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THL EPOA:iSGY OF IGRALL
november 1, 1968
1) Attacks Along Suez Canal: A new and rore potent aggressive military
stance now marks Egyptian policy towards Israel. It is described in offi-
cial Egyptian terminology as "preventive defense,"
The policy was unfolded on August 26, 1988, when, for the first time,
a UAR commando unit crossed the Suez Canal, laid an ambush, killed two
Israeli soldiers and abducted a third, That incident was followed on
September 8 by an unprovoked massive artillery assault along the Canal
when 10,000 shells were lobbed against Israeli positions. Recurrent in-
stances of mine-laying, incursions and opening of fire by Egyptian units
continued throughout September and into October. On October 23, the UAR
AirForce attempted to carry out reconnaissance flights over Israeli posi-
tions resulting in an air clash. A new climax was reached on October 26,
with a massive and coordinated artillery and missile barrage along the
whole length of the Canal. The assault served also as cover for attempts
by UAR military forces to cross the Canal for purposes of ambush and sabo-
tage. The raiders were repulsed leaving one dead behind.
General Odd Bull, Chief of the UN Observers along the cease-fire line,
affirmed in his report that the UAR Forces had opened fire and commenced
the assault without provocation,
2) The Aeaning of "Preventive Defense": On September 8, 1968 (the day of
the first massive Egyptian artillery barrage) the policy of "preventive
defense'' as demonstrated in the new wave of Egyptian aggression in vio-
lation.of the cease-fire agreement, was publicly enunciated by the UAR
Armed Forces General Command:
"The execution of preventive defensive actions means that Egypt-
ian forces will no longer make it possible for the enemy to attack
and that Egyptian forces will launch offensive actions. They will
scrutinize the movements of the enemy (Israel) and the reinforce-
ments of his troops so as to strike at him before he attacks...
From now on, the initiative will be Arab."
The implications of this policy are further illustrated by a report in
the official Cairo daily "Al-Aharam" of October 29, 1968. Quoting the UAR
Deputy minister for Foreign Affairs, Gohar, the paper declares that this
policy will entitle Egypt to react even to the mere reinforcement of Israeli
forces. It quotes Gohar as follows: "Action to prevent aggression involves
not only silencing single en-i': artillery posts, but striking at all enemy
bases...The UAR will not remain idle until the enemy completes his con-
centrations on the east bank." The paper goes on to state that the doc-
trine of "preventive defense" implies UAR freedom of action to open fire.
3) Premeditated Nature of Assault: The premeditated character of tLe UAR
military initiative of October 26 is clearly illustrated by the advance
coordination between the military operations in the field and the propa-
ganda organs in Cairo. Iiithin 15 minutes after the Egyptian forces opened
fire along the 80-mile cease-fire line, Cairo radio was already broadcast-
ing a detailed, carefully-worded Egyptian version of the incident. Many
of the Israeli casualties 15 dead, 34 wounded were inflicted within
the first minutes of the barrage among unsuspecting participants and
spectators of a football match which was taking place when the sudden and
massive assault was launched.
On the very morning preceding the attack, the semi-official Cairo daily
"Akhbar El-Yom," interpreted the air incident of a few days previously in
terms of the UAR policy of "preventive defense," and observed that an addi-
tional confrontation was soon to be expected in the Suez Canal zone.
4) UAR Action Sabotages Peace-Making efforts: As an instrument of policy,
the "preventive defense" posture as implemented by the ULR is in manifest
conflict with the Israel-supported peace efforts of the UN Special Repre-
sentative Ambassador Jarring, with which Egypt, too, claims to cooperate.
The. UAR Government could not have been unaware of the fact that its assaull
of October 26 would inevitably prejudice the chances of Ambassador Jarring'
efforts to achieve progress in promoting agreement between the parties.
Indeed, the UAR policy and actions place the cease-fire agreement itself
in jeopardy, and cast serious doubts on the willingness of Egypt to ensure
its continuation. For if the "preventive defense" policy is to be loyally
pursued, it will mean further aggression and escalation along the cease-
5) Motives of UAR Behavior: a) Egypt feels, in the words of President
Nasser, that it has moved from the "defensive" to the "deterrent" stage,
and is now preparing for the final "offensive" phase unless it succeeds
in winning a "political solution" on its own terms. such a solution, in
the UAR view, is the unconditional withdrawal of the Israeli forces, with-
out the conclusion of peace, without the establishment of secure and agreed
boundaries, and without guaranteeing the freedom of shipping in the Suez
Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba. This Egyptian stance is backed by a military
strength, greater than before the Six-Day iar. In terms of quantity, the
Soviet Union has already replenished the UAR tank complement up to the
pre-war level. In quality, the equipment supplied is far superior. Within
18 months, this supply will have reached 150 per cent of the 1967 capacity.
In the air, the Soviet-equipped UAR Air Force is already 50 per cent
stronger than before the war; within 1l months, it will be twice the size.
Again, the planes given are of a more sophisticated type than those prev-
iously flown by Egypt.
b) The new Egyptian policy seeks to demonstrate that it will not con-
template a peaceful solution through negotiation and common accord.
c) By its new military policy, the Egyptian Government hopes to rehabil-
itate the morale of the armed forces and condition them for an eventual
assault against Israel.
d) The policy aims at re-establishing Nasser and Egypt as the dominant
voice in Arab councils that would grant Egypt a veto power over the poli-
cies of other Arab States.
e) To the extent that reports had been circulating of a possible agree-
ment between Israel and Jordan, the Egyptian initiative of October 26 was
calculated to sabotage such developments..
i) The Egyptian policy openly encourages aggression and terrorism along
Israel's other boundaries and constitutes a flagrant effort to undermine
the entire cease-fire apparatus,
g) It is aimed to intimidate the West into pressuring Israel to accept
an arrangement short of peace.
6) Implications of UAR Policy: It is clear that 3gypt's behavior is rooted
in that country's new sense of strength provided it by the Soviet military
supply and political support. Egypt today believes in its capacity to
impose its version of a political solution through military pressure which,
in essence, involves a return to the hazardous conditions which prevailed
before, and led to the Six-Day War.
Israel is capable of withstanding and responding to such pressure. The
new policy of Egyptian aggression has, however, greatly jeopardized the
existing cease-fire, has undermined the prospects of a peace settlement,
and has thrown the Middle East into a renewed phase of heightened military
tension. Israel's policy is to resist this attempt and to continue to
strive for a basic solution of the crisis and the establishment of a just
and lasting peace.
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