TEL AVIV (Jul. 11)
The army has resolved an apparent contradiction between statements made by the Prime Minister and the Israeli Ambassador in Washington concerning the destruction of most modern T-72 Soviet-made tanks operated by Syria.
Premier Menachem Begin and other government leaders have said that Israel destroyed nine of the most modern tanks produced by the Soviet Union and now in frontline use by the eastern bloc.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Moshe Arens, said in Washington that Israel has none of the tanks in its possession. The U.S. is vitally interested in examining the tanks or whatever ruins remain, to probe their secrets.
Brig. Gen. Meir Nitzan, deputy chief of the Israel Defense Force ordnance division, was sharply questioned by foreign correspondents for over an hour last Friday, as he spoke to them at a display of captured PLO equipment on display at the Tel Aviv fair grounds, before he finally disclosed what happened in the Bekaa valley of southern Lebanon during a fight with Syrian forces in the early days of the war.
EXPLAINS WHAT HAPPENED
Nitzon said it was not a head-on collision between an Israeli and a Syrian tank column, which would have carried the advancing Israeli armour over the battle area.
A column of Israeli-made Merkava tanks was proceeding northwards when a Syrian column approached from the right flank. The Israeli tanks opened fire at a range of up to 3,000 meters, apparently using the new revolutionary designed Hetz (Arrow) Israeli-designed and produced antitank weapon which has been proved to have a devastating effect.
According to Nitzan, the Syrian tanks “simply disintegrated,” apparently from their ammunition.