TEL AVIV (Sep. 27)
Israel’s over-all military prowess is greater now that it was during the June, 1967 Six-Day War and includes the ability to overcome Soviet-made SAM-2 and SAM-3 missiles installed in the Suez Canal zone in violation of Aug. 7 cease-fire agreement, Chief of Staff Haim Bar Lev said last night. Gen. Bar Lev, speaking over the armed forces radio, reviewed military developments of the past year. He also issued a warning to King Hussein of Jordan, that Israeli retaliation, should the terrorist shelling of border settlements be renewed, would be “different in scope and nature from our other activities to date.” Israeli border settlements, have been unmolested since the civil war broke out two weeks ago between Palestinian guerrillas and Jordanian Government-forces. King Hassein has reportedly offered the guerrillas safe conduct to the border regions and cooperation in their fighting against Israel in return for internal peace. Gen. Bar Lev intimated that Israeli counter-action would be aimed against Jordanian regulars and their positions as well as against guerrilla bases as in the past, Similar warnings were voiced last week by Premier Golda Meir, Deputy Premier Yigal Allon and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Gen. Bar Lev estimated that the Soviet Union now has 12.000 army personnel in Egypt, about half of whom serve as advisers and the rest “purely Soviet units.” He said, “Russia is entrenched in Egypt, deeply entrenched and she does not intend to move. I do not believe that the Egyptians are able to remove her.”
But, Gen, Bar Lev spoke with greater equanimity than many Israeli supporters in the United States about the Soviet missile installations in the Suez cease-fire zone. “There has never been a weapons system anywhere in the world to which there is no answer, or more exactly, to which there are not a number of possible answers,” Gen. Bar Lev said. “That applies also to this missile build-up.” His remarks indicated that Israel had the answer, or was confident of finding one, to the threat of the Sam-2s and Sam-3s. According to some reports, Israel has received sophisticated air-to-ground missiles from the U.S. in recent months, capable of knocking out the Soviet missile sites. Gen. Bar Lev said the Soviet exercise in brinkmanship along the Suez Canal was aimed at getting the waterway re-opened so that the Russian Navy could operate more efficiently in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Their aim, according to Gen. Bar Lev and other Israeli military authorities is to pave the way for an Egyptian thrust across the canal to secure its east bank. If the Egyptian Army ever did try a big invasion, Israel is in a better shape to repel it than three years ago, Gen. Bar Lev said. “Today’s soldiers and units are better than those of 1967” he said, partly because of the combat experience they gained in the Six-Day War and in operations since then. He disclosed that in the past year there were “over 700 unpublicized military operations” across Israel’s borders and about 50 publicized “large scale operations” including armored raids into Lebanon and across the Gulf of Suez. Besides combat tested troops, “We have strengthened ourselves to a great extent in the air, at sea and on the land,” Gen. Bar Lev said.