Fear of Renewed Mideast War Spreads Throughout Israel
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Fear of Renewed Mideast War Spreads Throughout Israel

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Fears of a new Middle East war were intensified in Israel today. Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban added his voice to those here who have warned that another war could break out before the end of the year. Defense Minister Shimon Peres told the Knesset today that the rate at which the Soviet advisors and technicians were arriving in Syria had speeded up, But there was no proof that they were manning the sophisticated new weapons the Soviet Union has been giving Syria. Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Force began speeding up work on its fortifications along the Syrian, Egyptian and even Jordanian lines.

Eban, speaking at a memorial for the late Health Minister Israel Barzilai, said in the next six months there will either be a further improvement in Israeli-Arab relations or another war. He said Israel cannot stand on the status quo following the disengagement agreements.

Peres told the Knesset that the Soviet Union was also supplying the terrorist organizations with arms and equipment. He said other East European countries as well as Syria, Libya and Iraq were also providing the terrorists with weapons presumably with the knowledge of the Soviet Union.

The fear of an outbreak of a new war centers on Israeli intelligence reports that Syria is planning another attack coupled with the heavy Soviet military build-up of that country. At the same time, the Israelis have been pointing to Syria’s failure to begin rebuilding and repopulating the Kuneitra area on the Golan Heights and the slow-down of Egyptian efforts to return the Suez Canal area to normal civilian life. Israelis have stressed that a return to normalization of the two areas as provided in the disengagement agreements would be proof of Arab willingness to reach a Mideast settlement.


Another cause of concern in Israel was the arrival of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in Cairo for a nine-day visit to Egypt. Faisal is scheduled to cross the Suez Canal tomorrow to see the positions Egyptian troops have taken up since the Israeli-Egyptian disengagement agreement. The main purpose of his visit is reportedly to discuss with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat how Saudi oil wealth and diplomatic leverage can be combined with Egyptian military strength in support of the Arab cause against Israel. Sadat is expected to seek Faisal’s support in his attempt to reconcile King Hussein of Jordan with the Palestinian terrorists.

Meanwhile in Lebanon, terrorists and members of the right-wing and Christian Phalangist Party have been fighting with machine guns and rockets in a suburb of Beirut. Two terrorists and a civilian were reported killed today and 10 people were injured last night. Lebanese Premier Takieddin Al-Solh postponed an official visit to Libya in an effort to calm the situation. The Phalangists see Lebanon’s future as being linked with Western Europe, while the terrorists, who include Christians as well as Moslems, support Pan-Arabism and socialism.


The warnings of a new war began picking up in intensity here yesterday when Gen. Mordechai Gur, the Chief of Staff, in telling a meeting here of the Israel-American Chamber of Commerce that the Arabs could start a new war by the end of the year, stressed that Israel must prepare itself spiritually, mentally and organizationally for the eventuality of a new war. His warning followed a similar one from Peres in a weekend television interview. Their remarks are seen as part of an effort to convince the military and the public of the seriousness of the situation and the need for all-out preparedness.

As part of the new preparedness the army extended its work day as of today to run until darkness. More reserves are scheduled to be called up, particularly those in storage and maintenance who will be working around the clock in order that combat vehicles will be ready for use. The army is also preparing for trial call-ups of reserve units and at least one will be conducted over the radio.

The afternoon newspaper Yediot Aharonot in an editorial today said Gur’s statement was a warning to the Arabs that if they should prevent renewal of the arrangement for United Nations forces in the buffer zone this could mean war. Gur said that if the UN was ousted from the buffer zone Israel would have to decide whether “to wait for a second move by the Arabs, or shall we be the first to strike?”

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