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Israeli POWs released after Yom Kippur War railed at army, transcripts show

14 12 10
15.09.2021

A month after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the more than 200 Israeli soldiers taken prisoner by Egypt were released and sent home. Most of the Israeli prisoners of war were captured in some of the first days of the fighting, when the Israel Defense Forces was still scrambling in the wake of a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria, and they felt betrayed, angry and confused, according to transcripts from their release published by the Defense Ministry on Tuesday.

Roughly a week after their return to Israel, on November 27, 1973, the 231 IDF soldiers taken prisoner by Egypt met with Maj. Gen. Shmuel “Gorodish” Gonen, the head of the Southern Command during the war, and they wanted answers.

“How did the emperor suddenly lose his clothes, the best intelligence in the world? When will we get answers to these questions? Where’s our good intelligence?” a reservist soldier asked the general.

Gonen acknowledged the failure. In the ensuing months and years, the matter would be picked apart and analyzed, with the conclusion that critical evidence of an impending attack was available — that in some cases it wasn’t passed along and that in others it was not believed due to hubris.

“There was a failure in terms of intelligence, and a commission of inquiry has been formed to look into it. We didn’t know about the build-up of Egyptian tanks. About the Syrians, we did know,” Gonen said.

Gonen was widely reviled during and following the war, being replaced four days into the conflict by Haim Bar-Lev, a former IDF chief of staff who had since retired and served as a cabinet minister. In the aftermath, Gonen was blamed for many of the failures in the IDF’s initial responses to the Egyptian........

© The Times of Israel


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