TEL AVIV (Jun. 8)
The Israeli army is keeping a close watch on intensified military activity in Egypt and Syria while Israel has lodged its third protest in recent days over alleged Egyptian violations of the 1975 Sinai disengagement agreements.
The Egyptian and Syrian armies have held extensive military exercises. Civil air defense exercises have been conducted in Cairo and other Egyptian cities and Egyptian forces have been deployed in some strength in regions close to the Gulf of Suez.
Western diplomats here believe the Egyptians are deliberately trying to create tension in the region. Some Israeli sources were quick to blame President Carter’s recent remarks on the Middle East for encouraging extremists in the Arab camp leading to muscle-flexing by the Egyptians and Syrians. Israeli military circles do not regard Egyptian violations of the Sinai pact as a military threat but they are not certain whether the violations are inadvertent or are a means of testing Israel’s reaction.
The protest lodged with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai claimed that Egypt was deploying more soldiers in its Sinai zone than permitted by the disengagement pact and that it had introduced SAM-7 (Strela) ground-to-air missiles, also a violation.