One of the topics that has remained a “state secret” for almost half a century is related to the so-called “special devices” which Israel had in the Yom Kippur War. To be clear, these are not things related to Dimona or Jericho rockets, but very different things.
According to foreign publications (and some Israeli materials, see for example the book by Eitan Haber, Ze’ev Shif and Daniel Asher, The Lexicon of the Doomsday War), the “special devices” were intelligence instruments that exploited the most advanced technology available to Israel at the time. I would like to mention, as I wrote in the article “Electronic warfare and the Doomsday War”, that the lessons learned from the mistakes and miscalculations made during the war allowed Israel to become a leader in the field of electronic warfare in the air ...
According to publications, these were special electronic surveillance equipment, installed in Egypt next to the underground branches of communications. They were so sensitive and clever that they were capable of transmitting not only the electronic signals of the communication cables next to which they were placed, but also of listening to the rooms in which the telephones connected to those cables were located!
As has already been said, all information related to this subject has been protected as a “state secret” until today. There are a number of reasons for this:
Firstly, a special operation had to be performed to lay and install these devices on Egyptian territory. Apparently, all this work was carried out by the special unit “Sayaret Matkal” (“Special Forces of the General Staff”) under the commander of the Chief of Intelligence of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (i.e. military intelligence of Israel — “AMAN”) and directly subordinate to the “Special Operations” department of AMAN.
Moreover, in order to keep the devices in good working order, the batteries in them had to be replaced from time to time. In other words, extra operations that required complex and dangerous entry into the territory of a hostile state.
Secondly, the embedded devices were the top technology of their time, and the information they transmitted was ultra-sensitive.
Finally, thirdly, it is obvious that it was a case of eavesdropping on the offices and other facilities of the highest level of political and military elite in Egypt. Therefore, even today Israel is not interested in publishing all the information, not wanting to harm its relations with that country.
The fact of using, or perhaps “not using” these devices during the starting point of the War of Judgment is still one of the most debated topics today. Almost all Senior military intelligence officials blame Eli Zeira, the head of AMAN during the Yom Kippur War, in one way or another, for not using the devices to test the suspicions of a possible war outbreak. Moreover, there are those who accuse Zeira of creating the false impression that the systems were turned on, on the basis of which, insisting that he understood the situation exactly, he was able to convince the military and political leadership that the war outbreak assumption was not valid.
As we all know, the result was that Eli Zeira was found by the Agranat Commission to be the person most responsible for the failure to warn Israel in time for the outbreak of war. And considering that, the Agranat commission was not empowered to discuss the degree of responsibility of the political leadership for the Yom Kippur war mistakes, it dealt only with the responsibility of the army command.
Another point should also be emphasized. In attempting to shift the total responsibility for the aforementioned collapse onto the military command, it would be quite wrong to underestimate the direct responsibility of the political leadership at the time, Moshe Dayan, the defense minister, and Golda Meir, the prime minister. After all, it was they who, even after the final confirmation from Ashraf Marwan, the highest-ranking Egyptian spy that Israel had ever commanded, refused the request of David “Dado” Elazar, then Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, to launch a preventive strike against Syria and Egypt and, moreover, objected to the necessary mobilization of reservists.
Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan consciously chose to carry out this colossal failure entirely out of fear of “what other nations would say” and so that “they would not blame Israel”. Thus they were exactly responsible for the terrible failure that delayed the mobilization of the reserves and forced the tiny Israeli regular forces to hold back the vastly superior force of the tens of thousands of Syrian and Egyptian soldiers and the thousands of tanks and APCs that poured into Israel, literally at the cost of their lives.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, King Moshiach SHLITA, has for years reminded us of this horrific failure, demanding that we learn an important lesson from it:
In matters of security, one should never trust any political considerations, but rather consider only the opinions of the security experts in their respective positions. Only they should be trusted in such matters!