Middle East

Yom Kippur War of 1973

On October 6, 1973, The Arabs still had the hope to regain back their lost territories to Israel during the third Arab-Israeli war of 1967. Therefore, Egypt and Syria launched an attack against Israel on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. 

The allied troops went too deep into the Sinai and also made attempt to throw the occupying Israeli forces out of the Golan Heights. In return, Israel attacked and captured back the Golan Heights, before a cease-fire was established in late October 1973.

1973 Yom Kippur War: Background

The victory of Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 was a humiliation and a great loss to their counterpart; it left the Jewish nation in control of territory four times its previous size.

And sadly to Egypt, it had lost the Sinai Peninsula (23,500-square-mile) and the Gaza Strip; Jordan lost the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Syria lost the strategic Golan Heights, all to the Six-Day War of 1967.

When Anwar el-Sadat became president of Egypt in 1970, he wanted to make peace with Israel to secure back the Sinai, but the victory of Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 made him doubt a reasonable peace treaty in the face of Israel’s aggressive militarism.

Therefore, Egypt was ready for another war to secure its lost territories, and even if it was not a successful one, the attack would be a clear message that an agreement with Egypt was necessary.

British-built Jordanian Centurion tanks arrive in the
Golan Heights to support the Syrians during the Yom Kippur War,
October 21, 1973.
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1972, 20,000 Soviet advisers were expelled from Egypt by Sadat and a new diplomatic channel with Washington, D.C. was established. Therefore, Israel’s key ally would be an exclusive mediator in any peace talks in the next years.

A new alliance was formed with Syria, and thus, ready for a war against Israel to restore their lost territories.

Yom Kippur War: October 1973

The Arab armies made several positive advances with their Soviet-supplied weaponry. While observing Yom Kippur, the Israeli soldiers were alerted to attack the Arab forces, Iraqi forces joined the war and Jordan supported Syria.

After several days of defeat, the Israeli forces received aid from the United States airlift of arms which helped Israel. The allied forces were beaten back and on October 25, an Egyptian-Israeli cease-fire was secured by the United Nations

Yom Kippur War: Aftermath

Israel had suffered a heavy defeat at the hand of the allied forces before it was able to push back the attacks with the aid of the United States. The Israeli citizens criticized the government for lack of preparedness or military amateurship before the external aid,   In April 1974, the Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, stepped down.

An Israeli soldier walks towards a Soviet-built
Egyptian SAM III anti-aircraft missile launcher
captured on the western bank of the Suez Canal
during the Yom Kippur War, October 21, 1973.
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sadat was able to seek peace after the war because of initial Egypt’s victory before the intervention of the United States forces in aid of the Israeli forces. It was a great prestige for Sadat and Egypt. Sadat sought to regain the Sinai to Egypt as he called for a peace agreement.

The first of two Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreements providing for the restitution of portions of the Sinai to Egypt was signed in 1974, and in 1978, the first peace agreement between Israel and one of its Arab neighbours (The Camp David Accord) was signed between Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

The agreement was to let the Arab states recognise Israel and Israel should withdraw from all the occupied territories it had forcefully occupied. Sadat and Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. Resolution 242 of the agreement decried the acquisition of territory by war, as done by the Israeli forces during the Six-Day War of 1967.

The Yom Kippur War was a disaster for Syria. The Egyptian-Israeli cease-fire was unexpected and it exposed Syria to a military setback, and Israel occupied even more territory in the Golan Heights. “In 1979, Syria voted with other Arab states to expel Egypt from the Arab League.”

References

  1. Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2020, October 16). Yom Kippur War. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Yom-Kippur-War
  2. History.com Editors. Yom Kippur War. HISTORY. Publisher; A&E Television Networks. (Accessed date April 18, 2022). Available at https://www.history.com/topics/middle-east/yom-kippur-war
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About the author

Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.

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