The Yom Kippur war of 6th October 1973 was one terrible surprise that the survival of Israel's security was in jeopardy. Egypt and Syria initiated the war on the Jewish day of Yom Kippur, a period that also marked Ramadan, the month-long fasting for Islam. The two military forces launched the attack with the knowledge that Israels military personnel would be fully engaged in the religious celebrations; thus, their guard will be temporarily dropped. The strategy would also likely work in their favor as they expected to catch the Israelis off-guard. The war which was only supposed to pitch the two forces; Egypt-Syrian forces against the Israeli forces, against each other eventually drew both the United States and the Soviet Union into indirect confrontations. The two countries took sides as each threw their support for their allies, hoping to convince Israel to renegotiate their terms and agree on that which was more favorable to the Arab countries.
Prologue to War
The 1973 war was propelled by Israel's unexpected victory in 1967 that had lasted for six days. The forces allied to the Arabs had experienced a humiliating defeat with the Egyptian president Nasser tendering his resignation after what he considered a big blow to his administration. His move received disapproval from supporters which forced him to withdraw his resignation. The Arabs came to understand that a direct attack on Israel could not guarantee them a win they needed to regain back their territory. The president, therefore, resorted to using what was termed as the war of attrition that involved the effecting a high cost for the Israeli occupants along the Suez Canal with the aim of regaining back their territory. Upon his death in 1971, Anwar Sadat took over as president accepting the US-led negotiations aimed at resolving the issues surrounding the status quo.
Throughout the period of 1972 to 1973, the Egyptian president kept unleashing war threats unless the US forced Israel to accept his interpretation of Resolution 242,' one that required an immediate withdrawal of Israeli from its territories captured in 1967. As a matter of fact, he even warned Israel in an interview of the possibility of a renewed war. Most of the observers, however, remained skeptical as he had issued the same threat in the earlier years. He waited until October of 1973, where in collaboration with the Syrian authorities, launched a surprise attack on the Israeli soil (Dunstan 17).
On the 23rd of October, Israel finally implemented a cease-fire agreement, so that nothing stood between its advancing troops led by Ariel Sharon and the Egyptian capital, Cairo. By this time, Israel had gained full control over the enough entire front. Though it had failed to secure Sinai ultimately from the Egyptian forces, it had by far established a notable presence and gained control over the western banks of the Suez Canal. Sensing an imminent threat to both Cairo and his regime, the Egyptian president decided to seek the intervention from the Soviet Union and even direct involvement of its military as a measure to secure an early cease-fire. If it were not for the eminent US-Soviet nuclear attack that was followed by an incessant pressure by the American government, they would have eliminated the overpowered Egyptian third army.
Though Israel faced a lot of setbacks and surprises before, it had now bounced back, stopping the Arab offensive and eventually repulsing the advances by the enemy which helped reverse the course of the battle. Now it even became apparent that Israel had quashed the Arabs attack, just in case they drew their motivation from the desire to have the status quo in Sinai or the Golan Heights changed. The cease-fire according to Kumaraswamy also did a lot to raise Israels profile and saw a massive Israeli take up the West of the Suez Canal. Unlike all the other previous wars, this particular one did not incur any Israeli civilian casualties (6).
Looking back at the Kippur war, one cannot fail to see how it emerged to become one of the elements that enhanced Israels strategic interests. For one, it cultivated a longstanding peaceful atmosphere between Israel and Egypt, but ironically so, it provided the Arab states, more so Egypt a much-needed platform for truce concerning their previous refusal to recognize the presence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. It also served as a signal to the end of Arab unity against Israel and allowed for the existence of the process of direct and separate peace between Israel and its neighboring Arab countries. Though the Arab-Israel conflict exposed the diplomatic and political isolation for the latter, it also served as a tool that highlighted and strengthened the strategic relationship between the United States and Israel. It is worth noting that the Arab oil boycott and the reluctance on the part of the NATO allies to provide landing and refueling facilities did little to prevent the US from launching a massive airlift of military supplies to Israel. There are therefore sufficient reasons always to reflect back on the war with pride and satisfaction (Kumaraswamy 10).
Despite all the achievements, however, Israels history still considers Yom Kippur as one of its most traumatic phases. There are still lots of regrets concerning the hostilities and breaching of the 1967 cease-fire which were all initiated by the Arabs. The timing of the event on Yom Kippur, a holy day in the Jewish calendar, increased the sense of loss that is associated with war. It serves as a source of remembrance for Israels unpreparedness that was followed by military success and restored peace as a bonus (Regan). The deaths and destructions witnessed portrayed not only the physical but also the psychological effects of war. It is important to remember that the war that erupted in June 1967, had initially been viewed as the last of Arab-Israeli conflict, but nonetheless, served as a platform on which the seeds of Yom Kippur war were sown.
At the time when the Yom Kippur war broke out, the United States had been thrown into a domestic turmoil owing to the uncovering of the Watergate scandal. There was the possibility of the apprehension of the president, Richard Nixon, over a possible impeachment and his subsequent removal from office. These unfolding developments did not, however, deter him from taking decisive actions as he pledged his support for Israel. Over the month-long operation, Israel received about twenty-four thousand tons of ammunition, missiles, tanks, and firearms and other forms of technical assistance with the logistics. The special relationship between US and Israel that began way back in 1967 was consolidated, as their support of Israel proved critical to its survival. The conflict as explained by Stephens also served as a trigger for the first energy shock for the United States(10). The Arab oil producers threatened them by unleashing the oil weapon as a way to punish them and their allies for pledging their support for Israel. This period also brought into focus the topic of the much-revered genie; nuclear weapons, when the then US president, Richard Nixon responded to Soviets threat to intervene in the fighting. He put the US military on alert, prompting to their readiness for deployment of both conventional and nuclear attacks.
Dunstan, Simon. The Yom Kippur War. Oxford: Osprey Pub., 2007. Print.
Kumaraswamy, P. R. Revisiting The Yom Kippur War. London: Frank Cass, 2000. Print.
Regan, Arlette. "CLIO History Journal - The Consequences Of The Yom Kippur War". Cliojournal.wikispaces.com. N.p., 2010. Web. 11 May 2016.
Stephens, Elizabeth. "The Yom Kippur War". History Today 58.10 (2008): 12.Historytoday.com. 11 May 2016.
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