Deep Inside Enemy Territory

The book by Maj. Gen. (res.) Dr. Chaim Nadel analyzes the special operations staged by the IDF between the Six-Day War and the Yom-Kippur War

Deep Inside Enemy Territory

Following the Six-Day War, any hopes or expectations the State of Israel may have had for peace were voided and the aggression against it continued, in various forms, along the entire length of its new borders. The national leaders of Israel sought ways to force the Arab countries to cease fire, and assigned the task to the IDF. For this purpose, IDF commanders initiated daring, special joint operations deep inside enemy territory. These operations relied primarily on the new aerial and naval flanking capabilities the recent acquisitions of the IDF provided: using assault helicopters, aircraft, boats and missile frigates. IDF conducted these operations while engaging in primarily static warfare along the new armistice lines.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Dr. Chaim Nadel, who was involved in the lion’s share of the special and joint operations staged by the IDF in those days as head of the Operations Branch at IDF GHQ and as the commander of the IDF Paratroopers Brigade, describes and analyzes in his book the evolution and influence of those operations. The book presents a comprehensive picture of the period during which IDF broke, both geographically and mentally, the frame of the ground boundaries. The book contains numerous maps to help the reader understand the tactics and plans used.

Following an analysis of the political and military situation pursuant to the Six-Day War, the book describes the strategic concepts of Israel, the Arab countries and the superpowers between the two wars (a summary of the author’s previous book, “Between Two Wars – 1967-1973”). Another chapter addresses the employment concept, operational principles and characteristics of the special and joint operations, whose objective was to strike at the “soft”, “sensitive” and “painful” spots of the opponent.

The book describes only special and joint operations staged by IDF until the Yom-Kippur War. The primary sections of the book provide a somewhat “diary” style description, reminiscent of the summaries of the IDF History Department in those years, of the operations against the civilian infrastructures in Egypt and subsequently also in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The description of the operational activity is detailed but ignores the preparations – mainly the preparatory intelligence activities, conducted primarily at GHQ level. The conclusion of each operation fails to mention the lessons of the other side and their effect they had on the Arab side. Admittedly, the book states that the operations led to a decrease in enemy activity against the IDF, but that claim is not substantiated in any way.

A major chapter of the book is devoted to operations in which Egyptian military targets were attacked, including numerous operations staged by the IDF Paratroopers Brigade under the author’s command, and other operations staged by the IDF Navy 13th Flotilla (Naval Commandos) and the IDF armored task force that raided the western bank of the Gulf of Suez (Operation Raviv – September 1968). Syrian military targets were attacked as well, mainly in 1970, and attacks were staged against targets of the terrorist organizations in Lebanon, which culminated in Operation Spring of Youth in April 1973.

Some of these operations, like the taking of the Egyptian Radar station, blowing up the aircraft of the Arab airlines at the Beirut airport and the capturing of Shadwan Island in the Red Sea, reverberated around the world and made a substantial contribution to the idealization of the image of the IDF. According to the author, these operations had a profound effect on the sense of security of the citizens of Israel and their confidence in the strength of IDF.

In conclusion, despite the fact that the author is convinced that the special operations helped the State of Israel achieve its strategic objectives, he points out the fact that they failed to achieve overbalance. Subsequently, IDF failed to initiate any special operations in the context of such full-scale wars as the Yom-Kippur War and the first Lebanon War, as well as during the major operations staged in the context of the “Intifada” uprisings opposite the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon. Apparently, the IDF supreme command was not sufficiently attentive to the meticulous planning such operations demand and could not confidently guarantee the expected achievement vis-à-vis the risks involved. The attempts to perfect the system through the fairly recent establishment of the IDF Depth Corps have not been put to the test yet. 

Maj. Gen. (res.) Dr. Chaim Nadel is a man of the sword and the book, a researcher and lecturer on military history. This book combines his extensive experience as a field commander with insights gained through the archival research he had conducted for his writing.

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