JERUSALEM (Oct. 28)
Chief of Staff Gen. David Elazar charged tonight that the supply convoy of food and drugs to the encircled Egyptian Third Army was forced on Israel. Israel was forced to agree, but it will be a one-time operation, he told interviewers on a television program. Elazar said the meeting between Israeli and Egyptian officers was a good sign and they probably would continue because various aspects of the cease-fire remain to be resolved. It is premature to call these talks direct negotiations, Elazar said. Summing up the war, the Chief of Staff said Israel had “too short” notice of the Egyptian-Syrian attacks. He hinted that intelligence assessments were to blame. But, he added, Israel never pinned its defense strategy wholly on early warnings. He said that since 1970 it had developed a strategy whereby the regular army and air corps was always prepared to meet an attack “to avoid catastrophe” while the reserves were mobilized.
Elazar’s obvious displeasure over the supply convoy to the Third Army was reflected in Israeli newspaper reports over the weekend that Cabinet ministers and high ranking military officers resented reported U.S. pressure on Israel to allow the resupply operation. The newspaper Haaretz said that Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Elazar were particularly angry. They maintained that while Israel should make every effort to respond in general to U.S. requests, it was intolerable that Washington should exert pressure on local tactical problems.
The Third Army, cut off by Israeli forces from all of its supply routes, was in a precarious position without food or water. While Israel at its own initiative supplied the Egyptians with blood plasma for their wounded last Thursday, the question of resupply had been an important card in Israel’s hand with regard to solving such cease-fire problems as the POW exchange. Israeli ministers believe that the U.S. promised the USSR that the Third Army would be resupplied without first consulting Israel, Haaretz said.
Yediot Acharonot columnist Ben Porat claimed today that the Third Army had been on the verge of surrender until the U.S. decided to save it. “There is only one explanation for U.S. behavior with this pressure on Israel increasing daily in intensity. The Americans want to prove to Egypt that it is not Russia but the U.S. alone that is able to secure from Israel one concession after another,” Porat wrote.