Haredi Soldier Saves Friends During Yom Kippur War 50 Year Ago

50 years ago, On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, a.k.a the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. 

In the Golan Heights, about 180 Israeli tanks went against 1,400 from Syria. Along the Suez Canal, fewer than 500 Israeli defenders with only three tanks were attacked by 600,000 Egyptian soldiers and their 2,000 tanks and 550 aircraft. Clearly, the Israelis were outnumbered. If anyone was putting money on this war, it would not have gone to the Jews.*

On October 22, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 338, calling for “all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately.” The resolution also called for the implementation of Resolution 242. The vote came on the day that Israeli forces cut off and isolated the Egyptian Third Army and were in a position to destroy it, according to Jewish Virtual Library.

Israel reluctantly complied with the cease-fire, largely because of U.S. pressure but also because the next military moves would have been to attack the two Arab capitals, something few believed would be politically wise. By the end of the fighting, 2,688 Israeli soldiers had been killed. The one homefront casualty occurred when a FROG missile struck the pilots’ headquarters of the Ramat David air base. Combat deaths for Egypt and Syria totaled 7,700 and 3,500, respectively.

There were many casualties unfortunately and also many heroes among them.

One in particular is Corporal Moshe Yitzchak Tobal, a Nahal Haredi soldier who was stationed with three other soldiers at a dock, and involved in a small arms and hand grenade battle against Egyptian army forces. During the battle, a grenade was thrown right where they were standing. Tobal jumped and covered his friends in order to save them. After the fall, his body was taken as a prisoner and he only returned years later in the peace agreement with Egypt.

Tobal’s actions earned him certain accolades, but his family believes he should have gotten a higher one. They’ve been fighting for years, and now, to mark the war’s anniversary this year, are trying again. Tobal’s family appealed to the Chief of Staff through Yossi Levy, CEO of the “Netzah Yehuda” association and asked to correct the “historical injustice.”

His family is hopeful that this award will also be a kiddush Hashem. Honoring an Orthodox man who sacrificed his life for others is a beautiful way to help motivate other Orthodox Jews to join the army, Levy explains. Plus, it simply helps show the core values of an Orthodox Jewish life to others who may think negatively.

Levy is hopeful that an award like this can also help reduce the tension and division between different sects of Jewish society in Israel.

As we embark on this holy day yet again, 50 years later, Tobal’s family is hopeful that his memory will be honored in the way that it should.

Source: Nahal Haredi


*Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated, “As a result of the war, Israel gained control of territory four times its previous size. Egypt lost the 23,500-square mile Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, while Jordan lost the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Syria lost the Golan Heights.” We have since corrected the mistake.

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