Egyptian Air Force Resumes Reconnaissance Flights over Israeli Positions

With expiration of the current Suez cease fire extension only seven days away, the Egyptian Air Force has resumed reconnaissance flights over Israeli positions and lofted several observation balloons to observe and photograph the Israeli lines. Two overflights by Egyptian Sukboy-7 bombers yesterday were the subject of a new Israeli complaint to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). The first overflight occurred at 1 p.m. local time over the southern sector of the canal and the second 90 minutes later over the central sector. Israelis reported spotting an Egyptian observation balloon at an altitude of about 600 feet in the Port Said area last Wednesday. Two more balloons were seen yesterday over the southern and central sectors of the canal.

The concensus of opinion here and abroad is that Egypt does not wish to resume fighting when the current cease-fire expires and is seeking a face-saving device to keep the truce going after March 7. Some reports said the Sadat government is satisfied that the Jarring talks are making sufficient progress to allow it to agree to some sort of open-ended cease-fire extension. Sadat’s problem will be selling the idea to his restless Army officers and to Egypt’s closest neighbors and allies. Representatives of Libya and the Sudan, in Cairo for a meeting over the week-end, reportedly took a dim view of Egypt’s offer to make peace with Israel and may be pressing Sadat to look for a solution by force. The Palestine Liberation Council, consisting of representatives of the 12 major guerrilla groups, is also meeting in Cairo. Some Council members have reportedly accused Egypt of “selling out” the Palestine liberation movement.

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