Al-Ahram Weekly Online   9 - 15 October 2008
Issue No. 917
Focus
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

They said about October

Below, some of the commanders and men of the October War recall the heady days of heroism and sacrifice, as well as the expert planning and plain dedicated hard work, without which October '73 would have been impossible


"The Egyptians crossed the Canal and hit our forces in Sinai hard. The Syrians pushed deep into the Golan Heights. We incurred grave losses on both fronts. The agonising question at that time was should we or should we not inform the nation of the truth of our appalling situation?

"I write of the Yom Kippur War not as a military report, but as an intimate disaster or a horrible nightmare that I myself have suffered and which will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life."

-- Golda Meir, Israeli prime minister during the October War -- My Life

"The war has shown that we were no stronger than the Egyptians. The halo of supremacy and the political and military premise that Israel is stronger than the Arabs, that they would be defeated should they dare to start a war, did not hold true.

"My theory was that it would take them the whole night to erect bridges, which we would manage to disable using our armoured vehicles. But it turned out that it was not easy to disable them. Sending tanks to the battle front was very costly. We never expected that."

-- Moshe Dayan, Israeli defence minister during the October War -- Press conference, 9 October 1973

"Many changes have taken place since 6 October 1973. We should not, therefore, overestimate Israel's military supremacy. On the contrary, there is now an overwhelming sense in Israel of the need to review national rhetoric. We have to be more realistic."

-- Aba Eban, Israeli foreign minister during the October War -- November 1973

"For Israel, the Arabs' victory was the more decisive."

-- General Ishio Javitch -- Symposium on the October War, Jerusalem, 16 September 1974

"The English proverb says, 'the higher you rise, the further you fall.' On 6 October, Israel fell off the top of the tower of peace and tranquillity it had built for itself. The shock was as great and as impressive as the earlier illusions had been.

"It seemed as though the Israelis had woken up from a long sweet dream to find the principles, illusions and facts they once believed in shaken and shattered by a new, unexpected fact, which to most of them, was quite incomprehensible."

-- Amnon Kapelock , Israeli military commentator -- Israel: End of a Myth

"For the Israeli army, this is the first war in which many soldiers suffered combat shock and needed psychological treatment. Some of them forgot their own names.

"The October War has shaken Israel from top to bottom. In the place of our former overconfidence, suspicions have emerged and questions surfaced: could we stand another war?"

-- Zaev Schev, Israeli military commentator -- The October Earthquake: Yom Kippur War

"The October War was an earthquake. For the first time in the history of Zionism, the Arabs tried and succeeded in imposing by the force of arm a fait accompli.

"The setback... is two and a half times the US loss in the Vietnam war over ten years."

-- David Hirst, British journalist -- The Gun and Olive Branch

"As the Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal, cutting through the Bar Lev line, it changed the course of history both for Egypt and the entire Middle East."

-- The Daily Telegraph, 7 October 1973

"It was quite clear that the Israelis had lost the initiative in this war. This was admitted by their leaders, including General Shlomo Jonin, commander of the southern front in Sinai, who said, 'This is the most difficult war fought by Israel since its creation in 1948.'"

-- Reuters, Tel Aviv, 11 October 1973

"The October War has shattered the security borders theory as understood by Israeli leaders. The war has proved that Israel's security cannot be guaranteed by tanks and missiles but only by a peaceful settlement with the Arab states."

-- L'Humanité, 17 October 1973

"For the first time in their lifetime, Israeli soldiers have known the experience of siege and isolation during battle, the disgrace of capture and the fear of ammunition running out."

-- Haaretz, 2 November 1973

"They paid a heavy price."

-- Der Spiegel, 5 November 1973

"The alarm that the war was over, the clock was turned back and a new history began. After 25 years, the pillars of old Israel were no more than a wreck stranded by the side of the road."

-- Maareev, 20 September 1998

Extracted from the book The October War through the Eyes of Contemporary Witnesses , published by the State Information Service in October 1998.

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