Magazine article Newsweek International

No Match for Israel

Magazine article Newsweek International

No Match for Israel

Article excerpt

SUEZ CANAL, 1967: Egyptian Gen. Shafik Shazly saw his Army lose two wars to Israel, the Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur war. He was later jailed for criticizing the government.

When Israel launched its surprise attack on June 5, 1967, I was meeting with all the other Sinai commanders near the Suez Canal. If they had known this, the Israelis could have wiped out our entire command structure with one bomb right at the beginning. As it was, when the first shells hit just before 8 a.m., not a field commander was with his troops. I rushed back to my unit, which was in a remote part of the desert near the Israeli border. Although we had lost communications, I knew the Israelis had already destroyed our Air Force simply because they ruled the skies.

Later we learned President Gamal Abdel Nasser had expected an attack. Yet our planes were lined up on the airfields. They were sitting ducks and destroyed in the first two hours. It was our biggest mistake. Without them, we never had an opportunity to fight. My unit was the last to retreat over the Suez Canal, and after I crossed, our engineers blew the bridges. The Sinai was in Israeli hands.

In 1973 I was chief of staff. I knew that because it was small, Israel couldn't bear casualties and couldn't fight a prolonged war. We had re- equipped with new arms since the 1967 humiliation. We crossed the Suez Canal on Oct. 6, the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, and destroyed the supposedly impregnable Bar-Lev line. …

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