TEL AVIV (Oct. 8)
Our goal is to teach a lesson, to hit hard, destroy and cause casualties and we shall do it everywhere we can reach (the enemy) and we shall pursue him.” Those words were spoken by Gen. David Elazar, Chief of Staff of Israel’s armed forces, at a jammed press conference here this afternoon.
Gen. Elazar, who claimed the Egyptian and Syrian forces were being routed in all sectors, gave the first details of the fighting that broke out Saturday. He said Syrian armor had penetrated the Golan Heights at three points–north of Kuneitra, from where they have been totally repelled; near Khoushaniyeh village, where the Syrian force was partly destroyed and partly thrown back to the cease-fire line; and near Rapid village where the Syrians also were repulsed with heavy losses.
He said the Egyptians had managed to secure three main bridgeheads, one in the northern sector near Kantara, another in the center of the Suez Canal zone near Ismailia, and the third in the south near Suez. He said Israeli forces have contained each of the bridgeheads and Israeli armor was surrounding them.
Asked if Israel was advancing toward Damascus. Gen. Elazar said that the troops were moving “from our territory against the other side. We shall see in the next few days the directions and results. “He said Israeli prisoners were captured by the attackers “but we also have prisoners, Egyptian and Syrian.” Questioned about damage inflicted on the enemy. Gen. Elazar said hundreds of Syrian and hundreds of Egyptian tanks were destroyed. “I don’t know exactly how many hundreds,” he added.
SPIRIT OF VICTORY EVIDENT IN ISRAEL
Asked how he would refer to this war, Elazar said he would prefer the phrase, “Judgement Day War” because it started on Yom Kippur, the “Day of Judgement” according to the Jewish calendar. He conceded that Israel has suffered casualties but the enemy has suffered far greater casualties. “The quicker we advance, the stronger we attack, the greater the enemy’s casualties and the less ours,” he said.
A thrust beyond the Golan Heights into Syria and across the Suez Canal into Egypt by Israeli forces would undoubtedly set off international repercussions, some observers noted. But, they added, at least some Israeli political leaders believe that sufficient world-wide sympathy and good will has been built up for Israel since Saturday’s attack to offset immediate international opposition to any speedy punitive action into the hearts of Syria and Egypt.
The spirit of victory seemed apparent in the country tonight. Volunteers still poured into hospital and Red Magen David clinics, but the atmosphere was almost festive. Soviet immigrants, including 500 who arrived last night, only hours after the new Middle East war started, demanded to be put to work immediately. Some living in rural absorption centers were taken to the fields and others were assigned to guard duty at villages and kibbutzim to replace men called to the front.