(Banner will apear here)

Beautiful Kabbalah Jewelry Judaicawebstore.com
Font Size:

Exclusive! Gen. Sharon & Yom Kippur Protocols

Arik Sharon: 'I Could Have Rescued Israeli Soldiers Cut Off In Suez Canal Outposts By Egyptian Forces But Was Not Given Approval'

'As A Divisional Commander On Front Line I Contacted Directly Defense Minister Moshe Dayan & Southern Command Headquarters With My Plan'

IsraCast Exclusive: Shortly After Yom Kippur, Maj.Gen.(res.) Arik Sharon Talked To IsraCast's Avi Yaffe Of His Daring Plan That Was Ignored By Dayan & IDF Headquarters

Avi Yaffe, 1973

 One of the most controversial issues of the Yom Kippur Protocols were the comments by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan that IDF soldiers, cut off in their fortified outposts along the Suez Canal, would be left to their fate. This flies in the face of the IDF's tradition of not leaving soldiers behind to be killed or captured by the enemy. In an extraordinary twist of fate, IsraCast's Avi Yaffe was doing reserve duty as a radio operator at the Porkan outpost that was surrounded by the Egyptians opposite Ismailiya. Yaffe was in radio contact with Gen. Sharon during the first days of the war including the soldiers daring trek through Egyptian lines back to safety. After the war was over, Yaffe interviewed Sharon who revealed that he could have saved the trapped soldiers in the outposts, most of whom were later captured or killed by the Egyptian forces. In light of publication of the Yom Kippur Protocols, Avi Yaffe has now decided to make public this exclusive and historic interview on his IsraCast website. 

 Avi Yaffe: Shalom this is Avi Yaffe speaking, the radio operator from the Porkan outpost. I wish to ask you about the plan you had to rescue the men in the 'moazeem' ouposts. 

Sharon: 'I can give you the facts - it was something that I viewed as a matter of principle a moral question of the highest order' 

Yaffe: 'That's what I need' 

Sharon: First of all, as a matter of record, in May 1973 we had prepared for a major Egyptian offensive across the Suez Canal - there were signs of this and we took basic preparations. The Egyptians got wind of our preparedness and decided to postpone the attack. Now at that time the IDF Chief of Staff issued an unequivocal instruction that in the event of of a wide-scale Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal, our outposts would receive orders to evacuate immediately. By the way, this order was never sent to the outposts on the day the war broke out (Oct.6th). On the contrary, some of the IDF tanks which actually reached the outposts- did any of them reach yours? 

Yaffe: 'No, none of them reached us' 

Sharon: 'Well when some of our tanks reached the outposts, the troops there wanted the tanks to evacuate them but they didn't because the tank commanders had no such orders. Now I reached the front line (as a reserve divisional commander)on the morning of October 7th, one day after the outbreak of the war). I observed the situation and my evaluation was that it was still possible to rescue our soldiers cut off in the outposts by the Egyptian canal crossing. This was because the major phase of the massive Egyptian buildup had not yet started (on IDF side of Suez Canal). Therefore that afternoon I contacted IDF headquarters telling them the soldiers in the outposts could still be rescued. My plan was for us was to secure narrow sectors (corridors) from our lines to the outposts through which the trapped soldiers could be evacuated. However, I did not receive any approval for this operation. Not only that, I was instructed to go a meeting that evening at 7 o'clock back in command headquarters at Jabel Umhashiba. Meanwhile I issued orders to my forces and they were prepared to conduct such an operation to reach the outposts. A helicopter was supposed to come and pick me up because there was no other way to get back - the Egyptian commandos had blocked the roads behind me.

Well I waited for several hours on a sand dune in the Tasa area before they got around to sending the helicopter. Actually, I think they deliberately sent the helicopter late so that there would be no time to raise my rescue plan at the evening consultation. Moreover, not only did I inform command headquarters of my rescue plan but I also contacted directly Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and told him it was possible to rescue the men in the outposts. But to an avail. I wish to say that even now, I repeat that it was possible. It was a moral issue-I heard the shouting of our men over the radio network and it affected me of course but it was not just feelings. I was convinced they could have been rescued. Now you know, and I don't have to tell you that there were those men who did succeed in getting out.'

Yaffe: 'I know full well, I was there!' 

Sharon: 'Well you know that even in your case, the pullout was coordinated although there was no official approval'. 

 

Postscript: Avi Yaffe adds that his outpost commander Lt. Col.Meir Viezel had informed Gen. Sharon that he and his men were ready to keep on fighting in their surrounded outpost as long as they could be of benefit, such as spotting for IDF artillery or aircraft strikes on the Egyptian forces. This they continued to do throughout the following day of Oct.8th. But then on the evening of Oct.8th, after the failed IDF counter- offensive failed to drive back the Egyptians, Viezel informed Sharon that the Egyptian troops had taken all the other outposts in the area, and were now massing tanks for the final assault on Porkan. It was only a matter of hours until they overran the outpost and the Israelis killed or captured. Therefore, the men of Porkan, with their wounded, wished to attempt a breakout on their own to reach IDF lines. They had also heard on the radio network that there were many killed and wounded Israeli soldiers in the outposts that had fallen and that in some cases the Egyptians had executed captured soldiers.

Sharon told the Porkan commander there was now nothing that he could do to help. In his view, there was only the slimmest chance they could make it through the heavy Egyptian forces all the twelve kilometers back to the IDF lines. Viezel told Sharon his men were determined to to take their chances in light of what they had seen in the other outposts. The outpost commander conveyed to Sharon his proposed escape route through the Egyptian lines-it was given in code and even in Yiddush, to confuse the Egyptians in case they were listening. Sharon wished them luck saying he would be waiting. But due to a full moon, the men had to wait until three o'clock in the morning of October 9th to start their trek through the Egyptian lines. On the way they eluded an Egyptian ambush and skirted an Egyptian Army encampment where Yaffe cracked:'We could even smell their morning coffee".

When dawn broke, the 33 men caught in the open desert where they were spotted by Egyptian tanks which opened fire with heavy machine guns and shells. They were pinned down from several directions. Yaffe contacted Sharon saying: 'The fire is so heavy we can't raise our heads'. Sharon immediately contacted the nearest IDF regional commander requested that he do what he could to help. That commander then decided to dispatch two tanks, one commanded by Col.Shaul Shalev and the second by another officer Amnon Reshef to go to their rescue. On the way, Reshef's tank was hit by an Egyptian anti-tank missile. Only Shalev's tank made it to the 33 men under Egyptian fire. All of them crowded on top of the the single tank that raced out of the area with the Egyptians blasting away. Fortunately, the Egyptians missed every shot. Col. Shalev was later killed in action.

This interview was the first and only time, Arik Sharon discussed his plan to rescue the IDF troops surrounded in the Suez Canal outposts. Could Sharon's rescue plan have succeeded? In all fairness, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, IDF Chief of Staff David Elezar and General Shmuel Gonen, the head of Southern Command are no longer alive to present their version of why Sharon's rescue plan was not implemented. By his own account, Sharon spoke of how it was impossible for him to travel by land to the IDF's southern headquarters because of the Egyptian penetration, indicating how chaotic the situation was on the ground. Some senior officers who served in the Yom Kippur have said it was a grim fact of the conditions on the ground that many more IDF soldiers would have been killed, wounded or themselves captured in trying to rescue the relatively small number of troops cut off in the outposts. Moreover, the officers say that on October 7th, all IDF forces in the vicinity of the Suez Canal were outnumbered ten - to - one and fighting for their lives and trying to build a new defensive line to prevent the Egyptians from breaking into Sinai. So the answer to the Sharon question cannot be answered. And one final footnote, Moshe Dayan's daughter Yael has noted the issue of what price to pay rescuing IDF soldiers remains on the national agenda today. Yael Dayan noted the Israeli government and public are still debating what price in future civilian casualties Israel is willing to pay for releasing hundreds of Palestinian terrorists in order to bring Gilad Shalit home. 

Avi Yaffe's Will - written on the night of Oct. 8th before the pullout from outpost on Suez Canal

Avi Yaffe's Will - written on the night of Oct. 8th before the pullout from outpost on Suez Canal 

To my wife, Dassi: All the outposts are falling - the Egyptians are killing everyone. I want to live and get out of here alive, but if I do not return remember I loved you always. Try to let the children know they had a father who loved them very, very much and that I was abandoned. 

Don't remain alone and when you decide, find someone who will truly love you and will be good for the children. 

Shalom, Avi

David Essing

Back To The Top