IDF RESERVISTS for the 600th Brigade train at Tze’elim. 370.
(photo credit: courtesy)
A very moving gathering took place on Tuesday evening at the Latrun Armored Corps
memorial site. Participants included dozens of former IDF gunners, fighters and
commanders who were members of the IDF’s 600th Armored Brigade under the command
of Col. (res.) Tuvia Raviv in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
gathered for a survey by the distinguished historian Menachem Ben- Shalom on the
600th Armored Brigade’s operations during the war.
Ben-Shalom devoted a
good few years to his historical investigation of the war during which some 119
soldiers who fought for the brigade fell. The result is a unique study that
incorporates recordings and documents from the brigade’s communications network,
as well as individual testimonies by soldiers and commanders.
findings focused on three primary subjects:
• The war in the Sinai Peninsula,
from October 9- 10.
• The large-scale “misleading operation” from October
• The final, heroic battle to establish a corridor to victory, in
which there were many casualties.
The historical investigation, which has
not yet been completed, will ultimately cover other activities of the brigade as
One example is the evacuation of dozens of paratroopers during the
so-called Battle of the Chinese Farm in the Sinai Peninsula between October
Ben-Shalom, who also fought for the brigade, has made supreme
efforts not to sound like a Monday morning quarterback critical of the
commanders’ orders. Before presenting any data, he apologized repeatedly,
saying, “These are the facts that we have found. Perhaps the reality was
The findings are not easy to digest, except for Israel’s
refusal to accept an Egyptian peace initiative and the intelligence failures on
the eve of the war. In addition, the brigade’s tanks were in the process of
In all, Ben-Shalom uncovered much confusion, incomplete
orders, the absence of battle intelligence and other shortcomings that might not
have actually occurred. As we say in Hebrew, “Things you see from here you don’t
see from there.”
One clear conclusion, though, does emerge from the
study: the courage, determination and persistence of the soldiers were beyond
The hardest thing to fathom was Ben-Shalom’s presentation of
Operation Abirei Lev (“Stouthearted Men”), the battle for the corridor to the
According to the IDF commanders, it was an erroneous order
that led the brigade to fight for a large piece of Egyptian territory (near an
agricultural research station) which was well-guarded by the
Despite the difficult circumstances, the brigade succeeded in
significantly expanding the corridor, while suffering a large number of
In the 40 years that have passed since the war, the pain and
the trauma of those who fought in the war have not subsided. A group of young
civilians, including myself, were summoned from our homes and families to fight
in the war. We didn’t know when or if we would return.
We were a group of
young reservists, but professional in every respect. We had at our disposal the
IDF’s latest tanks, purchased as part of a package by then-prime minister Golda
Meir. Our entire future stood before us. We all got to know each other
intimately, both those who returned, and those who didn’t.
The pain over
the loss of our comrades is enormous, and so is the anger.
something in the air at Latrun that was special, something that you can’t
express in words. There are those who call it “the bond of brotherhood” among
soldiers, but perhaps it has another name, something that won’t allow the pain
and the anger to win, something that leaves all of us with a spark of
hope.The author served as a gunner in the 600th Armored Brigade during
the Yom Kippur War.
Translated by Sapir Sharvit.