The Yom Kippur War was a defining moment in the history of the Intelligence Corps' Central Collection Unit, now known as Unit 8200.
This was its great hour, for its people brought a wealth of information about the enemy's preparations and preparations for war, all of which read aloud that war was imminent.
But this was also its difficult hour, because despite the gut instincts of its people that the enemy was headed for war, they did not succeed in breaking through the walls of opacity in which the head of Military Intelligence and his aides surrounded themselves, and did not succeed in convincing them that the conception they adhered to, according to which the Syrians and Egyptians did not face war, had collapsed.
Like many others, the unit also paid the price for the failure and failure of the Intelligence Corps, and this is especially true of Yoel Ben-Porat, its commander during the war.
Yoel, the only Holocaust survivor from his entire family, rebuilt his life in the renewed State of Israel, but now feels that everything he had built and achieved over the years had been destroyed. Since then, he has not relieved himself of the guilt that his screams, the cries of the entire unit, were not heard and did not reach the leaders of the army and the state.
But in the wake of the war, the unit embarked on a new path, turning failure into an unparalleled success story. From the abyss of October 1973, where even the only wonder was made, it soared to the heights and became the best collection unit in the world.
But the intelligence story of the warning that did not reach its destination was only part of the unit's story during the war, and only part of the legacy bequeathed to future generations.
Alongside the great myth, both heroic and tragic, another myth was also told, oppressive and casting a heavy shadow, which every soldier heard when he arrived at the unit - the story of the fall of the unit's base on Mount Hermon and the story of the fall of his men into Syrian captivity.
It was a story of heroism and of holding on and maintaining humanity under impossible conditions, but also a story of heavy damage to intelligence and the IDF, caused by the fall of Mount Hermon and the fall of its men in Syrian captivity.
The price of this myth was paid by the prisoners who returned to Israel in June 1974, after eight months in Syrian captivity, who felt that the unit that sent them to the Hermon outpost in October 1973 was turning its back on them.
Now, in the 50th year of that war, the unit commander has decided that the time has come to come full circle and let go of this painful story – not only as a noble gesture to those redeemed from captivity, but from a mature and considered perspective, which is only possible from years away, about what really happened on Mount Hermon and in Syrian captivity.
A few weeks ago, the unit held an exciting ceremony, in which the unit's commander's awards were awarded for outstanding and groundbreaking projects, which made Unit 8200 the best collection unit in the world. The Syrian prisoners from October 1973 were invited to the ceremony, as a connection between past and present, joining together the soldiers and commanders of the unit today to form a complete story, the story of the unit as it should be told.
It was not a pat on the back ceremony, for it was filled with painful memories, difficulties and anger about what happened before the war, about what happened in Syrian captivity and about what happened after returning home, to an alienated Israeli reality
The awarding of the prizes was preceded by a moving ceremony of appreciation in honor of those redeemed from captivity, a ceremony of warm and loving embrace and willingness to listen and accommodate. It was not a simple event – certainly not for people whose lives were halted when the war broke out, and who may never have recovered from it.
It was not a pat on the back ceremony, for it was filled with painful memories, difficulties and anger about what happened before the war, what happened in Syrian captivity and what happened after returning home, to an alienated Israeli reality.
But everyone as one showed up for the meeting, saluting the unit that salutes and honors them, even if years late, and the exchange, reproach and grievance was finally replaced by a conciliatory tone of one to whom his dignity was restored.
The circle has been closed, the injustice has been corrected, and now the unit can move on, to new achievements in the service of the people and the state.
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