Yom Kippur War

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6th of 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. Egyptian army won and returned back its land

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 Kipppur War was between Israel, which was supported by the United States, and Egypt and Syria, which were supported by other Arab countries with limited arms and weapon. The war took place from October 6 to 24, 1973. It began on the Jewish day of repentance, Yom Kippur, and happened during the Muslim month of Ramadan. The attack by Egypt and Syria surprised Israel, which had conquered the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights from Egypt in 1967, during the Six Day War. The Egyptian Army entered the eninsula to retrieve the land from Israel.

The Sinai and the Golan Heights had belonged to Egypt and Syria but were occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War. One of Syria's aims for the war was the return 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, the Israeli attacks against Syria had served as a distraction against the Egyptian offense. That allowed the Egyptian Army to dig deeper into the Sinai Peninsula, around 12 km, which was 2 km more than the original plan. Israel feared a massive military defeat and so called on the United Statesfor aid. The Americans inittially refused, but since Israel threatened to use its nuclear weapons, that was enough to persuade US President Richard Nixon to help Israel. America conducted Operation Nickel Grass, which gave Israel 20 tons of military equipment and ammunition. That aid was vital to Israel by allowing it to continue fighting, according to US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger,[1] However, that claim was later denied.[2]

Course of war[change | change source]

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 but could not push them back behind the canal. The United States started sending ammunition and weapons to Israel by using airplanes to help the Israeli Army win the war during Operation Nickel Grass. Syria soon pleaded Egypt to help it by attacking Israel. On October 14, Egypt attacked again and tried to advance even more into the Sinai. Israeli attacked again and, after heavy fighting, crossed the canal at its center between two Egyptian armies. Israeladvanced north and south and kept moving south until it had reached the city of Suez. Israel trapped a large Egyptian force on the eastern side of the canal in the Sinai Peninsula. The Israelis tried but failed to capture Suez, and they also failed to advance north. They reached an area 101 km from Cairo, the capital of Egypt.

On October 15, the Battle of the Chinese Farm took place and is regarded as one of the deadliest and longest tank battles since World War II. After the battle had ended, Moshe Dayan stated, "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." Ariel 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."

Severe losses were suffered by Israel during the battle. Israeli units suffered heavy casualties in men and equipment; Amnon Reshef's armored losses during the first night of the battle alone were comparable to those of Egypt during its disastrous October 14 offensive. For their part, the Egyptian armored forces in the 16th Division's bridgehead had been severely reduced. As of 18 October, the 21st Armored Division had no more than 40 tanks remaining of the 136 tanks that had been available at the start of the battle, not counting 21 tanks that were received as reinforcements. The 16th Infantry Division had only 20 tanks remaining in its organic tank battalion. The attrition warfare served the Egyptians' war strategy of inflicting maximum casualties on the Israelis. However, from another perspective, the initiative had passed to the Israelis during the battle. For Egypt, the battle was a indecisive military victory and moral victory for Egypt. For Israel it was a military victory on the Syrian front but a defeat and humiliation in Egyptian Front.

The United Nations passed a resolution in the Security Council that asked all the countries to bring a ceasefire, a temporary stop to the war. The Arab countries and Israel agreed, but the ceasefire ended by the Israeli Army advancing south to reach Suez. Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, said to United States President Lyndon Johnson that if the Americans did not send troops, Soviet troops would be sent to the area. The United States thought that was a threat and put its military on full nuclear alert. The increased tension between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War made Israel agree to a ceasefire and end the war. That was the closest the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, had been to nuclear war since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Aftermath[change | change source]

The war ended on October 26, 1973. Egypt and Israel later negotiated and reached an agreement to separate their forces. That led to Israel retreating behind the Suez Canal and to Egypt staying in the Sinai Peninsula, near the canal, and not retreating from the places that it had captured. Egypt and Israel also agreed to have their forces far apart in the Sinai Peninsula.

Israel also held negotiations with Syria and agreed to withdraw from captured areas in Syria, but the negotiations failed and so Israel stayed in the Golan Heights. Egypt and Israel kept their negotiations and in 1979 signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. The gradual retreat of Israeli forces took place, and all of the Sinai Peninsula returned to Egyptian hands in 1982. The treaty still holds real military victory was ever won; it was a military "stalemate".

The peace treaty was so shocking to the Arab world that Egypt was forced to leave from the Arab League and to fight the Egyptian-Libyan War in 1977. The Libyan attack eventually failed, and Egypt planned to march into the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and to remove the Libyan dictator, Muammar al-Gadhafi. The plan was later scrapped by intervention from the Arab League, which resulted in a ceasefire after four days of fighting, Egypt had repelled all Libyan advances and won the war.

After the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty an Islamist group planned the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 for recognizing Israel. 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 had emptied his assault rifle into Sadat's body in the front of the grandstand and mortally wounding Sadat. 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.

The Yom Kippur War was won by Egypt.

Response in Israel[change | change source]

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

A protest against the Israeli government started four months after the war ended and was led by Motti Ashkenazi, the commander of Budapest, the northernmost of the Bar-Lev forts and the fort not to be captured by Egypti during the war. There was much anger with the Israeli government, particularly Dayan. 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.

Those who knew the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Moshe Dayan, stated that the war had deeply depressed him. He went into political eclipse for a time and resigned on October 21, 1979.

During the fourth day of the war, Dayan changed his attitude on Egypt frombefore the war. He had jokingly recommended the Israeli government to accept Egyptian fire since he thought that Egypt would never go to go to war after the Six-Day War because it was too weak. He also thought of accepting Egyptian demands to retreat from Sinai. That day, 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, a former Israeli MP, Uri Avneri, 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 by the destruction of the myth of "Israeli invincibility" and by the huge losses suffered during the war. That ended the careers of Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir, who had been the president of Israel from 1969 to 1974.

Response in Egypt[change | change source]

For Egypt, the successes during the war healed the psychological trauma of its defeat in during the Six-Day War and allowed it to negotiate with the Israel as equals. The first 11 days of the Yom Kippur War let Egypt, although it suffered major defeats in some battles, to destroy the myth of Israeli invincibility, and they greatly boosted the Egyptian Army's image after the humiliation of 1967.

The Yom Kippur War was in Egypt seen as a great war that took the shame of 1967 by allowing all Egyptian objectives to happen. Egypt had successfully crossed the Suez Canal and held a portion of Sinai, which later helped it to negotiate the return of all of the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt had also defeated Israel at the last major battle of the war, the Battle of Suez, and repelled the 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 a nervous breakdown after the Egyptian defeat during the October 14 Sinai tank battle, and he 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.