In Part II I set up the basic geography of the battle of Hermonit and the Valley of Tears, and discussed the commanders on both sides. This map shows the general area, "Har Hermonit" is labeled and the height marked "+1055" to its southeast is the height known as Tal Makhfi or, to the Israeli tankers, as "Booster."
This battle began in earnest on the second day of the war, October 7, and continued for the next two days. Even though the Israeli positions were at times outflanked by the deep advances of Syrian forces to their south, the Syrians seem to have been concerned about a flank attack on their right. Abrash threw wave after wave of his tanks (mostly T-55s at first but reinforced by T-62s from the line on days two and three) against Kahalani's entrenched Centurions on Hermonit and Booster; Kahalani was increasingly struggling to find reinforcements from any source and at times fighting with half-disabled tanks.
The night attacks had been particularly favorable to the Syrians with their superior night vision but, at dusk on October 8, as Abrash, the sort of tank commander who led from the front, was preparing to advance in his command tank, and armored-piercing round hit his tank and killed him. By some accounts at that moment Kahalani was down to somewhere between three and six fully operational tanks on Hermonit, against an reinforced Syrian assault force. Whatever the numbers, the death of Abrash disrupted the night attack on the eighth. In 20th century Arab warfare the Soviet-inspired downgrading of local command initiative is both debilitating but, on the other hand, usually means that the loss of a commander makes little difference. But in this case, it seems to have done so. By removing Abrash, a commander who displayed initiative and fought his tank from the front, it slowed the Syrian assault until morning, by which time Kahalani was reinforcing.
|Dead Tanks in the "Valley of Tears"|
Soon after, the Israelis turned the tide and began an advanced past the 1967 ceasefire lines and created a salient which threatened Damascus.
The war left neither side decisively victorious and made possible the negotiations wic followed, the Kissinger shuttles and the beginnings of the peace process. Below, maps of the earlier and later phases of the war in the Golan.