Netanyahu on the lessons of the Yom Kippur War and what it means for Iran

“We will do everything we can to protect the State of Israel – we do not rule out a pre-emptive strike,” he said.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an address for a memorial ceremony honoring Israel’s fallen in the Yom Kippur War, said: “If Iran wants to establish itself in the north, we are ready to fight them. This is a direct lesson from the Yom Kippur War.”

Netanyahu first spoke of the difficult start of the war, which took place in Oct. 1973. Israel found itself caught off-guard by a surprise attack from the Egyptians in the south and the Syrians in the north.

He credited Israel’s soldiers with stopping the onslaught and turning the tide. “Within three weeks of a surprise attack, one of the most difficult in the history of the armies, our fighters stood at the gates of Cairo and Damascus. We will always thank them – for their dedication, for their sacrifice and their achievements,” he said.

Netanyahu then addressed what is considered the main reason Israel was caught by surprise – the failure of the IDF’s intelligence branch to correctly read the security situation. “The decision-makers saw the danger and yet they were caught in the ‘low probability’ trap. Moreover, even when it was clear that war was imminent, even then they did not take the initiative,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu noted, “If we had carried out a preemptive strike, the face of the battle would have been completely different. A preemptive strike is a very difficult thing to do.”

Just prior to the outbreak of the war, Israel’s Chief of Staff David Elazar asked Prime Minister Golda Meir if he could launch a preemptive strike. She refused his request on political grounds, fearing it would make it appear that Israel had started the war.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies recently argued that the general assumption that intelligence bears all the blame for the early failure in the war overlooks the failure of the IDF senior echelon to read the political changes that made a preemptive strike, on which it was counting as part of its strategy, more and more difficult.

It appears from Netanyahu’s remarks that he learned this lesson, as he then reaffirmed Israel’s right to carry out preemptive strikes.

“If Iran wants to establish itself on our northern border and has not yet attacked us, we must not allow it to be established there. Prevent the concentration of forces, fight them — a direct lesson of the Yom Kippur War,” he said.

“We will do everything we can to protect the State of Israel – we do not rule out a pre-emptive strike,” he said.