theme: yom kippur war

5

WCW - Golda Meir, Israel’s first female prime minister, one of the world'a first elected female leader, and overall badass. She proved that you can be a hard as nails world leader, being nicknamed “Iron Lady” way before Margret Thatcher came along, and still be able to bring soldiers soup (soldiers love soup). She was a true Zionist, having made Aliyah from Kiev as a young woman, and being one of two women to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Her achievements, however, are not limited to what she did as a woman. She was an accomplished politician, serving as Israel’s Minister of Labour, Foreign, and Internal Affairs before being elected Prime Minister. She resigned in 1974 after the Yom Kippur War, an eight versus one war which Israel won under her leadership. She died four years later in 1978, but will always be remembered as a political, feminist, and Zionist icon who managed to kick ass, hard, even when the odds were stacked against her.

40 years ago, Israel lost many brave soldiers in the opening attacks by the Syrian Army on Yom Kippur. Avraham Godlovitzch (64, on the left), who had immigrated to Israel just nine months before the war broke out, would surely have been among the fallen. But, as he was crawling out of a halftrack with a bullet in his leg, Sami Sagi (59, on the right), came briefly into his life. Sami had managed to escape his own tank after it was struck by a shell killing the officer inside, and scrambled through the haze of Syrian fire. Amidst the chaos, the young man from Kfar Saba saw the new immigrant struggling. Avraham couldn’t stand up and signaled Sami to leave him. But just as he had refused to break his first fast for Yom Kippur,  Sami refused to abandon Avraham. The smaller Sami carried Avraham on his back for two days, from the Golan Heights down to the Sea of Galilee, where they finally came across fellow IDF soldiers. For two days they evaded the Syrians, eating along the way–since the start of the fast–only a bunch of grapes Sami found by an abandoned building.

40 years passed and they remained on each other’s minds, but could not find one another–until last month.

Israeli Magach 3 tanks in the early 1970s. The name “Magach” is a shortened form of the name Merkevet Giborei Hayil, or “Chariot of War Heroes”, but IDF soldiers gave it the macabre nickname Movil Gviyot Charukhot (charred body carrier) after the Yom Kippur War. This came from the heavy losses suffered by the tanks due to the flammable hydraulic fluid located towards the front of the tank, making them easy targets for enemy Sagger-3 anti-tank missiles.

2

Zvika Greengold, one of only eight Israelis to be awarded the Medal of Valor for his service during the Yom Kippur War. 

At the start of Egypt and Syria’s surprise attack in 1973, Greengold was home on leave and was not officially attached to any unit. Hitchhiking to the frontline position at Nafkeh in the Golan Heights, he was put in charge of two damaged and crewless Sho’t (Whip) tanks and ordered to guard the Tapline Road. With scratch crews and hasty repairs, Greengold’s squad was almost immediately engaged by T-55s and T-60s of the Syrian 51st Independent Tank Brigade. When one tank was damaged and forced to withdraw for more repairs, Greengold fought on until the Syrians withdrew, the darkness and constant movement of Greengold’s tank causing them to think they were facing an entire company of Israeli tanks. For another twenty hours he fought on alone until joined by ten more Sho’ts just in time for an attack by a division-sized force of Syrian tanks, including the newly-delivered Soviet T-62. It was another twenty hours before the fighting had subsided enough for the force to be relieved, whereupon Greengold, who by that point had had twelve tanks shot out from under him and had even lost his uniform to an explosion, collapsed unconscious.