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Israeli leaders mark 48 years of lessons learned since Yom Kippur War

Bennett draws a parallel between the surprise 1973 attack and the Gilboa Prison jailbreak: ‘Whenever there is a mishap, we [must] correct what needs to be corrected’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

President Isaac Herzog (left), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (center) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a memorial ceremony for the fallen Israeli soldiers of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, at the National Hall of Remembrance, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, September 19, 2021. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)
President Isaac Herzog (left), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (center) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a memorial ceremony for the fallen Israeli soldiers of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, at the National Hall of Remembrance, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, September 19, 2021. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)

At a ceremony on Sunday commemorating the Yom Kippur War, Israeli leaders spoke of both the lessons learned and the challenges that still remain 48 years after the surprise 1973 attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces.

“Forty-eight years ago something changed in all of us,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the official state memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl on Sunday morning. “The Yom Kippur War proved the danger of both complacency and arrogance. It taught us all a lesson in modesty, but also a foundational lesson on the importance of readiness and preparedness.”

“The Yom Kippur War changed our country and changed Israeli society,” Bennett added. “We learned how important it is to be prepared for any scenario, even one that seems almost fictional.”

In his speech at the ceremony, President Isaac Herzog said the lessons of the Yom Kippur War still resonate heavily.

“Many of the challenges that the Yom Kippur War posed us are still with us today, and they must serve as a warning light for us,” said Herzog. “We must do everything so that a surprise like the Yom Kippur War will never repeat itself. We must not settle into false conceptions: We must always be ready for war and not miss any opportunity for peace. We must not underestimate our enemies or slip into false illusions. We must always ask questions. We must always be ready for any eventuality, with one hand on the trigger, and the other holding an olive branch, extended in peace.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the IDF soldiers who died during the Yom Kippur War “bravely paved the way and set the foundation on which the State of Israel was built.”

President Isaac Herzog speaks at a memorial ceremony for the fallen Israeli soldiers of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, at the National Hall of Remembrance, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, September 19, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

He said that the memorial ceremony served not only to remember those who were killed in battle, but also “those who went missing in action during the Yom Kippur War. We are constantly working to return them to Israel. It is a moral obligation to them and to their families.”

Bennett, Herzog and Gantz all also referenced the overnight capture of the remaining two fugitives from the high-profile Gilboa Prison jailbreak close to two weeks ago.

The prime minister said the prison break and the subsequent manhunt to recapture all six escaped Palestinian security prisoners echoed his message on learning from mistakes.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at a memorial ceremony for the fallen Israeli soldiers of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, at the National Hall of Remembrance, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, September 19, 2021. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)

“The escape itself was a severe mishap — operational, systemic and vis-à-vis intelligence,” said Bennett. “But whenever there is a mishap, we first take action, together, in the first stage — against the enemy, to restore deterrence, and then to correct what needs to be corrected on our part, and there is what to correct.”

Herzog used his remarks to “thank all our forces for their daring, determination, and creativity in capturing the terrorists last night.”

Gantz commended “all the forces that have worked and continue to work effectively and professionally, while having maintained resilience and a ‘fighting spirit’ over the last few weeks.”

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