Chief of Staff David Elazar and Military Intelligence chief Eli Zeira, against artillery
Chief of Staff David Elazar and Military Intelligence chief Eli Zeira, against artilleryAvi Simchoni, in the base. IDF Spokesperson's Office and courtesy of the IDF Archive in the Ministry

Recently published documents from the IDF military archives revealed the minutes of the meetings of the General Staff prior to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Eli Ze'ira, who was then head of Military Intelligence, opened the meeting with a quick review of the strategic situation. He spoke of the military buildup of Egyptian and Syrian forces on the borders with Israel, and reported that he did not know the purpose of 11 Russian transport planes that ha recently landed in Egypt and Syria.

"The situation is very tense with the Egyptians and the Syrians, and they are making themselves complacent that we are going to attack. The opposite side is afraid and this business can slip out of the Arabs' control over themselves," Zeira said, but he reassured. "In the end, I do not think we are going to war."

הרמטכ"ל לשעבר חיים בר לב במפקדת פיקוד צפון בזמן המלחמה
הרמטכ"ל לשעבר חיים בר לב במפקדת פיקוד צפון בזמן המלחמהבאדיבות ארכיון צה"ל במשרד הביטחון צלם: מיקי אסטל, במחנה

Chief of Staff David Elazar reinforced this interpretation: "I accept the assessment of Military Intelligence and see the prospect of war as less than reasonable at the moment."

He also stated his belief that the reason for the Arab states were massing on Israel's borders to make a point to the United Nations: "There may be extreme political reasons. The fact that the rally is currently taking place, and they should emphasize that the Middle East is the home of the explosive and that the whole world has to deal with it."

Later on, the chief of staff said that he was aware that the enemy's movements along the border could become an attack on Israel and that the army had no information that the Arab armies were not prepared to attack.

"If the worst situation happens, that is, if an attack is launched with no additional word (intelligence), then we will have to block through the regular forces, that is, through the air force and all the forces we have on the lines. In the case of a catastrophe, we will have to mobilize immediate mobilization, and in this sense we have a certain limitation that on Yom Kippur there is no radio. "

The chief of staff added, "If you were a commentator, I would be here to say that this is not going to happen. But since we are not only dealing with military interpretation, we are responsible for the situation, we must take the necessary security measures."

"We are prepared for any situation, as we know, we have no interest in the war, and I would not want it to come to us as a complete surprise," said Maj. Gen. David Elazar.