TEL AVIV (Oct. 2)
Israel’s chief of military intelligence, Gen. Yeshayahu Saguy, charged today that the United Nations has understated the number of Palestinian terrorists active in the area under its control in south Lebanon, claimed that there are now Cuban military units all over the Middle East, that new Soviet weaponry has been introduced into the region and that Jordan is converting its ground and air forces from defensive to offensive capabilities.
At a meeting with the foreign press corps here today, Saguy said that according to Israeli estimates there are between 500-700 terrorists in the territory controlled by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) but UNIFIL admits only that there are more than 200. Saguy offered his statement to augment a report released today on the recent meeting between Israel’s Chief of Staff Gen. Raphael Eitan and the commander of UN forces in the Middle East, Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo.
At that meeting Eitan said that Israeli aerial reconnaissance indicated that the terrorists were using the cease-fire to redeploy and reinforce their units, stockpile arms and equipment and construct new fortifications. Siilasvuo was silent, thereby, confirming the terrorist build-up in the UNIFIL area, the Israeli report said.
CUBAN FORCES IN MIDEAST
Replying to questions, Saguy said the presence of Cuban forces in the Middle East was no new
Saguy said the most important new Soviet weapon in the Middle East was the T-72 tank of which there are about 100 each in Syria, Iraq and Libya. In addition, he said, Soviet-made MIG 25s have been deployed in Libya for about a year and recently in Syria. The same applies to the Sukhoy-22 bomber which is new to the Syrians though not to the Libyans, Saguy said.
He offered a breakdown of the 35,000-man Syrian force in Lebanon which, he said, consisted of one infantry division, two armored brigades, 400-500 tanks and 250 artillery pieces of all calibers. He said he didn’t believe the Syrians intended to withdraw their forces from Lebanon.
MENACING POSITION OF JORDAN
But Saguy expressed his greatest concern over what he contended was the shift in the balance of power along Israel’s frontier with Jordan. He said Jordan was changing the entire infrastructure of its armed forces to place them on an offensive footing rather than a defensive one which was regarded as a target for Israeli air attacks.
He claimed that the Jordanians were mechanizing their army which now possesses two mechanized and two armored divisions supported by artillery. They have improved their Hawk antiaircraft missile network and with the absorption of new French-built Mirage fighters, their air force will take on an offensive character, Saguy said.