What was the course of the Yom Kippur War?
Yom Kippur War, also known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 or the Ramadan War, was fought between Egypt and Syria from Arab side and Israel on the other. This war was the fourth one in the series regarded as fierce military confrontations between Israel and any Arab state.
There were two major factors which led up to the Yom Kippur War. First, there were no settled disputes regarding the Arab-Israeli territories which rose from the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. These unresolved disputes related to the return of Sinai to Egypt and the return of Golan Heights to Syria. Efforts of peace initiated from the UN Resolution 242 and from the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat went futile. Sadat intended to sign an agreement with Israel, following which, Israel would lift occupation from all the seized Arab land captured as a result of the 1967 war. However, Israel denied to agree on that and refused to withdraw forces from the occupied land. Keeping in view that no progress was made towards peace, and to recover the legitimacy over the Arab lands, Sadat called for a war with limited objectives.
The second factor that led to the Yom Kippur War is also connected to the first one. Israel did not extend hand in efforts for peace as it felt no threat of a war from either Syria or Egypt. It was because of the reason that Israel considered it protected because of the strength of IDF, anarchy of the Arab world and a considerably huge buffer zone formed around Israel because of the Golan Heights, Sinai and the West Bank. Therefore, in spite of the warnings given by Sadat to Israel about a probable attack in 1972 and a number of times in 1973, Israeli commanders remained unprepared for the October attack from Egypt and Syria. It was Israel’s misinterpretation about the gathering of Arab armies along the Suez Canal as military exercise.
Egypt and Syria made a surprise attack on Israel on October 6, 1973, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews and hence the name Yom Kippur War. Egyptian forces swiftly crossed the Suez Canal and overtook the Bar-Lev Line while the Syrian forces entered the Golan Heights almost succeeded in reaching the 1967 border with Israel which overlooked the Hula Basin. With 1100 Syrian tanks against 157 Israeli tanks, Israel was outnumbered on the north side and suffered a loss of nearly 150 planes and hundreds of casualties, failing in counterstrike for the first few days of war.
But the situation took a sad turn on October 10, when the Israeli forces started to push back the Syrian forces. Help to Arabs was sent from Soviet Union in the form of airlifts to Cairo and Damascus. This was answered on a bigger level from US as it sent massive airlifts to Israel. Till October 21, Israeli Forces had taken over the Egyptian Third Army.
Yom Kippur turned into an international issue when Soviet Union threatened to send more troops to Egypt, responding to a plea made by Egypt to save its Third Army. US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, went to Moscow to negotiate a cease-fire, however, it was broken and Soviet Union sent threats of intervention again. US called for another cease-fire on October 25, 1973 and pressurized Israel to agree to it. Egypt and Israel both claimed a victory at the end of the war.
Consequences of the war were widespread. Nearly 8,500 Arab casualties were recorded with an economic loss equaling to a whole year’s GNP, however, Arab’s confidence was increased. Arab’s dependency over Soviet Union also increased as a result of the war. On Israel’s side, some 6000 soldiers were killed and had an equal economic loss like Arabs. The war destroyed the image that Israeli forces are invincible and it became more dependent on U.S. for aids relating to economy, military and diplomacy.