of their Air Force since they are convinced that air power will be the decisive factor in any new war with Israel.