TEL AVIV (Jan. 7)
Gen. Shmuel Gonen, who the Agranat Committee held responsible for Israel’s military defeat at the outset of the Yom Kippur War resigned from the army last week. He refused to accept a field command offered him by the Defense Minister on grounds that it would imply that he accepted the Agranat panel’s conclusion that he was unfit for a regional command or to head a department at General Headquarters.
In his letter of resignation, Gonen reiterated his charge that the Agranat Committee made him a scapegoat for errors on the Egyptian front. A highly regarded armored division commander during the 1967 Six-Day War, Gonen was commander of the southern region encompassing Sinai when the Egyptians, in their surprise attack of October, 1973, crossed the Suez Canal and overran the Barlev Line.
The Agranat Committee, appointed by then Premier Golda Meir to investigate the conduct of the Yom Kippur War and the events leading up to it, pointed the finger at Gonen as the senior officer most responsible for Israel’s setbacks. Gonen disputed the committee’s findings but was unable to get them reversed. He was given a special assignment at General Headquarters pending a final decision on his future military career.
The Defense Minister and Chief of Staff apparently wanted to retain Gonen in a major command post. Legal counsel indicated that the Agranat verdict did not preclude his assignment to command a field unit but the General chose to resign instead.