45 years later: Remembering those who fell in Sinai

The Steel Formation recently memorialized the IDF (Zahal) soldiers who fell in the Sinai during the Six Day War

Date: 04/09/2012, 9:46 PM     Author: Florit Shoihet

Although it has been 45 years since the Six Day War, the memories of Israel’s victory and its price are still fresh, with its outcome shaping the IDF (Zahal) today. This month, the Steel Formation, the Central Command’s maneuvering armored division, held a  memorial ceremony at the Division’s memorial monument.  The event was led by Central Command GOCs of the past and present.

Along with the ceremony, a seminar was held detailing the history of the fighting in the northern Sinai.

“We have a service where we commemorate those from the Steel Formation who fell in battles in the northern Sinai,” noted the Division’s commander, Brig. Gen. Moti Baruch. “The seminar is an opportunity to look back 45 years and learn tactics and challenges facing the IDF (Zahal), Southern Command, the Air Force, and the [Steel Formation] when faced with the Egyptian Army, a huge army equipped with advanced weapons, which was determined to wage war with Israel.”

“On the other hand,” he continued, “the IDF (Zahal) – after three weeks of suspense and waiting – defended several fronts simultaneously, while making the quick decision to take the initiative and attack.”

The Steel Formation in its current form only took shape in the early 1970s. During the Six Day War, it was known as the Steel Division, with the designation number 84. It was commanded by the inventor of the legendary Merkava tank, Maj. Gen. Israel Tal. The unit was comprised of the 7th Armored Brigade, the now defunct 60th Brigade, the Paratroopers Brigade, the Pillar of Fire Artillery Formation, The Granite Forces under Col. Israel Granite, Battalion 605 of the Engineering Corps, and additional logistical support.

The Steel Division fought on the front lines during the Six Day War and took heavy losses. It was responsible for conquering the northern Sinai in order to link with the rest of the forces at the Suez Canal, which it did in only four days of fighting.