The 100-Hour Battle That Saved Israel

by Jerry Asher with Eric Hammel

The first Saturday in October 1973: A traditional Jewish Sabbath in Israel. It is also Yom Kippur, and the Israeli Defense Force is preparing to observe the holiest of the Jewish holy days.

Meanwhile the Syrian army, the greatest achievement of the modern Syrian state, is massed on the Golan Heights. Together with newly arrived Soviet-made equipment, 1,200 main battle tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers, 1,000 artillery pieces, and more than 100 mobile antiaircraft missile carriers are ready to strike in a lightning-swift offensive that will drive to the sea and cut Israel in two.

Duel for the Golan, the first book to be written on this aspect of the Yom Kippur War, is based on interviews with the participants from both sides of the fighting. As such it remain a compelling and powerful account of one of the greatest tank battles fought since World War II. It also provides the first in-depth analysis of exactly how and why an inferior number of Israeli defenders was capable of inflicting one of the greatest defeats in modern military history upon awe-inspiring Arab armored forces.

Here are the intimate details of tank-against-tank fighting, whether it be during retreats, in ambushes, or on the attack. Here are the stories of incredible courage and individual initiative as the Israeli defenders strive to contain the unexpected Syrian assault. During the 100-hour battle that saved Israel, every Israeli tank that was committed to the Golan fighting was hit by hostile fire at least once, and some commanders had five or six tanks shot out from under them.

By the end of the war only a few days later, Israeli forces had counterattacked and advanced to where their artillery could hit the Damascus International Airport and other strategic targets with pinpoint accuracy. The Syrian army was virtually destroyed in the field, as were contingents from other Arab states such as Iraq and Jordan. How these remarkable turns of battle occurred is deftly laid out. This revealing account of a battle that changed the history of the Middle East is especially relevant today as tensions in the region increase once again.