Discussion of Key Israeli Border Areas
1. The Jordanian West Bank
a. Threat. The Jordan-Israeli border is 330 miles in length extending from the Gulf of Aqaba northward to the Dead Sea, thence following the armistice demarcation lines and the Jordan River northward to the Yarmuk River, thence along the Yarmuk River to the Syrian frontier. This border area has traditionally been lightly held by military forces and defenses consisted mainly of small, widely separated outposts and patrols and, therefore, afforded an area where launching of saboteurs and terrorists into Israel was relatively easy. During the period January 1965 to February 1967, a total of 53 incidents of sabotage and mining activity took place along this border. These activities resulted in three killed, 35 wounded, and damage to houses, roads, bridges, railroads, and water and electric power installations in Israel. Instances of exchange of small arms fire occurred quite frequently. The majority of these events took place from the Mount Hebron and Aravah areas where the Jordanian authorities did not take sufficient measures to protect against line crosses and saboteurs. The high ground running north-south through the middle of West Jordan overlooks Israel’s narrow midsection and offers a route for a thrust to the sea which would split the country in two parts.
b. Requirement. A boundary along the commanding terrain overlooking the Jordan River from the west could provide a shorter defense line. However, as a minimum, lsrael would need a defense line generally along the axis Bardala-Tubas-Nablus-Bira-Jerusalem and then to the northern part of the Dead Sea. This line would widen the narrow portion of Israel and provide additional terrain for the defense of Tel Aviv. It would provide additional buffer for the air base at Beersheba. In addition, this line would give a portion of the foothills to Israel and avoid inter- diction by artillery in the Israeli villages in the lowlands. This line would also provide a shorter defense line than the border of 4 June 1967 and would reduce the Jordanian salient into Israel. It also provides adequate lines of communications for lateral movement.
2. Syrian Territory Contiguous to lsrael
a. Threat. The border between Syria and Israel extends approximately 43 miles. It extends from a point on the Lebanese-Syrian border east to the vicinity of Baniyas, south to Lake Tiberias, then south along the eastern shore of the lake to the Syrian-Jordanian border. During the period January 1965 to February 1967, a total of 28 sabotage and terrorist acts occurred along this border. In addition, there were numerous shellings of villages from the high ground overlooking the area southeast of Lake Tiberias. Casualties were seven killed and 18 wounded. Control of the dominant terrain affords Syria a military route of approach into northern Israel; however, the greatest threat in this sector is from terrorism and sabotage.
b. Requirement. Israel must hold the commanding terrain east of the boundary of 4 June 1967 which overlooks the Galilee area. To provide a defense in-depth, lsrael would need a strip about 15 miles wide extending from the border of Lebanon to the border of Jordan. This line would provide protection for the Israeli villages on the east bank of Lake Tiberias but would make defending forces east of the lake vulnerable to a severing thrust from Jordan to the southern tip of the lake. The Israelis would probably decide to accept this risk. As a side effect, this line would give the Israelis control of approximately 25 miles of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline.
3. The Jerusalem-Latrun Area
a. Threat. These areas have been the scene of intermittent trouble over the years as both Jordanians and Israelis have been illegally cultivating lands in the areas between the lines. Only one serious incident occurred in this area during the period January 1965 to February 1967.
b. Requirement. To defend the Jerusalem area would require that the boundary of Israel be positioned to the east of the city to provide for the organization of an adequate defensive position. On the other hand, if Jerusalem were to be internationalized under the United Nations, a boundary established west of the city could be defended in accordance with the concept in paragraph 1, above.
4. The Gaza Strip
a. Threat. During the period 1949-1956, prior to the Suez war, numerous infiltrations and terrorist raids were mounted by Egypt from the Gaza Strip. However, with the establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force in 1957, based in the Gaza Strip and along the Sinai border, the situation has been quiet. Only three events of sabotage occurred in this area during the period January 1965 to February 1967. The Strip, under Egyptian control, provides a salient into Israel a little less than 30 miles long and from four to eight miles wide. It has served as a training area for the Palestine Liberation Army and, despite the few incidents arising in this area of late, it is significant to note that one of the first actions by the Israelis in the recent conflict was to seal off the area from the Sinai.
b. Requirement. Occupation of the Strip by Israel would reduce the hostile border by a factor of five and eliminate a source for raids and training of the Palestine Liberation Army.
5. The Negev-Sinai Border
a. Threat. This area has not presented any border problems since establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force in 1957. The demilitarized zone around Al Awja, containing the main north-south, east-west road junction in eastern Sinai and the major water source in the area, is the principal feature providing military advantage.
b. Requirement. Except for an adjustment of a portion of the boundary tied to the defense of Eilat, discussed below, and retention of the demilitarized zone around Al Awja, no need is seen for Israeli retention of occupied territory in the Sinai.
6. The Negev-Jordan-Aqaba-Strait of Tiran Area
a. Threat. There were only five incidents of sabotage in this area during the period January 1965 to February 1967. Israel’s chief concern in this area is free access through the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba and protection of Eilat, Israel’s chief oil port and trade link with the West African countries. Eilat, being at the apex of Israel’s southern tip, is vulnerable to interdiction from Egyptian territory.
b. Requirement. To provide Israel with sufficient depth to protect the port, the boundary should be established approximately 20 miles to the west along the Wadi el-Gerafi, south to its headwaters, then east to a point on the Gulf of Aqaba at approximately 39°20′ north latitude. In the event an international guarantee for free passage of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba is not provided, Israel would feel compelled to occupy key terrain in order to control the entrance to the Strait.
7. See map on following page.