Israel finally releases the late prime minister’s testimony before the Agranat Commission on her handling of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which 2,500 Israelis lost their lives
Forty years after the Yom Kippur War, an eventually triumphant campaign that cost over 2,500 Israeli lives and left an enduring scar on the national psyche, Israel on Thursday released Prime Minister Golda Meir’s long-classified testimony from the commission of inquiry that investigated the actions of the military before and during the early stages of the war.
Meir, in her newly released testimony, steadfastly defended her decision not to launch a preemptive strike on the Yom Kippur morning of October 6, 1973, by which point it was virtually certain that war was imminent, and pleaded ignorance of most military matters, explaining that her decision, that same morning, to draft the reserves, and at full strength, despite defense minister Moshe Dayan’s hesitations, was born of “a lack of knowledge and a lack of expertise.”
She categorically denied that the upcoming national elections, slated for late October 1973, had anything to do with her pre-war hesitation in summoning the reserves. “My knowledge of Hebrew is insufficient to find the parliamentary words to reject this,” said the Russian-born, US-raised prime minister.
Regarding the preemptive strike, Meir acknowledged that it would have saved lives but said that, even in the aftermath of the war, she did not regret her refusal to unleash the air force on the amassing Egyptian troops on the western side of the Suez Canal. “I knew then, and I know now, too, that it’s possible, maybe we could even say certain, that boys who are no longer would still be alive,” she acknowledged. “But I don’t know how many other boys would have fallen due to a lack of equipment.”
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