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Israel Accuses Soviet Union of Preventing Cease-fire in the Suez Canal Zone

Israel accused the Soviet Union today of preventing the restoration of the cease-fire in the Suez Canal zone. According to a Policy Background paper issued by the Israel Embassy here, direct Soviet military aid promised to President Gamal Abdel Nasser on his secret visit to Moscow last January, permitted him to escalate his declared war of attrition against Israel at a point when he might have found it advantageous to opt for restoration of the cease-fire. The Israeli paper noted that Nasser’s war of attrition in the canal zone was decisively stalled at the end of July, 1969 when the Israel Air Force commenced its response. There was a dramatic drop in Israeli casualties, from 115 killed and wounded in July to 30 killed and wounded in December, 1969.

However, with “their rear echelons safeguarded by Russian missiles and pilots, their lines of supply secured and their military installations protected, the Egyptian armed forces were ready by mid-April to resume their war with renewed vigor,” the policy background paper said. Israeli casualties rose sharply, from 39 killed and wounded in January, 1970 to 94 in May. “The new military situation along the canal was soon attended by increased military activity on every other border,” the paper noted. According to the Israelis, Soviet strategy “is hardly calculated to provide defense for Egypt, but rather to equip, staff and cover the Egyptian offensive designs.” “There could be a cease fire on the canal today and perhaps a transition toward a process of peace-making were it not for the simple fact that the Soviet Union considers it to be in its self-interest to foment Arab-Israel war rather than work for Arab-Israel peace,” the Embassy paper said.

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