The Barleve line "details" by Egyptian General Shazli


Yahia Al Shaer

The Barleve line
"details" by Egyptian General Shazli

Knowing military history, prerequisits knowing the different points of views
of all adversaries / enemies

Presenting... the Egyptian points of view is an effort to show the Other Side of the Coin .

Crossing the barleve line on the eastern bank of Suez Canal , was a challange - the great water obstacle differs from the Rhein in Germany -
because of missing bridges and the structure of that defense line that had
some of Maginot structures

Following are the maps and a topic publishe by General Saad El Din El Shazly, the Commanding Chief of Staff, who had implemented the crossing of the Suez Canal ... but had to quit two weeks later, because of disagreement with president Sadat.

At the bottom, you can see an areal image of the egyptian bridge used to cross the canal after overcomming the Barleve line and two rare images of the Israeli-made bridge, which they used few weeks later , to cross the canal to Egypt

The two arabic maps are copied from a book about the Barleve line strong points and holds, that had been overcom on October 6th 1973 and a view of the Barleve lIne structure

Dr: Yahia Al Shaer

SOURCE of the following lines is, Gen. Shazly domain, where ALL the details and events of October war 1973 "Yom Kippur" are published


Consider the obstacle. To a modern army, rivers and canals present little challenge. Amphibious tanks and armored personnel carriers spearhead the assault and establish a bridgehead on the far bank. Mobile pre-fabricated bridge sections are brought up, unloaded, locked together and swung into place within minutes. By the time the main body of the army arrives, the crossing is ready.
But the Suez Canal was unique. Unique in the difficulties its construction presented to an amphibious assault force. Unique in the scale of defenses the enemy had erected on top of those natural obstacles. It was only 195-220 yards wide. But to all who saw it, the Suez Canal seemed an impassable barrier.

The first obstacle stemmed from the fact that the canal is an artificial waterway through sand, and sand erodes. To prevent it, the canal banks have been lined with concrete walls rising above the water line and dropping steeply to the canal bed. The canal has a tidal rise and fall. At high tide the water flows a yard below the top of the concrete wall, at low water two yards, and on the southern stretch, three yards below. Amphibious vehicles cannot leap, labrador like, from banks a yard or more high, at least not without serious risk. Even if they did, how could they climb out the other side

The second obstacle was a gigantic sand dune the enemy had raised along the length of the eastern bank. For six years, Israeli bulldozers had laboriously piled the sand ever higher-their most sustained efforts coming, naturally, at likely crossing points. There the barrier towered 60 feet high and as thick at its base. (The slopes of the bank rose at 45-65 degrees depending on the stability of the sand.) The barrier ran so close to the canal that its western face, which would confront our assault, merged with the steeper gradient of the concrete banking.

Above this formidable barrier rose the third obstacle: the 35 forts of the Bar-Lev line. Heavily dug in, their shelters are safe against anything less than a 1,000 pound bomb, with firing positions giving all-round cover. Each fort is self-contained and equipped to hold out under siege for a week, protected by minefields and barbed wire. On the average, there is one fort every three miles; but at likely crossing points they are clustered only 1,000 yards apart. To man all 35 took only an infantry brigade. To reinforce them, Israel had allotted three armored brigades: 360 tanks. The tanks would take up firing positions every hundred yards between the forts. Two roads ran the length of the sand barrier, one along its crest, the other just behind it. Hidden from our view, the enemy could maneuver their armor to reinforce any sudden weak point. If the enemy were alerted long enough before the assault to get the tanks to the barrier, the entire front would be swept by machine guns and anti-tank fire. If our men did brave all that and cross into Sinai, how rapidly they could then expect counter-attacks would also depend on the warning we gave the enemy. Depending on the distribution of their armor behind the canal, we reckoned the enemy might be able to mount counter-attacks of tank company and tank battalion strength within 15-30 minutes, and in the worst case at armored brigade strength within two hours of the start of our assault.

But how could we even get across the water? The fourth barrier was a secret one. Deep inside the sand rampart the enemy had embedded reservoirs filled with inflammable liquid, their outlets controlled from the nearest forts. In minutes, the liquid could gush into the canal, turning its surface into an inferno.

That was the obstacle: the Canal and the enemy defenses. The enemy had shown the obstacle to visiting military experts from all over the world. "All had declared it to be insurmountable. Our task was to surmount it."

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True, there are great amd impressive photos (published in a military Forum, where I am a member there as well ) of which the following photos enrich and confirm the above ones.

What I do NOT understand is, why did´nt the "Egyptian Aerial ReconnaissanceÄ discover that bridge.

It is important to read what General Sharon wrote about implementing the activities to bring that novell art of bridge made by Israel, then evaluate as well the following paragraph page 380 of Edward Luttwak / Dan Horowitz book "The Israeli Army".

That means, that a preplanned crossing to the west side of the canal, had been planned since long time and was not an immediate "countering" to the situation ...
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