JERUSALEM (Aug. 27)
Commerce Minister and former Chief of Staff Haim Barlev said last night that the army hoped it would not need larger forces than at present deployed to man the new Sinai defense line. The Minister, appearing on a television talk show, said Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur had made this evaluation at a Cabinet meeting. Earlier, unnamed military sources had seemed to indicate that the new lines would require additional personnel to man them, because they would be longer.
But Barlev explained that the line from the Mitle and Gidi Passes southwards was in mountainous and virtually impassable terrain which did not require large numbers of troops to defend it. Barlev said Israel had never employed “Maginot” tactics. The “Barlev line” had been a fusion of static and mobile defenses but the mobile units were not in place when the Yom Kippur War broke out and the static line was undermanned.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon said in Tel Aviv the agreement would mean a reversion by Israel to its “classical defense doctrines of movement.” Barlev stressed that the remaining depth of Sinai offered plenty of terrain for “strategic depth.” Allon on Monday had recalled that Israel won its best victories “on the sparse expanses of Sinai.”
Appearing with Barlev last night on television was Gen, Dan Laner, a former Sinai tank commander. He pointed out that defense need not be solely or necessarily a matter of stopping an enemy advance. It could be, in part at least, counter-attack across the enemy’s line. “Let’s leave it to Zahal.” Laner suggested, noting that Israel’s army still had “all its options open.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger returned here tonight from Alexandria for consultations with Israeli leaders on the final draft of a new interim accord with Egypt. Indications continued to point to a signing of the pact this weekend.