JERUSALEM (Oct. 20)
Israel’s retired former Chief of Staff Gen, David Elazar said here that he had recommended a pre-emptive strike against Egypt and Syria on the eve of the Yom Kippur War but was overruled by then Premier Golda Meir because of political considerations. He maintained that had Israel struck first on the basis. of intelligence indicating that its neighbors were preparing for war, the events of October, 1973 would have been different and many lives might have been saved.
Elazar, who was forced to resign after the first preliminary report of the Agranat Committee criticized his conduct during the early stages of the Yom Kippur War, spoke at the final session Friday of a six-day symposium on the military aspects of the Yom Kippur War which drew some 200 military officers and experts from abroad and a like number of Israeli officers and military analysis.
Most of the foreign participants are going to Cairo for a similar symposium this month. Elazar asked them to convey to the Egyptians the message that Israel, too, learned lessons from the last war and would win another war should it occur; but that Israel does not seek military victories because wars have not brought peace to the Middle East and peace is what is essential for all parties.
Elazar said the difference between a preemptive war and a pre-emptive strike was that the former was a calculated political decision while the latter was a tactical military move intended to reduce casualties. He said he did not under-estimate the improvement of the Arab armies in the Yom Kippur War but stressed Israel’s qualitative superiority. He noted that the ratio of tanks was 2-1 in the Arabs’ favor but their losses were 4-1 in Israel’s favor, Similarly the Arabs enjoyed a 2-1 numerical superiority in aircraft but their losses were 6-1 in Israel’s favor.