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Agranat Commission

The Agranat Commission was a national inquiry commission established on November 21st 1973 to investigate the IDF’s function during the Yom Kippur War. Its Chairman was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Dr. Shimon Agranat and its members were: Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landoy; State Comptroller Yitzhak Neventzal; Lieutenant General (Res.) Prof. Yigael Yadin; and Soldiers’ Ombudsman, Lieutenant General (Res.) Haim Laskov. The Commission members were asked to examine the following: The intelligence available from before the war on the intentions of Syria and Egypt; the analysis of the intellignce by the authorized civilian and military units; the general preparedness of the IDF to fight, especially on the date of October 5th 1973, the day prior to the outbreak of the war.

The Commission reviewed 90 direct testimonies and received 188 written testimonies. Its Intermediate Report was published on April 1st 1974, focusing on the reasons for the IDF’s lack of preparedness for an attack: The IDF’s notion that Egypt will not attack without gaining aerial superiority that will paralyze the Israeli Air Force and enable bombings within Israel, as well as Syria’s lack of motivation without an attack on the Egyptian front. This conception caused the Israeli intelligence to underestimate suspicious signals picked up from both countries. The maneuvering of the Egyptian military was not regarded as preparations for a war and was not considered by the Intelligence Directorate as an adequate enough sign for providing a warning to the IDF. As a result, the IDF did not take the necessary precautions in time, such as mobilizing its reserve units.

The Commissions recommendations included the creation of a Cabinet Committee for Defense; the division of intelligence analysis to several authorized units; the appointment of an advisor for intelligence matters to the Prime Minister; and a clear division of labor, authority and responsibility between the Government, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the IDF Chief of Staff. Its other recommendations included the dismissal of Eliahu Zeira, Head of the Intelligence Directorate, and several other intelligence officers from their duties. Removing the IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar from his post was also recommended, for not having an independent intelligence assessment and a detailed defense plan. In addition, he was criticized for his overstated assurance of the IDF’s capability of driving back the enemy forces while using its conscripted servicemen alone. The Commander of the Southern Command, Major General Shmuel Gonen (Gorodish), was also criticized and recommended to be removed from active service until the Commission resolved its investigation. His name was eventually cleared and he returned to active service.

Surprisingly, the Commission did not find flaws in the conduct of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and also commended Prime Minister Golda Meir. However, the publication of the report increased the public agitation and deepened the crisis of trust between the political leadership and a majority of the public. Golda Meir announced her resignation in a special Knesset Plenum sitting held on April 11th 1974, which was followed by a debate on the Agranat Commission Report. Moshe Dayan was not appointed to the new government installed on June 3rd by Yitzhak Rabin.

A second intermediate report was presented by the commission on July 10th. It consisted of 400 pages and only its introduction was made public. Its contents included detailed testimonies which were brought before the Commission and supplements to its first report.

The final report was presented on January 30th 1975. It contained more than 1,500 pages and, as before, only its introduction was made public. The reports described in great detail the events of October 8th 1973 in the Sinai Peninsula and the first day of fighting in the Golan Heights. In both cases, the IDF was severely criticized for its lack of preparedness and for malfunctions in the coordination between various units. The report also dealt with other aspects, such as orders, discipline and emergency supplies, yet it did not discuss the public conception that aerial action was insufficient. The report’s concrete results included: Strengthening of the Mossad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ research department; the appointment of prime ministerial advisors on intelligence and defense; and the removal of the IDF Chief of Staff, Head of the Intelligence Directorate and other officers from their duties.

The commission established that its full reports will be opened for the public in 2004. However, towards the 20 years mark since the war, Ma’ariv newspaper petitioned to the Supreme Court and asked to instruct the government on its immediate publication. The government was aware that its claim that publicizing the report is a security risk will not stand in court. Prime and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave his consent to their publication and the report was fully publicized, except for 48 pages disapproved by the censorship, on January 1st 1995. Its parts made public did not contain significant details on the responsibility of the Intelligence Directorate and the four officers removed from office, but it did strengthen the feeling of an “eclipse” (as the report stated) in Israel at the time.

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