TEL AVIV (Sep. 12)
Gen. Haim Barlev. Israel’s chief of staff, warned yesterday there was a possibility of resumption of hostilities and that Israel must defend its essential interests in that event even if that meant an encounter with Soviet military personnel in Egypt. During an interview on the Army Broadcasting Service in a New Year’s message, Barlev said that while Israel should be alert against any hasty steps which might give the Soviets an excuse for action against Israel, nevertheless, Israel must safeguard its essential interests even at the risk of a clash with Soviet military personnel in Egypt.
He said the destruction of the Egyptian missiles network in the west bank of the Suez Canal would be a difficult task which would cost heavy casualties but that it could be destroyed. He added that if the current calm on Israeli cease-fire lines continued, there would be a cut in the call-up of reserves for active duty. He said there had already been some slowing down in calls for reserve units.
In a review of the first year of the cease-fire, Barlev said the only deficiency in the Army had occurred in the Shafti refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in January when soldiers mistreated the residents in a search for guerrillas. He called that behavior unnecessary. He reported also that the military forces had used the cease-fire period to improve the quality and quantity of training, organization and absorption of new weapons.