A wrecked Israeli tank during the early days of the Yom Kippur War (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Times of Israel)

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Thirty-nine years ago this month, Israel was surrounded by enemies threatening to annihilate her. But Israeli leaders did not take the threats seriously enough, and did not order a preemptive strike to neutralize the enemy’s military capabilities. Instead, the Jewish State was blindsided by a surprise attack in 1973 on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Now, newly released documents reveal the depth of the massive intelligence failure that almost led to the destruction of the Jewish State. Make no mistake: current Israeli leaders are weighing decisions about a possible war with Iran in light of the tragic mistakes made in ’73, especially in view of the Iranian leaders vowing to annihilate Israel to bring back the so-called Islamic messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam.”

“The Israeli Mossad intelligence agency knew a full week in advance that Egypt was planning to launch a surprise attack on Yom Kippur 1973, but did not pass the information on in an orderly and explicit way to Prime Minister Golda Meir’s office, according to formerly classified information released Thursday,” reports the Times of Israel. “The findings come from the commission tasked with investigating the war. The warning indicated that Egypt was going to attack under the cover of a military drill….The five-member Agranat Commission, chaired by American-born Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Shimon Agranat, was appointed by the government to examine the failures leading up to and during the early stages of the war. The new papers, kept under wraps for decades, were released just ahead of the 39th anniversary of the war.”

A separate Times of Israel story reported that “The Yom Kippur War, in Israel, marked the end of the age of innocence. Generals, previously untouchable, were stripped of their commands. The prime minister was ousted from office by popular demand. The tremors of the debacle eventually pried open the grip of the Labor-led left and, for the first time in the history of Zionism, ushered in an ideologically right-wing leadership. Thursday’s revelations from previously classified testimony to the Agranat Commission, which investigated the war, fill in the already grim picture of October 1973 — of arrogance tinged with ineptitude at the very top, which produced, for some, a lack of faith in leaders that endures to this day. The commander of the northern front, Yitzhak Hofi, testified to the Agranat Commission that despite the evidence of an enormous armored presence near the border, and despite explicit information passed on to him from the command’s chief intelligence officer, he was told, just days before the war, that the chance of war was low and that the reports were insignificant. When he called military intelligence headquarters, Hofi told the commission, none of the relevant officers was on duty. They were at home. Only at six in the morning on Yom Kippur, October 6, was he told that war would break out and even then the stated time was six in the evening rather than the actual two in the afternoon. Alfred Eini, an aide to Mossad chief Zvi Zamir, shocked commission members when he said that Zamir apparently “didn’t get” the urgency of a midnight cable from the Mossad’s man in Cairo. He told the five commission members – two former IDF chiefs of staff, two sitting Supreme Court justices and one state comptroller – that “never before” had the man asked for an urgent personal meeting with the head of the Mossad and that Zamir seemed drowsy, even though it was the Mossad that had been warning of imminent war for days….”

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