Protocols show officer reprimanded for '73 warning

Declassified protocols of Agranat Commission shows commission of inquiry that investigated failures of Yom Kippur War.

Egyptian soldiers 1973 311 (photo credit: Archives)
Egyptian soldiers 1973 311
(photo credit: Archives)
The idea that Egypt and Syria would be easily defeated in a war with Israel was so deeply ingrained in Military Intelligence, and the likelihood of this happening deemed so small, that an intelligence officer who warned just before the Yom Kippur War that Syria would attack was reprimanded for his assessment, according to declassified protocols of the Agranat Commission that were released on Sunday.
The Agranat Commission was the government commission of inquiry that investigated the failures of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It held IDF chief of staff David Elazar responsible for the “assessment of the situation and the preparedness of the IDF” and called for his removal. It also called for the dismissal of the chief of military intelligence Eliyahu Zeira and his deputy, Aryeh Shalev. The report also led to the eventual resignation of prime minister Golda Meir.
The report did not render an opinion regarding the responsibility of defense minister Moshe Dayan, saying that was beyond its scope.
In one of the hearings whose protocols were made public Sunday, Elazar recalled a conversation he had with Dayan during the war, saying the defense minister told him he was “afraid that Israel would be left without weapons, tanks, airplanes or people. It is important to defend the State of Israel.”
Elazar informed the commission that he told Dayan his impression was that the Syrians were not having as much success as Dayan believed.
Aviezer Ya’ari, the head of the Syrian division inside Military Intelligence, told the commission, headed by then-Supreme Court chief justice Shimon Agranat, that shortly before the war he broke the accepted norms of procedure and passed to the northern command his assessment that a war was likely in October.
Ya’ari said that Shalev called him in and reprimanded him, saying that he should not have gone beyond the regular chain of command, and that he was not in Military Intelligence to pass on his own personal reports and assessments.
“I asked what I should have passed on to the northern command,” Ya’ari said, saying that he was told that the assessment was that “nothing is happening.”
Ya’ari said this reprimand impacted on the reports he wrote during the first days of October.
On October 3, three days before the Egyptians and Syrians invaded, he said his daily report didn’t mention anything of what he wrote previously.
“My responsibility is great,” he said. “I need to blame myself for not screaming to the heavens. I see my part in the IDF’s lack of warning. I feel guilty.”