Original photos: Yochai Maital; Yitzhak Nigerker
Israel Story

Tell Saki—Part II

We conclude our two-part Tell Saki story by returning to the soldiers after the battle and following their respective journeys—full of pain and regret, but also full of longing and camaraderie—in the years since the Yom Kippur War

January 26, 2021
Original photos: Yochai Maital; Yitzhak Nigerker

In the late morning of Oct. 8, 1973, the prolonged hell of the remaining soldiers at Tell Saki came to an end. Or so they thought. They had entered the war with youthful delusions of glory, and—alongside other IDF forces fighting on the Golan Heights—managed to stave off Syrian attacks in the early days of the Yom Kippur War. In so doing, they prevented a devastating invasion into the heart of Israel, and bought the heads of the army precious time to mount a counterattack. But this came at a heavy price. At least 32 soldiers were killed on the tell, or else trying to reach it. But those who managed to come home, returned to a different country—one in mourning and in a collective state of depression. Few stopped to acknowledge what these young men—in their late teens and early 20s—had gone through, or to thank them for their sacrifice. For years, many of these returning soldiers went around with a deep-seated sense of shame, regret, and pain.

Some 2,500 Israeli soldiers were killed during the war. But ultimately the Israeli counteroffensive was successful and by the final day of fighting, IDF troops reached the outskirts of Damascus and were less than 60 miles from Cairo. Many historians regard the Yom Kippur War as Israel’s most impressive military achievement. But in the court of public opinion, Israel had lost.

While our previous episode told the story of the battle itself, this time Yochai Maital brings us the kind of war story we rarely hear—that which begins once the fighting ends.

Yochai Maital produced, scored, and sound-designed the episode. Mishy Harman edited it. Sela Waisblum created the mix. Thanks to our dubbers: Shlomo Maital, Boaz Dekel, Suri Krieger, Shai Avivi, and Dror Keren. To the Friendship and Heritage Foundation—an NGO set up by survivors of Tell Saki to commemorate their fallen friends—and to Dan Almagor, Shai Satran, and Sharon Rapaport. Two primary written sources for our Tell Saki project were Hallie Lerman’s Crying for Imma and Menachem Ansbacher’s memoir, Rsis MiMagash HaKesef.

Much of the music in the episode is by cellist Leat Sabbah, with additional music by Doug Maxwell and Yochai Maital. The end song is “Nifgashnu Shuv (“We Met Again”) is sung by Dudu Zakai, with music and lyrics by Shaike Paikov.

Listen to the episode here, or download it from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify. You can hear all of Israel Story’s episodes in English here and in Hebrew here.

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