TEL AVIV (Aug. 25)
The Israeli army’s general staff is working out a new defense line in conjunction with the proposed Israeli-Egyptian agreement in the Sinai. Meanwhile government oil experts are planning two measures to provide Israel with the oil that will be lost by the return of the Abu Rodeis oilfields to Egypt.
The new line will reportedly run from Rumani near the Mediterranean south to a ridge known as Um Machtza which will be retained by Israel. The line will then run east to the eastern slopes of the Gidi Pass, south to the Mitle Pass, west to the hills known as Djabel Raha, which will be left in Israeli hands, and then south parallel to the Gulf of Suez coastline to a point below Abu Rodeis.
Both the Um Machtza ridge and the Djabel Raha hills are important controlling points which, combined with the Israeli positions at the two passes, could prevent an Egyptian move through the passes. The Djabel Raha ridge also gives Israel access to the southern part of Sinai via a road that is linked to another road that runs parallel to the Gulf of Suez.
The present Israeli positions north of Abu Rodeis will apparently be retained although Israeli forces will now have to watch the oilfields against any Egyptian attempt to use this area to launch a military attack. The same position will also have to prevent any Egyptian military moves southward. Abu Rodeis itself and the road loading to it will be under Egyptian civilian control, according to the interim agreement.
OIL RESERVOIRS BEING PLANNED
Meanwhile, Israel is planning to build two huge subterranean oil reservoirs in the Negev which will hold a total of 1,750,000 tons of oil. The United States has reportedly assured Israel that it will see to it that Israel receives enough fuel supplies to keep the reservoirs full. British and Swedish experts are already planning the two reservoirs.
In another measure, the Ministry of Finance has earmarked IL I billion for systematic oil prospecting in Israel during the next four years. The decision is based on the recommendation of geologists who claim that the chances of finding oil are good.