From Combined Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Dispatches By Yitzhak Shargil and David Landau
Premier Golda Meir who on Saturday night told the nation that it was attacked by Syria and Egypt appeared tonight again on TV to tell the nation that: the Golan Height was cleared of the Syrian attackers and Israeli forces continue to push the enemy across the borders; that in the Sinai there is also a very significant change and the Israelis are very close to the canal; that the goal of Israel is peace and that the leaders of the neighboring nations who so easily go to war should have a second thought; but that the war is not over.
She said she had no doubts that the war would end in our victory, but the victory now is not yet fully achieved and that means that the war is not over. Mrs. Meir stressed that the Syrian Army of today is not the army that it was four days ago or even three days ago. But she also stressed that “we have to ask the question not so much against whom we are fighting but against what.” She blamed the Russians for the endless supply of the newest and most sophisticated types of arms to Egypt and Syria and stated that the supply to Syria continues.
She elaborated on this point saying that Israel is fighting against the Egyptian and Syrian Army but the missiles, the tanks, the aircraft – everything that is in possession of these soldiers emerged from Russia. It is Russia, one of the two superpowers, that has decided and apparently is still of the conviction she has to support the Arabs against Israel. Mrs. Meir said that on this eve of Succot Israel should rejoice for the change that took place in some places even a revolutionary change in the position over the one on Saturday.
As to reports that Jordan is calling up its reserves, Premier Meir said that she could only say that a considerate, sensible ruler, who has the interests and welfare of his people before his eyes, and has a good memory, will act in a sensible way. Israel hopes Jordan will act accordingly and not get involved in the war, she said. Replying to questions she said that while it’s peace that Israel is seeking, it is now her duty to push the enemy well across the cease-fire line until it is assured that they have no line on which to deploy for yet another attack on Israel. She concluded by wishing all a happy holiday. Late tonight Israel’s military positions appeared safer than in yesterday’s battles.
The fifth day of the war began this morning with reports that there were indications that the Soviet Union was increasing its airlift of military supplies to Egypt, that some 18,000 Iraqi troops with 100 tanks had arrived in Syria, and that King Hussein of Jordan issued a royal decree calling up Jordanian army reservists, and that the British government had announced an embargo on arms sale to the Middle East.
The fifth day of the war also began this morning with air raid sirens breaking the early morning quiet in Tel Aviv. An all clear signal came on 15 minutes later. Israelis began to dig in for what appeared to be a long and grueling haul as the nation grappled with the realization that this war will not be another June 1967 eloquent victory for Israel.
RESERVE OFFICERS RECALLED TO ACTIVE SERVICE
In a sober and realistic appraisal of the situation Israel faces Gen. Aharon Yariv (Res.), former chief of intelligence and former special, advisor to Premier Golda Meir on the war against terrorism, told several hundred journalists in Tel Aviv last night that there were no visions of a quick Israel victory. “This is not going to be easy. This is not going to be simple. It is a war that will be a prolonged one. But I am convinced that we shall be able to face it and win,” said Yariv who is currently assistant to the Chief of Staff Gen. David Elazar.
High ranking reserves officers have been called up to active service. They include former Chief of Staff Gen. Chaim Barlev, recalled for special duties; former Gen. Yeshayahu Gavish, who was mode commander of the Southern Sinai Command which Includes Sharm el Sheikh; former intelligence chief and former central command Generals Aharon Yariv and Rehavam Zeevi who were made special assistants to the Chief of Staff; Gen. Amos Horev, the newly elected president of Technion, was made special assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff; and Gen. Mordechai Hod, former airforce commander, was returned to the airforce for special duties.
Israeli Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir said last night in Jerusalem that the war has so far cost Israel some one billion dollars. This included loss of equipment. At the same time the Ministerial Economic Committee ratified a measure which will impose a compulsory loan on all taxpayers to raise $250 million and decided to transfer funds from this year’s development budget to the defense budget which was originally less than projected spending on social and welfare activities for the first time since 1948.
THE MILITARY FRONTS
In military activity today there was intensive action by the Israeli airforce. At least 20 Syrian and Egyptian planes were downed during today’s fighting; 17 of them were Syrians that attacked Israeli armor on the Golan Heights. The airforce also carried out extensive bombings and attacks on targets in Syria and Egypt in addition to providing support to ground forces.
At 8:30 a.m. two Sukhoi P-7’s, two MIG-21’s and two MIG-17’s were downed in a fierce air battle with the Syrian forces. Forty-five minutes later seven more Sukhois-were downed in air battle. This was followed by the bombing of the naval base near Tartous, the fuel installations near Homs and power station near Katina. The Damascus International Airport was bombed and on their way back from their mission Israeli planes downed three more MIG-21’s.
In the Egyptian sector the airforce played an important part in containing an advance of Egyptian forces down the Sinal Peninsula towards Ras Sudar. It was a rout that ran all along the eastern bank of the Gulf of Suez. Throughout the day the airforce also dealt blows to the Egyptian armor and infantry on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal
Military commentators stressed today that Israel had succeeded in stabilizing the lines after four days of war initiated by the enemy and it was now for the Israelis to calculate their future action. The repulse of the Syrians and the crushing of their armor left the Israeli armed forces with the main problem of dealing with the Egyptian front line. Egyptians have massed troops and armor in the narrow stretch on the eastern bank of the canal. Though hundreds of Egyptian tanks were destroyed – many more hundreds were brought in despite the Israeli airforce’s continuous attacks on bridges and bridgeheads.
Israeli airforce and armor bit into the Egyptian force but it seemed that Israelis were not in a hurry to start an offensive. Nevertheless, Reserve Gen. Chaim Herzog said tonight that it was very likely that the Egyptians would be very sorry for putting so much of their force on the eastern bank. He also hinted that the extensive activity against Syria may deter Iraq and Jordan as well as Lebanon from an “irresponsible step.” In any case, a victory over the Syrians does not mean a victory in the war and a redeployment of the Egyptian front will be needed before Israel would start an initiative, military commentators observed.
According to Yariv in his briefing to the press in Tel Aviv, this war is much different than the wars of 1956 and 1967 because Israel’s defense forces entered it when the initiative was with the enemy. The line on the Golan Heights has been stabilized, but at a price, he said, adding that the Syrians paid a high price for their attack. Yariv, appraising the situation as of Tuesday night, said that while he did not want to describe the Syrians as defeated, they had to give up almost all of the gains made in their initial surprise attack Saturday.
Yariv said that Israel’s regular forces garrisoning the Suez Canal bore the brunt of the initial Egyptian attack in which the enemy enjoyed an immense superiority of numbers and equipment. He said the Egyptians launched their attack with over 2000 tanks and swarms of war-planes. He admitted that Egypt’s vastly improved anti-aircraft network based on several types of highly effective Soviet ground-to-air missiles played a major role in the initial success of the Egyptian attack. Israeli forces abandoned the Barlev line and redeployed in parallel positions facing the Egyptian bridgeheads, he said.
Arab terrorists were active from inside southern Lebanon last night. Between 25-30 Katyusha rockets were fired at Kiryat Shemona. No casualties were reported but some damage was done to buildings and vehicles. Shells and rockets were fired at other settlements and some landed in the region of Nahariya but no casualties or damage was reported.
Damage was extensive at Kibbutz Gvat where a “Frog” missile exploded Tuesday. The half ton warhead destroyed the children’s compound but the youngsters were all in bomb shelters at the time. The communal dining hall was damaged and electric wires were downed but repairs were made by workers today. Kibbutz members not at the front were busy in the cotton fields as volunteers cleaned up the debris.
Israel learned yesterday that UN truce observers on both banks of the Suez Canal were forced from their posts at gunpoint by the Egyptians.
THE HOME FRONT
Despite the war. life in Israel is continuing as normally as possible with schools open most factories continuing production, the Housing Ministry repairing homes damaged by Syrian shells and even the central election committee going on with the job of preparing for the Oct. 30 Knesset elections. The blackout is still strictly maintained but the Israel Philharmonic Orchestrate is maintaining its subscription concerts and movie houses are still operating although half empty since they are usually attended by young people now in the service.
The central election committee, headed by Supreme Court Justice Haim Cohn, published the final list of parties for the upcoming elections yesterday. There has been talk of postponing the vote and also of setting up a national unity government–but nothing like this has yet been decided and the election is still set for Oct. 30. The election committee met in the darkened. Knesset building in Jerusalem.
Civil servants have not been called up for army service but have been shuttled between government departments under a preordained emergency plan to take care of essential services for the public which are understaffed because of the call-up. All legal contracts, documents, etc., which specify particular dates for particular action have had those dates postponed under emergency orders issued by the Defense Ministry. Dates for specific performances will be automatically extended 30 days beyond the person concerned’s release from army service.
The Housing Ministry announced it would begin at once with repair work on civilian homes hit by Syrian shells in Migdal Haemek and Kiryat Shemona. The Housing Ministry was commissioned by the Treasury which said it would cover the full cost of repairs and would also arrange, at its expense, for alternative housing for the people during the repair work. Treasury assessors have already visited the sites to assess the damage.
All schools, secondary schools and higher education institutions, reopened for normal studies yesterday. Because two days were lost it was decided that schools will remain open on Wednesday, eve of Succoth. Secondary school pupils that were recruited for various auxiliary jobs, municipal sanitation departments or postal services – will continue their voluntary work after school hours. The youngsters proved of great help to various institutions especially hospitals where they replaced workers that were recruited. Many of the older students reported for blood donations which exceeded all expectations.
Police in Jerusalem have maintained round-the clock patrols in all Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem since the war began, but no incidents have been reported. Traffic across the Jordan bridges is proceeding normally an army spokesman announced today. Yesterday, he said, some 1000 persons had crossed in both directions, both residents of the two sides and tourists.
Lod Airport was back to normal with Air France. TWA, Sabena, Alitalia and KLM resuming normal operations according to schedules. El Al operated its 13 Boeings, three of which are jumbo jets, despite the fact that many of its employes were hastily recruited. And tourists continue to arrive. Thousands decided to extend their stay and many who arrived said they wouldn’t alter plans because of just another war.
Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir and leaders of the Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod reported gratification with the response of Jews from throughout the world to Israel’s needs. “World Jewry has rallied round the state of Israel to an extent reminiscent of the Six-Day War, if not exceeding that enthusiasm,” the Agency said. Moshe Rivlin, the Jewish Agency’s director general, speaking on radio in Yiddish said the unprovoked aggression of the Arab states on Yom Kippur plus the continuing flow of Soviet immigrants have combined to have a major effect on Jewish communities.
Soviet Jewish immigrants continued to come into the country although none will arrive tonight because of Succoth. Many of the immigrants are pleading to be allowed to help the war efforts but instead are being sent to absorption centers.