General Baki Zaki Youssef. General Baki Zaki Youssef.

Meet the officer who made crossing Bar Lev line possible

Fri, Oct. 6, 2017
CAIRO – 6 October 2017: On the celebration of the 44th anniversary of the October War victory, Egypt Today presents a profile of the Coptic officer who came up with the idea to destroy the Israeli Bar Lev Line defenses, Baki Zaki Youssef.

Youssef is an Egyptian Coptic officer who was born in the Sinai Peninsula on 23 July 1931. He graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1954 and then joined the army until the late 1980s.

Youssef spent years working as a military engineer on the Aswan High Dam from 1964 to 1967. He also helped in the construction of the High Dam.

His experience on building the High Dam inspired him with the genius, explosive-free and cost-effective plan to use water to destroy the Bar Lev line's sand wall. The 100-kilometer line was built by Israel on the eastern side of the Suez Canal after the 1967 war and prevented Egyptian tanks from entering Israeli-occupied Sinai for six years.

The idea came to him as he watched water move enormous amounts of sand from the Aswan mountains and then force it into the body of the dam.

The Bar Lev line was made of sand so the water could be used to breach it and open a path for forces to pass through.

Youssef presented his idea to his commanders and then repeated it to Central Command. It was then passed on to Gamal Abdel-Nasser for final approval.

Youssef’s idea saved the lives of many Egyptian soldiers as the first plan to cross the line depended on explosives.

The expected death toll in such an operation would probably be 20 percent. For every five soldiers taking part one would die.

Youssef retired with the rank of general in army and was awarded the Egyptian order of knighthood.

Youssef’s name will be forever associated with one of Egypt’s moments of glory: the fall of the Israeli Bar Lev Line defenses.
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