47 years on, Defense Ministry releases color footage of Yom Kippur War

Soldiers on the Suez, actor Chaim Topol visiting troops, top brass visiting the Egyptian front among scenes in high-quality video released from military archives for first time

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

The Defense Ministry on Tuesday released color footage — some of it never before published — of the 1973 Yom Kippur War in honor of the conflict’s 47th anniversary.

The three-minute film shows a variety of scenes from the war: soldiers on the Suez Canal, senior officers — including then-army chief David Elazar and Southern Command head Ariel Sharon — visiting the Egyptian front, female soldiers folding parachutes, and even a brief cameo by famed actor Chaim Topol as he visited troops.

“The films were located as part of a digitization project in the IDF Archives, in which many many videos from Israel’s wars that were shot on film are being converted into digital formats, which will allow them to be preserved at greater quality levels for future generations,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The ministry said much of the footage, which contains no audio, has never before been released, and those parts that have were never distributed at such high quality.

The Yom Kippur War began on October 6, 1973, when Syria and Egypt launched surprise, coordinated attacks on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar against Israeli positions on the Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula, respectively.

Though the military had anticipated some kind of attack from either country, it was largely caught off-guard by the assaults on the two fronts.

The Israel Defense Forces was eventually able to repel the two invading militaries, but lost upwards of 2,500 soldiers in the process — thousands more were injured — and the unprecedented intelligence failure that allowed the surprise attacks sent shockwaves through the country, coming a few short years after the resounding victory in the 1967 Six Day War.

In the fallout of the war, Golda Meir resigned as prime minister, as did Moshe Dayan as defense minister. Though Meir’s Labor party retained control of the government in the election immediately following the war, it lost in the subsequent election — for the first time in Israel’s history — to the right-wing Likud party, in part due to lingering disaffection over the war.

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