TEL AVIV (Jul. 8)
A high ranking Israeli military officer assessed the situation along the various cease-fire lines today and predicted “a long hot summer” especially in the Suez Canal sector. The officer, who preferred not to be identified, said Israel’s recent commando sorties against strategic targets deep inside Egypt were not retaliatory attacks but measures taken to discourage increased aggression by the Egyptians. So far, they have been successful.
According to the officer. President Gamal Abdel Nasser is caught in a three-way squeeze between the Egyptian military, politicians and the public at large. The Army officers in Cairo insist that the Egyptian Army is fully recovered from its defeat in the June, 1967 Six-Day War and demand action. The politicians are demanding military action because they see no political solution in sight acceptable to Egypt. And the Egyptian public, inflamed by stories of alleged Arab guerrilla successes along the Jordanian and Syrian cease-fire lines, are urging the Egyptian Army to drive the Israelis out of the Sinai Peninsula.
In these circumstances, the Israeli officer said. President Nasser must create an impression of militancy and is trying to do so by continuous shelling of Israeli positions on the canal’s east bank and by commando and mine-laying expeditions into the Israel -held Sinai. But Israeli counter-action has deterred him from any large scale operations, the officer said. Surprise commando attacks deep in the Nile Valley and uncomfortably close to the Aswan Dam have taught President Nasser that Egypt would have to pay an exhorbitant price if it precipitated a large scale battle with Israel.
The officer said the situation on the Lebanese border was quiet despite the presence of 600-800 Arab guerrillas in southern Lebanon. He said that if that border “warmed up” appropriate counter-measures would be taken.