TEL AVIV (Nov. 4)
Israeli political and military leaders stressed today that the armed forces are better able to withstand a new Egyptian onslaught in the Suez Canal zone than they were three months ago, despite the heavy concentration of Soviet missiles in the area. Assessments of the military position were made by Acting Premier Yigal Allon and Chief of Staff Gen. Haim Bar Lev as the expiration deadline for the current 90-day cease-fire was less than 48 hours away. Mr. Allon said last night that it was no secret that Israel “has not been resting on its laurels” in the Canal zone during the past three months and is now stronger than she was before the cease-fire. His remarks, at a farewell dinner for 300 members of a United Jewish Appeal study mission, were seen as a blunt warning to the Egyptians that they would do well to continue the cease-fire after it ends officially at midnight tomorrow (Nov. 5). Mr. Allon said that Israel was prepared to observe a cease-fire indefinitely as long as the Egyptians did. As far as Israel is concerned, the cease-fire agreement of June, 1967 which ended the Six-Day War is still in effect. But “you don’t have to be a prophet to know that Israel is prepared for any contingency.” Mr. Allon said. He said Israel was not looking for new victories but was striving for peace and was willing to renew the Jarring talks if the Egyptians “honor their obligations.” At the same time, he said, “We are prepared to defend ourselves if war is inevitable.”
Gen. Bar Lev said last night that Israel took all possible measures to be ready for a resumption of fighting when the 90-day cease-fire expires. He warned the Egyptians that if they decided not to continue the truce they will find themselves in “a very awkward position.” Gen. Bar Lev disclosed that Israeli fortifications along the canal have been strengthened to withstand the heaviest bombardment, including the massive shells of the Soviet 203 mm. artillery which, according to Israeli intelligence, has been supplied to Egypt in large quantities. Gen. Bar Lev said that during the three-month truce new roads were completed, and water and fuel supply systems were improved to bolster Israeli forces in the event that the Egyptians open a new round of warfare. Defense Ministry sources indicated that Israel has the capability of destroying all of the Soviet missiles set up in the truce done since the cease-fire though they admitted that it would probably cost Israel heavy casualties. They disclosed that huge sums of money have been poured into the logistics complex to the rear of Israel’s Suez line. “The rear can support any action which might become necessary after the cease-fire,” a Ministry spokesman said. The Defense Ministry disclosed that water pipelines have been laid across the Sinai desert making it unnecessary for trucks to haul water to the front. In addition, workshops and maintenance facilities have been established in the Sinai so that the Army’s transportation facilities are no longer dependent on their home bases.