Israeli Colonels Explain Mideast War
'A Product of Necessity'
Col. Yehudah Nizan and Lt. Col. Israel Meidan of the Israeli army said yesterday that Israel's invasion of Egypt was a self-defensive measure, prompted by Egyptian military buildup and commando activity against Israel.
The officers, who are currently studying at the Harvard Business School at their government's request, maintained that Israel's sole aim is peace, and their nation is willing to return all captured territory and "forget everything" if satisfactory peace terms could be arranged. "The Israeli action," said Meidan, "was a product of necessity. Egypt was becoming stronger daily, and we felt it was only a matter of months before she attacked us. Therefore, we felt we had to act first."
Col. Nizan felt that Egyptian fedayeen raids, more than anything else, brought about the Mideast uprising. These commandos, he said, exist for the sole purpose of murdering Israeli civilians. "Such a thing," he stated, cannot be long endured."
Both officers pointed out that Egypt, for two years, has received arms from various sources. "Two-hundred light tanks," said Meidan, may not seem much in American eyes, but in Middle-Eastern terms of reference, that figure is fantastic." Egypt did not attack in full scale, they stated, because they wanted more time to learn to use their military materials. "When you are in trouble," said Meidan, "you wait until you can wait no longer. Israel could wait no longer."
The officers also stated categorically that there had been no prompting by Britain and France. British-Israeli relations, they pointed out, were not very good before the invasion. Furthermore, the linking of British and Israeli interests in the Middle East is not desirable from the Israeli standpoint.
Both officers expressed hope that the present situation would convince Nasser that Israel cannot be tampered with. They hoped that peace would be the final resultant of the action, and that Israel would gain the right to use the Suez Canal. Col Nizan pointed out that Israel has no deep hatred of the Arabs, and that the two peoples can and must learn to live peacefully together.
Above all, the officers said, it is to be hoped that the world will now realize that there was no "peace" in the area. "When economic and commando warfare harrass a nation, that is no peace," stated Lt. Col. Meidan. "We hope," he continued, "the world will now see that Israel desires a true peace, and will fight for it if necessary."
Cols. Nizan and Meidan, speculating on the possible results of the Mid-East war, believe that to some degree the conflict has destroyed Egyptian military potential. Egypt's air force has been practically annihilated, and many of her tanks and other armaments have been destroyed, they reported. Furthermore, they stated, Egypt probably realizes now that Israel will not sit meekly by while the Arab states arm for her destruction.
"The main question for Egypt," stated Col. Nizan, "is leadership. That nation must have leaders who understand the desires of Israel, and realize that she wants nothing but to be left alone to build herself up. Egyptian leaders who instill hatred into their people only aggravate the situation.