Above: Injured Israeli Army on the side of the road during YOM KIPPUR WAR
The most recent full-scale war in the history of the Middle East is the Yom Kippur War or October War, of 1973. It is so called because it started on the holy day of the Jews – the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. The two leaders of Israel and Egypt were Golda Meir and Anwar Saddat respectively.
Above: Uncrewed Syrian Tanks left behind at an Israeli anti-tank dike
The war started with the unprovoked surprise attack by the Arabs on Israel on Saturday 6th October 1973. The attack was launched by Egypt and Syria knowing fully well that the Israeli army would be celebrating a religious festival and therefore would be off their guard. The combined forces of the attackers totaled to the same number of men as NATO had in West Europe. 150 Israeli tanks faced 1,400 Syrian ones on the Golan Heights. In the Suez area there were 500 Israeli soldiers facing 80,000 of Egypt. Other Arab nations were also helping the attackers. Few months previous to the operation Iraq had transferred a squadron of Hunter jets to Egypt. Russian MIG fighters belonging to Iraq were deployed along with 18,000 Iraqi soldiers. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait financed the war. Approximately 30,000 troops also fought the battle. Libya gave Egypt French Mirage fighters from 1971 o 1973. Libya helped to update Egypt’s military with the help of $1 billion. Modern weapons were purchased from Russia. Two armored brigades were sent by other Arabic nations like Tunisia, Sudan and Morocco. Jordan dispatched two armored brigades together with three artillery units in support of Syria. But their participation was not spontaneous because King Hussein of Jordan had not been properly informed about the details of Egypt and Syria’s operations.
Above: Map of Suez Canal
Faced with such odds at such an awkward time Israel was at first confused. Within two days Egypt had crossed the Suez Canal and marched 15 miles inland into Sinai. Syrian troops repeated the performance in the Golan Heights. By 7th October the signs were all against Israel.
Above: Syrian tank destroyed during the counter attack of Israel
From 8th October the tide began to turn. Israel mustered up her courage and spirit and made a counter attack in the Sinai region. They forced back Egypt, crossed the Suez and reached Ismailia. Here they used the Suez Cairo road to push forward towards Cairo, the capital of Egypt. They came to 65 miles of it.
Above: An Israeli troop raising flag after recapturing Golan Heights
At the Golan Heights Israel also met with success. The Syrians were forced to retreat and the land was taken back. Through the main road from Tiberias to Damascus they came to within 35 miles of Syria’s capital.
The UN brokered a cease-fire on 24th October. It sent its own peacekeeping force to the highly sensitive areas. Between January and March 1974 Israel disengaged itself from the Suez region but they kept their hold on the Golan Heights. Here a buffer zone was created so that in no way could the Arabs enter the home territory of the Israelis. More than 1,200 UN troops went there to make effectual this buffer zone between Syria and Israel.
Above: Prime Minister in Israel, Egyptian President Sadat, and US President Carter shake hands during the peace talk in Camp David
USA’s Secretary of State Kissinger negotiated peace talks. An interim agreement was signed in September 1975 in which both sides agreed to amicably settle bones of contention and not resort to war. The 1977 Sadat-Initiative was followed by America sponsoring talks at Camp David.
Above: bloody picture of former Egyptian President Sadat after being assassinated
In the beginning Anwar Sadat was regarded as the spiritual successor of Nasser and the savior of the Palestinian cause. But his diplomatic maneuvers came in for sharp criticism. Sadat became very unpopular and was accused by many for betraying the cause of Egypt. Fundamentalists assassinated him in 1981.
Above: Picture of Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim presiding a meeting in UN Headquarters
The role of the United Nations in the war came under a cloud. The world body remained a silent spectator to the drama – could not effectively do anything. One of the prime reasons for this was that its Secretary General, Kurt Waldheim got embroiled in accusations regarding war crimes in the Balkans during World War II.
Above: Image captured by the spy plane, SR-71 Blackbird during espionage operation in Yom Kippur War
YOM KIPPUR WAR – RESULTS:
At the start of the war Israeli was caught on the wrong foot but the country soon rallied. Israel proved to the world her military might. Thus the war saw a rise in the morale of the nation. USA had given military aid but more important – Israel had been provided with intelligence and information. The American spy plane, SR-71 Blackbird, documented the whereabouts of Arab military concentration points. This enabled the Israelis to pinpoint their attacks accurately.
Above: Israel troops firing deadly artilleries against the Arabs
The war taught the Arabs the futility of a military approach and tuned them towards the diplomatic angle. On the other hand there was a section that became more militant and resorted to extreme terrorism. On the one hand while the Camp David talks were in full swing the PLO activities, on the other side became more strident.
The Arabs failed to follow up their initial success mainly because the Israelis benefited from secret information they managed to get. As before the Arabs had not fought as one cohesive and coordinated unit. There were nine nations each on its own, making joint effective action nearly impossible.
Above: Syrian tanks harshly attacking; image picturing out the severe conflict between Israelis and Arabs
Israel was more committed to the cause because defeat would have meant the total disappearance of the state as such. For its very existence Israel had to fight – and fight to finish. There was no midway course left open – it was either death or glory. This was not so the case with the Arabs.