NEW YORK (Jul. 8)
Israeli Premier Golda Meir, asked in a filmed interview last night if the United States’ Middle East policy has encouraged Soviet penetration there, replied: “Let me put it more kindly–it hasn’t discouraged them.” The Soviets are cautious expansionists, she said: they look over an area carefully, consider the risks, and “If it’s quiet, they take another step.” She added: “We have yet to see a country where the Russians came in and left. When they come in they usually stay.” The interview was part of a half-hour study of the Soviet buildup broadcast on NBC-TV’s monthly “First Tuesday” series. The program also included jet’s-eye footage of combat over the Suez Canal, with NBC News producer Robert Rogers reporting. As his jet and others struck Egyptian targets, he noted that “Soviet pilots are scrambling to their MIG’s.” As the Egyptian Army is “incapable” of stopping Israeli strikes, Mr. Rogers said, the result is a “dangerous standoff.”
Regarding Israel-Russian combat, he observed: “Some experts believe a clash is inevitable. If it comes. It will probably be right here over the Suez Canal.” On the ground, displaying a captured Soviet plane, he said: “One thing is certain–the Israeli pilots will know almost as much about the MIG’s as the Russians do themselves.” In a filmed interview, the Israeli Chief of Staff, Gen. Haim Bar Lev, said Soviet military personnel were ” at the battalion levels” of the Egyptian Army, and concentrated at Cairo, Alexandria and the Aswan Dam. He noted a “clear correlation” between the “active presence of Russian units and pilots in Egypt” and the “stepping up” of Egyptian front-line operations. An unnamed Israeli intelligence officer said I capture Egyptian soldier had admitted the death in combat of one of the Russians in his unit.