Bar Lev Says Soviet Presence Won’t Deter Israel if Egypt Starts Shooting

Israel’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Haim Bar Lev said today that the intervention of Soviet forces on the side of Egypt if fighting breaks out when the Suez cease-fire expires next Friday, will not deter Israeli forces from carrying out their objectives. He said those objectives were to prove to the Egyptians that they can gain nothing by force and to hold on to Israel’s positions on the Suez Canal’s east bank. Gen. Bar Lev was interviewed on the BBC television program “Panorama.” “We may have to combat the forces that might interfere with our objectives,” he said. When the interviewer mentioned the Russians specifically, he replied, “if they will be there, it might be. If they are not, it will not be. Our aim is not to fight the Soviet Union.”

Gen. Bar Lev conceded that the cease-fire, which has lasted since Aug. 6, 1970, enabled Egypt to greatly improve its military position in the canal zone. “They have anti-aircraft missile and gun systems close to the canal and along almost its entire length which they would not have had without the cease-fire,” Bar Lev said. On the other hand, he said, Israel’s position was not relatively weaker. He replied “Oh, yes,” when asked if any supplies had reached Israel from the United States. Bar Lev said that Soviet control of Egypt’s armed forces was “very substantial today.” As far as Israel knows, the SAM-3 missiles are manned by Soviet military personnel and Soviet control exists over Egypt’s anti-aircraft defense system, composed of missiles and guns. Bar Lev said. He added however that. Moscow’s political control over Egypt was not so tight as to preclude the latter from embarking on military adventures without Russian approval. Bar Lev said Egyptian manpower was no better than in 1967 but their planning was better “because it is Soviet planning,” he said.

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