Menu JTA Search

Israel Displays Photographic Evidence of Egyptian Missile Movement

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Col. Yosef Caleff, a senior military officer of the Israeli Army, displayed last night photographs that he said proved Israel’s charges of Egyptian missile movement during the standstill cease-fire. The first set of pictures, he said, showed four SAM-2 missile sites in the early stages of construction on the afternoon of Aug. 7, eight and a half hours before the cease-fire went into effect. The second set of pictures, he said, showed the same sites on Aug. 13 and Aug. 16. with construction completed. “This was impossible to have been done between 3:30 on the afternoon of Aug. 7 and midnight.” Col. Caleff said, adding: “There were no live missile bases within 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of the (Suez) canal before Aug. 7.” Now, he said, there were “between six and 15.” The officer said the world would have to take on faith his assertions on the time the photographs had been taken, since proof on that point would be a near impossibility.

Col. Caleff described the development as “not catastrophic, but very serious for us.” He conceded that earlier Israeli claims of SAM-3 missile advances had been erroneous. He noted that the SAM-2s are Egyptian and the SAM-3s Soviet, and suggested that the Soviet Union might have been cautious about moving her own missiles during the standstill. Col. Caleff said one of the four missile sites apparently indicated in the Israeli photographs was located 10 miles west of the canal and five miles south of the Ismailia-Nile Delta Road; another. 15 miles west of the canal and south of the first site; a third. 13 miles west of the canal and further south, and the fourth. 12 miles west of Great Bitter Lake in the central sector of the canal. He said the emplacements had been begun four hours before the standstill took effect “and continued the whole next day (Aug. 8) and in at least two cases into Sunday morning (Aug. 9).

He added that “In moving toward the canal a significant number of SAM-2 batteries, the Egyptians will make it difficult, but not impossible, for our Air Force to operate over the canal, a thing they have not been able to do in the last year or so.” Two of the new sites, he observed, are close enough to the canal – 11 miles away – to be effective against Israeli planes more than 12 miles from the canal on the eastern side, in the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula. Meanwhile, the moderate tone of the Israeli reaction to the United States State Department’s stand on the missile controversy was seen in Jerusalem as confirming earlier reports that Israel does not want to turn the issue into a crisis. The State Department said yesterday that while there was Egyptian missile “over-deployment” the first night of the cease-fire, the time element was “not conclusive” and the issue should not be allowed to sabotage the upcoming peace talks. The Israeli Foreign Ministry replied last night that it was “certain of the accuracy and seriousness” of its information and would continue to publicize it.

NEXT STORY