Yom Kippur War

October 1973 war between Egypt and Syria at one side and Israel on the other side

The Yom Kippur War (also known as the Ramadan War, October War or the Fourth Arab–Israeli War) happened between Israel and a group of Arab countries, led by Egypt and Syria, from October 6 to 24, 1973. The war began on the Jewish day of repentance, Yom Kippur, and happened during the Islamic month of Ramadan, when the army was fasting. The attack by Egypt and Syria was a surprise to Israel, which had conquered the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights from Egypt in 1967 in retaliation for attacks against Israel that ultimately resulted in the occupation of Gaza.[6]

Yom Kippur War
Part of the Cold War and Arab–Israeli conflict

Clockwise from top-left:
DateOctober 6–25, 1973
Both banks of the Suez Canal, Golan Heights, and surrounding regions

Both sides claim victory

  • Military stalemate[2]
  • Egyptian political victory[3]
  • Egypt ultimately regains full control of the Sinai peninsula[4]
  • Military stalemate on Syrian front[5]
  • 1978 Camp David accords

The Israeli army occupied sixteen hundred square kilometers of territory on the southwestern coast of the Suez Canal, within 101 km from Cairo, and encircled the entire Egyptian 3rd Army

The Egyptian army occupied the eastern coast of the Suez Canal except the Israeli crossing point near Deversoir. The Egyptian army had advanced 12-20 kilometers into Sinai.
Supported by:
 United States
 United Kingdom
 West Germany

Supported by:

 Soviet Union
 Saudi Arabia


415,000[28]–100,000 troops

3000 tanks 1700 armored carriers 945 artillery units

440 combat aircraft


200,000 troops crossed

1020 tank crossed 2,400 armored carriers 1,120 artillery units 400 combat aircraft 140 helicopters 104 naval vessels 150 surface-to-air missile batteries (62 in the front line)

Syria: 150,000 troops 1,200 tanks 800–900 armored carriers

600 artillery units
Casualties and losses

Israel : 2,500–5,000 dead 7,250–8,800 wounded 250-1,000 captured 400 tanks destroyed, 663 damaged or captured 407 armored vehicles destroyed or captured

102–387 aircraft destroyed

Egypt: 2,000–10,000 dead 8,372 captured Syria: 3,000–3,500 dead

392 captured

Background change

The Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights had belonged to Egypt and Syria but became occupied by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War. Syria's aim in the war was to liberate all of the Golan Heights.

Battles change

Egypt and Syria scored victories during the first few days of the war. Israel was shocked by the attack and was about to be defeated. The first Israeli counterattacks failed against both Egypt and Syria. However, Israeli attacks later repelled the Syrian forces and pushed them back. The Iraqi Army joined the war, and the Israeli Army stopped advancing.

On the Egyptian front, Israel's attacks against Syria had served as a 'distraction' against the Egyptian offense. That allowed the Egyptian army to dig around 12 km deeper into Sinai, an extra 2 km to the original plan. Israel feared a massive military defeat and so called on America for aid. Initially, The US refused and so Israel threatened to use its nuclear weapons. That was enough to persuade US President Richard Nixon to send aid to Israel. America conducted Operation Nickel Grass, which gave Israel a resupply of 22,000 tons of military equipment and ammunition in response to the parallel Soviet supply operation in which 15,000 tons of equipment were airlifted, and 63,000 tons of equipment were sent by boat.. That aid was denied at the time[7] but was vital to Israel and allowed it to continue fighting despite being heavily outnumbered, according to Henry Kissinger.[7]

Egypt crossed the Suez Canal on October 6 and destroyed the Israeli defences and forts on the other side. Israel tried to defeat Egypt for the next few days and push it back behind the canal. However, Israel could not push it back and so lured it deeper into the Sinai to encircle Egypt. The United States started sending ammunition and weapons to Israel by using airplanes to help it win the war in Operation Nickel Grass. Syria soon pleaded with Egypt to attack Israel to lessen the pressure on it. On October 14, Egypt attacked again and tried to advance even more into the Sinai after Syria had reported a false victory against Israel on the northern front. That led to the Egyptians pushing forward into Israeli-controlled territory without any air cover and allowed Israel to encircle the entire 20,000-man Egyptian 3rd Army[8] and cut it off of any supplies by the invasion of mainland Egypt by Israeli forces. Egypt tried stopping the invasion by its elite 25th Armored Brigade with the most advanced tanks of the time, but it fell into an Israeli tank ambush and was destroyed.

Israel then attacked again and pushed into mainland Egypt. After heavy fighting, it crossed the canal at its centre between two Egyptian armies. It advanced north and south until it reached the city of Suez in the south and trapped the Egyptian 3rd Army on the eastern side of the canal in the Sinai. Anwar Sadat was worried that the encirclement of the 3rd Egyptian Army since its collapse could lead to that of the 2nd Egyptian Army and Egypt's whole war effort. That made him call Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev and urge him to stop the war quickly. Brezhnev brought in air-deployable battalions from Europe and threatened the US to end the war. Israel tried to capture Suez but was defeated and failed to advance north. It had reached an area 101 km from Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and captured 1600 km2 of mainland Egypt.

UN resolution change

The United Nations passed a resolution in the UN Security Council that asked all countries to bring a temporary stop to the war (called a 'ceasefire'). Both the Arab countries and Israel agreed, but the ceasefire failed since the Israeli army advanced south to reach Suez. Brezhnev told Nixon that if the US did not send troops, he would send Soviet troops to the area. The US believed that was a threat, so it put its military on full nuclear alert. That was the closest that both superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, had been to nuclear war and World War III since the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s

The tension between the Americans and the Soviets made Israel agree to a ceasefire, which ended the war.

End change

The war ended on October 26, 1973. Egypt and Israel then negotiated and reached an agreement to separate their forces. That agreement led to Israel withdrawing from the Suez Canal only six years after the war had ended,

Israel also held negotiations with Syria and agreed to withdraw from the places that it had captured in Syria, except the Golan Heights. Egypt and Israel continued their negotiations and, in 1979, signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. The treaty, which has been held ever since, brought peace between Israel and Egypt and saw Israel withdraw from the whole of Sinai and return it to Egypt.

The Egyptians celebrated victory that day since they attacked at the start of the war. The 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.

References change

  1. "50 years on: Memories of the 1973 Arab-Israeli Conflict". The Express Tribune. 19 March 2015.
  2. "The October Arab-Israeli War of 1973: What happened?". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 8 Oct 2018. {{cite web}}: |first1= missing |last1= (help)
  3. "Egypt 1973 'victory' shaped nation but now a fading memory Read more: https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/10/egypt-1973-victory-shaped-nation-now-fading-memory#ixzz8Ov7V7CxT". www.al-monitor.com. Sofiane Alsaar. Retrieved September 30, 2023. {{cite web}}: |first1= missing |last1= (help); External link in |title= (help)
  4. "Armed Forces Day". www.britannica.com. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 15 January 2024. {{cite web}}: |first1= missing |last1= (help)
  5. "1973 Arab–Israeli War: The New Character of Warfare" (PDF). apps.dtic.mil. MAJ Jordan A. Lester US Army. Retrieved 15 January 2024. {{cite web}}: |first1= missing |last1= (help)
  6. Reporter, Brendan Cole Senior News (2023-01-03). "Russian state TV laments loss of USSR—"a Soviet miracle"". Newsweek. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  7. 7.0 7.1 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.
  8. Times, Craig R. Whitney Special to The New York (1973-10-25). "20,000 ENCIRCLED". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-10-08.