300,000 Turn-out Expected for Israel’s First Independence Day Military Parade Since ’68

Military officials said today that 300,000 people are expected to line the route of march of Israel’s 25th anniversary Independence Day military parade here May 7, the first to be held since 1968. They said that 2000 troops and 400 armored vehicles including 100 tanks will pass the reviewing stand in East Jerusalem where Premier Golda Meir and other dignitaries will watch the parade.

The six-mile line of march will begin in north-eastern Jerusalem, pass through the winding streets of the Arab quarter, through the Mandel-baum and Damascus gates and along the walls of the Old City into West Jerusalem. It will proceed through the business district and end in the Talpiot suburb, officials disclosed today. They said 55,000 people will be seated in grandstands in East Jerusalem and about a quarter of a million will line the route in West Jerusalem. Live television coverage is expected to keep the outdoor crowds well below the 400,000 who watched the last military parade five years ago.

This year’s parade, beginning with a 15-minute aerial show by the Israel Air Force, will cost between IL 15-20 million. When the government decided last fall to hold the parade, only two Cabinet ministers were opposed. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said it would arouse the resentment of the Arab residents of East Jerusalem. Welfare Minister Michael Hazani said the money could be better spent on welfare.

Officials said strict security measures were planned for the parade. About 1000 military policemen will augment 1200 civilian police to regulate traffic throughout the country on Independence Day.

Israel unveiled its newest weapon yesterday, an eight-foot air-to-air missile named “Shafrir” (Canopy) which is operated by a push-button and can down enemy planes at altitudes of over 70,000 feet. Eliezer Dagan, of the “Raphael” armament development authority which developed the missile, told reporters that the weapon was one of the most highly sophisticated of its type in the world and one of the simplest to operate.

He said the pilot had only to push a button once when he received audio and visual signals that the missile’s infra-red homing device was on target. The missile also has a radar homing device and is adaptable to almost all types of aircraft in Israel’s Air Force. Military spokesmen expressed satisfaction with the missile which has already been tested in combat. “It has proved out. It has downed a number of enemy planes during the war of attrition,” one official told newsmen.

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