The reservists who blocked the Syrian tanks and were forgotten

With nine tanks, battalion commander in 9th Brigade attacked hundreds of Syrian tanks, but heroic campaign was forgotten.

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Shimon Cohen & Mordechai Sones,

Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
Flash 90

A conference was held today (Tuesday) in the Golan Heights to right an historical wrong and to tell the story of the 9th Brigade and its battles against the Syrian forces in the Yom Kippur War.

Arutz Sheva spoke with those who over the years worked to bring back to the Israeli consciousness the story of the brigade's battles that were almost left forgotten and undocumented, the military historian Aryeh Yitzhaki.

"The conference is dedicated to the battles of the 9th Brigade in the Yom Kippur War, the brigade that conducted the decisive battle that in effect broke the Syrian force and brought about its withdrawal to beyond the line and took the war back to the Syrian Bashan," Yitzhaki says.

"Everyone heard that in the Golan, the glorious 7th Brigade of regulars under the command of Janusz Ben-Gal decided the war, and the commander of the fighting, Maj. Gen. Avigdor Kahalani. That's nice and indeed Janusz and Kahalani were undoubtedly heroes and managed the Battle of the Valley of Tears, but the 9th Brigade was forgotten. It was an old brigade with old Sherman tanks that had been rebuilt from the World War and the fighters were about forty years old.

"The decisive day in the Golan Heights battles was on October 9. The Battle of the Valley of Tears was fought by the 7th Brigade in the north, and the reserve battalions fought in the center, while the central battle was in the garrison of Hoshenia. Hoshenia is an abandoned Circassian town located at a strategic junction in the center of the Golan. A division of armor and a force from another division, the 5th division, along with units of the 40th mechanized brigade and remnants of armored divisions that all gathered in the area of Hoshenia, with their headquarters situated in East Hoshenia, near today's Aloni Bashan.

"On 9th October, the 9th Brigade attacked a force that included about 600 tanks that were divided in all directions, mainly westward. The attacking force was 9th Brigade, a mechanized reserve brigade that included the old Sherman Battalion. These forty tanks attacked this huge Syrian defender, which also included additional forces, armored infantry, and anti-tank missiles. The attack started when the additional forces attacked first. Then brigade commander Motke Ben Porat sent the armored Sherman battalion, whose battalion commander was killed on a mine, but after a few hours' battle they decided to storm the Syrian compound. The person who led the attack was an amazing armored officer named Yehuda Arazi from Ein Horesh. He was deputy commander of the Shermans and who had nine tanks; he flanked the Syrian compound, in the vicinity of the present-day settlement of Keshet, and attacked them from the rear with three tanks covering while six stormed. When they reached the line they saw before them a massive array of tanks and cannons and a huge arsenal of weapons. The soldiers said we needed to retreat and Arazi said there was no option of withdrawing, we storm into life or death.

"He charged, and already at the first stage they overran the Syrian artillery, hit trucks full of shells and fuel and the whole Syrian compound turned into a big wall of fire and thousands of Syrian soldiers began a panic flight, and then the additional battalion stormed them. By nightfall the Syrian column collapsed. The problem was that the 9th's tanks were out of ammunition. They entered camp at night and returned to the attack the next morning, and found hundreds of armored personnel carriers, cannons, trucks and tools up in flames, and they continued to the Syrian border."

Yitzhaki goes on to note that such a dramatic event would have become a national tale of heroism in any reasonable country. But for us it was forgotten for a simple reason - all of them were reservists who after the war immediately wanted only to return home, without anyone writing the story for posterity.

On the other hand, one of the brigade, a man named Yehoshua Kahane, wrote a book to be distributed among the brigade's soldiers two years later, but the people of Israel did not receive the book. I published it in the Carta Atlas 29 years ago, and I published the battle in the book 'Following the Warriors,' but the media didn't say anything about it. The guys from the brigade didn't understand that they needed public relations."

Besides the conference that is being held today, "a monument will be erected for the heroes of the brigade, and the field school of Keshet Yehonatan will carry out a war heritage tour and finally do historical justice, even if it comes after 44 years."



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