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Yom Kippur War (1973)

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Khartoum Resolution

In response to Israel’s expansion in the aftermath of the Six Days War of 1967, the Arab League held a summit in Khartoum between 29th August 1967 and 1st September 1967. During the summit, Arab leaders formulated the so-called “Three No’s Resolution,” which bound member countries not to recognize, negotiate, and make peace with Israel.

 

Additional context:

  • The Yom Kippur War intensified the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, as both superpowers provided military assistance to their respective allies in the conflict. 
  • The conflict led to the weaponization of oil, with Arab oil-producing countries imposing an oil embargo against countries supporting Israel, leading to the 1973 oil crisis. 
  • The war prompted a strategic realignment in the Middle East, with Egypt shifting away from its alliance with the Soviet Union and pursuing closer ties with the United States.

 

The Munich Olympic Games Massacre of 1972

Despite Israel’s win in the Six Days War, hostilities between Israelis and Arabs did not cease. In fact, the terrorist attacks continued to mount in the following years, escalating on 5th September 1972 when a group of eight Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the premises of the Munich Olympic Village, leading to a hostage situation that resulted in the killing of eleven Israeli athletes and one German police officer. The police’s response resulted in the capture of three attackers. However, one month later, on 29th October 1972, another group of three terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa plane and demanded the release of captives responsible for the massacre. The German government caved to these demands, and terrorists were released. Some of these men were later assassinated or died from natural causes. Nonetheless, this tragic event significantly contributed to tensions between Arabs and Israelis.

 

The Yom-Kippur War

The Yom Kippur War erupted on 6th October 1973, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement. The invasion by Egyptian and Syrian forces came as a total surprise to the U.S. and Israeli intelligence, which, at the time, assessed the threat of another conflict was low and ignored warnings of an impending attack from a son-in-law of the former Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Jordan’s King Hussein. At the start of the conflict, Israel’s adversaries stormed through the Bar-Lev line, which was thought to deter the enemy for an extended period but failed within a matter of few hours. That allowed Arabs to proceed further into the Sinai Peninsula and caused some fractures among Israel’s leadership. After the initial shock and setbacks, Israel's military orchestrated a series of counteroffensives that would alter the course of the conflict. The IDF successfully managed to halt the Syrian advance in Golan Heights, and within a few days, it reached the position on the west bank of the Suez Canal, just 100km (62 miles) away from the Egyptian capital, Cairo. This situation forced Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, to negotiate a ceasefire deal with Israel on 25th October 1973 and helped to pave the way for future negotiations between the two countries. For Syria, however, this outcome was far more adverse, and it ended up losing territory in Golan Heights. Depending on the source, combined Egyptian and Syrian losses are estimated to be in the range of 8,000 to 20,000 men. Meanwhile, the official Israeli sources state that 2,688 Israeli soldiers fell in the war.[1]

 

Camp David Accords

The chaos and destruction the Yom-Kippur War brought led to a newfound willingness among Arab states and Israel to seek a diplomatic solution to mutual disagreements. These efforts finally culminated in 1978 with the start of Camp David negotiations in Maryland, United States.  Hosted by U.S. President Jimmy Carter and attended by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the negotiations ushered a new hope for improvement in the mutual relationship between Arabs and Israelis. Consequently, the Camp David Accords helped to create a framework for future peace and led to the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty on 26th March 1979.

 

  1. Israeli Missions Around the World: "The Yom Kippur War (October 1973)"
    https://embassies.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/history/Pages/The%20Yom%20Kippur%20War%20-%20October%201973.aspx#p
  2. Yale Law School - Lillian Goldman Law Library: "Camp David Accords; September 17, 1978, Avalon Project"
    https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/campdav.asp
  3. The United States Office of the Historian: "The 1973 Arab-Israeli War"
    https://history.state.gov/milestones/1969-1976/arab-israeli-war-1973
  4. The United States Department of State: "Carter and the Camp David Accords, 1977-1978"
    https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/qfp/16330.htm
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