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Mistakes of the Israeli government before the Yom Kippur War

Only recently have the details of this Israeli agent come to light. Previously, for many years, even his name was a closely guarded secret.

23.01.2023 169 (0)
Mistakes of the Israeli government before the Yom Kippur War
Mistakes of the Israeli government before the Yom Kippur War

In his speech on the 9th Kislev, 1978, the Rebbe tells for the first time in public how in the face of the Yom Kippur War the Israeli government refused to mobilize the reserves in advance and refused to launch a preventive strike even though it had been informed of the enemy’s attack. Part I...

A night call from London

In the morning the silence of the night on the edge of Yom Kippur, which also marked the Shabbat that year, was interrupted by the telephone ringing. Picking up the phone, Freddy Einy, head of the office of the Israeli foreign intelligence service (Mossad), heard on the other end of the line, in London, the voice of his direct commander, Mossad chief Zvi Zamir.

The dialogue between them was brief and contained only a few sentences with pre-specified code phrases whose meaning remained clear only to them: “Anyway, the company is going to sign the contract tonight... they know that tomorrow is a holiday... I talked to the director, but he will not delay the signing due to promises to other directors that he is not willing to cancel... They are playing ahead and are afraid that everything will become known before the signing... Then some of the shareholders might change their minds... They have no partners outside the region. In Angel’s opinion, the chances of signing are 99.9%...”

This crucial conversation was the last warning of the imminent start of the Yom Kippur war. The Mossad chief transmitted it immediately after meeting with the most important Israeli agent, Ashraf Marwan, son-in-law of the former Egyptian president Nasser (may we forget the name of this villain). The warning was hidden inside code phrases, since the telephone conversation was not on a secure line, but on a regular line.

Eini immediately reported the content of the call to the head of the Military Intelligence Agency (AMAN), Eli Zeira, as well as to the military secretaries of the prime minister and the defense minister, who in turn immediately reported the information to higher authorities.

The phrases uttered in the conversation meant the following:

“The signing of the contract is the beginning of the war. “The director will not delay” — the beginning of the war is not delayed and is definitely set for the next day. “They ... fear that things will become known ... some of the shareholders might change their minds” — the Arab countries were afraid of losing the surprise effect (in other words, according to this information, if the leaders of Egypt and Syria knew that Israel was ready to attack them, they might have changed their minds and refused to start the war at all). “They have no partners” — the USSR has no intention of taking part in this war. “Angel” was the pseudonym of Ashraf Marwan, the most important Israeli agent who delivered the exact message of the beginning of the war.

Briefly, the last warning made it clear that the decision to “sign” — i.e. to start the war had been taken definitively and there was no longer any doubt.

The best agent among our agents

As has already been mentioned, the message was sent to Israel by what the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Mossad have dubbed “the best agent Israel has ever had”.

Ашраф Маруан
Ашраф Маруан

Being the son-in-law of Egyptian President Nasser, Ashraf Marwan served in the presidential office. When his influential father-in-law died, however, Marwan did not lose his position, but rather managed to reach an even higher position in the Egyptian establishment, becoming a personal assistant and one of the closest trusted officials of the new president, Sadat.

Closeness to the president meant not only regular invitations to family dinners, but also the constant secret assignments that Sadat began to entrust to Marwan. In fact, Marwan became Sadat’s personal emissary to Arab leaders.

The fact that Israel had an agent at the highest level — actually in the depths of the presidential apparatus of Egypt, the country that was the undisputed leader of the Arab world at that time — was of course an exceptional achievement, still rightly considered an unprecedented success in the history of world intelligence.

Only recently have the details of this Israeli agent come to light. Previously, for many years, even his name was a closely guarded secret.

In this case, one of the most surprising facts of this extraordinary story is that Marwan was not “recruited” by Israel in the usual sense of the word. The Mossad agents did not approach Marwan with offers of cooperation. He himself, first, came to the Israelis, contacting the Israeli embassy in London, approximately four years before the start of the Yom Kippur War.

To this day, neither his supervisors nor the Israeli intelligence chiefs know what prompted this man to take such an extraordinary step. Perhaps the motive was financial, after all, he did receive large sums of money for his services. Or maybe his desire to help Israel was formed on the background of family quarrel, which emerged, as it turned out later, between him and his father-in-law — President Nasser.

One way or another, the ultimate dream of AMAN and Mossad came true — God willing, the people of Israel received a truly magnificent gift: the Egyptian President’s son-in-law who had turned to Mossad at his own initiative began to work actively in Jewish state intelligence.

After a series of thorough inspections, which convinced the senior intelligence officials that this was not a “double agent,” the Mossad received valuable information from Marwan. The messages coming from him were numerous, diverse and of exceptional quality. It became clear that they were indeed coming from the deepest inner circle of the Egyptian military-political leadership.

In particular, in the course of the checks to which Marwan was subjected, he was asked to obtain a detailed Egyptian plan for war with Israel. The purpose of this request was also to assess his capabilities — the degree of penetration into the circles of the Egyptian elite. Understandably, military plans of this kind have the highest level of secrecy. Nevertheless, Israeli intelligence had already obtained some details of the Egyptian military plan from other sources. So Israel decided to test how much information from Marwan would match what was already known and thus assess his reliability as a source.

If the information provided by Marwan turned out to be partial or not at all in line with what was already known in Israel, it would have been clear that he was most likely a “double agent”. But neither this, nor a series of subsequent investigations showed any sign of “double game. Israel received from Marwan a complete and detailed military plan that provided the IDF high command with extensive information, which, in turn, made it possible to prepare efficiently the IDF for the future war.

An incredible source of information — a wonderful gift to the people of Israel

Soon Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan became informed about this new and surprising source of information. They were so interested in Marwan that they demanded from the intelligence service something unprecedented — never seen before — that intelligence service should immediately give them any information it received from this new agent. Intelligence veterans of that period recall that Golda and Dayan were literally “hooked” on the materials that came into the country from Marwan...

As mentioned above, after Nasser’s death Marwan continued his rise up through the ranks, becoming almost the closest trusted person in the inner circle of the new President Sadat.

Each time, the messages he sent became more and more significant and complete. Among the information received from Marwan were transcripts of conversations between the Egyptian leader and the heads of the USSR, Egyptian requests for military purchases and the Kremlin’s responses to them, the contents of meetings of the Egyptian Cabinet of Ministers, the Egyptian General Staff, plans for individual operations and the entire future war, including details of the deployment of Egyptian military units, in short — almost all the most important Egyptian secrets.

In addition, Marwan’s reports clarified the balance of power and attitudes in the Egyptian political and military leadership, including differences of approach and lines of thought, as well as struggles within Egypt’s most influential circles.

All this, obviously, was incredibly valuable material and certainly helped the Israeli leadership to build its policy in the confrontation with Egypt in the best possible way.

It was Marwan who gave the head of the Mossad the information that led to the disruption of the attack against the El-Al aircraft in Italy prepared by the Libyan secret services. It was supposed to be revenge for the shooting down of a Libyan passenger jet by mistake by the Israeli army which had just earlier accidentally entered Israeli airspace.

The shoulder-mounted rockets sent to the Black September terrorists were supposed to, G-d forbid, shoot down Israeli planes. But the information transmitted by Marwan, who, as Sadat’s personal messenger to Libya in particular, was well acquainted with this plan of the Libyan leadership, made it possible, by the grace of the Almighty and by His miracles revealed to us, to prevent the terrible terrorist attack.

In short, it is hard not to see the great miracle in this story, unprecedented in the intelligence world, that one of the most trusted men of the Egyptian president became a loyal and active agent, regularly passing on all the most hidden secrets of his country, to those who were considered its main enemy.

This miracle was, without exaggeration, the greatest Almighty`s providence that the people of Israel had ever experienced. Personally, I cannot recall any other time in the history of world intelligence when an agent has been so close to the supreme leader of a country and passed on so many of its innermost secrets.

All of the aforementioned is intended to emphasize the importance and seriousness of the warning of war transmitted by Marwan. No wonder that the recognition that the source was none other than Marwan, a valuable, accurate and reliable agent, who knew almost all the secrets and vulnerabilities of the Egyptian leadership, prompted David Elazar, chief of the Israeli general staff, to begin immediate preparations for war.

At a government meeting on the second day of fighting (Sunday 11 Tishrei), Prime Minister Golda Meir said: “The information reached us by chance, by a miracle, only in a hundred years can we tell what we knew after all, and how amazing that we received this warning...”

The Plan of Elazar: Maximum Mobilization of the Reservists and a Preventive Air Strike

From the large amount of material already permitted to be published about that war, one can draw a clear conclusion. After receiving a warning of the imminent and inevitable outbreak of war, Major General David Elazar, head of the general staff, demanded that the political leadership allow him the two steps necessary to successfully confront the approaching war and save many lives: 1. Mobilize as many reservists as possible. 2. Conduct a preventive counterattack to destroy enemy missile complexes and airfields, and to strike the enemy ground forces deployed along the borders.

Later, in his testimony before the Agranat Commission (a state investigation commission established in November 1973 to examine IDF actions at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War, chaired by Supreme Court President Justice Shimon Agranat) Elazar described in detail the counterattack he considered necessary against the Syrian and Egyptian armies. He detailed his demand for a preventive strike in a crucial meeting with Prime Minister Golda Meir on the morning of Yom Kippur, hours before the war began: “A preventive strike is, of course, a tremendous advantage. It will save many lives... I told the prime minister that it is a tremendous advantage, and it will save many lives... I explained why I attach so much importance to a preventive strike. I presented the scenario of the destruction of Syrian missiles, the freedom of action and, as a consequence, the lowering of enemy pressure.”

In other words, the Chief of Staff demanded a preventive strike that would suppress Syrian SAM systems, give freedom of action to our air force, and thus lessen the expected heavy enemy pressure from Syrian air defense and ground forces.

By suppressing the Syrian SAMs, our air force would have been able to strike at the enemy ground units concentrated on the border, which had an enormous numerical advantage over the relatively small regular IDF forces opposing them.

“We were able to completely destroy the Syrian air force by 12 o’clock,” Elazar continued, “After that it would take us another three hours to eliminate the missile complex.

In other words, according to the Chief of General Staff, according to what had been planned and practiced during the Air Force exercises, a few hours would have been enough to eliminate the Syrian missiles and airfields. This is exactly what Elazar was proposing to do, seeking approval from the political authorities.

Elazar continued his testimony by revealing that already in a preliminary conversation with Defense Minister Dayan, he had received a refusal to conduct a preventive strike — Dayan was afraid of the United States reaction.

Therefore, Elazar continued, he tried to persuade Prime Minister Meir to accept the option of a preventive attack: “And I tried to explain that we don’t essentially need a green light from the United States, it is enough that the United States authorities will know ... that war will start tonight ... the United States, like us, understand what a strategic surprise means, they will perfectly understand why we have a preventive strike”.

Unfortunately, as we shall see, the Prime Minister did not accept the arguments of the Chief of Staff and did not allow him to make the crucial preventive strike, even though it could have “saved many lives”.

In another part of his testimony before the Agranatha Commission, Elazar reports a very clear statement by the defense minister, repeated twice, at an Air Force task force and during discussions with the prime minister: “If we find out that war is really coming, the Air Force will get the opportunity to attack first.”

Thus, according to the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Defense promised, to provide the possibility of a preventive strike in the event if Israel finds out that the country is about to be attacked.

Furthermore, in the same part of his testimony Elazar claims that if a preventive strike had been carried out, it is highly probable that a follow-up Syrian attack would have failed or not even started at all.

And if it had, “the IAF could have been very effective in restraining ... so that the situation would not have been so serious. Then the IDF could, according to the Chief of Staff, have sent its reserve division to the south (and not to the north, where it was sent because of the extremely dangerous situation on the Syrian front). In addition: “The air force would have been able to operate in the south already on Sunday” (the fighting on the Egyptian front would have been much easier and faster, since the reserve division would have arrived there, and there would have been air support).

“As a result,” Elazar concluded, “the war would have ended a few days earlier and we would have done without American supplies,” in other words, an American air bridge would not have been needed at all!

Unfortunately, the second demand of Elazar’s chief of staff for a large-scale draft of reservists was also rejected. This decision, also, had very serious consequences.

The request to mobilize the reservists and launch a preventive strike: a chronicle of events

In the morning, at 05:50 in the office of Defense Minister Dayan a meeting began. First of all, Dayan wanted to know what was said in the message transmitted by the Mossad to Marwan. Brigadier General Yehoshua Raviv, the Minister of Defense’s military secretary, who received the news directly from the chief of the Mossad office, Eini, claimed that the war was going to start tonight, and that Sadat would not change his mind (i.e. the start of the war would not be delayed).

The Minister of Defense was not satisfied, however, and asked to speak to Eini directly, who repeated word for word what he had heard from his chief Zamir: "The war will start in the evening, and they won’t delay it. The Egyptians are very afraid that if their intentions are made known before the war starts, their partners (the Syrians) might change their minds. There is a 99.9% chance that the war will break out.

For his part, the chief of general staff, Elazar, added that according to the aerial photo transcripts, the Egyptians have deployed eight additional anti-aircraft batteries. “They intend to attack tonight,” he concluded. “Therefore,” Elazar concluded, “it is necessary to launch a preventive strike against the airports, anti-aircraft systems and ground forces on the border.

But Dayan refused to authorize a preventive strike, saying that the issue was not even under discussion “even if we were to receive some heavenly glory for it” (in other words, it did not matter what benefit a preventive strike would bring to the army — he would not allow it).

Elazar tried to object. According to him, the fact that the IDF did not find out about the war until 12 hours before it started gave the Arabs a serious advantage, which is why it is so important to attack first. The air force should be ready to strike by noon, he said.

But Dayan rejected all those proposals, saying that the USA would not give the “green light” to that, adding that the head of the government would not agree to it either.

After the defense minister had rejected the possibility of a preventive strike, it was decided to continue the discussion at a meeting with the Prime Minister, where Meir was to make the final decision.

The second and equally important issue raised by the Chief of the General Staff was the mobilization of the reservists. Elazar considered it necessary to immediately mobilize the entire combat power of the IDF — 200,000 men. In his testimony before the Agranatha Commission, the Chief of the General Staff explained that there were another 150,000 men who were part of the Civil Defense (Civil Defense), the Home Front and Support System, etc., who, in his opinion, could be mobilized later. So he did not seek their mobilization immediately, demanding only what he felt was necessary, which could not be abandoned in any way — the full mobilization of all combat units. That is what he wanted to mobilize as soon as possible in order to strengthen the positions on the borders, where a relatively small force of regular troops had to confront the Arab armies that were so overwhelmingly superior in numbers.

But Dayan rejected this demand as well, saying that, in his opinion, it would be enough to mobilize only 20-30 thousand fighters ... mainly to strengthen the Golan Heights, because, they said, there was no need to reinforce the reservists on the southern front...

To our great regret, in the very next few hours the events showed that it was necessary to urgently mobilize all the available reserve forces, both to the south and to the north. Regrettably, the political elite’s perception of this obvious truth was burdened at that moment by “political considerations” that prevented them from making the right decision.

Elazar continued to insist on mass mobilization, intending to mobilize three divisions, about 12 brigades (for the resistance on the Syrian front). But Dayan persisted that one division would be enough for the Golan Heights, and that the others could be called up later.

According to the protocols, Elazar made another serious argument in favor of a large mobilization. According to the Chief of General Staff, it would send a signal to Syria and Egypt that Israel knew about their plans, and this, in turn, might convince them to give up the war altogether.

This argument of Elazar deserves special attention. It is clear from the report received by the Mossad that the Egyptians were very much afraid of leaking information about the start of the war, because if they did, the Syrians might refuse to participate.

The record shows that the Chief of General Staff’s position was supported by General Eli Zeira, head of the Military Intelligence Directorate (AMAN) and General Shlomo Gazit, who was appointed head of AMAN immediately after the war. In response to Dayan’s direct question whether mobilization would convince the Arabs to stop the war, Zeira replied: “Exactly”.

Unfortunately, even this important argument failed to persuade the defense minister, who said that even a partial mobilization would cause panic in the Arab countries.

It soon became clear that this controversial assertion by the defense minister was totally untrue. The partial mobilization did not cause any panic among the Arabs, nor did it prevent the outbreak of war.

Most likely, this limited mobilization had not been noticed at all by Arab intelligence because of its small scale. Perhaps also, if they detected this partial mobilization, they instead concluded that Israel was not aware of the seriousness of the situation and was not preparing for full-scale war, quietly mobilizing only a small part of its forces. This may have further encouraged them to go to war.

In the end, after a long negotiation period, the Minister of Defense nevertheless agreed to approve the mobilization of 50-60 thousand reservists. And this was made instead of an immediate mobilization of 200,000, as requested by Elazar.

Why didn’t Dayan agree to launch a general mobilization? After all, he himself was a former Chief of Staff, knowing well the importance of the reservists, who were, after all, the IDF’s main striking force.

The official army Yom Kippur study, which remained confidential for many decades and was declassified only a few years ago, states: "The mass mobilization before the war would, in Dayan’s opinion, have been politically harmful to Israel. After the war, the defense minister admitted that his estimation of the U.S. position influenced this decision. “I feared that such actions — a preventive strike and total mobilization — could seriously affect our chances of attracting U.S. support to us,” Dayan reported.

In any case, political concerns prevented the full mobilization of the reservists and ultimately delayed the arrival of the main IDF forces on the front line, which in turn enormously increased the pressure on the regular army men, who had to hold off the enemy alone.

This is certainly one of the main reasons why the regular units suffered such serious losses in that war. They faced a vastly superior enemy force with an enormous firepower advantage.

As a result, the Israeli lines were quickly hit. That meant that the armies of Syria and Egypt were able, God forbid, to storm the defenseless Israeli rear without any problems. The fact that the enemy stopped on their own, fearing to fall into the trap, is by any estimates a miracle.

Irrespective of the Minister of Defense’s objections, the Chief of Staff remained firm in his views, demanding the mobilization of the entire army reserves. Finally Dayan told him that this decision would be finally made by the Prime Minister at their general meeting.

Decisive meeting with the prime minister

At 08:05, the decisive meeting with Golda Meir began, in which Moshe Dayan, David (Dado) Elazar, AMAN head Eli Zeira and several ministers also participated. The description of this meeting is based on the notes of the secretaries and assistants who were there.

At the beginning of the meeting, Zeira drew attention to the rapid departure of Soviet specialists from Egypt and Syria, which, in his opinion, indicated that they expected the outbreak of war in the near future. In addition, he said, the Syrians had advanced artillery batteries at night and it was an offensive deployment. It was possible, Zeira added, that if Israel began the mobilization of reservists, Sadat would refuse to attack.

Then Dayan and Elazar outlined their positions. The defense minister said that from an operational point of view it would be appropriate to launch a preventive strike, but “from a political point of view Israel cannot enable it.”

The Chief of Staff stressed again that the warning was only a few hours ago and that there was not much time left before the war would start, so he believed it was necessary to launch a preventive strike that would provide a “significant advantage” and save many lives.

Dado believed that by attacking at 12:00 noon, the Israeli air force would be able to destroy the Syrian air force. Then they would need another three hours to defeat the Syrian air defense systems, after that they would have complete freedom of action against the Syrian ground units.

The Chief of General Staff recalled that they knew that the Egyptians and the Syrians were planning to attack the bases of the Israeli Air Force. He reckoned that if that happened our air force would be damaged, which would in turn allow the Syrian ground units to penetrate deep into Israel, while the enemy air force could hit “serious targets” and possibly bomb Tel Aviv.

Indeed, several years ago a full recording was published by the Mossad that detailed the entire conversation with Ashraf Marwan. This recording explicitly stated that the Syrian Air Force was planning to attack three Israeli air bases, including the large air base at Ramat David. Unfortunately, all of these arguments by Elazar remained ignored. It seems that the political elite had already made up its mind not to launch a preventive attack, and that this decision was motivated entirely by political considerations.

Similarly, in the question of mobilizing reservists, political fears were the decisive consideration. Dayan said that if they mobilized reservists on a large scale, the US could then blame Israel for starting the war, saying that Egypt and Syria were not going to go to war, but that Israeli mobilization had forced them to attack first.

Dado, for his part, continued to call for the mobilization of 200,000 soldiers, explaining that those mobilized today could reach the front line the next morning, but if mobilization was delayed and did not start until after the war, soldiers would not be on the front lines until the day after. Moreover, if we wait with the deployment until the fighting starts, the firing of Frog missiles (Soviet-made Luna-M tactical missile systems, with unguided ground-to-ground ballistic missiles) into Israeli cities would cause huge damage to the civilian rear and slow down mobilization.

Moreover, the Chief of General Staff stressed again that the mass mobilization of reservists could prevent the Arab countries from going to war, arguing that “it could have an effect because the Arabs would realize the loss of the superiority of surprise.”

As for “world opinion,” Dado countered that even if Israel only called in 50,000-60,000 men, as the defense minister suggests, the world would still blame Israel, and therefore, “since they would say it anyway, it would be better to let them blame us for starting the war, but we would win.”

But Prime Minister Meir rejected these remarks: "We will act in stages: we will order the number that we don’t disagree about, and after we talk to the USA authorities we will increase it. So Meir agreed basically to mobilize only the 50-60 thousand people that were approved by Dayan, refusing to approve a larger mobilization before talking to the USA officials.

Meanwhile, Dado, already aware of the politicians’ mood, reduced the demands, deciding to seek, if not a full mobilization, at least the conscription of four armored divisions, the entire Air Force and reserve “manning” of regular units — a total of about 100,000 to 120,000 fighters (instead of the original 200,000 — all combat units, including artillery and technical support units).

“I’m trying to stay in the best position for us...,” the Chief of the General Staff continued, "If the Syrians break through to the Golan, I will strike one division toward Damascus and the other toward the plateau.

Finally Golda Meir went along with Dado and agreed to call up four divisions... In the end, out of 350,000 reservists, the political leadership only allowed one-third, between 100,000 and 120,000, to be mobilized.

At 09:24, the head of the Chief of Staff’s office reported the Prime Minister’s approval of the four division draft, and the Deputy Chief of Staff (Israel Tal) ordered the mobilization. The crucial meeting then turned to the second of Elazar’s demands: a preventive air strike.

On this subject, Prime Minister Meir said the following: “It is very desirable to launch a preventive strike, but we are not in 1967 ... the world ... will not believe us ... we will not be able to explain it ...”.

As a result, the decision was in accordance with the political leadership — the IDF was not allowed to strike first, forcing the small regular units along the borders to take the heaviest blow from the Arab armies.

But, as already mentioned, the regular units had to confront the enemy on their own, without the support of the reserves. The mobilization of the reserves did not begin until after the Prime Minister’s decision. This delay was fatal — the soldiers could not arrive at the front line in time, where the enemy offensive had already begun in the afternoon. The worst situation was in the southern Golan Plateau, where the line of defense of the regulars had been completely broken by nightfall. By the way, this fact was noted in the final report of the Agranat committee.

According to the journal of the deputy Chief of General Staff, at 09:30 Tal met with the Chief of General Staff, who told him that he had received permission to mobilize only 120,000 men, but that he had not received permission to launch a preventive strike.

Thus, “political arguments” unfortunately prevailed over the arguments about the need to save lives and army considerations, listed in detail by the Chief of the General Staff.

One of the leading researchers of the Yom Kippur War, Lieutenant Colonel Shimon Golan, who had access to all the IDF files and above all those belonging to the top commanders, summarized it as follows: “In a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Israel, the prime minister explicitly said that Israel would not attack first even though it would greatly aid the task. In other words, political considerations prevailed over the operational ones.”

For many years the Lubavitcher Rebbe SHLITA, King Moshiach has repeated over and over again in his conversations that although Israel knew of the imminent war, the political leadership did not allow the army chiefs to launch a preventive strike and mobilize the reservists solely for political reasons.

Opinion of the Rebbe

For many years the Lubavitcher Rebbe has emphasized in many of his talks that although Israel knew of the coming war, the political leadership did not allow the heads of the army to launch a preventive strike and did not allow the mobilization of all the reservists solely for political reasons.

The Rebbe first addressed all these events in detail in 1978 in his speech (9 Kislev 5738) four years after the end of the war. The Rebbe explained that previously he preferred not to talk about these events, unwilling to reveal secrets. It was only after the appearance of books on these events that it became possible to discuss them.

It should be noted that in recent years, after the declassification of the warning transmitted by Marwan, it became clear that the Rebbe’s words were, as always, completely accurate. Israel had indeed been warned of the outbreak of war by its most reliable source, a person directly close to Sadat. It was only for political reasons, out of fear “of what others would say about it”, that the political leadership refused to approve a preventive strike which, in the words of the Chief of Staff, could “save many lives”. In addition, the leaders refused to approve the mobilization of all 200,000 combat reservists.

And here is what the Rebbe said in his 9 Kislev 5738 (1978):

— A terrible subject that I did not want to address until now ... but now it has become known and even published in a book ... and the book tells us what happened during the time, may it not be referred to us, of the war that began on Yom Kippur ... Several hours before it began, and according to some, even several days before, it was already known that they were preparing and about to start this war!

[Indeed, in addition to Marwan’s message, there were other warnings about the upcoming war, so the army began to prepare for it even before Yom Kippur. It is no coincidence that Golda Meir, at the end of Yom Kippur, said the following words in her speech: “Citizens of Israel, this afternoon the Egyptian and Syrian armies unleashed a war... We were not taken by surprise”... And then she continued: “For several days now, Israel’s intelligence services have been on the alert that the Egyptian and Syrian armies were preparing for a joint attack.” — A. Ifargon]

— This is a clear fact, and as has been said, books have been published about this — on that day, a few hours before [before the war], already knew exactly ... and the Egyptian army and others [the Syrian army] were ready to attack ... And all the experts in “military affairs” came and said the clear message that we have the forces and therefore, the enemy attack is not only unsuccessful, but will soon lead to the defeat of the other side through the mobilization of the Jews [reservists]... And especially if a preventive war is launched. If the sons of Israel were to launch an offensive. And were ready for that and it was enough just to mobilize the fighters a few hours earlier — that would guarantee that the Arab attack would fail.

— It is possible that the Arabs would have been frightened and would not have attacked at all. And even if they had attacked, they would have been defeated... This would have resulted in the defeat of the other side... And as has already been said, all the experts in “military affairs” were universally convinced that this was the right thing to do!

[The idea of a preventive strike and of mobilizing the reserves, as we now know, was suggested by the Chief of General Staff in meetings with his deputy and the Air Force Commander and then discussed the same morning in two meetings of all the IDF generals, at 05:30 and 07:15. And all of them — experts in “military affairs” agreed with this position. — A. Ifargon].“

The Rebbe then goes on to describe those fateful hours on the day before the war:

— And it had to be done, as soon as possible! And it was necessary to prepare for it, and yet ... the decision was made by those who were not experts in “military affairs”, because their area of competence was politics — “royal affairs”, which sometimes is completely opposite [to military opinion]. But even after listening to the military, and not once, but several times, that mass mobilization was necessary, they still decided to carry out only a partial mobilization. And even though they heard that a preventive strike was necessary, they wouldn’t allow it!

...And the reason, as they said, is that they would immediately run to the United States, to Washington and say “such are the things”, they know that the other side is mobilized and ready to attack, but they-the Jews-didn’t start first! And did not fully mobilize!

...Although, as has been said many times before, this is not the way to act when it comes to saving the life, even of one soldier, one soldier ... and especially when it comes to many sons of Israel!

...And the main consideration is the fear of outrage in Washington...and now, we see what this has led to — the exact opposite of saving lives for hundreds of Jews!

[Thus, may the Almighty have mercy on us, we lost hundreds of people because the decision was made by politicians who feared a siren yelling from Washington, not by military experts. — A. Yifargon].“

And the Rebbe goes on to emphasize that since it is not good to speak not in a good light about the Jews, he mentions this topic only because it is related to the events taking place now and it is important that such a mistake should not happen again.

The point is that there were rabbis back then — in the late 1970s — who talked about the possibility of giving the Land of Israel — Judea and Samaria — to the enemy. The Rebbe, however, said that these rabbis should first consult with experts in “military affairs” and not with those who deal with “royal affairs” — politicians.

And this is because handing over the Land of Israel to the enemy would lead, G-d forbid, to a threat to the lives of the Jews. That is why it is important to find out what military experts think about it, without relying solely on the opinion of politicians. In order to avoid repeating the mistakes made on the day before the Yom Kippur War, when politicians made decisions contrary to the military opinion and, may G-d be merciful to us, resulted in endangering the lives of hundreds of Jews.

And this is what the Rebbe says:

— And, if they (the rabbis mentioned above) want to rely on the information I have after extensive and sustained research, including the example of what happened, God forbid, during the Yom Kippur War, they should know that all military experts without exception consider the surrender of even a small part of Judea and Samaria an enormous danger! This is a real danger to the lives of many, many Israelis! According to the calculations of the experts in “military affairs” and based on the rule that one should not rely on a miracle...

The Rebbe also stresses that just as in matters of medicine one should listen to an experienced physician, a specialist and one who is dealing with the problem right now, similarly the Torah requires us in such matters to listen to those who are experts in “military affairs” right now, not those who have stopped being “military commanders” and have become experts in “royal affairs” several years ago, even though he says that he takes military considerations into account.

In other words, in matters of life-saving military and security considerations, one should listen to those who are currently leading the army, not those who were commanders in the past but are now engaged in politics. The Rebbe seems to be referring here to Defense Minister Dayan, who was formerly Chief of Staff during the 1956 Sinai Campaign, but on the edge of the Yom Kippur War prevented Chief of Staff Dado from conducting a full mobilization and launching a preventive strike. And all of this was based entirely on political concerns.

The mistakes of the political leadership meant that the line of defense in the southern Golan Heights was broken and the Syrian troops were only seven kilometers from Lake Kinneret. On the Egyptian front, by Sunday morning, in less than a day of fighting, 200 of our 300 tanks had been disabled. Defense Minister Dayan reported to Golda Meir in horror that “not a single tank was left between Tel Aviv and Abu Aheila [the traffic junction in the north of the Sinai]”, in other words “the Third Temple is at risk”, implying a real threat, God forbid, of the collapse of the whole state. Golda Meir would later tell us that when she heard these words, she seriously wanted to commit suicide.

It was only by miracles and the grace of G-d that the Syrians and Egyptians suddenly stopped advancing and halted in their positions. This provided the time it took for our reserve units to arrive at the front line.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe SHLITA, King Moshiach makes from this tragic story a very important conclusion: the People of Israel should not limit their security based on considerations such as, “What will the other nations say?” In matters of security, one has to rely solely on the military specialists employed in this field right now, and not on politicians, even if they have held senior military positions in the past.

It is for this reason, also, that in matters of national integrity (questions of giving territorial advances to the enemy) professional military, security-related arguments must be considered in the first place, and not political concerns.

This is the opinion of the Torah, and it cannot be denied!

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