“We never climbed Mt. Safra ever again”

The Control Unit before the Yorm Kippur War “We never climbed Mt. Safra ever again”

“A loud explosion was heard in the unit, the whole convoy shook and jumped” “We never climbed Mt. Safra ever again”

Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Avi Amitai in the period of his serivce in the Control Unit “We never climbed Mt. Safra ever again”

the Southern Control Unit continued to conduct aerial activities During the Yom Kippur War, the Control Division took a significant part in IAF activities in different areas of combat, sometimes under direct attack and loss of human life. To mark 40 years since the Yom Kippur War broke out, IAF site brings you the amazing story of the Control Unit in Sinai

Shani Pomes

In 1973, much like today, regional control units were dispersed to different points throughout the country. This fact makes the Control Division’s perspective of the war so unique: Indeed, the division experienced the most difficult war in the history of Israel on all fronts, from the northern most regional control unit to the Southern Regional Control Unit based in the Sinai Peninsula that today no longer exists.

The Control Division played a big role in the aerial divisions during the Yom Kippur War. While they spoke on the two-way radio with planes and directed them to the aerial battle or ground target attacks, the aerial control units of the IAF absorbed multiple attacks, mainly because of their location near the many warfronts and their vitalness to the IAF.

On the first evening of the war, a Kelt Missile hit the Southern Aerial Control Unit, which was established on Mt. Safra in Sinai. “A loud explosion was heard in the unit, the whole convoy shook and jumped”, recalls Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Avi Amitai who commanded the unit during the difficult incident. “We went outside and it very quickly became clear that something had hit the area of the generators. After some organizing, we realized that there were injured soldiers and that some of the soldiers had fallen from the mountain. Only in the morning, did the picture become clear to us: five soldiers had been killed”.

In the days that followed the attack, the Control Unit continued to conduct aerial activities on the Egyptian front, but the false conclusion that the Aerial Control Unit had been captured by Egyptian forces led to one of the tragic scenarios in the war. “At around one or two o’clock at night, tank forces were sent to recapture the mountain”, explains Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Amitai. “When eye contact was made with the tanks they opened fire on us and two security reserve soldiers were killed”. After the soldiers of the unit managed to make it clear to the armored forces that the Control Unit had not been captured, the firing stopped, but the damage done could not be fixed. “After the tanks came down, we sat around the unit awake all night at different posts and waited for the morning. We went down to the Ophir base, which was at the bottom of the mountain, and after a few days, we continued the war. But, we never climbed Mt. Safra ever again”.