MKs recall experiences from Yom Kippur War

Kadima MK Avi Dichter made it from Sharm e-Sheikh home safely despite a bullet hitting helicopter’s rotor.

Avi Dichter 311 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Avi Dichter 311 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
As Israel looks back on the 1973 Yom Kippur War on Saturday, quite a few MKs, spanning at least six parties, have their own experiences from the war to remember.
MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), received the Medal of Distinguished Service in the Yom Kippur War after taking command of a stronghold when his commander was fatally injured.
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Orlev, who was doing his reserve duty with the Jerusalem Battalion, was positioned at the Suez Canal shortly before the war began, and his battalion was told the Egyptian army would be training nearby.
“When we got there, we saw a massive force of Egyptian soldiers, but when we reported it, we were told that everything is fine,” Orlev said earlier this week. “We continued with our routine, and even sent many of the commanders home on the eve of Yom Kippur, because we were not told to be especially alert.”
Early Yom Kippur afternoon, after the mussaf prayers, Orlev recounted, “the commander of the post said ‘dovecote,’ the code for war. I asked him if this is an exercise, and he said no, it’s the real thing.”
Orlev went to the observation post to tell the soldier on the lookout to come down, and a few minutes later, Egyptian planes began to bomb the stronghold.
Soon after, Orlev left his bunker and found the post’s commander was severely injured. He ordered the other soldiers to leave their bunkers and led a 24-hour battle against the Egyptians. Then, Orlev and the soldiers cleared the post. They were able to break through the Egyptian forces by driving armored personnel carriers quickly in order to generate enough dust so they would not be seen.
MK Avi Dichter blogged on a Kadima party website about his experience as a soldier in an elite unit during the war.
“The whole Sayeret Matkal hurried to join forces that were working to stop Syrian tanks,” he wrote. “The ground shook all around us as we lay near Tel Fars in order to warn [Israeli tanks] where the Syrian tanks were moving.
“Days later, we were deep in Egyptian territory, on the road from the Suez to Cairo in order to block Egyptian back-up forces. On the way back, a bullet hit the rotor of our helicopter, but luckily the pilots were able to fly to Sharm e-Sheik and bring us home safely,” Dichter recounted.
All three former IDF chiefs of General Staff in the Knesset fought in the war 38 years ago, most famously Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who commanded the tank regiment that led the armored effort to rescue paratrooper battalion 890 in the Battle of the Chinese Farm. MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), then commander of the paratrooper battalion, participated in Operation Gown and Operation Davidka deep inside Syria, and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon liberated the Suez Canal as a reserve paratrooper.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned to Israel from university in the US to fight in the Yom Kippur War, battling at both the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights.
National Union MK Ya’acov Katz served as second in command of “Koah Patzi,” a 12-man squad made up of officers from the elite Sayeret Shaked unit who served directly under Ariel Sharon.
During a battle in which 70 Egyptian commandos were killed, Katz was hit in his left hip by an RPG missile, and walks with a cane to this day.
Additional MKs who fought in the Yom Kippur War include Minister-without- Portfolio Yossi Peled, who commanded Tanks Brigade 205, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, who led a special force on the Egyptian front, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) who was a deputy commander and MK Uri Ariel (National Union) who fought with the Seventh Armored Brigade.