Moshe Dayan 58.
(photo credit: GPO)
Nearly four decades after the Yom Kippur War, the response Tuesday to the
release of newly-declassified government protocols proved that the wounds are
still deep, although many said that they reveal little that the public did not
already know about the war.
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Decorated former tank commander Brig.-Gen.
(res.) Avigdor Kahalani, speaking on Israel Radio, said that the protocols only
reinforced what the public already knew regarding the decision-making process
and the general mood of the country’s leaders in the first days of the
Kahalani received a Medal of Valor for service during the war, in
which he drew together an amalgamated armored unit to try and stop the Syrian
assault on the Golan Heights.
The force succeeded, at great cost to its
members, in repelling a numerically superior Syrian force in a battle later
named “The Valley of Tears.”
Kahalani was not alone in his assessment –
Yael Dayan, daughter of then-defense minister Moshe Dayan, slammed the
interpretation of the government protocols, released as part of a routine
“There is in the publications and in the responses,
not in that of the public but of the commentators who certainly knew the
material before it was published, personal attacks, lack of proportion and
hypocrisy,” Dayan told Israel Radio.
“I am angry,” she said in response
to a question from interviewer Yaron Dekel about the media’s focus on her
father, emphasizing that the protocols simply conveyed the same sense of fear
that he had already affirmed in his memoirs.
Moshe Dayan has taken much
of the flack from the protocols, which critics say show that while he conveyed a
confident image publicly, he panicked behind closed doors.
the situation is not good, but I hope that we will be able to
There are positions surrounded, there are many captives, more
will be killed and more will be taken prisoner, and we do not know what the fate
of the prisoners will be,” Moshe Dayan said during the October 7, 1973 Cabinet
meeting, one day after the war began.
“I propose that tonight, we give
instructions to evacuate the positions that we cannot reach,” he continued. “The
places that can be evacuated, we will evacuate. In places where we cannot
evacuate, we will leave the wounded – whoever makes it will make it. If they
decide to surrender, they will surrender. We need to tell them ‘we can’t get to
you, try to break through or surrender.’” Later in the meeting, in which
then-prime minister Golda Meir presided over a handful of government ministers
and military officials, Dayan admitted that he “did not properly assess the
enemy strength, their combat force, and [he] exaggerated in [his] assessment of
our forces and their ability to withstand.
“The Arabs are fighting much
better than before,” he said. “They have many weapons. They hit our tanks with
their personal weapons. The rockets are a serious ‘umbrella’ weapon that
our Air Force cannot defeat. I don’t know whether a preemptive strike would have
changed the picture in any fundamental manner.”
The Cabinet considered
asking then-US secretary-of-state Henry Kissenger to intervene on Israel’s
behalf to pressure the UN Security Council to call a cease-fire that would stop
the Syrian, Egyptian and Israeli armies at the then-current lines of combat,
with Dayan opposing such a move on the grounds that “if they agree to a cease
fire, [Egypt and Syria] are likely to re-start it anew – this war is over the
Land of Israel.”
Then IDF chief-of-staff Lt.- Gen. David Elazar joined
the meeting toward the end, and offered three possible military responses: to
create a temporary defensive line on a divisional scale in both the north and
the south, to fall back from Sinai and maintain a defensive line at potential
points of invasion or to counterattack at the Suez Canal and push forward using
“the two only divisions that we have currently between Egypt and Tel Aviv” –
what he called a “gamble.”
Elazar noted that if that strategy failed, the
war would reach Israel within two to three days.
The protocols released
earlier this week were a small taste of a series of transcripts expected to be
published this week by the Israel State Archives after being
The ISA announced that it plans to publish transcripts of
military-political consultations from the first four days of the October 1973
war, which will be available on its website to the general public starting on