Today is the 45th Anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

We have covered the war in several prior posts, including in an extensive post in 2015, Yom Kippur War – October 6, 1973:

There are certain events when you just remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.

I was on stage for a third-grade practice of a school play when a teacher walked into the room (the gym, which also was the school theater and lunch room) and told everyone that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed. We were sent home early.

I was at my desk using AOL to access the internet (!) when early reports came in of a “small plane” hitting the World Trade Center. And you know the rest.

And on October 6, 1973, I woke up expecting to go to Temple for the Yom Kippur holiday. I turned on my clock radio, the old style that had the metal flaps that flipped to change the time. And I heard that Israel had been invaded in what would become known as the Yom Kippur War. The rest of the day is a blur, I don’t even remember if we went to Temple. I remember the feeling of helplessness, and the near panic in the community because there was nothing we could do.

In that post I included numerous images and videos of the fighting, including the famous battle for the Golan Heights in which a small group of Israeli tanks held off a Syrian armored force a hundred times their size. At I noted in that post, The Heights of Courage (available for free online) by Avigdor Kahalani tells the story of the battle from the view of a participant.  The battle also is the focus of the Prologue to Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears:

At the end of this day the troopers of the Barak and the 7th heard over their unit radio nets a message from Israeli Defense Forces High Command.

YOU HAVE SAVED THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

And so they had. Yet outside Israel, except for schools in which men learn the profession of arms, this epic battle is strangely unremembered. As in the Six Day War of 1967, the more freewheeling operations in the Sinai were the ones that attracted the excitement and admiration of the world: bridging the Suez, the Battle of the ‘Chinese’ Farm, the encirclement of the Egyptian 3rd Army – this despite the fearful implications of the Golan fighting, which was far closer to home. Still, the survivors of those two brigades knew what they had done, and their officers could revel in the knowledge that among professional soldiers who know the measure of skill and courage that such a stand entails, their Battle for the Heights would be remembered with Thermopylae, Bastogne and Gloucester Hill.


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I visited those Golan battlefields in 2013, On the Golan Heights – The Battle of Tel Saki

[Tel Saki Battle Memorial, Golan Heights, Israel, 2013[Photo by William Jacobson, 2013]

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[Tel Saki Battle Memorial, Golan Heights][Photo by William Jacobson 2013]

And On the Golan Heights – The Valley of Tears

[Valley of Tears Monument – Golan Heights – Israeli and Syrian Tanks][Photo by William Jacobson 2013]

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[Valley of Tears Monument, Golan Heights, Israel][Photo by William Jacobson 2013]

I never visited the battlefields in the Sinai, but we covered those battles when Ariel Sharon died, including the crossing of the Suez Canal:


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(Ariel Sharon at Suez Canal 1973)(Source: http://youtu.be/QaG-s-jHiUo)

In the years after the 1967 war, Israel was considered invincible. The 1973 invasion proved that Israel is always just one attack away from the abyss. That, together with the brutal suicide bombing of the 2nd Intifada starting in 2001, are why Israel understands the importance of strategic depth even in the age of missiles.

My take after spending time in Samaria is the take I still have:

Location, location, location.  It’s the high ground, stupid.