The Yom Kippur War was probably Israel’s fiercest war after the War of Independence. Israel’s intelligence was caught off-guard completely. Even on the very day that the War broke out when the Egyptian and Syrian Army invaded, the Israeli intelligence got the hour of the attack wrong. Israel became complacent and arrogant following the great victory of the Six Day War – just 6 years earlier. The leadership of Israel’s defense establishment, led by Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, and Prime Minister Golda Meir, were of the clear opinion that the Arabs would never invade. Whenever there was a troop buildup on the Arab side of the border, they claimed that it was just posturing. On Yom Kippur in 1973, Israel was caught and paid the price.
Defeat Turns into Victory
The first two days of the war were basically a defeat of the Israeli Army on many fronts. But in the midst of the defeat would be Israel’s eventual victory. The bravery of the few Israeli soldiers who faced an enormous artillery barrage on the border with Egypt actually slowed down the Egyptian attack somewhat. They also were the ones who “woke up” the Israeli establishment to how serious the attack from Egypt was. On the Syrian front on the Golan Heights, the northern defense actually held their line. A mere 7 tanks actually fought off hundreds of tanks until reinforcements came in. But in the southern sector of the Golan Heights, the Syrian barrage succeeded in capturing most of the critical areas of the Golan Heights. But the fierce defense of the young Israeli tank crews who lost ground in the first two days actually had a major psychological effect. The Syrian Generals did not capitalize on their advances and stopped their advance when very little stood in their way. That decision proved critical. Israel would fight back and win a complete victory against all of it’s enemies and threaten both Cairo and Damascus n around 2 weeks of fighting.
But the cost was very high. More than 2,300 Israeli soldiers were killed and more were wounded. Israel would never be so arrogant again. It would always be prepared – 365 days a year. The price was too high to pay if they weren’t ready.