JERUSALEM (Dec. 20)
Israel’s retiring Chief of Staff Gen. Haim Bar-Lev served notice on Cairo that any renewal of warfare would bring swift and destructive retaliation against Egypt. Addressing a conference of mayors in Tel Aviv last night, Gen. Bar Lev said the chances for renewed hostilities were 50-50 and have been for some time. He said a peaceful settlement was still theoretically possible but the chances at present “are only very slightly more than zero.”
Bar-Lev, who leaves the Army next year for a Cabinet post, spoke with confidence of Israel’s ability to hit back hard and decisively against attacks by Egypt or a combined Egyptian-Syrian assault on the cease-fire lines. “If the Egyptians attempt to hit any civilian targets in Israel we can retaliate in kind with such force that they would quickly drop whatever plans they have.” Bar-Lev said.
He added. “We can do this despite all their antiaircraft defence installations, despite their Russians and despite their missiles.” He said Israel had its “answers” to Egyptian long range air-to-ground missiles, though he conceded that one rocket might get through Israeli defenses. But, he said. “I do not expect any massive missile strikes on any target.” Bar-Lev said that should Egypt resume warfare on a large scale, he would not be “surprised” if Syria joined in as well. However, he said. “Israel is ready for all eventualities, and not merely on paper.”
DISCOUNT REPORTS EGYPT TO RENEW WAR
Meanwhile, press reports that Egypt has decided to resume warfare against Israel were discounted by informed sources here today. The sources said there was no authoritative news of the results of yesterday’s meeting of Egypt’s National Security Council in Cairo. According to the Daily Telegraph of London. President Anwar Sadat told the Council that he has finally decided to resume the shooting war but intends to keep it a limited one.
Arab news media carried no reports of the Cairo meeting which Sadat summoned on short notice to discuss Egypt’s military and political situation. The Daily Telegraph’s report which carried a Beirut dateline, quoted official sources in Cairo as saying that there was no alternative to a resumption of hostilities. According to the Telegraph, the Cairo sources said that initially Egyptian warfare would be confined to artillery barrages and air strikes along the Suez Canal.