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Dayan: Israel Has Halted Deep Raids into Egypt, Ready to Re-establish Cease-fire

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said here last night that Israel has halted deep penetration raids into Egypt in order to avoid possible clashes with Russian military personnel. He asserted that Israel was ready to “re-establish an unconditional and unlimited cease-fire” in the Suez Canal zone as a step toward an eventual peace settlement, even if by so doing Egypt is enabled to reorganize and put up SAM-3 missile sites. Gen. Dayan’s remarks at a question-and-answer session with students constituted the first acknowledgment by a top Israel government official that air raids deep inside Egypt have been stopped. Gen. Dayan said “We have, till now, had no clashes with Russians in spite of encounters over Egypt, and I am happy about it, I hope that we shall have no clashes with Russians on land and that no Russians will be hit.” He added, however, that “We will continue to hold our present line at all costs and we shall not let the enemy undermine these lines.” He said, “We will be careful in attack actions that might lead to a clash with the Russians. This is the reason why we discontinued the deep penetration into Egypt.”

The Defense Minister said the recent Soviet escalation was aimed at showing the United States and Israel how far Moscow is prepared to go to back up the Arabs. He said Russian involvement has released more Egyptians for combat action and resulted in increased Israeli casualties in the canal zone. Gen. Dayan reported 89 casualties there, including 27 dead in April, compared with 47 casualties and nine dead in March. “I hope we will be in a position to reduce these figures even if the Egyptian initiative continues,” he said. “It will call for a considerable military effort, but I trust we shall achieve the necessary results.” He said it was significant that the U.S. has not demanded an Israeli retreat from the cease-fire lines to avoid a clash with the Russians. “We do not believe that Russian intervention will go as far as the Americans’ in Vietnam.” Gen. Dayan said. “Against Russian intervention we can only make it clear that we are ready to fight physically to hold our lines even if the Egyptians get Soviet assistance. If we do not, no one would come to our aid and nobody will fight our war.”

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