On the 47th anniversary of the 1973 war, the Israeli government declassified new documents about the war that surprised Tel Aviv along with the rest of the world. Two days ago, London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat gave a glimpse of these documents which saw the light of day for the first time.
The documents revealed that an Egyptian agent notified Israel of the war, including the date on which Cairo was poised to carry out the assault, and that another Egyptian agent communicated information on the war months before it was waged. However, Israeli authorities at the time decided to disbelieve and withhold the communique.
The declassified documents also revealed that the Military Intelligence of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) received yet another message from the Iraqi embassy in Soviet Moscow, highlighting the intention of Cairo and Damascus to wage the war. The encrypted telegram notified Israelis that 11 Russian planes headed to Damascus at 3 p.m. on the fourth of October and evacuated Soviet experts and their families.
The then-head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Eli Zeira informed the Agranat Commission, which was tasked with investigating the government and military’s failures to anticipate and prepare for the conflict, that he ignored the telegram, but maintained that he delivered such information to the then-prime minister Golda Meir, defense minister Moshe Dayan, and chief of staff David Elazar. The rest of the story says that Zeira admitted before the Agranat Commission that a nightmare would haunt him for the rest of his life because of this mistake.
Published documents describe the October War as a “major strategic failure by the IDF,” and that it was preceded with the “largest disinformation operation in the history of modern warfare to be carried out by Egypt with amazing mastery and extreme cunning.”
The success of the disinformation operation was due to all the information that came out of Cairo at the time, which misled the Israelis, especially the decision to expel Soviet experts, which led Tel Aviv to believe that a country which expels experts in such a way could not be going to war, but the complete opposite was true. Behind the scenes, there was a one-of-a-kind politician; his name is the Great Anwar Sadat, a man to be appreciated and honored when reflecting on these events.
This article was originally published in and translated from Almasry Alyoum.