TEL AVIV (Mar. 1)
Israeli troops manning the Suez Canal line will face the strongest Egyptian forces in history should the current cease-fire extension end on the March 7 deadline, it was reported today. But the Israelis are confident that they can cope with anything the Egyptians can throw at them and would retaliate massively if shooting resumes next Sunday. One Israeli officer on the Suez front recalled a recent remark by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan: “I do not know if the Egyptians will or will not open fire on March 7, but if they do, I know what will happen on March 8.” The most formidable weapons facing Israel’s Bar-Lev line across the canal are massed Soviet artillery and Frog-7 ground-to-ground missiles. Israeli intelligence places at 1,000 the number of artillery pieces deployed along the waterway, including the huge Soviet 203 mm. cannon. The Frog-7 is known to have deadly accuracy. It can hurl a half-ton missile almost 60 miles with a range of error of less than 500 yards. Israelis consider the introduction of the Frogs to be an escalation in military deployment along the canal. Israelis expect continued overflights of their positions by Egyptian reconnaissance planes. One source noted that the Egyptian Air Force engaged in intensive reconnaissance during the week leading up to the last cease-fire deadline on Feb. 5. The canal zone was quiet today. The Egyptians were seen working on their defenses but soldiers continued to walk freely along the canal; some went swimming and others fished.