Yom Kippur War

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Yom Kippur War/October War
Part of the Cold War and Arab–Israeli conflict
Bridge Crossing.jpg
Egyptian forces crossing the Suez Canal on October 7
DateOctober 6–25, 1973
Both banks of the Suez Canal, Golan Heights, and surrounding regions
  • Egyptian forces retake the Seuz canal
  • Destruction of the Bar Lev line
  • Egyptian Victory in Sina Peninsula
  • 1978 Camp-David Accords
  • Israeli victory in the Golan Heights
  • Iraq moves forces to defend Syrian capital from Israel

The Egyptian army occupied the eastern coast of the Suez Canal with the exception of the Israeli crossing point near Deversoir. The Egyptian army had advanced 12 kilometers into Sinai. The Israeli army occupied sixteen hundred square kilometers of territory on the southwestern coast of the Suez Canal, within 101 km from Cairo.

The Israeli army occupied five hundred square kilometers of the Syrian Bashan, on top of the Golan Heights, which brought it within 40 kilometres of Damascus.

The Yom Kippur War (also known as the Ramadan War and the October War) was a war between Israel with support from USA and Egypt and Syria with support the other Arab countries (Limited arms and weaponry). The war took place from October 6-24, 1973. The war began on the Jewish day of repentance of Yom Kippur in 1973, and it happened during the Muslim month of Ramadan. The attack by Egypt and Syria was a surprise to Israel after Israel conquered the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights from Egypt in 1967. Egypt's army entered the Sinai Peninsula to retrieve their land from Israel.

The Sinai and the Golan Heights previously belonged to Egypt and Syria, but they were occupied by Israel since 1967 during the Six Day War. Syria's aim of the war was to liberate all of the Golan Heights.

During the first few days of the war, Egypt and Syria scored astounding victories. Israel was shocked by the attack and was on the verge of defeat. The first Israeli counterattacks failed against both Egypt and Syria. However, Israeli attacks later repelled the Syrian forces and pushed them back further into Syria. The Iraqi army joined the war with Syria and the Israeli army stopped advancing.

On the Egyptian front, Israel's attacks against Syria had served as a 'distraction' against the Egyptian offense. This allowed the Egyptian army to dig deeper into Sinai, around 12 km, an extra 2 km to the original 10 km plan. Israel feared a massive military defeat and so called on America for aid. Initially, America refused so Israel threatened to use its nuclear weapons, this threat was enough to persuade President Richard Nixon to send aid to Israel. America conducted Operation Nickel Grass, which gave Israel a resupply of 20 tons of military equipment and ammunition. This vital to Israel and it allowed Israel to continue fighting . Henry Kissinger,[1] However, this was later denied.[2]

The Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal on October 6 and destroyed the Israeli defenses and forts on the other side of the canal. Israel tried for the next few days to defeat the Egyptians and push them back behind the canal. However the Israelis could not push them back. The United States of America started sending ammunition and weapons to Israel using airplanes to help the Israeli army win the war in Operation Nickel Grass. Syria soon pleaded Egypt to attack Israel to lessen the pressure on it. On October 14, Egypt attacked again, trying to advance even more into the Sinai. Israel defeated the attack, and the Egyptians lost about 250 tanks. After this, the Israelis attacked again. After heavy fighting, they crossed the canal at its center, between two Egyptian armies. They advanced north and south. They kept moving south until the reached the city of Suez, and they trapped a large Egyptian force on the eastern side of the canal, in the Sinai. The Israelis tried to capture Suez, but they were defeated. They also failed to advance north. They reached an area 101 kilometers from Cairo, the capital of Egypt.

On October 15, The Battle of the Chinese Farm took place, it is regarded as one of the deadliest and longest tank battles since World War II, After the battle had ended, Dayan would recount that: "I am no novice at war or battle scenes, but I have never seen such a sight, not in reality, or in paintings, or in the worst war movies. Here was a vast field of slaughter stretching as far as the eye could see." Sharon would also provide his own poignant account of the aftermath: "It was as if a hand-to-hand battle of armor had taken place... Coming close you could see the Egyptian and Jewish dead lying side-by-side, soldiers who had jumped from their burning tanks and died together. Soldiers who never surrendered. No picture could capture the horror of the scene, none could encompass what had happened there."

The losses suffered by both the Egyptians and the Israelis in the battle were severe. Israeli units suffered heavy casualties in men and equipment; Reshef's armored losses during the first night of the battle alone were comparable to Egyptian armored losses on the disastrous October 14 offensive. For their part, the numbers of Egyptian armored forces within 16th Division's bridgehead severely dwindled. As of 18 October the 21st Armored Division had no more than 40 tanks remaining of an original 136 tanks available at the start of the battle (not counting 21 tanks received as reinforcements), while the 16th Infantry Division had just 20 tanks remaining in its organic tank battalion. This attrition served Egypt's war strategy of inflicting maximum casualties on the Israelis, even though, from another perspective, the initiative had passed to the Israelis during the battle. It was a Military defeat for Egypt and Moral victory for Egypt, on the Israeli side it was a Military victory but a severe Moral defeat and humiliation.

The United Nations passed a resolution in the security council that asked all the countries to bring a temporary stop to the war (called a 'ceasefire'). The Arab countries and Israel agreed. However the ceasefire failed when the Israeli army advanced south to reach Suez. After this, the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, said to the US president that if the US did not send troops that he would send Soviet troops to the area. This was believed to be a threat and the United States put their military on full nuclear alert. Because of this tension between the United States and the Soviets, Israel agreed to a ceasefire, and the war ended. It was the closest the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, had been to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s.

Aftermath of the War[change | change source]

The war ended on October 26, 1973. After the war, Egypt and Israel negotiated. They reached an agreement to separate their forces. The agreement led to Israel retreating behind the Suez Canal. The Egyptian forces stayed in the Sinai near the canal and did not retreat from the places they captured. There was a large distance between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Sinai as part of the agreement.

Israel also held negotiations with Syria and agreed to withdraw from the places the captured in Syria, but the negotiations failed and Israel stayed in the Golan Heights. Egypt and Israel kept their negotiations, and in 1979 they signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. The treaty brought peace between Israel and Egypt, Gradual retreat of Israeli forces took place and all Sinai peninsula returned to Egyptian hands in 1982. The treaty still holds to this day. No real military victory was ever won; it was a military "stalemate".

The peace treaty was shocking to the Arab world and Egypt was kicked from the Arab league, This led to the Egyptian-Libyan War in 1977, The Libyan attack ultimately failed and Egypt was planning to march into the Libyan capital and depose Libyan dictator Gadhafi, the plan was ultimately scrapped due to intervention from the Arab league which resulted in a cease fire after 4 days of fighting, Egypt repelled all Libyan advances and ended the war in a victory for Egypt.

After the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty Islamist group planned the assassination of Egyptian leader Anwar El Sadat in 1981 due to the recognition of Israel as a state. The assassination squad was led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli after a fatwā approving the assassination had been obtained from Omar Abdel-Rahman. Islambouli was tried, found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad in April 1982.

On 6 October 1981, Sadat was assassinated during the annual victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate Egypt's crossing of the Suez Canal. Islambouli emptied his assault rifle into Sadat's body while in the front of the grandstand, mortally wounding the President. In addition to Sadat, eleven others were killed, including the Cuban ambassador, an Omani general, a Coptic Orthodox bishop and Samir Helmy, the head of Egypt's Central Auditing Agency (CAA). Twenty-eight were wounded, including Vice President Hosni Mubarak, Irish Defence Minister James Tully, and four US military liaison officers.

However the war agreed to be a political victory for the Egyptians.[3][4] Syrians on the other hand do not like to talk about the war as much of it was seen as a defeat rather than a victory or stalemate.

Response in Israel[change | change source]

Though the war reinforced Israel's military deterrence, it had a stunning effect on the population in Israel. Following their victory in the Six-Day War, the Israeli military had become complacent. The shock and sudden reversals that occurred at the beginning of the war inflicted a terrible psychological blow to the Israelis, who had hitherto experienced no serious military challenges.

A protest against the Israeli government started four months after the war ended. It was led by Motti Ashkenazi, commander of Budapest, the northernmost of the Bar-Lev forts and the only one during the war not to be captured by the Egyptians. Anger against the Israeli government (and Dayan in particular) was high. Shimon Agranat, President of the Israeli Supreme Court, was asked to lead an inquiry, the Agranat Commission, into the events leading up to the war.

According to those who knew the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Moshe Dayan the war deeply depressed Dayan. He went into political eclipse for a time. He later resigned in 1979 on October 21.

During the 4th day of the war Dayan changed his attitude on Egypt compared to his attitude before the war, He jokingly recommended the Israeli government to accept Egyptian fire (He thought Egypt was never going to go to war after the Six Day War because it was too weak) instead of accepting Egyptian demands to retreat from Sinai. On the fourth day of the war he said in a statement "This is a very difficult war, with strong and very bitter confrontations of the armored corps and air force. This war is heavy in days and heavy in blood." in another statement by Former Israeli MP Uri Avneri he said " Something happened to Dayan during the war, On the third or fourth day of the war, Dayan walked amongst the army commanders and among politicians in Tel Aviv saying this was the destruction of the Third Temple. Meaning that this was the end of Israel"

The war in Israel left allegedly 10-15% of the population in shock and constant anxiety due to the destruction of the myth of "Israeli invincibility" and suffering huge losses in the war. It ended the careers of Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir (The former president of Israel from 1969-1974)

Response in Egypt[change | change source]

For Egypt, Egyptian successes during the war healed the psychological trauma of their defeat in the Six-Day War, allowing them to negotiate with the Israelis as equals. Due to the first 11 days of the war, Egypt destroyed the myth of "Israeli invincibility" and greatly boosted the Egyptian army's image in Egypt after the humiliation during the Six Day War in 1967.

The war in Egypt was seen as a great war that took the shame of 1967 off of Egypt even thought after the first 11 days of the war Egypt suffered heavy military defeats in some battles, It successfully saw all Egyptian objectives that were set before the war met at the end, Egypt successfully crossed the Suez Canal and Destroyed the Myth of the Israeli army "invincibility" and successfully held a portion of Sinai that helped them negotiate the return of all of the Sinai peninsula later and defeated Israel at the last major battle of the war (Battle of Suez) and repelled back Israeli invasion of the city with Police forces and Civilians defending the city with light weapons against Israeli tanks with one armored brigade and one infantry battalion.

The commanders of the Second and Third Armies, Generals Khalil and Wasel, were also dismissed from the army. The commander of the Egyptian Second Army at the start of the war, General Mamoun, suffered a heart attack, or, alternatively, a breakdown, after the Egyptian defeat during the October 14 Sinai tank battle, and was replaced by General Khalil.

Sources[change | change source]

  1. Oren, Amir (2 November 2013). "Kissinger Wants Israel to Know: The U.S. Saved You During the 1973 War" – via Haaretz.
  2. Colby, Elbridge; Cohen, Avner; McCants, William; Morris, Bradley; Rosenau, William (April 2013). "The Israeli 'Nuclear Alert' of 1973: Deterrence and Signaling in Crisis" (PDF). CNA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 October 2014.
  3. Cite error: The named reference globalsecurity.org was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  4. Yom Kippur War, BBC Documentary at YouTube