Release of Yom Kippur War transcripts opens old wounds
Avi Ginosar stood yesterday near the Golan Heights monument to Brigade 769 and described the battles he fought during the Yom Kippur War.
"I still see everything before my eyes - the burned tanks, the battles of armor against armor," he said at the 35th annual memorial ceremony for the 72 brigade members killed in the war and since then. "I still hear the reports on the radio. That is when I understood that if we do not stop the Syrians here, then the Egyptians will stop them in Tel Aviv."
Ginosar - who, like his fellow brigade members, remained on reserve duty for seven months after the war - said the transcripts of meetings held by Israel's war cabinet during the first four days of the war, which the state archives released this week, "told me nothing new."
"After all, Hofi had warned that war was about to break out and no one listened," said Ginosar, referring to Yitzhak Hofi, who was in charge of Northern Command at the time. The transcripts confirmed the existence of an intelligence source who provided credible information of an imminent attack.
"I have in me anger that has not subsided to this day," said Ginosar.
Orri Orrr, who commanded the brigade during the war, also said the transcripts weren't that revealing.
"There is nothing new in the documents published," said . "But old news can open up old wounds. There are scars that seem to have healed but are opened anew. We won the battle at a heavy price. There are things that can stay with you for 37 years."
Speaking at the memorial ceremony, Orr said "we must continue to believe and remain determined, but at the same time we must criticize and examine the system every single day."
In addition to brigade members like Ginosar and Orr, dozens of members' families and the relatives of soldiers killed in the war attended the ceremony.
Rita Gershon stood before the memorial with tears running down her face, looking at her brother's name carved in metal.
"The pain that I have felt since his death does not subside, and neither does the anger over the mistakes made then," she said. "Now, in view of the publication of the transcripts of the government meetings in those days, I am even more angry. I understand how ill-prepared we were and how arrogant."
"The pain has been choking me for 37 years now," said Hava Yemini-Polani, whose brother Mordechai was killed in combat on the Golan Heights. "We learned of the failures after the war, but now the anger is greater than ever. Unfortunately, over many years they tried to keep many things quiet."
For some survivors of the 1973 war, just seeing the families of those who didn't make it can bring back harrowing memories.
"Every year it is hard," said brigade member Zohar Yair. "Nineteen men died in my tank. I took the dead out and took on a new crew each time. It is painful to see the bereaved families."