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Yom Kippur War: Sacrificial Stand in the Golan Heights

6/12/2006 • Military History

Defeat seemed to be imminent for the state of Israel. The Syrians’ Soviet-style massive frontal assault was too much to bear, and the Israeli front lines had already collapsed. The Israeli general in charge of the entire front had abandoned his nearly surrounded headquarters (HQ) and retired to a makeshift command post a few kilometers back. With two Syrian brigades advancing on the headquarters and no Israeli reserves in sight, defending the headquarters–left in the hands of infantrymen supported by only two trackless tanks mustered from the camp’s repair depot–seemed almost futile.

On October 6, 1973, during Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, a Syrian armored force of 1,400 tanks backed by more than 1,000 artillery pieces and supporting air power began a coordinated assault along the 36-mile-long Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights in the north of Israel. That attack coincided with a similar onslaught by Egyptian forces along the Suez Canal, suddenly forcing Israel to fight a two-front war.

Israeli defense doctrine relies on the standing army to hold the line with air support while the reserves are mobilized. Therefore, the two Israeli brigades that stood in the Syrians’ way in the Golan had the daunting task of holding off the onslaught long enough for Israel’s reserve mobilization to kick in. The 7th Armored Brigade’s epic defense of the northern Golan has come to be widely regarded as one of the finest defensive stands in military history. Less publicity has been given to the heroism of the shattered fragments of the 188th (Barak) Brigade in slowing the Syrian advance in the south. In some respects, however, the Barak Brigade’s story is more incredible, considering the fact that hundreds of Syrian tanks had overrun its sector and were held off by only a handful of tanks.

The 1973 conflict was as much about honor as it was about real estate. In the Six-Day War of June 1967, Israel had seized the Golan Heights, which Syria had turned into one large network of bunkers and artillery positions. For years, Syrian gunners, shooting at random and without provocation, would fire on Israeli fishermen plying their trade on the Sea of Galilee or at Israeli farmers in the Hula Valley below. In a costly uphill battle, the Israelis swept out the Syrian defenders and put an end to the harassment. The loss of the Golan Heights in 1967, however, had been humiliating to Syria.

Between 1967 and 1973, there were frequent skirmishes along the cease-fire line. For months leading up to its attack, the Syrian army had been fully mobilized and on war alert. Since the Israelis were accustomed to seeing those forces at battle strength, the Syrians were able to make final attack preparations without sending noteworthy warning signals. Furthermore, with tensions escalating between the two countries, Israeli leadership feared that strengthening its defenses might be misconstrued as preparation for a pre-emptive strike, thus provoking the Syrians to attack.

The Golan Heights are made up of a 480-square-mile volcanic (basalt) rock plateau perched above the Hula Valley to the west and Jordan Valley to the south. It rises gently from 600 feet in the south to 3,000 feet in the north, with abrupt escarpments dominating the valleys to the west and south. It is transected in some areas by impassable canyons, limiting the number of routes leading up from the valleys to the heights. Since the heights’ geography restricted defensive mobility, Israel continued its advance against the routed Syrians in 1967 until a defensible line was reached–a string of extinct volcano cones that commands strategic views of Damascus on one side and of all northern Israel on the other.

Israeli defenses were based on 17 fortified observation posts. The Purple Line, as the 1967 cease-fire line was known, marked the end of the no man’s land separating Syria from the Golan. Lacking a true defensive barrier, the Israelis had dug a 20-mile-long anti-tank ditch along the border from Mount Hermon to Rafid, an obstacle Syrian armor would be forced to cross under fire from Israeli tanks positioned behind ramparts. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1973, the Golan Heights were defended by two armored brigades: the 7th, which had only been dispatched to the northern sector on October 4, and the 188th (Barak) Brigade, a regular fixture intimately familiar with the area’s terrain, in the south. The modified Centurion and M-48 Patton tanks fielded by both brigades were fitted with the 105mm NATO gun and modern diesel engines.

Considering the faulty Israeli intelligence assessment that, at most, armed skirmishes with the Syrians would break out, the 170 tanks and 70 artillery pieces in the Golan were thought to be enough to meet any Syrian threats, at least until the reserves would arrive.

Against that comparatively small force, the Syrian army fielded five divisions for its attack: two armored and three mechanized infantry, including some 1,400 tanks. Approximately 400 of those tanks were T-62s, the most modern Soviet-bloc tank at the time, equipped with a 115mm smoothbore gun and infrared night-fighting capability. The balance were T-54s and T-55s armed with 100mm guns. The Syrian plan called for its 5th, 7th and 9th mechanized infantry divisions, in BTR-50 armored personnel carriers (APCs) supported by 900 tanks, to breach the Israeli lines, opening the way for the 1st and 3rd armored divisions to move in with their 500 tanks to capture the entire Golan Heights before Israel had a chance to mobilize.

At 2 p.m. on October 6, Syrian gunners opened up a tremendous barrage along the entire front as a prelude to their two-pronged attack–a northern one in the vicinity of the Kuneitra-Damascus road and one in the south where Rafid bulges into Syria.

Facing Colonel Avigdor Ben-Gal’s 7th Armored Brigade in the Golan’s northern sector were the Syrian 3rd Armored Division under Brig. Gen. Mustapha Sharba, the 7th Mechanized Infantry Division and the Assad Republican Guard. When the Syrian assault began, mine-clearing tanks and bridge-layers led the way to overcome the Israeli obstacles. Naturally, those engineering vehicles were the 7th’s first targets, but Syrian infantrymen, braving intense fire from the heights, rushed forward and used their entrenching tools to build up enough earthen causeways for their tanks to negotiate the Israeli anti-tank ditches.

While the Israelis took out every Syrian vehicle they could get into their sights, the sheer mass of some 500 enemy tanks and 700 APCs advancing toward their lines ensured that the defenses would be overwhelmed. The number of defenders dwindled as Israeli tanks were knocked out, yet the vastly outnumbered Israelis managed to take a heavy toll on Syrian armor. In spite of their heavy losses, the Syrians pressed their attack without letup, yet the overexerted 7th managed to hold its ground, throwing stopgap blocking actions wherever the Syrians were on the verge of breaking through.

When darkness fell, the Israelis had nothing to match the Syrians’ night-vision gear and had to allow the enemy armor to advance to ranges effective for night fighting. In the close fighting, the Syrians succeeded in seizing some of the high ground, but a counterattack by the small group of persistent defenders forced them back. When some Syrian tanks did overrun the Israeli lines, the 7th’s gunners would rotate their turrets to destroy them and then immediately turn their attention back to other oncoming tanks. It amounted to an armored version of hand-to-hand combat.

The battle raged for two more days as the Syrians, seemingly oblivious to their heavy losses, continued their assault without letup. By the afternoon of October 9, the 7th Brigade was down to six tanks protecting what was for all intents and purposes a clear path into Israel’s north.

Those last few tanks fought until they were down to their last rounds. Then, just as the 7th Brigade tanks were finally starting to pull back, they were suddenly augmented by an impromptu force of some 15 tanks. The Syrians believed the clock had run out and that the first of the fresh Israeli reservists had arrived, and the Syrian offensive ran out of steam. In truth, it was a motley force of repaired tanks crewed by injured and other crewman, which had been mustered by Lt. Col. Yossi Ben-Hanan, a veteran commander who, upon hearing about the outbreak of war, had hurried home from his honeymoon overseas. By virtue of its timing, that force proved to be the 7th Brigade’s saving grace. As individual tanks began to augment the Israeli forces, the Syrians, exhausted from three days of continuous fighting and unaware of how close to victory they actually were, turned in retreat. Hundreds of destroyed tanks and APCs littering the valley below the Israeli ramparts were testimony to the horrible destruction that had taken place there, leading an Israeli colonel to dub it the ‘Valley of Tears.’

Meanwhile, the Syrians, whose objectives included seizing the bridges spanning the Jordan River (most of which could be easily reached through the southern Golan), concentrated a large part of their attack in that sector. Up against hundreds of enemy tanks in a line of armor as far as the eye could see, the Barak Brigade crews had no choice but to hold fast, because the terrain did not allow for much defensive maneuvering. Retreat would give the Syrians nearly free reign to seize the entire heights and move on the Israeli settlements in the valley below.

The Syrian advance was initially slowed by an Israeli minefield and by deadly, accurate cannon fire. With dozens of Syrian tanks destroyed, the first few hours of the war were encouraging for the Israeli crewmen–their intense training was paying off. Knowing they would be outnumbered in any engagement, the Israeli tankers had trained relentlessly on gunnery skills and rapid target acquisition to ensure kills on the first shot. Undeterred by their losses, however, the Syrians kept coming, apparently convinced that, if worst came to worst, the mass of their onslaught would ultimately overwhelm the defenders.

When fighter aircraft were called in to help stem the flow of Syrian armor, many of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawks and McDonnell F-4E Phantoms that responded to the plea were shot down or damaged by the Syrians’ dense anti-aircraft umbrella. Aware that Israeli doctrine relied on air power to even the score against the Syrian numerical advantage, the Syrians had acquired massive quantities of the latest Soviet missile and anti-aircraft systems. With the help of Soviet advisers, they created an air defense network over the Golan that was thicker than the one protecting Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

With their air support thus limited, the tankers were on their own–and the fate of northern Israel was in their hands. The Israeli tanks stood their ground and were knocked out one by one. Pushed beyond their limits, the defenses in the southern sector broke.

Bypassing the Israeli fortifications and pouring through gaps in the defenses, Syrian tanks pushed through the Israeli lines onto a wide-open plain that was ideal for tanks. The Iraelis knew that they had to hold on at all costs to allow time for the reserves to mobilize, and in many cases the tank crews sacrificed themselves rather than give ground. As the hours passed, fewer and fewer Israeli tanks were left to stem the tide of oncoming tanks. The Syrian force split into a two-pronged advance. Colonel Tewfik Jehani’s 1st Armored Division moved northward toward the Golan command headquarters of Maj. Gen. Rafael Eitan, situated on the road leading down to the Bnot Yaakov Bridge, over the Jordan River and into the Israeli hinterland. The second prong of the Syrian attack, spearheaded by the 46th Armored Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division, moved south from Rafid on the southern access road toward El Al, with units breaking off toward the north in the direction of the Arik Bridge at the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Some 600 tanks were now engaged in the southern Golan, against which stood 12 tanks and isolated units that had been cut off near the various fortifications along the line.

Night offered no respite from the Syrian advance as they capitalized on their advantage of sophisticated night-vision equipment. The Israeli crews’ long-distance firing efficiency was hampered by their lack of adequate night-fighting equipment. They did their best to overcome this obstacle by ordering illumination rounds to light up the sky, in conjunction with the xenon light projectors mounted on their tanks. Those were no match for the Syrians’ infrared searchlights, so the Israelis did what they do best–improvise. They directed small tank units to carry out stopgap blocking actions against the far superior enemy forces–a tactic that may have prevented the Syrians from overrunning the entire Golan.

One of those lethal holding actions that have become legend was led by a young lieutenant named Zvi Gringold, affectionately known as ‘Lieutenant Zvicka,’ whose hit-and-run tactics are credited with single-handedly holding at bay a major thrust by almost 50 tanks. His guerrilla-style tactics on the route leading toward his brigade’s HQ caused the Syrians to believe they were up against a sizable Israeli force. After more than 10 of its tanks were destroyed, the Syrian column withdrew, its commander deciding to hold off and deal with the Israeli force in daylight. Gringold continued to engage the Syrians throughout the night and following day, destroying upward of 30 tanks, until injuries, burns and exhaustion caught up with him and he was evacuated. Gringold recovered and was subsequently awarded Israel’s highest decoration, Ot Hagvura, for his heroic defense of Nafakh.

Another blocking force operating in the south, albeit attached to the 7th Brigade, was ‘Force Tiger’ under Captain Meir Zamir. Force Tiger’s seven tanks were sent to block a column of some 40 Syrian tanks that had broken through at Rafid and was heading north–a move that threatened to cut off and isolate the 7th Brigade. Force Tiger laid an ambush that succeeded in destroying half the Syrian tanks during the wee hours of the morning. When 20 tanks escaped, Zamir prepared a second ambush that succeeded in finishing off the Syrian battalion just after dawn the next morning.

Yet another Syrian thrust by two brigades was advancing rapidly on the southern access road in that wide-open sector and inexplicably stopped short in its tracks just before reaching El Al. While some of its units fanned off toward other objectives to the north, a large part of the Syrian force failed to press its advantage, a move that in effect meant that the Syrians just waited for the Israeli reserves to arrive and engage them. A number of theories abound as to why the Syrians would halt their advance in the midst of their momentum, including fear of an ambush on what certainly should have been a heavily defended route, lack of flexibility and initiative once their objectives had been achieved, overextended supply lines and the more far-fetched fear of an Israeli nuclear reprisal in that critical hour. Whatever the true reason, their lack of initiative at a critical moment robbed the Syrians of the chance to reach the Jordan River–and perhaps beyond–virtually unopposed.

In the morning, the Syrians pressed their attack yet again. The few remaining defenders of the Barak Brigade pleaded for air support, which again suffered heavy losses. Ironically, the Syrians helped solve the problem of foiling the anti-aircraft missile threat. After the Syrians fired rockets at Israeli civilian areas, the Chel Ha’Avir (Israel Defense Forces/Air Force, or IDF/AF) responded with reprisal attacks on Syrian infrastructure in Damascus and beyond. To defend against these attacks, the Syrians pulled back some of their missile batteries from the Golan front. Overall, it took the IDF/AF several days to develop tactics and gain experience in defeating Syrian air defense systems, and 27 Israeli aircraft were lost on the Golan front in ground-support missions, as well as scores of others suffering various degrees of damage.

On the morning of October 7, Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan toured the Golan front and recognized how critical the situation truly was. Not only were the access routes into the Golan threatened, but also the entire north of Israel. Grasping the very real prospect of a Syrian breakthrough into integral Israel, the minister of defense considered a retreat to a line just forward of the escarpment overlooking the Jordan Valley for a major defensive stand–in effect putting his forces’ backs against a wall. Israel prepared to destroy the bridges over the Jordan River to prevent a Syrian breakthrough.

The Syrian 1st Armored Division was advancing up the route toward the Golan HQ at Nafakh. Colonel Yitzhak Ben-Shoham, the Barak Brigade’s commander, realized his brigade was for all intents and purposes destroyed. He therefore organized and led a small group of surviving tanks in a holding action that slowed the Syrian advance on his HQ for several hours until he and the rest of the defenders were killed. With the brigade commander dead, no reserves in sight and two Syrian brigades advancing toward the Golan HQ–and with some units having bypassed the base on both flanks–the situation could only be described as grave. Lead elements of the Syrian brigades actually reached Nafakh and broke through the base’s southern perimeter. One Syrian T-55 crashed into General Eitan’s HQ, only to be knocked out by the last operational tank in Gringold’s platoon.

At that point, Eitan evacuated his headquarters to an improvised location farther to the north. Those left to defend the base manned two trackless Centurions from the camp repair depot and fired bazookas in a final stand that knocked out several Syrian tanks until those last Israeli tanks were destroyed.

The 188th Barak Brigade was no more. The Syrians were poised to overrun the Golan headquarters at Nafakh and, seemingly, the entire Golan. That final stand, however, was enough to buy a few crucial additional minutes. While the Syrians paused to regroup after their final opposition had been neutralized, the first Israeli reserve units began reaching what had become the front lines. Finding Syrian tanks milling about their command headquarters, the Israelis immediately opened fire and attacked, dispersing the Syrians.

The arrival of the Israeli reservists spelled the beginning of the end for Syria. For both sides, the war had been about time–the Israelis doing all they could to buy time until their reserves arrived, and the Syrians racing against the clock to achieve their objectives before the Israeli mobilization. While many more bloody battles would take place, those first reserve units coming up the Golan and engaging the Syrians at Nafakh meant that the tide had turned.

The reservists found the Syrians enjoying nearly free reign in the Golan’s southern sector. With Syrian tanks advancing along the routes down toward the Jordan River, the critical situation allowed no time to organize divisions and brigades. Instead, platoons and companies of tanks and other units were rushed off to battle as quickly as the forces could be mustered, at times being thrown in against Syrian battalions and even brigades. The fresh Israeli reserve units halted the near–and, in some cases, actual–retreat of what remained of their front-line forces and set about checking the Syrian advance. By midnight on day two of the war, the reserves had managed to stabilize what had been a disintegrating front–with the Syrians having penetrated to areas a mere 10-minute drive from the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee and to less than a kilometer from El Al on the southern access road.

Those gains had not come easily. In spite of their superior numbers, the Syrians’ supply lines, extending great distances from their rear areas to points deep into the Golan, had been decimated by the Israeli defenders, and they could no longer replenish and support their forces. Convoys of supplies and reinforcements were under constant attack by the IDF/AF, as well as IDF armor and other ground forces, severely straining the Syrian advance. While the Syrians dug in to consolidate their gains, the Israelis went on the offensive.

Brigadier General Moshe Peled led a division up the Ein Gev road into the center of the southern sector while Maj. Gen. Dan Laner’s division moved up the Yehudia road farther to the north–a parallel advance that boxed in the 1st Syrian Armored Division and effectively brought the Syrians’ brief conquest to an end. The Syrians fought viciously to free themselves from that pincer movement. A major confrontation near Hushniya camp, which the Syrians had captured the previous night and turned into a forward supply base, ended with hundreds of wrecked, burning and smoldering Syrian tanks and armored vehicles and other vehicles littering the landscape.

By October 10, the Israelis had forced the Syrians back to the antebellum cease-fire line in the southern sector. Well aware of the strong Syrian defensive preparations in the south, Israel chose the northern Golan, with its more difficult, less-defended terrain, as the launching area for its counterattack into Syria itself. Among the units joining the counterattack was the reincarnated Barak Brigade. Since 90 percent of its original commanders had been killed or wounded, Barak’s remnants were joined by replacements, reorganized and returned to fighting strength for the counteroffensive that penetrated deep into Syria–until a United Nations-sanctioned cease-fire came into effect on October 23, officially ending hostilities.

Although the war ended with Israeli forces on the move toward the Syrian capital, the Yom Kippur War–or Ramadan War, as it is known to the Arabs–shattered the myth of Israeli invincibility. The Syrians’ success in maintaining the element of surprise and its forces’ discipline in executing its attack helped that country regain much of the honor it had lost in the debacle of 1967. The victorious Israelis, on the other hand, had won a Pyrrhic victory. Horrible losses had been suffered, epitomized by the obliteration of the 188th Barak Brigade. While the war reaffirmed the Israeli defense doctrine of relying on the reserves’ arrival within 24 hours to defeat a numerically superior enemy force, there was no time for celebration as the country buried the 2,222 soldiers who had paid the ultimate price for their country’s survival and attended to its 7,251 wounded.


This article was written by Gary Rashba and originally published in the October 1998 issue of Military History magazine.

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29 Responses to Yom Kippur War: Sacrificial Stand in the Golan Heights

  1. […] tells me, you know, it’s just a name, during the Yom Kippur War, there was a Barak brigade on the Golan Heights, and they mostly got overrun by the Syrians. So, a name means nothing to me. […]

  2. Omar Ibrahim says:

    An infrequently noted by product of the Yom Kippur war is that its aftermath witnessed the virtual dashing of any serious “peace” in the Middle East.
    The Ramadam war, as it is known in Arab countries, was the inevitable outcome of the Arab defeat in the 1967 war and was meant, primarily, to liberate Israeli occupied lands of both Egypt, the Sinai, and Syria, the Golan.
    Those objectives were substantially achieved or, at least, field military developments made them a distinct possibility.
    UNTIL the USA intervened with massive military aid to Israel to redress the military situation to Israel’s benefits and thus frustrate any possibility of a negotiated settlement between two “equal partners” as distinct from negotiations between the “victor” and the “vanquished” !

    The former setting in which both parties, the Arab side and the Israeli, would have been disillusioned would have provided the ONLY setting at which both sides would have had to succumb to the realities of the overall situation and concluded what both parties would have claimed to be to their respective constituencies an “honourable'” settlement.

    America’s pro Israel intervention to frustrate what was a plain Arab “liberation war”, initiated by US Secretary of State Kissinger, only bolstered and magnified Israeli illusions, ambitions and designs that led to the construction of more and bigger Settlements and upheld the vision of a greater Israel in Israeli circles while further antagonizing the Arab side, particularly the Arab masses, and depicting the USA as their prime enemy!

    The rest is HISTORY with meaningless and practically insignificant peace treaties and an escalating conflict in which major regional entities now have a major stake.

  3. William Northrop says:

    I suppose Mr. Ibrahim’s suppositions can be argued round or flat, but it should be noted that the 1973 October War took place within the context of the Cold War. If memory serves, the USA did replenish Israeli stocks, as did the Soviet Union for the Arabs.
    I also remember that a peace (of sorts) did come out of that war, specifically the Egyptian-Israeli accord that may not be to everyone’s liking, but is certainly far better than the state of war that existed prior to it.
    As to the war itself, it would be hard to characterize a winner, not that it matters 35 years later. The Israelis drove back the Syrians in the Golan and surrounded the Egyptian Third Army in Sinai. Still, nothing can match militarily the Egyptian Army’s canal crossing on 6 October 1973.
    Mr. Ibrahim sounds Palestinian… folks who tend to blame others for the lack of peace in the area. The West keeps pushing Israel toward a “two-state solution” while the Palestinians seem incapable of moving past their “one-state solution.” Like Mr. Ibrahim, I hold out little hope for a peaceful compromise. Perhaps our grandchildren will see it.

  4. Karim Moroccan says:

    Reading William Northrop’s response to Omar Ibrahim, one can not help but notice the prejudiced and bigoted comment towards the end in which Mr. Northrop claims that Ibrahim sounds Palestinian and that Palestinians, the victims of this conflict, are folks who tend to blame others.

    There is no peace without justice, Mr. Northrop.

    I hope our grandchildren will not espouse the prejudice displayed in your message.

    Historynet is not objective when it comes to covering this conflict. Their account is blatantly biased towards Israel.

  5. William Northrop says:

    Have not checked back on this site for several months, so forgive my tardiness in responding to Mr. Moroccan’s last missive. Prejudice, Mr. Moroccan? Yes, well perhaps, but pardon me if I drop the name calling and refuse to argue over which olive tree belonged to whom and when. Like you, I believe there can be no peace without justice. I am an American and over 500 of our citizens were killed by the PLO during the two Reagan Administrations alone. (That does not count 9-11 and those killed since then.) Very few were supporters of Israel and there was not one “Crusader” among them. So, who do we see about “justice” for them, Mr. Moroccan?

    The argument is not over Israel or American support for the Jewish State. The argument is over the Western influence in the Middle East … you and I both know that.

    In truth, I would be happy to leave you Arabs to your own devices, but you keep killing our citizens and it is hard for us to figure out why. So, prejudice, Mr. Moroccan? You bet. Me and the rest of the West, which does not agree with you or your methods.

  6. Jaspah says:

    I am 26 years old now and I was born and raised in the Philippines, a country also torn by not only one but numerous armed conflicts over the course of history. To be honest I love looking at the past especially if it comes to war and peace. Recently, I was able to get a hold of a video that gives in-depth analysis of the Yom Kippur war.

    Pulling back time as far there was no goverment in the middle east region who was and is interested in achieving peace internally and externally. I say that because when you look at the past governments or administrations there was no move, lobbying or government-sponsored initiative to promote peace in the region. Survival alone is not enough especially for those who are arguing about land and territory.

    We live in a world that grows smaller everyday. We get closer together by the internet, population explosion and migration. My hope is we stop blaming and start looking at the right approach toward peace. This is through unified effort to rid ourselves of extreme thinking but be moderate and painstakingly wise in our decisions. Again, it is easy for a normal citizen like myself. As I talk Notter is still with the Abu Sayyaff and some people evacuate. All these man-made acts done in the name of God!

  7. bruce says:

    Something rarely mentioned is Israel’s massive attacks on cities along Suez canal during occupation of Sinia prior to 1973 war. High toll in Egyptian civilian deaths caused evacuation of almost a million people. In one incident Israel bombed a girls’ school with many deaths.
    As always claimed it being an error,as Israel always claims.
    Also as important to note that the Israeli 1967 attack on EGYPT followed a 1956 Israel attack in collusion with the UK and France.Follwing 1956 war France would give Israel a nuclear reactor which would evolve into an illegal WMD program . Discovering Israel’s secret WMD program,JFK would threaten sanctions against Israel before his asassination in 1963.In 1967 Israel is puported to have had two primitive Nuclear devices as a fallaback position,if sneak attack on it’s 3 neighbors failed.
    By 1973 in Egypt there was no doubt of Israeli belligerent intent.
    Only in the West did Israeli spin gain Traction.
    That same spin was used to get US into Iraq and same group has Iran in crosshairs.

    According to The Christian Science Monitor,Israel has cost the US TAXPAYER over $1.3 TRILLION since 1973.
    Also never mentioned!

  8. Proud American says:

    There can be no doubt that Israel emerged victorious from the Yom Kippur War. Despite the fact that the Arabs had the element of surprise and numerical superiority, the Israelis succeeded in smashing their attack and mounted a successful counter-offensive of their own. By war’s end, the Israelis were 20 miles from Damascus and 50 miles from Cairo. Egypt’s III Army Corps was trapped and was forced to rely on Israel for food, water and medicine.

    The brute statistics of war point to an Israeli victory. The Arabs lost 5 aircraft for every 1 Israeli. They lost 5.6 tanks for every 1 Israeli, nearly 10 killed soldiers for every 1 Israeli. 19-34 Arab naval vessels were sunk without a single Israeli loss. The Israelis also captured nearly 10,000 POWs (mostly Egyptian). Israel captured 500 Sq Km from Syrian and 1,600 Sq. Km. from Egypt. Israel’s west bank salient more than made up for any territorial loss on the east bank.

    Some Egyptians still pathetically cling to a fantasy of victory but this is no more than a revisionist wet dream and the statistics of war prove otherwise. There are four reasons for this erroneous Egyptian belief.

    1. Expectations: Israel’s victory over the Arabs in the 6-Day War was so devastating and the Arab loss so complete, that anything short of a total rout in the next round would seem like a defeat. Israeli expectations were extremely high and Arab expectations were extremely low. However looking at the war objectively without comparing it through the prism of the 6-Day War, there can be no doubt that Israel emerged victorious.

    2. Perceptions: Arab perceptions of victory are different than Western perceptions. In the West, victory means winning on the battlefield and accomplishing your objectives and doing so at the lowest possible cost. By this standard the Israelis clearly won. There battlefield victory was complete and when the cease-fire went into effect, the Arabs were at a tactical disadvantage. It was their capitals that were threatened, not Israel’s. However, to Arabs, the concept of honor is paramount. Just by initiating a fight and holding territory for a few days meant that a measure of honor was restored. It didn’t matter that they were ultimately defeated. Foe Arabs, the view that dominates are those first 2-4 days.

    Media Censorship: Whereas Israel a democracy with a vibrant, free press, Arab governments stifle press freedoms. Thus, when the war began going badly for them, the Arabs simply continued on with false propaganda claims of phantom Arab victories and ficticious Israeli losses. The most stunning example of this is the way Egypt dealt with its former army Chief of Staff, Saad Shazly. Following the war, he published a book about the war that portrayed the Egyptian army and its high command in a less than stellar light. For that indiscretion, he was arrested and his book was banned in Egypt. By contrast, Israel was open and honest about the war and a commision was established to deal with shortcomings.

    Arab make-believe: Arabs have a tendency to create for themselves a euphoric word of make-believe that is simply divorced from reality. We’ve seen this time and again. In 1948, Egypt falsely claimed that its forces were on the outskirts of Tel-Aviv, when they couldn’t even get passed the small settlements that blocked their path. In 1956, Egypt claimed victory when its forces were routed from Sinai with horrible lossed. In 1967, Egypt claimed that it destroyed the Israeli Air Force when in fact, the opposite was true. When the Egyptians were finally forced to face reality, they blamed their loss on the Americans and British, claiming absurdely that Anglo planes participated in the battle. Sadat played the same card during the 73 War, blaming his bad fortunes on America and claiming that he could no longer “fight the Americans.” The latest example of this absurdity is the 2009 Gaza war where Hamas lost 709 fighters for the loss of 9 Israeli soldiers (4 of whom were killed by friendly fire) and yet Hamas declared “victory.”

    It is truly sad that the Arabs can not accept reality and continue to create for themselves a bubble of delusional fantasy. Their claims of victory are about as genuine as their desire for “peace.”

  9. Eslam Mohamed says:

    SInce i am not willing to discuss the 1973 war, i will just discuss the american policies toward israil, which influenced this war and all the other wars which israil was a part of it.

    first of all i will copy a part of Washington’s Farewell Address 1796 :

    In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

    So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

    As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

    after reading this part, now lets read another article:

    I will just post an article by James J. David who is a retired Brigadier General and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington DC. He served as a Company Commander with the 101st Airborne Division in the Republic of Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 and also served nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969.

    Passionate attachment to Israel:

    by James J. David

    Is there any criminal act that Israel can do without being protected from criticism from the United States? If there is I haven’t seen it. And I haven’t seen it from the Bush Administration or from the Clinton Administration or from any administration before them. But when you consider the influence of Israel’s lobby and its political action committees and the more than $41 million they’ve given to Congress and the White House, is it any wonder Israel is shielded from any shame?

    For more than 54 years the Israelis have committed acts that no other nation would dare get away with. But even here in America, where it is not yet illegal to publicly ask the wrong questions, any public figure that does so is subjected to smears, intimidation, and the attempted destruction of his career and reputation by Jewish organizations and by the very cooperative news media.

    A few examples of these criminal acts committed by Israel include the treacherous attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, killing 34 American sailors and wounding another 171. There can now be no disputing that Israel knew its identity, and that the ship was in international waters and clearly marked as a US Naval vessel. What was most treacherous though was not the perfidy of Israel but that of President Johnson ordering the recall of the sixth fleet when he found out that the attackers were not the Arabs but the Israelis. The treasonous compliance continues today as corrupt politicians refuse to take any action against Israel and continue their efforts in hushing-up the whole affair although there seems to be a strong campaign by the Liberty survivors and other brave patriotic Americans in exposing the Israelis of their criminal attack.

    Another example of Israel’s callous disregard for its supposed “ally” America was the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, which killed over 200 US servicemen. According to former Israeli Mossad agent, Victor Ostrovsky, Israeli intelligence knew of the plan by Arab terrorists to bomb the building in plenty of time to warn the innocent men, but cynically refused to say anything.

    In April 1996 the Israelis attacked an U.N. refugee camp in Qana, Lebanon and killed 103 innocent men, women, and especially children. A U.N. investigation determined the attack was intentional and stated that ” while the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, the pattern of impacts in the Qana area makes it unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of technical and/or procedural errors.” Shortly after this report the U.N. Security Council voted to condemn Israel for the attack and all nations with the exception of the U.S. voted in favor of the resolution. In other words, intentionally slaughtering 103 civilians was not sufficient for the United States to condemn Israel. Yet, when Hezbollah attacks Israel’s illegal occupation of southern Lebanon and results in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers the U.S. is first to condemn this legal resistance.

    During the past 27 months the Palestinian resistance from the brutal and illegal Israeli occupation has resulted in more than 2000 Palestinians and 670 Israelis killed. When Israelis are killed or injured by Palestinian suicide bombers the White House wastes not a second to harshly condemn these brutal acts, and it does so in an understandable manner. But when Israelis drop a one-ton bomb in the center of a Gaza City apartment complex and kills 15 innocent Palestinians including 9 small children the U.S. issues a diplomatic statement criticizing the attack only as using “excessive force.” Other times when Palestinian children are slaughtered for throwing stones at tanks the United States remains silent.

    These are just a few of the criminal acts committed by the Israeli government and shielded from criticism by U.S. politicians or even reported by the controlled media.

    Although September 11th brought the fight on terrorism to the front burner, it seems that the United States protects Israel from any criticism here too. An Israeli instant-messaging firm Odigo confirmed that two employees received text messages warning of an attack on the World Trade Center two hours before terrorists crashed planes into the New York landmarks. (Ha’aretz, December 20, 2002.) Is it possible that Israel had foreknowledge of the attack? Could this be the answer why the Israeli employees at the World Trade Center never showed up for work that tragic September morning? If this is the case then the fact that Israel’s government had prior knowledge of the pending attack and not warned the Americans makes them as guilty as our enemy. Whatever the case, our government must make a complete and thorough investigation without any threats from Jewish and Israeli interest groups.

    Shielding Israel from criticism and supporting the Jewish state no matter what crimes she commits has caused the United States the loss of respect around the world. In addition, Israel has cost American taxpayers more than $120 billion in the past 40 years. Our one-sided unbalanced Middle East policy has created the hatred of millions and the primary cause of terrorism that has landed on our own soil.

    Criticizing our government’s dangerous policies and its submissions to the Jewish lobby doesn’t make anyone less patriotic or any less of an American. George Washington said it best when he stated that “passionate attachment to another nation produces a variety of evils…the illusion of common interests where no real common interests exist; adopting the enmities of the other; and participation in the quarrels and wars of the other without any justification. Still another evil is that such a passionate attachment gives to ambitious, corrupted or deluded citizens the facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country.”

    • Naturalized American says:

      Mr Mohamed’s comments are essentially an antisemitic diatribe.

      First, the premise that US attachment to Israel is not in the national interest is absurd. I would ask, which other country in the Middle East has a common national interest? Would any American choose to live in Syria? How about Egypt or Iraq? Maybe Iran? The area is filled with militant tribes, many of whom espouse a fundamentalist Islamic ideology foreign and absurd to any westerner. When Sadat had the vision to make peace with Isreal, he was executed by his own people. I would ask Mr Mohamed if we should change our alignment towards Egypt, ostensibly our ally in the region. Recent events only show the inability of the people in the area to resist destruction. The first thing the Egytians did after overthrowing Sadat is to attack their Coptic minority and start a riot at a soccer game. After deposing one despot, they then elect another.

      The letter by James David is similarly motivated by pure antisemitism. There is a continued myth that the unfortunate attack on the Liberty was intentional. I would ask, what is the motive? Why would Israel attack the country on which it bases its security.

      I will not address all of Mr Mohamed’s hate inspired comment but will finish with the comments towards Sept 11. Research will show that two Odigo employees indeed received text messages two hours before the attack. However the message was received in Israel not the US. There was no instruction sent to Odigo employees in the US because Odigo did not have offices in the WTC. These allegations are similar to Hitler setting fire to the Reichschtag in order to blame others. In an attempt to divorce Muslims from one of the most heinous crimes on Americans, Mr Mohamed blame Israel, i.e. the Jews.

      As long as fanatics on both sides continue to list past grievances as justification of their continued hostility, I am affraid peace will never be acheived.

  10. Arben Lycos says:

    The US re supply to Israel was intentionally delayed by Kissinger, who wanted Israel to lose , so as to make Israel more tractable to negotiations. Kissinger was finally over ruled by Nixon , but this was not until about the 20 of October, at which time , the Israeli forces had already surrounded the Egyptian 3rd army and crashed into the suburbs of Damascus. The Arabs at this point were already totally defeated. It was a huge mistake for Israel to
    accept the delayed US aid on the conditions the US state department, which historically has a strong pro Arab bent, made, because the peace terms were horrible for Israel. Also the subsequent linkage of Israel to the US military supply chain has locked in Israel to buying often very pricey US military hardware and Israel is not allowed to develop its own technologies. Witness the Israelis being forced to dissolve the Lavi fighter program after spending billions on it. Now Israel finds itself in a deadly conundrum dependent on Obama, who is very pro Arab and pro Islamic in his leanings. Obama believes a nuclear Iran is inevitable and can be contained and in fact he and his lackeys have already developed plans for containing Iran for the next 20 years, which will jack up US military spending to catastrophic , bankruptcy levels. And Israel, the probably first target of Iran, is unfortunately dependent on US whims and fantasies about
    the intentions of various groups in the middle east like Fatah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, and Iran, all these interpretations being made by people like Katherine Power and Ben Rhodes who live in fantasy land.

    horrible situation which will have ramifications way beyond Israel and the middle east. People in the US should be aware that the US is doing everything possible to tie israel’s hands to prevent them from defending themselves and that this has been US doctrine since 1973,

  11. Keith Shisler says:

    Let me ask this question, though it may sound cynical.
    If Egypt and Syria would have succeeded in destroying Israel’s defense forces in 1973 do you suppose that they would have stopped when the territories they claim are theirs were captured, or would they have continued until Israel ceased to exist?
    Is it not true that many in the Arab world deny that Israel has a right to exist and, that all of her lands rightfully belong to others who were there before?
    I do not pretend to answer the question of who Israel’s lands belong to.
    However, the fact that Israel exists there now seems to necessarily make it impossible for her people to allow themselves to be overrun.
    What is the more imperitive human right? The right to exist, or the right to claim a portion of land that is in dispute?
    It seems to me that if Israel wins it takes a bit of land, if the Arab nations win an entire country ceases to exist.
    If my premise that the true Arab intent is to destroy Israel is wrong then this whole paragraph is useless I suppose, but since many Arab leaders in the past loudly called for Israel’s destruction and removal from the face of the planet one cannot blame Israel for taking them at their word.

  12. John from Fresno California says:

    Iran will be the great equalizer
    Iran will inevitably develop nuclear weapons , the balance of power in the region will be affected . Israel will no longer hold ascendency over its neighbours Syria and Lebanon. Israel is a state that operates outside of international law! It doesn’t respect United Nations Resolutions that ordered it to withdraw from occupied Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian lands. The latter situation has created the need for Syria and Iran to unite in order to defend their respective sovereign lands and resources from being seized by the war mongering Israelites . There will never be peace in the middle east because one side( ISRAEL ! ) has a ‘’ Carte Blanche ‘’ from the west ( the USA ! ) to do whatever it wants in the Middle East !
    As long as Israel is not accountable to the security counsel of the United Nations there will only be more bloodshed in the Middle East . Syria and Iran only want to recover what was stolen by the Jews ( which everyone knows is Arab land ) .
    Israel didn’t fair well against the Lebanese resistance movement in 2006 , I predict that there will be another round in about 5 to 10 years , the next time there might be more powerful munitions used against the self declared chosen people ! Israel should invest in lead based clothing to protect it’s population from excessive radiation exposure .

  13. Keith Shisler says:

    If someone from Nevada were lobbing morter shells into your neighborhood and the government of nevada would not put a stop to it would you become a warmonger and call for california to invade nevada and take the lands that she owns that are in morter range of your home?

  14. Harry Latto says:

    With some of the posters, it is considered a “crime” for Israelis to defend themselves. What they do in pure self-defense, any other nation would do. Only this one nation, of the 200 or so on Earth, is denied this right. The reason is that the posters believe that the real obligation of Jews is once and for all to resolve the “Jewish question,” by dying. Then, there will be peace.

  15. […] Yom Kippur War). Read the one chapter titled, The Epic Of The Seventh Brigade. In the meantime: Yom Kippur War: Sacrificial Stand in the Golan Heights They otherwise didn't "run back home". There was a cease fire, which called for the […]

  16. […] Posted By HistoryNet Staff On 6/12/2006 @ 8:15 pm In Military History | 15 Comments […]

  17. Hal says:

    The IDF today is criminal…killing innocent kids, women!! Sure they defended well in 73…why are they treating arabs like jews in ww2?

  18. Jose Veras says:

    I should be considered fairly neutral, as not having any kind of family or business ties to either arabs or jewish, but the reality is that the arabs are simply dead wrong.
    When the UN mandated partition was established back in 1948, the estate of Israel was just a tiny portion of land, which was promptly attacked by several arab countries.
    Much to their dismay and shame, they lost a significant amount of ground to the band of jewish fighters, and thus, the history started. In every war I can recall, if the loser lost ground, that’s it. One has to wonder why Israel should give back the land that cost them so much blood ? How come that the US has not been asked to give back to Mexico several border estates??
    I don’t think the jewish are saints or anything close, but mostly, they are correct…as for the so called aggression of 1967, guess it’s easy to forget that Egypt had blocked the straits of Tiran ( a real casus belli) a few days prior to the attack, and what is more, had its full army threatening the borders or tiny Israel, saying to all world that the war had the purpose of eliminating the estate of Israel….boy, and what else is needed?
    For those ignorants who do not know any better, may I remind them that back in 1967, Israel had not one single US weapon (new), but had to do with leftovers scrounged from all over Europe, and a few french fighters.
    While true that the IDF has caused civil losses, how come that it is allowed or ethical to shoot mortars from a school or hospital? Where do you aim your counter fire? Perhaps if the arabs showed a bit more courage and faced soldiers with soldiers, this kind of incidents surely would be avoided, but why to lose the image of victims to the world? Guess it’s great to show pictures of slain children to the liberal press, even if knowlingly killed by the actions of their parents?
    The Yom Kippur war was a military catastrophe for Egypt and Sirya, even if with all the advantages of “surprise” and years of preparation, could not achieve any victory.
    If reinforcements were so critical, well, both Egypt and Sirya got far more from the U.R.S.S. than Israel from the US, so another invalid excuse for their sheer incompetence.

    • talba says:

      I beg to differ. When the Israelis first entered the territories, they bull dozed thousands of homes with 2 minute warnings at best, not allowing even to run in to grab their babies shoes. The Palestinians were very peaceful and docile at the start and for so long until the US and Israel created Hamas type groups and armed them in order to make the Palestinian people the bad guys and justify imprisoning them in the Gaza. Many of the morter, or should I say home made bottle rocket attacks are all they have, and often are false flag attacks on Israelis, by Israelis to blame it on Palestinians to justify gun ship attacks by air. You got to dig for the truth on these things as guess who owns all the western news?

  19. talba says:

    More insight into this war has in recent years been revealed by advisers to Sadat of Egypt at the time, saying Sadat ordered his military to just stand still and not advance, when it was obvious, they could’ve over run the Israelis at will. This was because he made a deal with the US and Kissinger to create this little limited war to help prop up his sinking popularity in Egypt, so he left Syria hanging out to dry and Syria knew this when the Egyptian units were ordered so stop their advance and also turning down the offered help of the Jordanians to stop the Israeli reserves. Israel was supposed to be the invincible army, best trained and the Syrians, even with all their numbers, were not expected to fight near as well as they did. The US planned for Israel to plea for their help in return for willing to negotiate, as they were very bull headed and needed to be humbled. The more you did into the truth, the more the story changes. I’m sure the rabbit hole gets deeper…

  20. […] a b c d e f Rashba, Gary (October 1998, online June 12, 2006). Yom Kippur War: Sacrificial Stand in the Golan Heights. Military History magazine via […]

  21. […] a b c d e f Rashba, Gary (October 1998, online June 12, 2006). Yom Kippur War: Sacrificial Stand in the Golan Heights. Military History magazine via […]

  22. […] http://historynet.wpengine.com/yom-kippur-war-sacrificial-stand-in-the-golan-heights.htm Dead IDF Centurion Tank on the Golan Heights The Syrian 1st Armored Division was advancing up the route toward the Golan HQ at Nafakh. Colonel Yitzhak Ben-Shoham, the Barak Brigade’s commander, realized his brigade was for all intents and purposes destroyed. He therefore organized and led a small group of surviving tanks in a holding action that slowed the Syrian advance on his HQ for several hours until he and the rest of the defenders were killed. With the brigade commander dead, no reserves in sight and two Syrian brigades advancing toward the Golan HQ–and with some units having bypassed the base on both flanks–the situation could only be described as grave. Lead elements of the Syrian brigades actually reached Nafakh and broke through the base’s southern perimeter. One Syrian T-55 crashed into General Eitan’s HQ, only to be knocked out by the last operational tank in Gringold’s platoon. . At that point, Eitan evacuated his headquarters to an improvised location farther to the north. Those left to defend the base manned two trackless Centurions from the camp repair depot and fired bazookas in a final stand that knocked out several Syrian tanks until those last Israeli tanks were destroyed. . The 188th Barak Brigade was no more. […]

  23. […] The 36th and its component Brigades have a long and proud history but October 1973 was a long time ago. Using armor brigades to spearhead a COIN operation? That’s just […]

  24. […] 6, 1973, during Yom Kippur Israeli mobsters fought a bitter war against Syrian army to protect Golan Heights real estate it stole from its neighbor during June 1967 Jewish aggression. During the war,  a squadron of […]

  25. […] that if elected, he will go to Korea. 1970Leftist Salvador Allende elected president of Chile. 1973Yom Kippur War ends. 1980Poland’s government legalizes the Solidarity trade union. 1992Toronto Blue Jays win […]

  26. Dee says:

    Wow! With biased posts such as these, small wonder the region still boils with hatred!

  27. Alia Ballout says:

    This article is full of bigotry and lacks a good understanding of the current situation.

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