‘Enemies Will Conclude Israel is Weak’: Docs Reveal Panic in Israeli Command During Yom Kippur War

On 6 October 1973, Egypt and Syria mounted a surprise invasion of israel during the Yom Kippur religious holiday. The three-week war that followed ended in an Israeli military victory, but the first week of hostilities saw a series of victories for the Arabs which forced an emergency intervention by the US to prevent Tel Aviv’s defeat.

Newly published archival documents show that Israel’s top brass was desperate to show to its enemies and the world during the first tense week of the Yom Kippur War that it was still capable of successful offensive operations, with one plan reportedly including a mass bombing campaign of Syrian cities.

“I have been living – since the beginning of the campaign – with the feeling that we cannot leave [the war] in a situation that the world says: That’s it. What we thought about israel and the [Israel Defence Forces]: That’s it,” Prime Minister Golda Meir said during a meeting on 10 October, her remarks outlined by the Defence Ministry and quoted by the Times of Israel.

“We are ready to go back but the Egyptians aren’t totally ready to go back, but they’d be ready for a ceasefire for the following reason: That tomorrow we are bombing all of Syria, including the cities, and that we are advancing into Syria, and the world will believe that we are strong,” IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar said during the same meeting.

In the first week of the war, Egyptian and Syrian troops achieved a number of stunning victories against…

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