The Lone Tank Brigade That Saved the Golan Heights from the Syrian Onslaught during the Yom Kippur War

When Syrian and Egyptian forces launched simultaneous attacks on Israel on Yom Kippur of 1973, the IDF found itself woefully unprepared. The high command, just ten days before the war began, finally acted on repeated warnings of imminent war and ordered Colonel Avigdor Ben-Gal to move his tank brigade from the Sinai to the Golan Heights; the last units were still arriving when the fighting began. Even with Ben-Gal’s tanks, Israel had a single, understrength division on the Golan, which faced an onslaught from three battle-ready Syrian armored divisions. Abraham Rabinovich tells the story of how Ben-Gal’s troops held the line:

The Syrians calculated that Israeli reserve units could not reach the Golan in less than 24 hours. Damascus expected to capture the Heights before then. Until Israel’s reserves joined the battle, the main burden of holding the enemy at bay would fall upon young conscripts—draftees—and their regular army commanders.

Informed by [his superiors] at 10 a.m. on Yom Kippur of the warning [that Syria would attack], Ben-Gal summoned his battalion and company commanders by radio to a meeting at the main army base in the northern Golan, Nafakh. . . . The officers would meet again at 2 p.m., by which time the situation might be clearer. With that, the brigade commander drove to the front. . . . The officers were just arriving for the 2 p.m. meeting when MiGs dropped bombs on the camp. “Everyone to your tanks,” Ben-Gal shouted. A sentry already lay dead at the gateway. . . .

After days of [intense fighting], Ben-Gal’s control was unraveling as officers were hit and orders not passed on. There appeared to be no alternative but to have the tanks fall back. Even if they managed to outrace the Syrians to a new line, however, they would not be able to hold it for more than half an hour, he estimated, in the absence of proper defensive positions. He decided on a last desperate bid to shore up the collapsing line. . . .

The bid worked, and the remnants of the brigade managed to hold the northern Golan for five days, at which point reinforcements arrived and the Syrians retreated. Three-quarters of Ben-Gal’s tank crews were killed or wounded; he managed to get the survivors a one-day respite before beginning a counterattack.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Golan Heights, Israeli history, Syria, Yom Kippur War


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy