Monday, October 21, 2013

How One IDF Commander Turned Back a Syrian Column in the Yom Kippur War

How One IDF Commander Turned Back a Syrian Column in the Yom Kippur War

With just one tank, Captain Zvika Greengold withstood the might of the Syrian military. As the battle around him raged, he moved in and out of the darkness, firing at Syrian forces while remaining undetected. He persisted heroically for hours, throwing himself at the enemy in the face of almost certain death.

On October 6, 1973 – the first day of the Yom Kippur War – the Syrian military bombarded Israel’s northern border. At exactly 2:00 pm, its air force and artillery pounded IDF positions in the Golan Heights in coordination with an Egyptian strike in the Sinai Peninsula. Hours later, Syrian tanks and troops crossed the border and invaded Israeli territory. The IDF soldiers, suffering tremendous losses, scrambled to stop the Syrian onslaught.
 
Israeli_Tank_Battles_Egyptian_Forces_in_the_Sinai_Desert_-_Flickr_-_Israel_Defense_Forces

Meanwhile, Captain Zvi “Zvika” Greengold, a 21-year-old tank commander, frantically left his home on a kibbutz near Haifa. Before the war, he had been granted two weeks’ leave before beginning a course for commanders. When he learned of the Syrian attack, he made his way northward to the Golan, where IDF forces were growing increasingly outnumbered.
 
In the late afternoon, Cpt. Greengold reached Nafah – an IDF command center in the Golan’s southern sector. Determined to join soldiers in the battlefield, he took command of two tanks and assembled scratch crews to run them.  He made contact with troops in the southern sector and advanced toward them, identifying his tanks over radio as ‘the Zvika Force.’ With night falling, he set out along the Tapline Route – a road in the Golan Heights used by Syrian forces to enter Israeli territory.
 
Cpt. Zvi "Zvika" Greengold
Cpt. Zvi “Zvika” Greengold – One against many

Moments later, Cpt. Greengold discovered a company of Syrian tanks moving toward Nafah. With two tanks, he faced slim chances of success against the Syrian forces, but he was determined to protect the Israeli command center. In a heroic act, he began to coordinate an attack on the company. For hours, he persisted with extraordinary bravery, throwing himself at the enemy in the face of almost certain death.
 
Battle on the Tapline Route
 
Cpt. Greengold’s crew took partial cover beside the road and waited for the Syrian tanks to approach. When he spotted the first Syrian tank, he rapidly opened fire. The blast from his vehicle hit the Syrian tank and ignited it, generating a shock that destroyed his own radio communications. Left unable to communicate, he jumped out of his vehicle and ran to the second tank in the heat of battle.
 
Cpt. Greengold traded places with the second tank’s commander and ordered him to follow his lead. But as the two vehicles moved down the road, the other tank soon lost its direction in the darkness. With no way to locate the other half of his force, Cpt. Greengold realized that he would need to face the remaining Syrian tanks alone.
 
Map of Syrian Invasion October 6 1973

Read more at: http://www.idfblog.com/2013/10/21/one-idf-commander-turned-back-syrian-column-yom-kippur-war/#more-30433

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