Menu JTA Search

Nationwide Air Raid Drill Adds to General Mood of Preparedness

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Civil Defense commanders expressed satisfaction today with the results of the nationwide air raid drill, something rare for Israelis, which was held early this afternoon. They said there had been a need to test the new sophisticated early warning systems and air raid sirens which had been newly installed. The commanders stated that the test had been planned months ago.

Nevertheless, the tests added to the general air of preparedness that has followed in the wake of President Anwar Sadat’s speeches to Egyptian soldiers and pilots Saturday. Most Israeli commentators stress that Sadat must be taken at his word. Israel Yeshayahu, secretary general of the Labor Party, said yesterday that a renewal of fighting along the Suez Canal is “quite possible.” There were no signs of tension among the Israeli public.

The situation along the Suez Canal remains unchanged so far. Egyptian soldiers are still to be seen fishing in the waterway and going about their duties without helmets. But the calm could be deceptive and Israeli military authorities are fully aware of the formidable Egyptian forces facing them across the 300-foot wide canal. These include 6-7 infantry and armored divisions–a total of 75,000 men–over 1,000 artillery pieces and nearly 1,000 tanks of various types.

In addition there is a network of Soviet-made SAM-2 and SAM-3 ground-to-air missiles as well as batteries of the Egyptian surface-to-surface “Frog” missile which can carry a 500 kg warhead nearly 70 miles. Egypt has also deployed large amounts of equipment needed for an amphibious crossing of the canal.

Israeli commentators said it was imperative that Egypt be warned against the consequences of a new outbreak of shooting. They said that even if Sadat contemplates a limited war similar to the late President Nasser’s war of attrition, he would be unable to control developments once the shooting started. They said Israeli response to Egypt’s breaking the cease-fire was unpredictable.

NEXT STORY