Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Yom Kippur War

It would be impossible in this format to provide a full history of the events that led to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. However, in honor of the cease-fire that ended the fighting (the second cease-fire) on October 25, 1973, Jewish Treats presents a brief history of the war.

In the fall of 1973, despite a noted increase in movements of Egyptian and Syrian troops, the majority of Israeli soldiers were allowed to return home from their military bases to spend Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, with their families.

When the Syrians and Egyptians attacked on the holiest day of the Jewish year (October 6, 1973), the Israelis were taken by surprise, nearly costing them the war. Israeli soldiers went to the battlefield directly from synagogue.

The Egyptians and Syrians were supported by troops from other Arab nations as well and had received extensive training and arms from the Soviet Union. What had been a regional Mid-East conflict, became a battle ground for Cold War issues, as the Soviet Union backed Egypt and Syria, supplying them with frequent airlifts of weapons and advisors. In response, at the very last moment, the United States sent Israel the military replacement parts it needed to recover from its initial significant losses. Israel eventually struck back and recovered, but only after suffering extraordinarily heavy losses.

Technically, the war ended with a cease-fire on October 22, 1973, but fighting continued on the Egyptian-Israeli front. When the second cease-fire went into effect, Israel had captured an additional 165 square miles of territory from Syria, and had encircled the Egyptian Third Army on the west bank of the Suez Canal. Egyptian forces held two areas of Israeli territory along the east bank of the canal. After months of diplomacy, Israel withdrew from the area it seized from Syria during the 1973 war, in addition to some area gained in 1967, as well as from parts of the Sinai.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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