Yom Kippur War

(1973)
   On 6 October 1973 (Yom Kippur), Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated attack on Israeli positions on the Suez Canal and Golan Heights fronts. Taking Israel by surprise, the Arab armies crossed the Suez Canal, secured a beachhead in the Sinai Peninsula, and advanced into the Golan Heights. During the first three days of combat, a skeletal Israeli force sought to withstand the invasion until additional troops could be mobilized. Ultimately, Israel (with vital resupplies from the United States) stopped the Arab forces and reversed their initial battlefield successes; it retook the Golan Heights and some additional territory, while Egypt and Israel traded some territory along the Suez Canal following Israel's crossing of the canal and its advance toward Cairo.
   The United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 338, which called for an immediate cease-fire and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and explicitly required negotiations "between the parties." Subsequently, U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger negotiated the Israel-Egypt Disengagement of Forces Agreement of 1974 and the Sinai II Accords of 1975 between Egypt and Israel, as well as the Israel-Syria Disengagement of Forces Agreement of 1974. These involved Israeli withdrawals from territory in the Suez Canal zone in the two agreements with Egypt and in the Golan Heights in the arrangement with Syria.
   The Yom Kippur War resulted in an Israeli military victory, but that victory was accompanied by significant political and diplomatic disappointments and by domestic economic, psychological, and political stress. In purely tangible terms, the 1973 war had perhaps the most far-reaching effects on Israel of any conflict to that time. Personnel losses and overall casualty rates were substantial. The mobilization of the largest part of the civilian reserve army of several hundred thousand caused dislocations in agriculture and industry. Tourism and diamond sales fell, and the sea passage to Eilat was blockaded by Egypt at Bab el Mandeb. Numerous other aspects of the war added to the economic costs of the conflict, and austerity was the logical result. At the same time, Israel's international position deteriorated. Although it was not the initiator of the war, Israel was condemned, and numerous states (particularly in Africa) broke diplomatic relations. The ruptures with Africa were a disappointment, but a shift in the attitudes and policies of the European states and Japan was perhaps more significant. The war also increased Israel's dependence on the United States. No other country could provide Israel, or was prepared to do so, with the vast quantities of modern and sophisticated arms required for war or the political and moral support necessary to negotiate peace.
   The cease-fire of 22 October 1973 was followed by what Israelis often refer to as the "Wars of the Jews"—internal political conflicts and disagreements. The initial domestic political effect of the war was to bring about the postponement to 31 December of the Knesset election originally scheduled for 30 October and the suspension of political campaigning and electioneering for the duration of the conflict. The war not only interrupted the campaign for the election, but it also provided new issues for the opposition to raise, including the conduct of the war and the "mistakes" that preceded it. In November 1973, the government appointed a commission of inquiry headed by Chief Justice Shimon Agranat of the Supreme Court of Israel to investigate the events leading up to the hostilities, including information concerning the enemy's moves and intentions, the assessments and decisions of military and civilian bodies in regard to this information, and the Israel Defense Forces' deployments, preparedness for battle, and actions in the first phase of the fighting.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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