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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