As the end of the 90-day Middle East ceasefire approaches, Israeli forces are stepping up training in border areas.
As the end of the 90-day Middle East ceasefire approaches, Israeli forces are stepping up training in border areas. Yesterday (Tuesday) -- just a couple of days before the ceasefire deadline expires at midnight on Thursday -- a tank unit was filmed during desert exercises in the south of the country.
This particular unit is equipped with American Sherman tanks armed with Israeli-made 160 mm. mortars. Though they have a fairly short range, the renovated Shemmans are very mobile and are used widely by the Israelis in the Suez Canal area.
There have been reports that the latest American arms package to Israel includes 175 mm long-range artillery to counter the 03 mm Russian-made guns supplied to the Egyptians. In the meantime, Israel's defensive hopes are being pinned increasingly on electronics, with the introduction of a radar-controlled anti-aircraft gun and new anti-tank missiles.
In the south, the artillery has been backed b new defensive work on the fortified line along the east bank of the Suez Canal. It was reported yesterday that bunkers along the line had been strengthened and would now be able to withstand shelling by the 203 mm Egyptian guns.
Speaking the previous day, Israeli Deputy Premier Yigal Allon claimed that Israel is currently stronger than when the 90-day ceasefire came into force on August 7.
He added that his country would be prepared for any eventuality at the end of the ceasefire. In a reference to the Soviet ground-to-air missile system installed by the Egyptians in the Suez region, Mr Allon said: "Israel will find a solution to the problem posed to her by the Egyptians and the Soviets in the Suez Canal." But he added that the Israelis are prepared to extend the ceasefire indefinitely.