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Agranat Committee Probing Oct. War Conduct Finds Tapes Missing; Documents and Tapes Possibly Altered

The Agranat Committee investigating the conduct of the Yom Kippur War has come up against a situation reminiscent of Watergate–missing tapes, and tapes and documents that may have been doctored–It was disclosed today. The search for the material which is presumed to deal with events during the crucial initial stages of the war was prompted by Gen. Shmuel Gonen (Ret.), who was commanding officer of the Sinai front when Egyptian forces launched their surprise attack on Oct. 6, 1973.

Gonen was removed from command a few days later and after the war was severely criticized in the Agranat Committee’s interim report. He now contends that information contained in a diary and on tapes that have been erased in part, could clear his name. Electronics experts who have examined the tapes could not say whether they were deliberately tampered with or erased accidentally. Other tapes dealing with events on crucial days appear to be missing;

The Agranat Committee has been given a neatly written diary kept by a girl soldier that refers to events of Oct. 8, 1973, one of the most critical days of the war when Israeli forces attempted to counter-attack the advancing Egyptians. But the Committee suspects that the diary is not the original and was in fact written after the war. Defense Minister Shimon Peres called for an overall investigation by the army into the matter, but apparently was overruled by Premier Yitzhak Rabin.

Rabin reportedly accepted the argument of Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur that an investigation might harm the morale of the army now in the process of rebuilding itself. An army spokesman said today that the inquiry into the conduct of the Yom Kippur War falls into the sole competence of the Agranat Committee, and the defense establishment “did not and does not now conduct any parallel inquiry into evidence and documents connected with the Committee’s work.”

Meanwhile, Gonen has applied to the Supreme Court to order the Agranat Committee to give him access to allegedly incriminating documents so that he can defend himself. The court, however, suggested that Gonen apply directly to the Committee and only if he is refused would the court be prepared to consider the matter.

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