Title: Zvika Force: The Wall in the North
On October 6, 1973, on the holiest day of the Judaic religion, the Yom Kippur, Syria and Egypt invaded territories hold by Israel simultaneously on the north and south. Both Egypt and Syria were trying to recapture territories lost to Israel during the previous engagement, the 6-Day war, also known as the June War in 1967.
Although warned by Egyptian spies and their own Military Intelligence personnel the Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir had to put the typical pre-emptive strike on hold so Israel could get American military support in case of war. Actually the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan, and Chief of General Staff David Elazar met at 8:05 am the morning of Yom Kippur, six hours before the war began. Dayan opened the meeting by arguing that war was not a certainty.
In the south the Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal into the Sinai peninsula and overrun almost all the Israeli front line forts. Starting the attack with 100.000 soldiers, 1.350 tanks and 2.000 guns and heavy mortars the Egyptian Army quickly pushed aside the 450 Israeli soldiers divided in 16 forts along the Suez Canal. From the 290 tanks on three Armoured Brigades the Israelis had on the area only one was near the canal. The Egyptian Army quickly captured key areas and defended a strong and wide bridgehead. As the Israeli were masters of tank manoeuvre warfare the Egyptians avoided the open desert and tried to stick to the massive SAM (Surface to Air Missile) umbrella as long as possible. A lesson learnt from the 6-Day war when the Israeli Air Force wreaked havoc on the rear lines unchallenged.
In the North the Syrian Army poured 28.000 Syrian troops, 1.260 tanks and 600 artillery pieces through the cease-fire lines established by the UN. The defending Israeli tank crews had excellent marksmanship and killed most of the engineering vehicles trying to brave a path through the anti-tank ditches and obstacles. The Syrian infantry resorted to shovels and opened way for the tanks to push into Israel under heavy fire. The Israeli brigades had some 3,000 troops, 180 tanks, 60 artillery pieces and the high ground on the Golan Heights. The first major mistake by the Syrian Army was the delay in deploying the engineering and bridge laying vehicles to the front lines to get the tanks past the anti-tank ditches and traps. The Israeli crews were wide awake and prioritised them causing the loss of most of them and a few tanks too.