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Elazar Defends Army’s Conduct of War

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Gen. David Elazar the Chief of Staff, said today that the Israeli army would “unflinchingly draw all the necessary conclusions” from its full-scale inquiry into the Yom Kippur War that he has ordered. He said he already knew what some of the errors were that allowed the enemy to enjoy the advantages of surprise. But he strongly defended the army’s conduct of the war, citing its speedy recovery from the initial assault and its successful counter-offensive.

Elazar disclosed that Israeli troops were first alerted to an Arab attack 10 days before the war began on Oct, 6 and that Israeli forces were on full alert 27 hours before the enemy attacked. But he admitted that if the reserves had been called up 24 or 48 hours earlier, “The war would undoubtedly have looked different and casualties would have been fewer.”

The decision not to call up the reserves sooner was made at the “highest military-political level, on the basis of an assessment that despite all signs of Egyptian and Syrian mass troop concentrations, there would be no war at that stage,” he said.

Elazar said, however, that he did not regard the miscalculation of intelligence as a deficiency, unless there were items of information that were not brought to the knowledge of the Chief of Staff, the Defense Minister or the government. He disclosed that last May there were indications that a war might start in June but intelligence claimed there would be no war and they were right. Nevertheless, the army was alerted at the time, he said.

Elazar said he was aware that there had been “serious failings in observation of the order for full battle alert at some of the lower echelons” and that would be covered by the army inquiry. He promised that whatever could be made public from the inquiry would be given to the press.

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