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1973 A.D. - Zvika Greengold Becomes 'Zvika Force'

 

 

Young Mr. Zvika in uniform.  Does he look fairly ordinary?  Many that God uses are normal, but brave and willing!

At the beginning of the Second Arab-Israeli War, launched by Egypt and Syria upon Israel while Israelis were at their homes for the religious holiday that they call Yom Kippur, there was only a fraction of Israel's defense forces stationed to defend the country's borders. And the world wasn't exactly rushing forward to defend the ambushed nation of Israel. Not even the USA for a day or two, unfortunately.

If Israel had ever launched a similar offensive against Muslim nations on one of their Muslim holidays the indignantly offended screams of the Muslim Middle East would have deafened most of the hearing world, I suspect. And the United Nations would probably have been voting on a resolution calling for retaliation against mean evil Israel before the ink could even dry on the paper on which it was drafted.

But, that's part of living in Satan's world. As for Israel, there was nothing left for her to do except defend herself. But this time, the attack upon Israel was pretty well thought out, and the initial couple of days in October of 1973 saw deep enemy incursions into Israeli territory, as well as some somewhat amazing military logistic accomplishments, by Egypt especially.

For instance, Egypt's tanks crossed the Suez canal via portable military bridges at a speed that Israel had never even begun to think was possible, and Egypt quickly gathered masses of tanks on the West bank of the canal - Israel's side! There was even a tall steep dirt berm on the Israeli side which tanks couldn't theoretically cross, but a smart Egyptian engineer had come up with a plan to use a powerful water hose idea to blast holes through the berm.  It worked amazingly well.

Israel had a string of forts along the canal that were always manned, but the Israeli strategy relied heavily on Israeli air protection in order for those forts to be safe and useful. Egypt had cleverly stationed a great number of air defense armaments (anti-aircraft defense systems) along the Suez Canal before the hostilities. Those were capable of shooting missiles which could keep Israel's planes from protecting her vulnerable forts. Israel had known those were deployed there, but Egypt had been conducting drills along the border for many months to lull Israel into thinking it was just a lot of saber rattling.

In the south, the first few days of the war for Israel was all about playing catch up, and a lot of smart money was saying that it looked like they wouldn't be able to this time.

In the northeast of Israel, where Syria attacked, things were also very dire for Israel. Syria had 200 something tanks. Egypt had 200 something tanks. Israel had only about 170 tanks total. And those had to be split up between two borders, to fight both Egypt and Syria simultaneously. And again, everyone was at home for the holiday in Israel.

Though in a nearly hopeless situation from a human perspective, Israel had always counted on God to aid them in battle. And even one Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and All Things Seen and Unseen is quite a lot, really.

To make a long story short, even as Syria and Egypt went into states of national euphoria because of the great victory that already seemed a fairly certain thing, Israel and their silent partner, Yahweh, began to turn things around in both the north and the south.

This war started a fourth of the way into October, but before October was even over, the Israeli's were in Egypt, had surrounded and isolated Egypts Third army and had them totally at their mercy to destroy if they wished, and the Syrians had been soundly defeated in the north in the Golan Heights area, and Israeli tanks were advanced threateningly far into Syria.

Instantly it became a very important matter in the United Nations to end this war before it got out of hand. Because they are all about peace and justice there in the United Nations. And soon there was a cessation of hostilities, leaving Egypt and Syria to go back to their people and try to put it in as face-saving of a light as possible. After all, they had ganged up to sneak attack a country far smaller than their own, with far fewer defenders and far less armament, yet ended up in a state of humiliating near destruction only a couple of weeks later. How do you go home and sell that one?

But, I'm not downing Syria or Egypt. I won't applaud the way they ambushed Israel, it was a treacherous plan by any measure. But once the war was on they were brave and fought well and hard. But you just can't fight God's chosen people successfully unless He wants you to. How do you know if He wants you to? My advice is to wait until He tells you in person....at least twice.... and I'd get it in writing...signed.

That's kind of an slight overview of the war, but as mentioned, in the first few days, Israel was trying to get itself deployed, and only a relative few Israeli soldiers defended the borders. But one amazing event that occurred was the suspiciously unlikely success of a certain Israeli tank officer named Zvika Greengold.

 

The Golan Heights is around 1200 sq. kilometer and is at the north end of this map.

When hostilities broke out Lieutenant Zvika Greengold was home for the Yom Kippur holiday at his family's farm co-op (kibbutz). He had been attending a military school, training to be a Company Commander. He, like everyone else, was caught by surprise to hear that Israel was under attack.  He hurried out to link up to a command in the south Golan and join the fight. He made it to Nafehk and volunteered there.

He asked for command of his old tank crew, but it was unavailable. At first there was not any tank available for him, so he tended to the wounded. Soon, two Centurion tanks became available to command, so, gathering a tank crew composed of reservists, he took command of the two tanks and entered the fray.

 

 

****A Centurion tank was a British design from the 1940's, but upgraded through the years. It carried a 50 cal on the pintle, and its main gun was a 105 mm. In Israel at that time it had MK 13 armor, if my research is correct. It was actually a pretty tough tank, and in an Australian test once conducted one of these Centurions models was placed 500 meters from the epicenter of a nuclear test blast, with the engine running, to see how a tank would fare in such a situation. Though the force of the atomic blast made it slide aside several feet on the ground, it survived and ran for more than a dozen years after that, was used in combat, and was thereafter dubbed the 'nuclear tank'. No crew was in it during that test, and it is not thought that a crew could have lived, however. Or so I read! ****

These tanks Israel used were built so that they could hide behind a small hill or ridge and crawl up it barely enough to level out their barrel and fire at their enemy, then they could duck back down out of sight. This design of tank had barrels which could be directed relatively far in the downward direction. So, they didn't expose too much of themselves when they peeked over a hill to shoot.

The barrels on the enemy tanks were less mobile in the downward direction, so more of the tank had to be exposed to take a shot. This was an advantage for Zvika, and also allowed for a clever strategy - especially in the darkness: 

Facing Zvika and Israel were about 200 Syrian tanks in total, and there were very few - at first - on the Israeli side. Only about 180 Israeli tanks were available to the Golan Heights defense, but the area was extremely critical to Israel's national defense. It was strategic and commanding high ground, and whoever held it could rain down a lot of shells and missiles on the other country. Israel had held the Golan since the 1967 war. Syria wanted it back.

(As a point of record, Israel doesn't provoke wars when they hold the Golan, or any other strategic territory. But if a huge strategic advantage is posessed by any of Israel's neighbors they just can't seem to resist using it. The whole Middle East game boils down to this - Israel wants to live, peacefully, within their borders. Those surrounding them are jealous of Israel, hate Israel, and want Israel destroyed. They've tried to accomplish that, and were humiliated and ashamed in front of the whole world, as effort after effort, plot after plot on their part has met with surprising failure. They honestly don't even know why they hate Israel. They don't realize it's Satan's spiritual hatred towards God. Again, it's Satan's world system that rules those who don't believe in God and Jesus....for a little while longer.)

Back to Zvika's battle...

Most of the early stuff was night time fighting, which can be confusing. Their night vision equipment wasn't so good yet, but Israeli tanks had none, while their enemies had some, I've read. So sound was important. Muzzle flashes were important. As various tanks got hit and destroyed, Zvika sometimes was the only operable tank, facing many enemy tanks.

Part of the time he fooled the Syrians by poking up from behind a ridge to take a shot, then ducking back down, moving his tank over 50 feet, then coming up to shoot again, etc. etc. So the Syrians thought they were facing an entire group of Israeli tanks, when in fact, they sometimes faced only a few, or sometimes only Zvika. The darkness helped immensely.

Sometimes he found his tank stranded among the enemy, and so he would just fire as fearlessly and relentlessly as ammunition allowed while retreating back towards his Tank Command. Since Zvika had just joined in on the fight among an already existing Israeli tank force, he just moved in and out like a deadly wild card, coming from unexpected directions at critical times to turn the tide of battle at one point after another. He was everywhere. He was nowhere.

When using the radio to speak with the Israeli battle commanders, Zvika would identify himself as 'Zoah Zvika' - Zvika Force! These transmissions also suggested to the monitoring Syrians that they faced a larger force than they could actually see. They knew about the 180 or so tanks, but who was Zvika Force?

For about 20 hours the Syrians fought an unknown tank force that they knew only as Zvika Force, and the fact that they could not get a handle on just how big a force it was caused them a lot of grief. They hated to drive their tanks right into the jaws of a numerically unknown enemy force. It kept them in doubt and fighting more cautiously. In truth, they faced almost no one and could have gone racing almost uncontested across the Golan, had Zvika's ruse not worked.

But Zvika, though apparently gaurded by the Almighty's hand, didn't go untouched. It is reported that he ended up commanding about 6 different tanks that day, as his tanks were struck at various times by the Syrian rounds, and at one point his partner jumped out and deserted him forcing him to seek another tank that had someone in it who could help him run the thing. None of the hits his tanks received were fatal to him, so he and his crew would just go back to the Israeli command center and find another.

At one point, he realized from the radio chatter and the numbers of enemy tanks he was seeing that he was under an attack that was a ruse, and that Nafehk base was probably being over run.  He fought his way back in that direction, and saw that it was indeed under furious Syrian attack. So, practically alone, he began fighting like mad to save the base, realizing that it's loss would likely lead to an Israeli loss of the Golan - at least temporarily.

One Israeli Brigade Commander who drove up to assess the situation at the Nafhka Camp reported to his superiors that the camp looked nearly empty, and only one friendly tank was still visibly defending the base at that moment, but it was fighting like mad. That was Zvika!

Against all likelihood he somehow survived it all. He had some serious wounds and burns that day, yet he kept fighting. As more men and tanks became available, he was able to form or join in with small squads at various times during the day, but Israel lost a lot of those tanks also. Their total tank numbers waxed and waned as they fought, never becoming very close to the numbers of Syrian tanks they faced. But - they were sufficient. The Syrian's were slowed. The base never fell fully into their hands.

Eventually Israeli Defense Force reinforcements started arriving in significant numbers at the Golan, and the contest began to be less lopsided. After somewhere between 20 and 30 constant hours of battle, and an incredible estimated 60+ enemy tank kills, a tired and wounded Zvika crawled out of his tank and said he was too tired to go on. By then he didn't need to and he was taken to a hospital for treatment of his burns and flak wounds.

After the War was over, Lieutenant Zvika Greengold became an Israeli national hero as his story became known. Later, Zvika was one of only 6 in this war who received an Israeli 'Medal of Valor'. He is now a Mayor in a town called Ofakim, and gives talks, mainly to High School age audiences, at various places in and outside of Israel .

It is good to be with your brother and sister Christians when facing danger or problems, and there can be the danger of seeking notoreity for ones self when you purposely go it alone.  But....when you belong to God, or when you belong to God and acknowledge Jesus as your Lord, you are in a special situation.  You belong to a power far greater than any here on earth.  So, if something has to be faced, or has to be done, and you are alone......you have the option of calling on the Lord to be your strength and your guide. 

Then, if it is His will to let you be a living sacrifice, that will come to pass, and it will go well for you in eternity for having trusted the Lord. 

But if it is His will that a small weak thing like a single person be used to put a great deal of worldy power to shame, you will find that 1000 will run from 1, and that fear and confusion will take hold of your enemy, and that none of the plans they have fashioned against you can prevail.  It is what Abraham found when he went to rescue Lot.  It is what Joshua found when he warred against much greater armies.  It is what Samson found to be true when he slew 1000 Philistines with an ass's jawbone.  It is what King Hezekiah found when he prayed against the tens of thousands of Assyrians surrounding Jerusalem with plans to take the city.  And King David's mighty men knew about it, killing hundreds by themselves in single battles.  Elijah and Elisha learned it to be true, and Saul's son Johnathan with his armor bearer saw it happen.  And those are only the ancient cases, and only a few of those.

No, there is literally no such thing as being overmatched when you are in the Lord's will.  And there is no such thing as being able to conquer modern Israel if the Lord stands beside them.  Should America take a part in pressuring them to give away part of their land to Palestinians?  Only a very foolish America.  These people's borders were described in the Torah 3,500 years ago.  We are asking them to let an avowed enemy of theirs live within easy reach of their throat.  Palestinian land will always be land that the enemies of Israel can use to bring weapons very close to targets in Israel. 

Do you remember the Cuban Missile Crisis?  That showcased our American feelings very clearly concerning the allowing of an enemy so near to our bosom.  Because the bosom was our own, we saw the tactical absurdity of it quickly and clearly.  So, since we know how it feels, why do we try to force an even worse situation upon Israel?       

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website