Newly Translated Documents Reveal the Extent of the Soviet Union’s Escalation During the Yom Kippur War

By October 24, 1973, Israel had turned the tide of the war it was fighting against both Egypt and Syria, and both countries’ forces were on the run. Leonid Brezhnev, then the ruler of the Soviet Union, panicked at the prospect of the defeat of his two most important Middle Eastern allies—to an extent made clear by documents made public only recently. Eric Cortellessa writes:

According to letters and notes collected and translated by the Woodrow Wilson Center, Brezhnev sent a letter to then-President Richard Nixon warning him that he would send troops to the Middle East if both countries did not act together to curb the Israelis. . . .

[In particular], the Soviets had a vested interest in Egypt, one of its major client states. The new documents show that Brezhnev sought to take advantage of Nixon’s political strife back in America —this was during the apex of the Watergate scandal—to secure an Arab victory. . . .

[T]hen-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger . . . first received Brezhnev’s threatening letter to Nixon. Given the U.S. president’s precarious position—and the fact that he was indisposed when the letter came in—Kissinger consulted with then-White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig and other national-security officials, who jointly decided to move America’s nuclear alert level to Defcon 3.

The new documents show that this was not just a reaction to the Soviets’ sending a naval brigade into the Mediterranean, which was believed to be the reason at the time. It was, in fact, because intelligence reports found that a Soviet ship believed to be carrying nuclear weapons was en route for the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

The Soviets backed down, and the next day Israel and its enemies agreed to a cease-fire.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Henry Kissinger, History & Ideas, Israeli history, Richard Nixon, Soviet Union, Yom Kippur War

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security