By: Alex Barak
On Friday 49 years ago. 1973. Erev Yom Kippur, all Israeli civilians were evacuated from the
Golan. Israel suspected a war was coming, but U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wamed
Israel not to initiate hostilities, or risk losing U.S. support. At an 8 AM meeting on October 6, Israeli
Prime Minister Golda Meir considered launching a preemptive strike—and decided against it. Israel
actually left only skeleton crews on the Golan.
On Yom Kippur morning, 1973, 27 year old Menny Ender, from Rosh Pina, who had been serving in
reserve duty, miluim, in the Mt. Chermon security complex, nervously walked to his Beit Knesset at
6:45 a.m. for Shacharit to commence at 7:00 a.m.
He was nervous because the day before, he saw lots of military movement, but no specific warnings.
He also called his friends who were working inside Har Chermon, who told him they were suspicious
of a massive Syrian attack, but the Government told them nothing about what would come.
Menny’s wife, son and twin girls came to the synagogue to join him later that morning. When musaf
ended around 1:50 p.m, this young family started walking home to rest.
Menny’s fears came alive. War came to Rosh Pina in northeastern Israel, just NW of the Kinneret.
He saw two Syrian Migs infiltrate over Rosh Pina and drop bombs in an attempt to hit the IDF base,
but the bombs missed their target. Three IDF planes chased the Syrian planes and blew them out of
The tragic Yom Kippur War began. Some called it Milchemet Hakipurim.
9000 ISRAELI SOLDIERS WERE WOUNDED, 2656 WERE KILLED
Today and every Yom Kippur. we mourn them all
On that fateful day, October 6, 1973 at 2 p.m., the first day of the Yom Kippur War — the Syrian
military bombarded Israel’s IDF positions in the Golan Heights in coordination with an Egyptian strike
in the Sinai Peninsula. This article only touches a narrow portion of that terrible war.
1,500 Syrian tanks and 40,000 troops crossed the border and invaded the Golan, easily breaking
through and overrunning many sections of Israeli skeleton defenses. Israel had only 177 tanks on the
Golan. Syrian commandoes were dropped from helicopters and invaded the security complex inside
Har Chermon. The IDF suffered horrific losses on that first day.
There was chaos. Israel needed some heroes to stop the Syrians. This is the storv of one of
the qreat heroes of that war.
That Yom Kippur day, a 21 year old Israeli tank commander named Tzvika Greengold was at his
home at Kibbutz Lochamay Hagetaot, just north of Akko, observing Yom Kippur, when he heard the
unexpected sound of Israeli fighter jets streaking through the sky over his home. He also heard
sirens from nearby AKKO and Nahariya.
Zvika knew that something bad was going on.
He rushed to his military radio and heard that Egyptian military forces had launched a massive attack
on Israeli positions in the Suez Canal, catching the IDF at the worst possible time. Even more
alarming were the reports of Syrian armored troops launching an all-out assault on the Golan Heights
to the North.
Captain Zvi “Zvika” Greengold, a 21-year-old tank commander, frantically left his home and made
his way OVER to the Golan, where IDF forces were overwhelmingly outnumbered. By the late
afternoon, Cpt. Greengold reached Nafach — an IDF base/command center in the Golan’s southern
sector. Determined to join soldiers in the battlefield, he took command of two tanks and
assembled scratch crews to run them. He radioed Brigade headquarters that he had “a tank
force” ‘the Zvika Force,” Koach Tzvikaand was requesting permission to go into battle against the
invading Syrians. He made contact with troops in the southem sector and advanced toward
With shells loaded, the tanks drove headed out, southbound, to scan the Heights. With night falling, he set out along the Tapline Route — a road in the Golan Heights used by Syrian forces to enter Israeli
It was very dark.
Greengold’s crew took partial cover beside the road and waited for the Syrian tanks to approach. “l
improved my position. I was prepared to die on this road,” he said.
When he spotted the first Syrian tank, he rapidly opened fire. The blast from his vehicle hit the Syrian
tank and ignited it, generating a shock that destroyed his own radio communications. Left unable to
communicate, he jumped out of his vehicle and ran to the second tank in the heat of battle.
Greengold traded places with the second tank’s commander and ordered him to follow his lead. But
as the two vehicles moved down the road, the other tank soon lost its direction in the darkness. With
no way to locate the other half of his force, Greenqold realized that he would need to face the
remaining Syrian tanks alone.
Greengold reached the village of Huseiniya, deserted by its Syrian residents during the Six Day War.
From there, he saw many enemy vehicle lights shining. The whole of the Syrian army had arrived, a
long column of Syrian tanks moving steadily along the road moving toward Nafach, the major
TZAHAL BASE. He faced slim chances of success against the Syrian forces, but he was determined
to protect the Israeli command center from right there, ALL ALONE.
In a heroic act, he began to coordinate an attack on the company of Syrian tanks. For hours he
persisted with extraordinary bravery. throwing himself at the enemy in the face of almost
In his lone tank, Greengold and his crew opened fire on the Syrians, changing positions frequently to
dodge return fire. Despite being outnumbered, he moved in and out of the darkness, firing on the
Syrian tanks while remaining undetected. Greengold stated: “I’m giving open-fire orders. Then I
instruct the driver to go up a mound and descend — to avoid exposure.
My sense was of responsibility. I stood there, facing the Syrian army, which was about to conquer the
State of Israel.”
What kept going through his head was: “I was not scared of dying. I was scared of failing.
We the Jewish people, our back is against the wall.
We have no other option. We have nowhere to run to.
Zvika Force continued to roll backwards and kept firing at the seemingly endless stream of
Syrian tank forces. He eventually re-linked up with his other tank and the two of them executed hit-
and-run strikes on the advancing Syrian forces. At one point, his tank was hit by enemy fire, severely
burning the right side of his body and wounding him with shrapnel.
Zvika wasn’t about to be slowed down by this, so he simply got out of his flaming inferno of a
tank and transferred over to the only other operational Centurion tank in his command. He had to
change tanks several times that night.
As the battles raged, Tzvika gave the perception of a much larger force. In an attempt to
uncover the Israeli forces, the Syrian tanks turned on their searchlights and used flares, but
discovered nothing. The light only helped Greengold identify more Syrian tanks and inflict greater
Greengold kept fighting, striking Syrian tanks, and doing his best to stop the Syrians from
breaking through and overtaking the strategic Nafach base/command center.
The Syrian forces, stunned by the extremely successful blowouts of their Syrian tanks and
armored military vehicles, retreated. Against impossible odds, Greengold held the Syrians from
Before dawn on October 7, the Zvika Force joined other troops along the Tapline Route, where
they, now 16 Israeli tanks, confronted the Syrian 51st Tank Brigade. Although Israeli forces gained the
upper hand, they received urgent orders to return to Nafach — where Syrian tanks were on the verge of
breaking through Israel’s defenses and overrunning this vital IDF base and command centere Radio
instructions went out for all IDF units to save the base from invasion.
At noon, 80 Syrian T-62s tanks, their best — were poised to overrun NAFACH, the Israeli
command center. Captain Tzvika Greengold drove off from the TAPLINE ROAD where he was and
rushed to save the Israeli base/command center.
When he arrived with other Israeli forces, IDF forces were actually withdrawinq from the base.
sure they will be over-run, as Svrian tanks entered the base.
As the enemy forces fired wildly, a Syrian tank pointed its gun toward an Israeli anti-tank unit inside
Nafach. Greengold spotted the Syrian tank and fired, destroying the Syrian vehicle and saving the
lives of the Israeli soldiers.
He continued to shoot at the Syrian forces, replacing his gunner who was too exhausted and
shocked to function. Although Nafach was nearly lost, the tables began to turn in Israel’s favor.
After a brutal fight, the IDF forces overcame the Syrian tanks and pushed them out of the
Had the Syrians taken Nafach, they could have continued to push south, taking the rest of the
Golan, and beginning an advance down the Jordan Valley. The results would have been
“Our brigade stood on the first line and blocked the Syrian armor,” Greengold said.
After more than 20 hours of battle, Cpt. Greengold, wounded, darkened
by fire, smoke and dried blood, exited his tank in the middle Of the
Nafah base. Exhausted from the non-stop combat, he fell to the
An intelligence officer embraced Cpt. Greengold and brought him to an
IDF medical center, where Cpt. Greengold was treated for his injuries.
After the Yom Kippur War, the IDF awarded Cpt. Greenqold with a Medal of Valor for his
Greengold’s conduct is a shining example of GEVIJRA, heroism, the fighting spirit of the IDF.
It is an example of how one individual soldier can have a big impact.”
Zvika Greengold’s actions in 1973 are an inspiration to generations of tank commanders and
crews, including our Kehila’s own Avi Ovaknin and Gil Ovaknin.
After leaving the IDF, Tzvika became a successful businessman, leading two Israeli
companies. He also has served as mayor of Ofakim, a city in southem Israel. He is married and the
father of three children.
Let us all always remember this great Jewish hero TZVIKA GREENGOLD.
This Menny Ender we mentioned at the beginning is now some 76 years Old, and lives in
Katzrin, Golan Heights, with his wife. He has a total of four children and enjoys many
grandchildren. Two of his sons proudly served in the elite Israeli special forces Sayeret Matkal
and recovered from near fatal wounds from their own heroic military activities.
A map of the Golan is on the next page.
A GMAR CHATIMA TOVA TO ALL OF YOU