Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Yom Kippur War: an Unbridled Israeli Victory - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

But for Israel’s enemies, delusion continues to cloud rational judgement.

October 6, 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. At approximately 2 p.m. of that day, Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated, multi-front surprise attack against Israel. In the north, 1,000 Syrian tanks backed by mechanized infantry, artillery and airpower crashed through the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Facing them were two understrength armored brigades totaling 177 tanks.

In the south, the situation was even direr. Several forts of the Bar-Lev line – a system of fortifications constructed along the Suez Canal following the Six-Day War and named after its architect, Gen. Chaim Bar Lev – had been decommissioned while the remaining forts were severely neglected and undermanned. And incredibly, there were only three Israeli tanks positioned at the Canal Zone itself. Facing this paltry force were two full-strength Egyptian armies – the Second and Third Army Corps – backed by one of the densest anti-aircraft umbrellas in existence, even surpassing that which protected Hanoi.

Despite these overwhelming odds, the Israel Defense Forces, through a combination of skill and daring, managed to hold off the aggressors until reservists could fill the gaps. By October 10, all Syrian forces had been ejected from the Golan and by October 11, the IDF initiated a counter offensive and crossed into Syria proper pursuing the fleeing Syrians.

Three days later, on October 14, Israeli and Egyptian armored formations clashed in a massive Sinai tank battle rivaling the Battle of Kursk in both size and scope. By the end of the day, the Egyptians had lost some 250 tanks for fewer than 10 Israeli. The Israelis pressed their offensive and by October 17, laid their first bridge across the Canal into Africa. An additional two bridges were to follow. Tanks and paratroops fanned out on the western bank of the Canal and began destroying SAM sites giving the Israeli Air Force greater freedom of action.

When the guns fell silent on both fronts, Israel found itself with strategically favorable positions. In the north, Israeli forces held 500 square kilometers of Syrian territory and Damascus itself was now within Israeli artillery range. In the south, the victory was even greater. The IDF held 1,600 square kilometers of Egyptian territory and had completely encircled the Egyptian Third Army, whose collapse was imminent. According to acclaimed military historian Edward Luttwak, Egypt and Syria had come closer to catastrophic defeat than in 1967.

Despite Israel’s unquestioned and spectacular victory, the Arabs strangely and absurdly continue to tout the Yom Kippur war as an Arab victory. They continue to desperately cling to the euphoric memories of the first few days of the war, when Israel was on the defensive, while suffering from complete amnesia with respect to the remainder. In Egypt, October 6, is a national holiday and the war is commemorated with military parades, while martial music is blared over government controlled propaganda outlets.

Defeat is a psychologically difficult concept to accept and this is particularly true when one believes in the righteousness of his cause and that God is on his side. The Yom Kippur War represented the fifth consecutive defeat handed to the Arabs, and for the defeated this fact was too much to bear. Consequently, a cognitive dissonance of sorts took hold in the Arab world and resulted in a psychological inability to accept reality.

For the Arab world, the paradigm for victory has changed. If the aggressor manages to survive a conflict with Israel with his capital intact, it is regarded as a victory. The genocidal forces arrayed against Israel – Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas – have recruited friendly elements within the establishment media to perpetuate this absurdity.

Israel has been forced to do battle with these nefarious elements on multiple occasions – in Gaza Lebanon and Syria – and on each; the medieval forces of darkness were soundly defeated. Yet despite their losses, Israel’s enemies continue to fabricate and conjure up victory tales steeped deeply in abject delusion and fantasy.

The Arab cycle of violence is a predictable one. In an effort to deflect from their own venality, corruption and internal shortcomings, Arab leaders initiate conflict and aggression with Israel prompting a crushing response. They are soundly defeated by Israel but claim victory and mobilize their allies in the media to echo their ridiculous charade. They then lick their wounds, lie to their base and attempt to rebuild their tattered forces. A period of calm ensues until full-fledged amnesia sets in and the cycle repeats itself.

In a recent address to the UN General Assembly, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem pledged that Syria would retake Golan Heights from Israel. It appears that Muallem, whose army after years of civil war is in tatters, and even at full strength could never hope to achieve military parity with Israel, is now in the amnesia stage of the cycle.

Photo from CIA

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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