TEL AVIV (Aug. 18)
Defense Ministry sources stressed last night that any Egyptian violation of the Sinai disengagement agreement is of a technical nature and Israel believes Egypt still wants to abide by the accord. Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, commander of the United Nations forces in the Middle East, was due to return to Israel from Cairo today after discussing charges of Egyptian violations given him by Defense Minister Shimon Peres last week.
These violations include having 16 battalions in the Sinai, twice the number allowed by the agreement; helicopter fly-overs of the buffer zone for intelligence purposes; and the crossing of Bedouins from north to south, another action prohibited by the accord.
While the Defense Ministry is playing down the violations, political sources here see it in a more serious light if taken together with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s strongly-worded attack against Israel at the non-aligned conference in Colombo this week. Sadat said Israel should be given another lesson to rid it of its attitude of arrogance.
The political sources said that while Sadat’s remarks can be seen as part of his campaign against Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi and Syrian President Hafez Assad, it may be that Sadat was responding to Israel’s new confidence in its military strength following the Entebbe operation. They contend that Sadat may have felt it was necessary to threaten Israel while at the same time ordering violations of the Sinai agreement, an accord that is constantly under attack by Syria.