The Watchman Fell Asleep

The Surprise of Yom Kippur and Its Sources

By Uri Bar-Joseph

Subjects: Middle East Studies, Israel Studies, International Relations, History
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791464823, 326 pages, August 2005
Hardcover : 9780791464816, 326 pages, August 2005

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Table of contents


Part I. The Egyptian War Decision and Its Implementation

1. The War Decision

2. Planning the Next War: Past Experience and the Main Problems


Problem I: The Crossing of the Canal
Problem II: Egyptian Air Inferiority
Problem III: Inferiority in Armored Fighting


3. The Egyptian Deception Plan


i. The Role of Deception in Egyptian War Planning
ii. Passive Deception
iii. Active Deception
iv. Assessment of the Egyptian Deception


4. The Egyptian-Syrian War Coordination

Part II. Israel Prepares for War

5. The Balance of Forces—the Israeli View

6. The Intelligence Conception and Its Sources


i. The Conception
ii. The Empirical Evidence


7. The Strategic Warning and Its Role in Israel’s War Plans

8. The Next War Scenarios

9. The War Estimate: October 1972–August 1973


i. October 1972–April 1973
ii. April–May 1973
iii. June–August 1973


Part III. The Dynamics of an Intelligence Fiasco

10. August–September 1973

11. Monday, October 1, 1973

12. Tuesday, October 2, 1973

13. Wednesday, October 3, 1973

14. Thursday, October 4, 1973

15. Friday, October 5, 1973

16. Saturday, October 6, 1973, 0400 –1400

17. Surprise


i. The Cabinet
ii. The Canal Front
iii. The Golan Front
iv. The Air Force


18. The Cost of Being Caught Unprepared


i. The Material Losses
ii. The Psychological Impact of Surprise


19. The Causes of the Intelligence Failure


i. Obstacles Unique to the Warning-Response Process
ii. Bureaucratic Obstacles
iii. Groupthinking
iv. Psychological Obstacles at the Individual Level
v. The Human Factor



Examines how Israel was caught by surprise in the opening stages of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.


Based on many formerly undisclosed intelligence and military documents, the secret protocols of discussions on the eve of the war, and interviews with relevant figures, The Watchman Fell Asleep is a compelling account of Israel's intelligence failure before the 1973 Arab attack known as the Yom Kippur War. The Hebrew version of this book was awarded the Tshetshik Prize for Strategic Studies on Israel's Security in 2001, and the Israeli Political Science Association's Best Book Award in 2002. Available here in English for the first time, Uri Bar-Joseph has crafted an authoritative explanation of the most traumatic event in Israel's stormy history and one of the biggest strategic military surprises of the twentieth century.

Uri Bar-Joseph is Professor of International Relations at Haifa University. He is the author of Intelligence Intervention in the Politics of Democratic States: The United States, Israel, and Britain and The Best of Enemies: Israel and Transjordan in the War of 1948.