Israeli Syria Shenanigans

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Israel Steps Into Syria

What the IDF Air Strike Means for the Conflict
February 6, 2013

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may blame Israel for his problems, but the Israelis are more ambivalent about their sometime antagonist. Yet with little ability to affect the outcome of the uprisings, Jerusalem can only watch nervously as events unfold.

An Israeli soldier patrols along the Israeli-Syrian border (Ronen Zvulun / Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, after two years of watching the Syria crisis unfold with quiet unease, Israel departed from its policy of restraint and staged an aerial raid near Damascus. The facts are still murky. Israel issued no statement and took no responsibility for the strike, although Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking at a major security conference in Munich, came close to conceding involvement. The Syrian government, however, was swift to announce and condemn an Israeli raid on a “research center” in the vicinity of Damascus, as did the regime’s allies, Iran and Hezbollah. The international and Israeli press speculated that Israel had attacked a convoy of game-changing ground-to-air missiles that were about to be transferred by Syria to Hezbollah and that may have been stationed in that “research center” on their way to Lebanon.

The event underlined a curious aspect of the unfolding Syrian crisis: that unlike Syria’s other four neighbors — Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan — Israel has remained largely uninvolved in the country’s affairs, albeit with two noteworthy exceptions. First, in May 2011, hundreds of Palestinians crossed the undefended cease-fire line into the Golan Heights, with the encouragement, or at least the tacit agreement, of the Syrian authorities. Second, in November of that year, a few mortar shells fired from Syria landed in the Golan Heights. Both incidents proved to be insignificant, especially compared with the gravity of the Syrian civil war and its impact on regional and global politics.

Israel’s passive stance did not reflect a lack of interest in the future of Syria and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. On the contrary, Israeli policymakers and analysts are acutely aware of the massive repercussions that Assad’s fall would have for Israeli security. But they also know that Israel’s ability to affect Syria’s domestic policy is limited, and that any Israeli intervention would deal great damage to the opposition. From the very outset of the conflict, Assad and his spokesmen have tried to depict the rebellion not as an authentic domestic uprising but as a conspiracy hatched by such external enemies as the United States and Israel. An Israeli intervention, even one with ostensibly humanitarian goals, would be seized upon by the regime and presented as proof that its position had been vindicated.

Israel may decide to act again, and if it does, Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran could well retaliate.

Although Israel has remained passive, it has closely monitored the course of events in Syria. It has been worried by several potential negative outcomes: that the Assad regime could be replaced by an Islamist, perhaps even a jihadist, one; that the regime’s fall could lead to anarchy, and that jihadists might launch terror attacks against Israel from north of the Golan Heights; that the regime could transfer some of its chemical and biological weapons to Hezbollah, or that such stockpiles could fall into the hands of radical rebels; and finally, that the regime itself, when its death knell has sounded, could fire missiles into Israel in a final act of Samson-like glory. In more general terms, Israel has feared that the regime and its allies might try to transform the crisis into another conflict with Israel. Israel has acted tacitly, often in coordination with Washington, in order to forestall some of these developments. On several occasions, it has released public statements regarding its “redlines” in the Syrian crisis.

The transfer of advanced weapons systems to Hezbollah has been one of these redlines. It seems that at the end of January, Israel’s leaders came to the conclusion that such a transfer was about to take place and decided to act. They were fully aware of the downside of a strike: the regime was likely to take political advantage of Israel’s military action, and the prospect of a response by Syria or Hezbollah and the provocation of a larger crisis could not be ruled out.

Such scenarios materialized only in part. The Syrian regime launched a full-scale propaganda campaign designed to depict the Israeli raid as a major component of the current crisis and portray the conflict as an Arab-Israeli one, not a Syrian civil war.

Iran and Hezbollah took a similar line and issued vague threats of retaliation. Assad’s regime, though, made it clear that it did not intend to respond with force. Syria’s minister of defense indicated that Damascus did not retaliate because Israel’s action was itself a retaliation for the damages inflicted on Israel by Syria. The whole episode stands in sharp contrast to the course of events in September 2007, when Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor that North Korea had been building for Syria. Israel kept silent in order to help Assad avoid the need to retaliate, and Assad played the same game. This time around, Assad had every interest in playing up the Israeli attack — but he is still proceeding cautiously. The political dividends of stoking tension with Israel are obvious, but given the sorry state of Syria’s armed forces, a military collision with Israel could provide the rebels with the golden opportunity that has eluded them so far.

It is difficult to determine at this time how successful Israel’s raid was. The political fallout has been limited, and the course of the Syrian civil war has not been affected. But the strike has not necessarily had the deterrent effect Israel sought, and the regime and its allies may still make further efforts to transfer sophisticated weapons systems to Hezbollah.

The current episode may well fade into memory, but there is still a real danger of a broader crisis drawing Israel more fully into the Syrian morass. Assad could still try to transfer sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, and the future of the Syrian arsenal, including stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, is still in question. Israel may decide to act again, and if it does, Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran could well retaliate. Their calculus in such an event would be determined by the state of the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah’s predicament in Lebanon, and the state of Iran’s give-and-take with the United States and its allies over the Iranian nuclear issue. Their response, if any, would be more likely come in the form of a terrorist attack, such as the one perpetrated by Hezbollah against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, rather than a conventional military attack.

Given these threats to regional stability, the need for the United States to take the lead in seeking a resolution to the Syrian crisis has never been more acute. U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to visit the region this spring and include the Syrian crisis on his agenda is a step in the right direction.


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  • SID HARTHa few seconds ago

    This article needs further modifications.

    Syria Says ‘No Truth’ Israel Targeted Convoy
    By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press

    UNITED NATIONS February 7, 2013 (AP)

    Syria’s U.N. ambassador says there is “no truth” to reports that an
    Israeli airstrike last week which seriously damaged a scientific
    research center had targeted a convoy heading to neighboring Lebanon.

    Israel has all but confirmed it was behind the Jan. 30 airstrike a few
    miles (kilometers) from the Syrian capital, Damascus. U.S. officials
    said the Israelis struck a military research center and a convoy next to
    it carrying anti-aircraft weapons destined for the Islamic militant
    group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said in identical letters to
    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council dated Jan. 31,
    and circulated Thursday, that Israeli aircraft flying at low altitude to
    avoid radar headed to the research center in Jamraya, Rif Dimashq, and
    bombed it, killing two employees and injuring five others. They returned
    by the same route over an area north of Mount Herman, he said.

    “The attack caused destruction and substantial material damage not only
    to the center, but also to the adjacent technical development center and
    a parking garage,” he said. “Syria emphasizes that there is no truth to
    the media reports asserting that the Israeli aircraft had targeted a
    convoy that was heading from Syria to Lebanon.”

    Syria called on the Security Council “to condemn unequivocally this
    blatant aggression by Israel against the territory of a sovereign state
    and its violation of the Charter of the United Nations” as well as
    international law, council resolutions, and the 1974 agreement that
    separated Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights following the
    1973 Yom Kippur war.

    The Security Council has been deeply divided over the two-year-old
    Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 60,000 people, according to
    the U.N.

    Russia, Syria’s closest ally, has vetoed three Western-backed
    resolutions aimed at pressuring President Bashar Assad to stop the
    violence. After last week’s Israeli airstrike, Russia tried to get the
    council to agree to a press statement, which needs approval from all 15
    members, but the United States, Israel’s closest ally, blocked it,
    according to diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks
    were private.

    Ja’afari warned that the Security Council’s failure to condemn “Israel’s
    grave aggressions … would lead to instability and undermine regional
    and international peace and security.”

    “Syria holds Israel, and those in the Security Council who are
    protecting it, fully responsible for the consequences of this
    aggression, and affirms its right to defend itself, its territory and
    its sovereignty,” he said.

    Ja’afari said the airstrike followed several failed attempts over a
    period of months by armed terrorist groups to enter and take control of
    the research center, “and occurred after Israel, in cooperation with
    states hostile to the Syrian people, had ordered its lackeys inside the
    country to strike selected vital Syrian military sites.”

    The “lackeys,” headed by Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaida-linked group,
    attacked some sites in recent months, including air defenses and other
    vital locations, the Syrian envoy said, but “they have failed to strike
    the majority of them.”

    “These determined efforts and the subsequent attack by the Israeli
    aircraft against the scientific research center prove beyond a doubt
    that Israel is instigating, benefiting from and, in some instances,
    carrying out, whether directly or through its lackeys on the inside, the
    terrorist attacks against Syria and its people,” Ja’afari said.

    …and I am Sid

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  • Hdhd Hdhd2 hours ago

    From My personal and My Orthodox-Christian Community solid experiences, I will never sided to Jewish any more.

    Jewish attacked me and my community by using their Authorities, they denied us Education, jobs and freedoms in private and public places;
    By using varies dangerous Chemical and Biological Weapons, jewish murdered my people. Hence, jewish are expected to concealed their Crimes and to deny the Criminal Conspiracies they are committed in a daily base.

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  • HomeFeaturesSnapshots › Israel’s Dilemma in Damascus

    Israel’s Dilemma in Damascus

    Jerusalem’s View on the Syrian Uprising
    April 10, 2011

    Last week, after two years of uneasily watching the Syrian crisis from the sidelines, Israel staged a bombing run near Damascus. So far the political fallout remains limited — but the episode shows how easily Syria’s civil war could spark a broader conflict.

    In January, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sat down for a rare and expansive interview with The Wall Street Journal, in which he boasted of the contrast between the crisis then raging in Egypt, which would ultimately topple Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and the apparent stability prevailing in Syria. That changed on March 19, when riots and demonstrations began in the cities of Deraa and Latakia and then spread through the country, echoing the calls issued across the Arab world for political reform and freedom. In particular, demonstrators demanded an end to Syria’s stringent emergency laws — in place since 1963 — which ban opposition to the ruling Baath Party, censor the media, and authorize the government to monitor and arrest individuals at will. In their efforts to quell the unrest, Syria’s security forces are estimated to have killed more than 100 civilians since the protests began.

    While the uprising festered, Assad at first remained silent, probably due to inter-regime squabbling about how to respond. When he finally spoke on March 30, instead of ending the emergency law or offering any reforms, he turned to an all-too-familiar trope. “Syria is a target of a big plot from outside,” he said. “Our enemies’ aim was to divide Syria as a country and force an Israeli agenda onto it, and they will continue to try and try again.” In other words, Assad argued, those protesting against the regime are doing so in the service of Jerusalem and Washington.

    It is curious and significant that while Assad attempts to paint Israel and the United States as the masterminds behind Syria’s problems, Israel itself is ambivalent about the future of his rule. This hesitation stems from the fact that for the past two decades the Israeli-Syrian relationship has unfolded along two, often contradictory, tracks. One has been the quest for a political settlement, launched during the 1991 Madrid conference — a gathering of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinians convened by George H.W. Bush’s administration in the aftermath of the first Gulf War — and continued under Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the mid-1990s. Skeptical of the Israeli political system’s capacity to absorb simultaneous major concessions on two fronts — the Palestinian and the Syrian — most Israeli prime ministers since Madrid have adopted a phased approach to peacemaking, often attempting to strike an agreement with Syria first. According to that logic, the Israeli-Syrian conflict would prove easier to solve. As opposed to the Palestinian Authority, Syria represented a coherent state with more reliable leadership. Syria, in turn, expressed equal interest in a peace deal, hoping to regain territory lost to Israel and improve relations with the United States.

    Israel and Syria fleshed out the shape of a settlement during the 1990s, modeling it after the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979. Israel would fully withdraw from the Golan Heights — the territory it conquered from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War — in exchange for security guarantees and a peace treaty. Negotiations proceeded encouragingly for some time, but the countries could not synchronize their respective desires to strike a final deal. The talks finally collapsed in March 2000, during U.S. President Bill Clinton’s ill-fated summit in Geneva with Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father, during which Clinton presented Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s final offer. Assad, in the final weeks of his life and focused on transferring power to his son, rejected the bid.

    Like other countries in the region, Israel wonders what the alternative to Assad might be.

    Assad died in June of that year, leaving behind a complex legacy. He built a powerful state in a country previously riddled with instability and military coups. He also became an important regional actor, allied with the Soviet Union and master of Lebanon. But Syria’s stability had feet of clay. Assad hailed from the Alawite minority community, which comprises 12 percent of Syria’s population, and his family found it perennially difficult to win approval from the country’s Sunni majority. When the Muslim Brotherhood revolted in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Assad ruthlessly quashed the rebellion, killing nearly 20,000 civilians in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama to secure his rule. That brutal episode has had a paradoxical effect: it cowed Syria’s opposition, keeping it fearfully silent until now, but instilled in it a lasting desire for revenge.

    Fearful of being massacred as a result of losing power, the Alawite military and civilian elite closed ranks. These generals and security chiefs restricted Bashar al-Assad’s attempts to liberalize when he came to power. Chastened by the existing order, which viewed him as ineffectual and moody, it took Assad years to establish his authority.

    Assad’s weakness was particularly visible in his conduct of foreign policy. His father was a master of the dual game: he talked to Washington and allied with Iran; negotiated with Israel and supported Hezbollah’s anti-Israeli offensive in Lebanon; participated in the Madrid process but encouraged a campaign against the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, accusing him of selling out to Israel by joining peace negotiations. He excelled in taking advantage of Syria’s value to Israel and the United States as a key player in Arab politics and as the symbolic stronghold of radical Arab nationalism.

    Bashar al-Assad has tried to play similar double games in Iraq and Lebanon but has failed to do so as artfully as his father, bringing him into a head-on collision with U.S. President George W. Bush. Although his father had achieved an equal partnership with Iran, Assad appeared more a client than an equal in his relationship with Tehran. Under his rule, Syria became a crucial component in the so-called axis of resistance built by Iran, alongside Hezbollah and Hamas. This alliance set out to foil U.S. and Israeli interests in the Middle East, arguing in favor of violence, rather than peace negotiations, and pitting itself against the more pro-Western camp led by Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

    Assad also pursued his father’s two-track line with regard to peace talks with Israel. He has argued that he would like to sign a treaty with Israel in return for its full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, but he has also stated that he is prepared for war should the diplomatic option fail. To bolster his claim, Assad boosted his armed forces and struck a secret nuclear deal with North Korea to send North Korean engineers to construct a secret reactor near the Syrian-Iraqi border. Furthermore, Assad has supported Hezbollah and Hamas in their activities against Israel. Together with Iran, he helped Hezbollah amass an arsenal of 40,000 rockets and missiles and helped turn Gaza under Hamas (whose external headquarters is in Damascus) into a second pro-Iranian base on the Mediterranean.

    Meanwhile, Israeli attitudes toward Assad have shifted over the course of his rule. It is important to note that in recent years the greatest support within Israel for a Syria-first deal has come from the defense establishment, which believes that a peace treaty with Syria could represent a crucial step in reducing Iran’s regional clout and reversing the darkening landscape in Lebanon. This view — a formula of territory for strategic realignment — represents a shift from past negotiations, which entailed territory for peace. The Syrians have proven unwilling to shift away from Hezbollah and Iran, making clear in conversation with U.S. and Western officials that while they may gradually reorient (provided they receive the expected benefits from Israel and the United States), they will not undertake a dramatic change in their allegiances.

    Israel’s political leadership has pursued the defense establishment’s zeal for a treaty with varying degrees of effort. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon focused on the Palestinian issue and refused to negotiate with Syria, which suited the George W. Bush administration. Ehud Olmert, who succeeded Sharon and maintained his predecessor’s close relationship with Bush, did negotiate with Assad through Turkey and helped Syria break the diplomatic siege laid by Washington in the wake of Syria’s meddling in Iraq and Lebanon. But Olmert had no qualms about destroying the North Korean-built nuclear reactor in September 2007 or about launching further covert operations within Syria. Negotiations through Turkey ultimately broke down in December 2008, when plans to hold a three-way meeting in Ankara collapsed and Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which Turkey severely criticized.

    Since then, little diplomatic traffic has occurred. Although U.S. President Barack Obama has called for engagement with Syria — recently sending an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since 2005 — he has focused on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also directed his efforts to the Palestinian front, showing little interest in providing Turkey with a fresh role in Arab-Israeli diplomacy through further mediation of an Israel-Syria treaty.

    Israel’s view of the crisis raging in Syria must be seen against this backdrop. Israeli leaders believe that Syria and the Iranian axis have been weakened by the domestic unrest plaguing Assad’s regime. But like others in the region, they wonder what the alternative to Assad might be. Although they are aware of pro-democracy and human rights groups active inside Syria and abroad, they naturally fear the power of the Muslim Brotherhood. With precious little ability to affect internal developments in Syria, Israel can only watch with apprehension as events unfold. Going forward, Israel may wish that it had as much power to influence Syria as Assad claims it does.


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      Omar N. (Mar. 20, 2009) • 2 years ago

      Rabinovitch’s article is mostly a rehash of the standard “tale” woven by the USA ,Israel and Western media about Syria which, though not totally inaccurate, is certainly neither totally accurate nor totally comprehensive of all the factors at play in Syria and on Syria’s policies.

      The jist of the article, as in the title, is relegated to second place behind rehashing the favorite USA/Israel “tale” .

      One major factor, though, is, not unexpectedly, missing: Arab general public opinion re the recent , and possibly ongoing, undeniablely serious upheavals in Syria.

      Though most of the reasons behind the upheaval in, say, Egypt are common to the Syrian situation, namely: despotism, corruption etc one major factor, subservience to USA will, is NOT.

      Despite many major reservations over Syria recent policies, mainly its political and military contribution to the USA led FIRST war on IRAQ and its lukewarm re the SECOND; despite that Syria was, still is perceived, as NOT totally docile to American will and policies.

      However the major factor behind the almost total general Arab public opinion opposition to efforts to unseat President Assad & Co are Syria’s public policies towards Israel.
      That is summed up in three, ultimately anti Israel, major factors:
      1-Its rearmament efforts which meet with general Syrian public support
      2-its substantial logistic aid and political support of Hizb Allah and political support of Hamas
      3-its alliance (? ), or rather rapprochement(?) to Iran the generally perceived as the only potent regional counter force to Israel .

      For many major Syrian factions, mainly Arabists and Sunni Islamist, those are sufficient reasons NOT to oppose President Assad & Co nor to partake in the efforts to end his regime .

      Those are serious political facts and factors woefully absent from the article which detract from its validity.

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      ray j. (Jan. 15, 2012) • 8 months ago


      Putin has been the fence Assad has been hiding behind , but now that Putin is cornered under the wieght of the world to stop the slaughter from crossing over the borders of Syria Putin is throwing Assad under the bus to save Russian foreign policy interest .

      Watch for an internal coup in the Assad ranks .

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      ray j. (Jan. 15, 2012) • 8 months ago


      Putin has been the fence Assad has been hiding behind , but now that Putin is cornered under the wieght of the world to stop the slaughter from crossing over the borders of Syria Putin is throwing Assad under the bus to save Russian foreign policy interest .

      Watch for an internal coup in the Assad ranks .

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    • HomeFeaturesSnapshots › The Structure of Syria’s Repression

      The Structure of Syria’s Repression

      Will the Army Break With the Regime?
      May 3, 2011

      For years, Bashar al-Assad’s regime subjected Syrians to a routine of good cop, bad cop. Maher al-Assad, President Bashar al-Assad’s brother and the head of the brutal Republican Guard, has played the bad cop. Although Maher was not seen much in public, he established a reputation for brutal repression. The good cop, ironically, was Bashar al-Assad himself. Educated in the West and an ophthalmologist by trade, he projected an image of benevolence, wearing blue jeans in public and, in a Vogue profile of his wife this past February, boasted of driving through Damascus without any security.

      That same Vogue article referenced the well-manicured fingernails of Assad’s wife, “lacquered a dark blue-green.” In mid-March, the focus shifted to the hands of 15 children in the southern Syrian city of Deraa whose nails were removed by torture. Their crime was scribbling the famous words of the Arab Spring — “The people want to bring down the regime” — on their school’s wall, an act that began the ongoing Syrian revolt against Assad.

      Now that Assad’s regime has killed hundreds of protesters since the students drew their graffiti, few Syrians harbor any illusions about the true nature of their president. Yet in standing against Assad’s security forces, the demonstrators face a secretive, complex, and ruthless apparatus.

      Syria has four security directorates: Military Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, State Security, and Political Security. The heads of Military Intelligence and Air Force Intelligence — Abdulfatah Qudsiah and Jamil Hasan, respectively — are both Alawites. Meanwhile, Ali Mamlouk, the head of State Security, and Deeb Zaitoun, head of Political Security, are both Sunni, likely appointed over Alawites to help the regime diffuse tensions with the general populace, who interact most often with the security chiefs. These four directorates operate under the umbrella of the National Security Council headed by General Hisham Ikhtiyar, who reports directly to Assad.

      I spent 40 harrowing days in a Syrian prison, subjected to ill-treatment and torture, solely for posting comments on the Internet critical of Assad’s regime.

      However structured they are in theory, the security agencies are dominated by the Assad family in practice. A lower-ranking officer with ties to the Assad family, for example, might possess greater authority and privileges than his superiors, simply due to family connections. According to a former assistant of Assad who now lives abroad and prefers to remain anonymous, the Assad family ignores the formal structures of the state and controls the country itself. In an example of this clan rule, the president’s first cousin, Hafez Makhlouf, works under Mamlouk, the head of State Security, yet enjoys far greater influence than Mamlouk himself. Makhlouf, along with Maher al-Assad; Assef Shawkat, Assad’s brother-in-law and the army’s deputy chief of staff; and Zu al Hima Chalich, another Assad cousin and the head of presidential security, comprise the inner circle of leadership. They are responsible for the current political turmoil in Syria.

      Many Syrians have, unfortunately, experienced first-hand the nepotism, corruption, and ruthlessness of the fear factories run by this inner circle. There is no coordination or communication among these divisions; many Syrian activists are released from one of the security agencies just to be arrested by another for the same alleged crime.

      Air Force Intelligence is known as one of the most brutal security directorates. In 2006, members of the unit arrested and tortured eight of my friends for forming a secular democratic group at Damascus University. They were later sentenced to serve time, some for five years and some for seven, at the military jail in Saydnaya. I myself spent 40 harrowing days in a Syrian prison, subjected to ill-treatment and torture, solely for posting comments on the Internet expressing support for my friends and criticizing Assad’s regime. Plainclothes Syrian security agents arrested me at an Internet café in Damascus, pushing me and a friend into a car trunk at gunpoint. I asked which security branch they belonged to, and they answered me by punching me in the face and accusing me of espionage. Once we were in prison, we could not call our families — who, we learned later, were searching for us in city morgues. After ten days in solitary confinement in a windowless room, I was taken, blindfolded and handcuffed, to an interrogation. I refused to speak, demanding to know who my captors were. When they took the cover off my eyes, I glimpsed a large poster of Bashar al-Assad. I said, “I now know where I am.” The interrogator responded by brutally beating me and telling me, “You are Christian. Why are you opposing us? Go to your Vatican and do whatever you want!” I was released after signing a paper that promised I would not to be involved in antiregime activities.

      Air Force Intelligence is hardly alone in its fearsomeness. A division of the military intelligence called the Palestine Branch is known as a harsh enforcer against political dissidents, using the banner of the Arab-Israeli conflict to justify its actions. During the current round of protests, however, Military Security has played the most prominent role, firing on crowds of protesters and killing the largest number of civilians. The Republican Guard and the Fourth Division, both run by Maher al-Assad, have also taken a lead in quashing the demonstrations. In the coastal cities, a militia called Shabiha, headed by Assad’s first cousins, Fawaz al-Assad and Munzer al-Assad, are armed with heavy weapons and partaking in the violence. Known for weapons and drugs smuggling, robbery, and prostitution, Shabiba joined the Fourth Division and attacked civilians in the cities of Banias, Jableh, and Latakia. According to Razan Zaitouneh, a lawyer and human rights activist based in Syria, the civilian death toll is currently close to 600; videos of soldiers declaring their refusal to fire on peaceful protesters have appeared on YouTube, claiming that fellow dissident soldiers have been shot and killed. Thousands have been injured and arrested.

      Yet despite the violence perpetrated by the regime, the number of protesters in Syria is increasing by the day. This mass uprising presents an unprecedented challenge for Syria’s security apparatus. Over the last 30 years, it has grappled with various minority groups of dissidents that posed far smaller and more localized challenges than the current demonstrations. In a country where, only months ago, people were afraid even to joke about the president, protesters are now tearing down public likenesses of Assad and his father, Hafez, chanting slogans against the Assad family. Social media has played a crucial role in transferring footage of the protests and crackdown to television and the Internet, helping enormously to break the invisible barrier of fear in Syria.

      Syrian officials have echoed other Arab regimes under duress in claiming that Syria’s protesters are overwhelmingly Islamist. Although the majority of the protests did start in mosques, this is solely because mosques are the only places where people can gather without arousing suspicion. In the city of Deraa, both Christians and Muslims have participated in demonstrations. On March 23, the main church there was opened to receive the injured after security forces stormed the main mosque and surrounded the hospital.

      Minority groups have also joined in the protests en masse. The city of Salmiya, populated by a large percentage of people who follow the Ismaili faith, has witnessed broad-based demonstrations. Many Druze in the city of As-Suwayda have staged mass protests, and even secular Alawite figures are aligning themselves with the protesters, including Aref Dalila, a professor and former dean of the economics faculty at Damascus University.

      The diversity of the protesters should be a source of encouragement for many elements in the regime — especially those in the army — to side with the people. The Syrian military is largely composed of citizens fulfilling their obligatory service requirement. Several incidents have occurred in which soldiers have refused orders to open fire on unarmed protesters in Banias, Deraa, and Harasta, a city near Damascus. In fact, contrary to the popular belief that the Syrian army is staunchly loyal to Assad — unlike the Egyptian or Tunisian armies during their countries’ respective crises — it may be the regime element most likely to join the uprising. Although many high-ranking military officers are Alawite, the majority of their divisions are not. Should the soldiers in those divisions begin to mutiny, they could compel their commanders to rebel against Assad. The Alawite army leaders may also fear a backlash and revenge attacks against Alawite sects due to Assad’s policies.

      In other words, the fact that the Alawites occupy many top positions in the army could actually undermine the regime. And the people respect the army in Syria; the Syrian national anthem, for instance, which has been sung at the protests, highly praises the military. The army was not involved in Assad’s daily oppression (except for the aforementioned Republican Guard and the Fourth Division).

      Yet although the opportunity exists for the protesters to co-opt the army, it will not be easy to bring it into direct conflict with Assad. To convince the army to switch sides, the dissidents require international assistance. This should include imposing severe sanctions on targeted elements of Assad’s regime and attempts to communicate with positive elements in Assad’s leadership, such as Defense Minister Ali Habib, the officer who participated in the Gulf War as part of the international coalition to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. By helping to widen the cleavages between the army and Maher al-Assad’s Fourth Division and Republican Guard, the international community can greatly assist the dissidents’ cause.

      Three scenarios remain for Syria. Assad may choose genuine reform, abolishing oppressive measures and amending the constitution. But it may be too late for any reform effort to win over Syrians, who are now risking death to call for Assad’s downfall. As a result, Assad may continue his current policy of repression, arresting and killing civilians to crack down on the opposition. Should this situation persist, the country might descend into civil war. Yet should the greater part of the army defect, the Fourth Division and the Republican Guard will be unable to defend the regime alone. The Assad family may then surrender, giving way to the wishes of the Syrian people.

      HomeFeaturesEssays › The Evolution of Irregular War

      The Evolution of Irregular War

      Insurgents and Guerrillas From Akkadia to Afghanistan
      January 5, 2013

      Holding down the fort: in Chilas, British India, 1898. (Getty Images / Hulton Archive).

      Pundits and the press too often treat terrorism and guerrilla tactics as something new, a departure from old-fashioned ways of war. But nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout most of our species’ long and bloody slog, warfare has primarily been carried out by bands of loosely organized, ill-disciplined, and lightly armed volunteers who disdained open battle in favor of stealthy raids and ambushes: the strategies of both tribal warriors and modern guerrillas and terrorists. In fact, conventional warfare is the relatively recent invention. It was first made possible after 10,000 BC by the development of agricultural societies, which produced enough surplus wealth and population to allow for the creation of specially designed fortifications and weapons (and the professionals to operate them). The first genuine armies — commanded by a strict hierarchy, composed of trained soldiers, disciplined with threats of punishment — arose after 3100 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. But the process of state formation and, with it, army formation took considerably longer in most of the world. In some places, states emerged only in the past century, and their ability to carry out such basic functions as maintaining an army remains tenuous at best. Considering how long humans have been roaming the earth, the era of what we now think of as conventional conflict represents the mere blink of an eye.

      Nonetheless, since at least the days of the Greeks and the Romans, observers have belittled irregular warfare. Western soldiers and scholars have tended to view it as unmanly, even barbaric. It’s not hard to see why: guerillas, in the words of the British historian John Keegan, are “cruel to the weak and cowardly in the face of the brave” — precisely the opposite of what professional soldiers are taught to be. Many scholars have even claimed that guerrilla raids are not true warfare.

      This view comes to seem a bit ironic when one considers the fact that throughout history, irregular warfare has been consistently deadlier than its conventional cousin — not in total numbers killed, since tribal societies are tiny compared with urban civilizations, but in the percentage killed. The average tribal society loses 0.5 percent of its population in combat every year. In the United States, that would translate into 1.5 million deaths, or 500 September 11 attacks a year. Archaeological evidence confirms that such losses are not a modern anomaly.

      By manufacturing and distributing countless weapons, the Europeans ensured that their twentieth-century opponents were far better armed than their predecessors had been.

      The origins of guerilla warfare are lost in the swamps of prehistory, but the kinds of foes that guerrillas have faced have changed over the centuries. Before about 3000 BC, tribal guerrillas fought exclusively against other tribal guerrillas. Although that type of fighting continued after 3000 BC, it was supplemented and sometimes supplanted by warfare pitting tribes and rebels against newly formed states. These conflicts were, in a sense, the world’s first insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. Every great empire of antiquity, starting with the first on record, the Akkadian empire, in ancient Mesopotamia, was deviled by nomadic guerrillas, although the term “guerrilla” would not be coined for millennia to come. (“Guerrilla,” literally meaning “small war,” dates to the Spanish resistance against Napoleon, from 1808 to 1814.)

      In modern times, the same old guerrilla tactics have been married to ideological agendas, something that was utterly lacking among the apolitical (and illiterate) tribal warriors of old. Of course, the precise nature of the ideological agendas being fought for has changed over the years, from liberalism and nationalism (the cri de coeur of guerrilla fighters from the late eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century), to socialism and nationalism (which inspired guerrillas between the late nineteenth century and the late twentieth century), to jihadist extremism today. All the while, guerrilla and terrorist warfare have remained as ubiquitous and deadly as ever.


      The success of various raiders in attacking and conquering states from ancient Rome to medieval China gave rise to what one historian has called “the nomad paradox.” “In the history of warfare, it has generally been the case that military superiority lies with the wealthiest states and those with the most developed administrations,” the historian Hugh Kennedy wrote in Mongols, Huns, and Vikings. Yet going back to the days of Mesopotamia, nomads often managed to bring down far richer and more advanced empires. Kennedy explains this seeming contradiction by citing all the military advantages nomads enjoyed: they were more mobile, every adult male was a warrior, and their leaders were selected primarily for their war-making prowess. By contrast, he notes, settled societies appointed commanders based on political considerations and drafted as soldiers farmers with scant martial skills.

      Nomads’ military advantages seem to have persisted among guerrillas in the modern world; even in the last two centuries, during which states became far more powerful than in the ancient or the medieval period, guerrillas often managed to humble them. Think of the tribes of Afghanistan, which frustrated the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Kennedy’s “nomad paradox” is really a guerrilla paradox, and it asks how and why the weak seem to so frequently defeat the strong. The answer lies largely in the use of hit-and-run tactics, taking advantage of mobility and surprise to make it difficult for the stronger state to bring its full weight to bear.

      Guerrillas often present a further paradox: even the most successful raiders have been prone to switch to conventional tactics once they achieve great military success. The Mongols eventually turned into a semiregular army under Genghis Khan, and the Arabs underwent a similar transformation. They fought in traditional Bedouin style while spreading Islam across the Middle East in the century after Muhammad’s death, in 632. But their conquests led to the creation of the Umayyad and Abbassid caliphates, two of the greatest states of the medieval world, which were defended by conventional forces. The Turkish empire, too, arose out of the raiding culture of the steppes but built a formidable conventional army, complete with highly disciplined slave-soldiers, the janissaries. The new Ottoman army conquered Constantinople in a famous siege in 1453 and, within less than a century, advanced to the gates of Vienna.

      Why did nomads so adept at guerrilla tactics resort to conventional warfare? For one thing, their targets became bigger, requiring a shift in tactics. Mounted archers could not have taken Constantinople; that feat required the mechanics of a proper military, including a battery of 69 cannons, two of which were 27 feet long and fired stone balls that weighed more than half a ton. Nor were fast-moving tribal fighters of much use in defending, administering, and policing newly conquered states. Those tasks, too, required a professional standing army. A further factor dictated the transformation of nomads into regulars: the style of fighting practiced by mounted archers was so difficult and demanding that it required constant practice from childhood on for an archer to maintain proficiency. Once nomads began living among more sedentary people, they “easily lost their superior individual talents and unit cohesion,” write the historians Mesut Uyar and Edward Erickson in A Military History of the Ottomans. This was a tradeoff that most of them were happy to make. A settled life was much easier — and safer.

      The nomads’ achievements, although great, were mostly fleeting: with the exception of the Arabs, the Turks, the Moguls, and the Manchu, who blended into settled societies, nomads could not build lasting institutions. Nomadic empires generally crumbled after a generation or two. Former nomads who settled down found themselves, somewhat ironically, beset by fresh waves of nomads and other guerrillas. Such was the fate of the Manchu, who, as the rulers of China, fought off the Dzungar (or western Mongols) in the eighteenth century and tried to fight off the Taiping rebels in the deadliest war of the nineteenth century. The Taipings, in turn, tried to develop more powerful armies of their own, blurring the distinction between regular and irregular conflict. Since then, many civil wars, including the one the United States fought between 1861 and 1865, have featured both kinds of combat.


      The dividing line between regular and irregular warfare grew more distinct with the spread of standing national armies after the Thirty Years’ War. That process, which went hand in hand with the growth of nation-states, came to a head in the second half of the seventeenth century. The period saw the proliferation of barracks to house soldiers, drillmasters to train them, professional officers to lead them, logistical services to supply them, factories to clothe and equip them, and hospitals and retirement homes to take care of them.

      By the eighteenth century, Western warfare had reached stylized heights seldom seen before or since, with monarchical armies fighting in roughly similar styles and abiding by roughly similar rules of conduct. No change was more important than the adoption of standardized uniforms, which meant that the difference between soldiers and civilians could be glimpsed in an instant. Fighters who insisted on making war without uniforms therefore became more easily distinguished. They were subject to prosecution as bandits rather than treated as soldiers entitled to the protections of the emerging laws of war.

      But irregulars soon returned to prominence, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), a conflict pitting Austria, Great Britain, Hanover, Hesse, and the Netherlands against Bavaria, France, Prussia, Saxony, and Spain. Austria lost the war’s early battles, allowing foreign troops to occupy a substantial portion of its territory. But Austria managed a comeback thanks to so-called wild men it mustered from the fringes of its empire: hussars from Hungary, pandours from Croatia, and other Christians from the Balkans who had been fighting the Turks for centuries.

      Frederick the Great and other generals at first denounced the raiders as “savages.” But as soon as they saw the irregulars’ effectiveness, they copied the Austrian example. By the 1770s, light troops (skirmishers lacking heavy weapons and armor who did not stand in the main battle line) made up 20 percent of most European armies. In North America, the British army came increasingly to rely on a variety of light infantry. Precursors to today’s special forces — troops trained in guerrilla tactics who are nonetheless still more disciplined than stateless fighters — these “rangers” were raised for “wood service,” or irregular combat, against French colonial troops and their native allies.

      One of the cherished myths of American history is that plucky Yankees won independence from Great Britain by picking off befuddled redcoats too dense to deviate from ritualistic parade-ground warfare. That is an exaggeration. By the time the Revolution broke out, in 1775, the British were well versed in irregular warfare and were countering it in Europe, the Caribbean, and North America. Redcoats certainly knew enough to break ranks and seek cover in battle when possible, rather than, in the words of one historian, “remaining inert and vulnerable to enemy fire.” The British army had a different problem: much like the modern U.S. Army pre-Iraq, it had forgotten most of the lessons of irregular war learned a generation before. And the American rebels used a more sophisticated form of irregular warfare than the French backwoodsmen and Native American warriors whom the redcoats had gotten used to fighting. The spread of literacy and printed books allowed the American insurgents to appeal for popular support, thereby elevating the role of propaganda and psychological warfare. It is appropriate that the term “public opinion” first appeared in print in 1776, for the American rebels won independence in large part by appealing to the British electorate with documents such as Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence. In fact, the outcome of the Revolution was really decided in 1782, when the British House of Commons voted by a narrow margin to discontinue offensive operations. The British could have kept fighting after that date; they could have raised fresh armies even after the defeat at Yorktown in 1781. But not after they had lost the support of parliament.

      Most of the revolutionaries who followed were more extreme in their methods and beliefs than the American rebels, but, whether left or right, many of them copied the Americans’ skillful manipulation of public opinion. The Greeks in the 1820s, the Cubans in the 1890s, and the Algerians in the 1950s all enjoyed notable success mobilizing foreign opinion to help win their independence. In Greece and Cuba, the anti-imperialists won by highlighting the colonies’ suffering to spur what would today be called humanitarian interventions by Western powers.

      Liberal insurgents scored their most impressive victories in the New World. With a few exceptions, by 1825, the European colonial powers had been defeated in the Americas. European revolts at home, such as that of the Chartists in the United Kingdom and that of the Decembrists in Russia, were less successful. Still, by the turn of the twentieth century, most of Europe and North America was moving in a more liberal direction — even those absolute monarchies, such as Austria, Germany, and Russia, that remained as such were making greater efforts to appease and direct popular sentiment.


      At the same time, Western states were extending their rule across much of the rest of the world in a decidedly illiberal fashion. The process of colonization and resistance would do much to shape the modern world and would give rise to the most influential counterinsurgency doctrine of all time: the “oil spot” theory, coined by the French marshal Hubert Lyautey, who in fin-de-siècle Indochina, Madagascar, and Morocco anticipated the “population-centric” doctrine that U.S. forces implemented in Afghanistan and Iraq in the twenty-first century. It involved slowly extending army posts and settlements, like a spreading oil spot, until indigenous resistance was crushed, while also trying to address locals’ political and economic concerns.

      The people of Asia and Africa resisted the colonists’ advance as best they could. Sometimes, they were able to force serious setbacks; a famous example was the 1842 British retreat from Kabul. But these were only temporary reversals in the inexorable westernization of the world. By 1914, Europeans and their offspring controlled 84 percent of the world’s landmass, up from 35 percent in 1800.

      That non-Europeans did not have more success in preserving their independence was due in large measure to Europe’s growing advantages in military technology and technique. But it also owed something to the fact that most non-Europeans did not adopt strategies that made the best use of their limited resources. Instead of attempting to engage in guerrilla warfare — which, even if unsuccessful, might have staved off ultimate defeat for years, if not decades, and inflicted considerable costs on the invaders — most non-Europeans fought precisely as the Europeans wanted them to, that is to say, in conventional fashion.

      Westerners thought that most of the areas they conquered were “primitive” and “backward,” but in a sense, they were too advanced for their own good. By the time Europeans marched into Asia and Africa, much of those continents had fallen under the sway of native regimes with standing armies, such as the Zulu empire in southern Africa and the Maratha empire in India. Their rulers naturally looked to those standing armies for protection, typically eschewing the sort of tribal tactics (a primitive form of guerrilla warfare) practiced by their ancestors. In most cases, the decisions quickly backfired. When native rulers did try to correct course, their impulse was usually to make their armies even more conventional by hiring European advisers and buying European arms. The reproductions were seldom as good as the originals, however, and their inferiority was brutally exposed in battle.

      Why did so few indigenous regimes resort to guerrilla tactics? In part, because non-Westerners had little idea of the combat power of Western armies until it was too late. Too many indigenous empire builders in the developing world imagined that the tactics they had used to conquer local tribes would work against the white invaders as well. Even if those rulers had wanted to ignite insurgencies, moreover, the ideological fuel was generally lacking, save in Algeria, Chechnya and Dagestan, and a few other areas where Muslim rebels waged prolonged wars of resistance against European colonists. Often, the subjects of these regimes resented the indigenous rulers as much as, if not more than, the European invaders. Nationalism, a relatively recent invention, had not yet spread to those lands.

      European soldiers in “small wars” were helped by the fact that most of the fighting occurred on the periphery of their empires in Asia and Africa against enemies that were considered “uncivilized” and therefore, under the European code of conduct, could be fought with unrestrained ferocity. As late as the 1930s, the British officer and novelist John Masters wrote that on the northwest frontier of India (today’s Pakistan), Pashtun warriors “would usually castrate and behead” captives, whereas the British “took few prisoners at any time, and very few indeed if there was no Political Agent about” — they simply killed those they captured. The very success of the imperial armies meant that future battles would take place within imperial boundaries, however, and that they would be, as the historian Thomas Mockaitis wrote in British Counterinsurgency, “considered civil unrest rather than war.” Accordingly, imperial troops in the future would find their actions circumscribed by law and public opinion in ways that they had not been in the nineteenth century.

      The civil unrest of the twentieth century was harder to deal with for other reasons as well. By setting up schools and newspapers that promulgated Western ideas such as nationalism and Marxism, Western administrators eventually spurred widespread resistance to their own rule. And by manufacturing and distributing countless weapons, from TNT to the AK-47, all over the world, the Europeans ensured that their twentieth-century opponents were far better armed than their predecessors had been.


      To understand why decolonization swept the world in the late 1940s and why anti-Western guerrillas and terrorists fared so well during that period, it is vital to underscore how weak the two biggest colonial powers were by then. Even if France and the United Kingdom had been determined to hold on to all their overseas possessions after 1945, they would have been hard-pressed to do so. Both were essentially bankrupt and could not comfortably fight a prolonged counterinsurgency — especially not in the face of hostility from the rising superpowers. The Soviets, and later the Chinese, were always ready to provide arms, training, and financing to national liberation movements of a Marxist bent.

      Most of the decolonization process was relatively peaceful. Where the British did face determined opposition, as in India and Palestine, it did not take much to persuade them to leave. London generally only fought to hold on to a few bases, such as Cyprus and Aden, that it deemed to be of strategic significance or, as in Malaya and Kenya, to prevent a takeover by Communists or other extremists. When the British did choose to fight, they did so skillfully and successfully; their counterinsurgency record is better than that of the French during the same period, and some of their campaigns, notably that in Malaya, are still studied by military strategists.

      The incidence of guerrilla warfare and terrorism did not decline with the demise of the European empires. On the contrary, the years between 1959 and 1979 — from Fidel Castro’s takeover in Cuba to the Sandinistas’ takeover in Nicaragua — were, if anything, the golden age of leftist insurgency. There remained a few colonial wars and a larger number of essentially ethnic wars (in Congo, East Timor, and Nigeria’s Biafra region) fought to determine the nature of postcolonial states, but the primary driver was socialist ideology. Radicals who styled themselves as the next Mao, Ho, Fidel, or Che took up Kalashnikovs to wage rural guerrilla warfare and urban terrorism. Never before or since has the glamour and prestige of irregular warriors been higher, as seen in the ubiquity of the artist Alberto Korda’s famous photograph of Che Guevara, which still adorns T-shirts and posters. The success of revolutionaries abroad resounded among the Western radicals of the 1960s, who were discontented with their own societies and imagined that they, too, could overthrow the establishment. Tom Wolfe captured the moment in his famous 1970 essay “Radical Chic,” which described in excruciating detail a party thrown by the composer Leonard Bernstein in his swank New York apartment for a group of Black Panthers, one of myriad terrorist groups of a period whose fame far exceeded its ability to achieve its goals.

      Some governments had considerable success in suppressing insurgent movements. The 1960s saw the publication of influential manuals such as Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, by the French officer (and Algeria veteran) David Galula, and Defeating Communist Insurgency, by the British official Sir Robert Thompson, a suave veteran of Malaya and Vietnam. Galula, Thompson, and other experts reached a remarkable degree of agreement that insurgencies could not be fought like conventional wars. The fundamental principle that set counterinsurgency apart was the use of “the minimum of fire.” Meanwhile, a “soldier must be prepared to become a propagandist, a social worker, a civil engineer, a schoolteacher, a nurse, a boy scout,” Galula wrote.

      It was one thing to generate such hard-won lessons. Altogether more difficult was to get them accepted by military officers whose ideal remained the armored blitzkrieg and who had nothing but contempt for lightly armed ragtag fighters. Western militaries marched into the next few decades still focused on fighting a mirror-image foe. When the United States had to confront a guerrilla threat in Vietnam, William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. operations there, formulated an overwhelmingly conventional response that expended lots of firepower and destroyed lives on both sides but did not produce victory.

      LEFT OUT

      Like everyone else, guerrillas and terrorists are subject to popular moods and intellectual fads. By the 1980s, as memories of colonialism faded, as the excesses of postcolonial rulers became more apparent, and as the desirability of capitalism was revived under U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, leftist movements went into eclipse and the guerrilla mystique faded. Few but the most purblind ideologues could imagine that the future was being born in impoverished and oppressed Cambodia or Cuba. The end of the old regime in Moscow and the gradual opening in Beijing had a more direct impact on insurgent groups, too, by cutting off valuable sources of subsidies, arms, and training. The Marxist terrorist groups of the 1970s, such as the Italian Red Brigades and the German Baader-Meinhof Gang, were never able to generate significant support bases of their own and languished along with their foreign backers. Nationalist movements, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Irish Republican Army, fared better, although they were also hobbled by a decline in outside support.

      Although leftist insurgencies were on the wane, however, guerrilla warfare and terrorism hardly disappeared. They simply assumed different forms as new militants motivated by the oldest grievances of all — race and religion — shot their way into the headlines. The transition from politically motivated to religiously motivated insurgencies was the product of decades, even centuries, of development. It could be traced back to, among other things, the writings of the Egyptian agitator Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s and 1960s; the activities of Hasan al-Banna, who founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in 1928; and the proselytizing of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who in the eighteenth century created the puritanical movement that would one day become the official theology of Saudi Arabia. But the epochal consequences of these religious leaders’ ideas did not seize the world’s attention until the fateful fall of 1979, when protesters occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The embassy takeover had been organized by radical university students, including the future Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wanted to strike a blow at “the Great Satan” and domestic secularists. It was followed by the militant takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest shrine in Islam, and the burning of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. And then, on December 24, 1979, the Soviets marched into Afghanistan, thus inspiring the mobilization of a formidable force of holy guerrillas: the mujahideen.

      The threat from Islamist extremists, which had been building sub rosa for decades, burst into bloody view on September 11, 2001, when al Qaeda staged the deadliest terrorist attack of all time. Previous terrorist organizations, from the PLO to various anarchist groups, had limited the scale of their violence. As the terrorism analyst Brian Jenkins wrote in the 1970s, “Terrorism is theater. . . . Terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead.” Al Qaeda and its ilk rewrote that playbook in the United States and Iraq.

      To defend itself, the United States and its allies erected a variety of defenses. Mostly, this involved improved security, police work, and intelligence gathering. Militaries played an important role, too, although seldom as central as in Afghanistan and Iraq — countries whose governments were toppled by American invasions. In states with functioning or semi-functioning governments, such as the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. role was limited to providing training, weapons, intelligence, and other assistance to help those governments fight the extremists.

      Beyond the West’s efforts against al Qaeda, popular protests in the Middle East have dealt terrorist organizations another blow. The Arab Spring has proved to be far more potent an instrument of change than suicide bombings. Even before the death of Osama bin Laden, in 2011, the Pew Global Attitudes Project had recorded a sharp drop in those expressing “confidence” in him: between 2003 and 2010, the figure fell from 46 percent to 18 percent in Pakistan, from 59 percent to 25 percent in Indonesia, and from 56 percent to 14 percent in Jordan.

      Even a small minority is enough to sustain a terrorist group, however, and al Qaeda has shown an impressive capacity to regenerate itself. Its affiliates still operate from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, other Islamist groups continue to show considerable strength in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah holds sway in Lebanon, al Shabab bids for power in Somalia, Boko Haram advances in Nigeria, and two newer groups, Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, have taken control of northern Mali. Notwithstanding bin Laden’s death and other setbacks to al Qaeda central, the war against Islamist terrorism is far from won. The 9/11 attacks serve as a reminder that seeming security against an invisible army can turn to vulnerability with shocking suddenness and that, unlike the more geographically restricted insurgents of the past, international terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda, can strike almost anywhere.


      The long history of low-intensity conflict reveals not only how ubiquitous guerrilla warfare has been but also how often its importance has been ignored, thus setting the stage for future humiliations at the hands of determined irregulars. The U.S. Army has a particularly dismaying record of failing to adapt to “small wars,” despite its considerable experience fighting Native Americans, Philippine insurrectos, the Vietcong, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and numerous other irregulars. To avoid similar calamities in the future, today’s soldiers and policymakers need to accurately appraise the strengths and weaknesses of insurgents.

      It is important neither to underestimate nor to overestimate the potency of guerrilla warfare. Before 1945, since irregulars refused to engage in face-to-face battle, they were routinely underestimated. After 1945, however, popular sentiment swung too far in the other direction, enshrining guerrillas as superhuman figures. The truth lies somewhere in between: insurgents have honed their craft since 1945, but they still lose most of the time. Their growing success is due to the spread of communications technology and the increasing influence of public opinion. Both factors have sapped the will of states to engage in protracted counterinsurgencies, especially outside their own territories, and have heightened the ability of insurgents to survive even after suffering military setbacks.

      In the fight against insurgents, conventional tactics don’t work. To defeat them, soldiers must focus not on chasing guerrillas but on securing the local population. Still, effective population-centric counterinsurgency is not as touchy-feely as commonly supposed. It involves much more than winning “hearts and minds” — a phrase invented by Sir Henry Clinton, a British general during the American Revolution, and popularized by Sir Gerald Templer, a general during the Malayan Emergency, in the late 1940s and 1950s. The only way to gain control is to garrison troops 24 hours a day, seven days a week, among the civilians; periodic “sweep” or “cordon and search” operations fail, even when conducted by counterinsurgents as cruel as the Nazis, because civilians know that the rebels will return the moment the soldiers leave.

      Although control can be imposed at gunpoint, it can be maintained only if the security forces have some degree of popular legitimacy. In years past, it was not hard for foreign empires to gain the necessary legitimacy. But now, with nationalist sentiment having spread to every corner of the world, foreign counterinsurgents, such as the United States, face a tricky task, trying to buttress homegrown regimes that can win the support of their people and yet will still cooperate with the United States.

      What makes counterinsurgency all the more difficult is that there are few quick victories in this type of conflict. Since 1775, the average insurgency has lasted seven years (and since 1945, it has lasted almost ten years). Attempts by either insurgents or counterinsurgents to short-circuit the process usually backfire. The United States tried to do just that in the early years of both the Vietnam War and the Iraq war by using its conventional might to hunt down guerrillas in a push for what John Paul Vann, a famous U.S. military adviser in Vietnam, rightly decried as “fast, superficial results.” It was only when the United States gave up hopes of a quick victory, ironically, that it started to get results, by implementing the tried-and-true tenets of population-centric counterinsurgency. In Vietnam, it was already too late, but in Iraq, the patient provision of security came just in time to avert an all-out civil war.

      The experiences of the United States in Iraq in 2007-8, Israel in the West Bank during the second intifada, the British in Northern Ireland, and Colombia in its ongoing fight against the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) show that it is possible for democratic governments to fight insurgents effectively if they pay attention to what the U.S. military calls “information operations” (also known as “propaganda” and “public relations”) and implement some version of a population-centric strategy. But these struggles also show that one should never enter into counterinsurgency lightly. Such wars are best avoided if possible. Even so, it is doubtful that the United States will be able to avoid them in the future any more than it has in the past. Given the United States’ demonstrations of its mastery of conventional combat in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, few adversaries in the future will be foolish enough to put tank armies in the desert against an American force. Future foes are unlikely, in other words, to repeat the mistake of nineteenth-century Asians and Africans who fought European invaders in the preferred Western style. Guerrilla tactics, on the other hand, are proven effective, even against superpowers.

      In the future, irregulars might become deadlier still if they can get their hands on a weapon of mass destruction, especially a nuclear bomb. If that were to happen, a small terrorist cell the size of a platoon might gain more killing capacity than the entire army of a nonnuclear state. That is a sobering thought. It suggests that in the future, low-intensity conflict could pose even greater problems for the world’s leading powers than it has in the past — and those problems were already vexing enough.


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      • Steve Rodriguez2 days ago

        The US defeated the Indian and Phillipino insurgents. And guerrillas who utilize a nuclear weapon will do so only in ensuring the destruction of some nation state affiliated, or believed to be affiliated, with hosting them. In other words, US popular opinion would require an all-out response, and while concern for human rights and women and children matter today in US public opinion, they would not if a city is destroyed. Therefore, a nuclear guerrilla attack would result in the extermination of a nation state by the US in response. That makes such an attack, even by crazed ideologues, unlikely.

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      • DAVID MYERSa day ago

        In Wired Magazine in 2003, Douglas McGrey asked Andrew Marshall, Director of the Office of Net Assessment, “whether technology ultimately make us more or less

        In the article, Marshall responded: “A friend of mine, Yale economist Martin
        Shubik, says an important way to think about the world is to draw a curve of
        the number of people 10 determined men can kill before they are put down
        themselves, and how that has varied over time. His claim is that it wasn’t very
        many for a long time, and now it’s going up. In that sense, it’s not just the
        US. All the world is getting less safe.”–“The Marshall Plan” Wired Magazine,
        Feb, 2003 (… ). This interview
        was provided long after 9-11, but predated and was validated by the Mumbai Christmas Attacks of 2008 in which a handful of determined gunmen killed 166 civilians.

        A key point lost in the present public discussion over targeted drone strikes
        of U.S. combatant civiliants is that irregulars do not follow the Geneva
        Conventions, any more than street fighters follow the Marquis of Queensbury
        rules. By reciprocity, those fighting counterinsurgency should not expect to be
        treated by the Geneva convention, either. The overuse of force, as has been
        well documented in the French response in Algeria, can be counterproductive, as
        can the underuse of force.

        Regarding nuclear terrorism, one must realize that the Non-Proliferation Treaty
        never considered non-state actors. Verification is the basis for international law
        and is is based on the quality of a nation’s intelligence. Analogous to their
        non-concern for the Geneva Convention, terrorist also do not obey the
        Non-Proliferation Treaty. What is needed is an emphasis on nuclear forensics and human intelligence(spies), which are needed to understand capabilities, causes (God forbid!), and intentions. Unfortunately, just as the 9-11 attacks pushed U.S. society toward a more totalitarian approach to civil security in air travel, concern for public safety will push concern for public security will mandate technological advances toward more invasive monitoring of all citizens. Such has been the stuff of science fiction novels and once again, fiction precedes reality. As the article suggests, the quality of life for
        non-combatants has never been a concern for ideologically motivated insurgents,
        and no present evidence suggests a divergence from this trend. So much for Marshall McCluhan’s Global Village.

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        • technopolitics DAVID MYERSa day ago

          It’s not so straightforward – should States fighting irregular forces undaunted by the Geneva Conventions therefore operate with impunity? Are there no laws of war when fighting a guerrilla movement?

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          • DAVID MYERS technopolitics8 hours ago

            It should be obvious that there are no agreed-upon laws of war when fighting a guerilla movement. All conventions are thus the sole responsibility of those fighting guerilla or terrorist wars–on both sides. They may be based on ideology, morals, efficiency, or whatever considerations seem important at the time.

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      • Amit Kumar2 days ago

        You have missed out the success of Maoist guerrillas in Nepal in recent times……

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      • Mihai-Robert Soran2 days ago

        Irregulars, insurgents, guerrillas, terrorists, tribal warriors, rebels, and some more words spread all over the article, undefined, undifferentiated, and with major historic holes that do not provide significant support for a meaningful understanding of asymmetric wars (irregular, but symmetric wars make little sense in the context set by the author).
        I understand that this article is rather a marketing tool for promoting the author’s “Invisible Armies”, but it doesn’t really accomplishes its aim.
        I hope the book is much better, but I won’t know it if Mr. Boot doesn’t give me a review exemplary. I can’t afford to buy all books I’d love to …

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      • Tim15 hours ago

        You can’t support giving Obama and the feds the power to use drones to kill any US citizen they want and call yourself a conservative in any serious manner.

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      • Sean Ellisona day ago

        I think the writer falls prey to a statistical fallacy when he says

        ” The average tribal society loses 0.5 percent of its population in combat every year. In the United States, that would translate into 1.5 million deaths, or 500 September 11 attacks a year.”

        Consider this, if each tribe was made up of only two people, and they fought to the death, then the number would be 100%. Or if each tribe was made up of two, and one died, 50%, and so on. It seems pretty obvious that battles fought among small groups would have a higher casualty rate than large battles/wars among large ones. Small samples amplify extreme results.

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      • IHJNGa day ago

        Basically went through everything except mentioning The Irgun and the Stern gang. They certainly set the stage for terrorism in Israel and Palestine.

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        • فارسی
        Friday Feb 08, 201306:07 AM GMT
        Iranian pres
        No truth to reports of Israel targeting convoy, Syrian envoy says

        Bashar al-Ja’afari, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations

        Bashar al-Ja’afari, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations
        Fri Feb 8, 2013 6:6AM GMT

        “Syria emphasizes that there is no truth to the media reports asserting that the Israeli aircraft had targeted a convoy that was heading from Syria to Lebanon.”

        Bashar al-Ja’afari, the Syrian ambassador to the UN

        Related Interviews:
        Related Viewpoints:
        The Syrian ambassador to the UN says there is ‘no truth’ to the reports that the recent Israeli attack on a research center near Damascus targeted a convoy heading to Lebanon.

        “Syria emphasizes that there is no truth to the media reports asserting that the Israeli aircraft had targeted a convoy that was heading from Syria to Lebanon,” Bashar al-Ja’afari stated in letters to the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and the UN secretary general. The letters were circulated on Thursday.

        According to the Syrian army, two people were killed and five others injured in the airstrike that was carried out on January 30.

        Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah strongly condemned the attack and said it was “barbaric aggression.”

        The Syrian envoy added that the Israeli aircraft flew at a low attitude to avoid the radar and bombed the research center in Jamraya, near the capital.

        “The attack caused destruction and substantial material damage not only to the center, but also to the adjacent technical development center and a parking garage,” Ja’afari said.

        He added that the Israeli attack followed several failed attempts by militant groups in Syria to take control of the research center.

        The airstrike “occurred after Israel, in cooperation with states hostile to the Syrian people, had ordered its lackeys inside the country to strike selected vital Syrian military sites,” the Syrian ambassador stated.

        The Syrian Foreign Ministry has urged the Security Council to issue a “clear condemnation of the flagrant Israeli attack on the territories of a sovereign state and the Israeli violation of the UN Charter, the international law, the Disengagement of Forces Agreement in 1974 and the relevant UNSC resolutions.”

        Russia has also reacted to the Israeli attack, saying if the information on the airstrike was confirmed, “Then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes against targets located on the territory of a sovereign state, which brazenly infringes on the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motive used for its justification.”


        NAM condemns Israeli airstrike on research center in Syria

        The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) strongly condemns Israel’s recent airstrike on a research center in Syria.

        The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) strongly condemns Israel’s recent airstrike on a research center in Syria.
        Wed Feb 6, 2013 7:30AM GMT
        The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has strongly condemned Israel’s recent airstrike on a research center in Syria.

        In a statement, the NAM Coordinating Bureau in New York said the Israeli attack was a flagrant infringement of the United Nations Charter and principles as well as the Disengagement of Forces Agreement in 1974.

        The Tel Aviv regime must be held accountable for the aggression and its consequences, the statement added, urging the UN Security Council to denounce the attack.

        The Syrian army said on January 30 that two people were killed and five others injured in an Israeli airstrike on a research center in Jamraya, near the capital, Damascus.

        Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on February 3 that the Israeli regime was trying to “destabilize” Syria by its recent attack.

        On January 31, the Syrian Foreign Ministry called on the UN Security Council to issue a “clear condemnation of the flagrant Israeli attack on the territories of a sovereign state and the Israeli violation of the UN Charter, the international law, the Disengagement of Forces Agreement in 1974 and the relevant UNSC resolutions.”

        Many people, including large numbers of Syrian security forces, have been killed in the turmoil that began in Syria nearly two years ago. The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country.


        Jordan, Kuwait, Oman parliament speakers slam Israel attack on Syria

        Israel conducted an airstrike on a research center in Jamraya, near the Syrian capital Damascus, on January 30, 2013.

        Israel conducted an airstrike on a research center in Jamraya, near the Syrian capital Damascus, on January 30, 2013.
        The parliament speakers of Jordan, Oman and Kuwait have condemned Israel’s recent airstrike on a research center in Syria.

        The Syrian army said on January 30 that two people were killed and five others injured in an Israeli airstrike on a research center in Jamraya, near the capital, Damascus.

        The speakers condemned the airstrike during telephone conversations with Iran’s Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani.

        Omani Parliament Speaker Sheikh Khalid bin Hilal al-Maawali underlined his country’s position in condemnation of the Israeli attack.

        He described the strike as shameful and in line with the Tel Aviv regime’s aggressive policies against Muslim and Arab countries. He expressed hope that peace and security will be restored to Syria.

        Kuwaiti Parliament Speaker Ali al-Rashid said his country strongly condemns the Israeli attack. He called for a firm reaction of Islamic countries against the strike.

        Jordanian Parliament Speaker Taher al-Masri also denounced the attack and said negotiation was the only solution to the unrest in Syria, rejecting any violent measures.

        He said that his country supported any initiative aimed at restoring peace and security to Syria and expressed Jordan’s readiness to cooperate with Iran in this regard.

        Larijani, for his part, described the Zionist regime as the enemy of the Islamic world, saying the belligerent regime must not be allowed to take advantage of the current developments in the region to continue its aggressive policies against Islamic countries.

        He said that destabilizing Syria was in line with the interests of global powers and the Israeli regime.

        Many people, including large numbers of Syrian security forces, have been killed in the turmoil that began in Syria nearly two years ago. The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country.


        Turkey slams Israeli airstrike near Syrian capital

        Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

        Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
        Mon Feb 4, 2013 4:44AM GMT
        Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the recent Israeli airstrike on a research center near the Syrian capital of Damascus.

        “Those who have been treating Israel like a spoilt child should expect anything from them, at any time,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday.

        “As I say time and again, Israel has a mentality of waging terrorism. Right now, there is no telling what it might do and where it might do it.”

        “We cannot regard a violation of air space as acceptable. What Israel does is completely against international law… it is beyond condemnation,” Erdogan said. “I am worried that in a situation like this, any scenario can play out in the future.”

        The Syrian army said in a statement on January 30 that two people were killed and five others injured in an Israeli airstrike on a research center in Jamraya, located 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of Damascus.

        On January 31, Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah also condemned the Israeli attack and said it was “barbaric aggression.”

        Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil. The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside.


        Syria: Militants complicit in Israeli attack

        Syrian Defense Minister, General Fahd Jassem al-Freij  says  foreign-backed militants were accomplices to Israeli airstrike on the country

        Syrian Defense Minister, General Fahd Jassem al-Freij says foreign-backed militants were accomplices to Israeli airstrike on the country’s research center.
        Syrian Defense Minister, General Fahd Jassem al-Freij says the recent Israeli airstrike on a military research center was carried out with the help of foreign-backed militants in the crisis-stricken country.

        The pounded research center in the capital’s northwestern suburb of Jumraya had been repeatedly attacked by the militants, who failed to destroy it completely, al-Freij told the Syrian state TV late Monday.

        The Syrian official accused the “armed terrorist groups” of launching attacks on the country’s defense systems at the behest of the Israeli regime.

        On Wednesday, Israeli fighter jets hit the Syrian research system, under the excuse of foiling a terrorist attempt to funnel weapons to Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah.

        The Syrian army issued a statement immediately after the strike, saying that two people were killed and five others injured in the offensive.

        The violent attack, however, drew international condemnation with Iran, Turkey, and Organization of Islamic Cooperation denouncing the move as the violation of international law.

        On Thursday, Syria called on the UN Security Council to issue a “clear condemnation of the flagrant Israeli attack on the territories of a sovereign state and the Israeli violation of the UN Charter, the international law, the [Agreement on] Disengagement…in 1974 and the relevant UNSC resolutions.”

        On Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that Israel was trying to destabilize Syria by its recent attack.

        Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of Army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

        The Syrian government has said that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and that a very large number of the militants operating in the country are foreign nationals.


        Israel–Syria relations

        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        Jump to: navigation, search
        Israeli–Syrian relations
        Map indicating locations of Israel and Syria



        Israel–Syria relations refers to diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and Syria. Diplomatic ties have not been established, and the countries have fought four major wars, in 1948, 1967, 1973 and 1982.



        Ceasefire line

        Since the 1949 Armistice Agreements, relations between Israel and Syria have been characterized by periods of hostility; ceasefire talks, sometimes through intermediaries; and disengagement agreements, such as the 1974 Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement. In 1949, an Israeli-Syrian peace treaty was negotiated with the short-lived Syrian government of Husni al-Za’im.

        Prior to the 1967 Six Day War, intermittent hostilities centered on the Demilitarized Zones, water issues and shelling and infiltration from the Golan Heights. Since the war, the focus of negotiations has been “land for peace,” in particular a demand that Israel return the Golan Heights to Syria along with Syrian recognition of Israel and establishment of peaceful relations with it, as stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 242. And yet, in the US-brokered Syrian-Israeli talks during the 1990s, Syria demanded that Israeli future withdrawal would be to the “June 4, 1967 Lines”, namely west of the former British Mandate border with Syria.[1] Syria attempted to recover the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur War, but was unsuccessful, only recovering a small part of it in the 1974 disengagement agreement, while committing to distance its armed forces further eastwards compared with their 1967-1973 positions.

        In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to drive out the PLO. Syria sent ground and air forces to assist, but these were largely routed by the Israelis. Syria continued to support Lebanese resistance, leading up to Israel’s withdrawal in 2000.

        The first high-level public talks aimed at a permanent resolution of the conflict between Israel and Syria were held at and after the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991. Throughout the 1990s several Israeli governments negotiated with Syria’s president Hafez Al-Assad. While serious progress was made, they were unsuccessful.

        High points of hostility in the 2000s included the Ain es Saheb airstrike (an Israeli Air Force mission against Palestinian militants inside Syria) in 2003 and Operation Orchard (an Israeli air and commando mission against Syria’s alleged nuclear program) in 2007. During the 2006 Lebanon War, Syria threatened to enter the war on Hezbollah’s side, provided support to Hezbollah, and allowed Iran to ship supplies to Hezbollah through its territory. Later, Turkey organized peace talks between the two countries, but Syria later withdrew in response to the 2008-2009 Gaza War.

        In 2010, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel of avoiding peace, and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem warned that in the event of a future war, Israeli cities would be targeted by Syrian missiles. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by saying that the Syrian military would be defeated in a war with Israel, and Assad and his family would be forced from power. Lieberman also advised Syria to let go of the demand for the Golan Heights.[2]

        2011–2012 Syrian uprising and the 2012 Israeli-Palestinian conflict

        In January 2012, the IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz stated that Israel would be willing to take in Alawite refugees, if the situation deteriorated for them in Syria, as a result of a revolution.[3]

        In November 2012, the Syrian Government called Israel’s actions against the Palestinian National Authority during the Operation Pillar of Cloud, “barbaric, reprehensible crimes” and called on the international community to pressure Israel into halting its strikes.[4]


        On 30 January, Israeli warplanes struck deep within Syrian territory. The United States believed the target was a convoy carrying sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry outside Damascus that was going to be given to the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon, but Syrian authorities denied this.[5]

        Golan Heights clashes

        On 3 November, three Syrian tanks entered the Golan Heights, a demilitarised zone. It was the first time since the Yom Kippur War ended in 1973. Israel complained to the UN peacekeepers in the area.[6][7]

        On 12 November, the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan was shelled, after which the Israeli Defense Forces returned fire hiting a Syrian mobile artillery. It is unclear who shelled the Israeli-occupied territory, the rebels or the Syrian Army. The Israeli shelling of a Syrian territory occurred for the first time since the Yom Kippur War.[8][9]

        On 18 November, a shot was fire towards the Israeli soldiers in the central Golan Heights. The Israeli sources were once again uncertain whether they were attacked by the Syrian Army or the rebels. There were no injuries in the fire exchange.[10]

        Economic relations

        Apple exports to Syria at Quneitra crossing, February 2011

        Since 2004, Israel has exported apples to Syria through the Quneitra crossing. In 2010, some 10,000 tons of apples grown by Druze farmers in the Golan Heights were sent to Syria.[11] Israeli minister Ayoub Kara called for an agreement with Syria over the supply of water to towns in the Golan Heights. Today, ten percent of the water in the Israeli Druze town of Majdal Shams is supplied by Syria, from the Ein al-Toufah spring. This arrangement has been in place for 25 years.[12]

        Tourism and cultural exchange

        In 2010, the Israeli government authorized a pilgrimage to Syria by a group of 300 Druze citizens of Israel interested in visiting religious sites there.[13] A group of dancers from five Druze villages in Israel was sent to Aleppo to perform in a dabka competition.[14] Civilians are permitted to cross the border at Quneitra for university studies and marriage. Syrian citizens of the Golan are entitled to free tuition, books and lodging.[15] Since 1993, 67 Syrian brides have crossed into the Golan Heights and 11 brides from Golan have crossed into Syria.[16]

        See also


        1. ^ Frederic C. Hof, “Mapping Peace between Syria and Israel“, United States Institute of Peace, Washington D.C. 2009
        2. ^ FM: If Syria provokes Israel, Assad will be out of power
        3. ^ Gantz: Israel prepared to absorb Alawite refugeesJerusalem Post, By LAHAV HARKOV01/10/2012 19:33
        4. ^ Sabbagh, H (14 November 2012). “Syrian Government Denounces Barbaric Israeli Crimes against Palestinian People in Gaza”. Syrian Arab News Agency. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
        5. ^ “Arms Shipment Was Target as Israel Bombed Syria, U.S. Says”. New York Times.
        6. ^ Surk, Barbara (3 November 2012). “Syrian Tanks Enter Demilitarized Israeli Frontier”. ABC News. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
        7. ^ “Сиријски тенкови на Голанској висоравни [Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights]” (in Serbian). Radio Television of Serbia. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
        8. ^ “WRAPUP 6-Syria opposition seeks support; Israel fires from Golan”. Reuters. 12 November. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
        9. ^ “Israel and Syrians clash on Golan Heights”. DNA India. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
        10. ^ “Israel and Syria exchange fire in Golan”. RT. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
        11. ^ Israeli trucks cross into Syria in annual ‘apple invasion’
        12. ^ Israeli Druze minister: Syria should give water to Golan towns
        13. ^ Israeli Druze to go on historic visit to Syria
        14. ^ Hebrew press sees thaw in Syria-Israel relations
        15. ^ “Worldandnation: Golan families dream of reunion”. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
        16. ^ One way ticket for Druze Syrian Brides

        Further reading

        External links



        • Bakulaji
        • Yom Kippur War

          From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
          Jump to: navigation, search
          Page semi-protected
          Yom Kippur War/October War
          Part of the Cold War and Arab–Israeli conflict
          Bridge Crossing.jpg
          Egyptian forces crossing the Suez Canal on October 7
          Date October 6–25, 1973
          Location Both banks of the Suez Canal, Golan Heights, and surrounding regions
          Arab Expeditionary Forces:
          Iraq Iraq
          Supported by:
           Soviet Union
           Saudi Arabia[citation needed]
           Tunisia[citation needed]
          Libya Libya
          Palestinian territories PLO[citation needed]
           North Korea[9][10][11]
          Supported by:
           United States
          Commanders and leaders
          Egypt Ahmad Ismail Ali
          Syria Hafez al-Assad
          Syria Mustafa Tlass
          Egypt Saad El Shazly
          Syria Yusuf Shakkour
          Egypt Abdel Ghani el-Gammasy
          Syria Ali Aslan
          Israel Moshe Dayan
          Israel David Elazar
          Israel Israel Tal
          Israel Shmuel Gonen
          Israel Yitzhak Hofi
          Israel Binyamin Peled
          Israel Haim Bar-Lev
          650,000[12]–800,000[13] troops
          1,700 tanks (1,020 crossed)[14]
          2,400 armored carriers
          1,120 artillery units[15]
          400 combat aircraft
          140 helicopters[16]
          104 Navy vessels
          150 surface to air missile batteries (62 in the front line)[17]
          150,000[12] troops
          1,200 tanks
          800–900 armored carriers
          600 artillery units[15][18][19]
          Expeditionary Forces*:
          100,000 troops[12]
          500–670 tanks[20][21]
          700 armored carriers[20]
          1,500[8]–4,000[22] troops
          375,000[12]–415,000 troops,
          1,700 tanks,[23]
          3,000 armored carriers,
          945 artillery units,[15]
          440 combat aircraft
          Casualties and losses
          8,000[24]–18,500[25] dead
          18,000[24]–35,000[26] wounded
          8,783 captured
          2,250[27]–2,300[28] tanks destroyed or captured
          341[24]–514[29] aircraft destroyed
          19 naval vessels sunk[30]
          2,521[31]–2,800[24] dead
          7,250[32]–8,800[24] wounded
          293 captured
          400 tanks destroyed[33]
          102 aircraft destroyed[34]
          * Not all participated in combat operations

          Yom Kippur War

          The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War (Hebrew: מלחמת יום הכיפורים‎ Milẖemet Yom HaKipurim or מלחמת יום כיפור Milẖemet Yom Kipur; Arabic: حرب أكتوبر‎ ḥarb ʾUktōbar, or حرب تشرين ḥarb Tišrīn), also known as the 1973 Arab–Israeli War and the Fourth Arab–Israeli War, was a war of aggression[35] fought by the coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel from October 6 to 25, 1973.

          The war began when the coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, which occurred that year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Egyptian and Syrian forces crossed ceasefire lines to enter the Israeli-held Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights respectively, which had been captured and occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. Both the United States and the Soviet Union initiated massive resupply efforts to their respective allies during the war, and this led to a near-confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers.[36]

          The war began with a massive and successful Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal. After crossing the cease-fire lines, Egyptian forces advanced virtually unopposed into the Sinai Peninsula. After three days, Israel had mobilized most of its forces and managed to halt the Egyptian offensive, settling into a stalemate. The Syrians coordinated their attack on the Golan Heights to coincide with the Egyptian offensive and initially made threatening gains into Israeli-held territory. Within three days, however, Israeli forces had managed to push the Syrians back to the pre-war ceasefire lines. They then launched a four-day counter-offensive deep into Syria. Within a week, Israeli artillery began to shell the outskirts of Damascus. As Egyptian president Anwar Sadat began to worry about the integrity of his major ally, he believed that capturing two strategic passes located deeper in the Sinai would make his position stronger during the negotiations. He therefore ordered the Egyptians to go back on the offensive, but the attack was quickly repulsed. The Israelis then counterattacked at the seam between the two Egyptian armies, crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, and began slowly advancing southward and westward in over a week of heavy fighting which inflicted heavy casualties on both sides.

          On October 22 a United Nations-brokered ceasefire quickly unraveled, with each side blaming the other for the breach. By October 24, the Israelis had improved their positions considerably and completed their encirclement of Egypt’s Third Army and the city of Suez. This development led to tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. As a result, a second ceasefire was imposed cooperatively on October 25 to end the war. At the conclusion of hostilities, Israeli forces were 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Damascus and 101 kilometres (63 mi) from Cairo.

          The war had far-reaching implications. The Arab World, which had been humiliated by the lopsided rout of the Egyptian–Syrian–Jordanian alliance in the Six-Day War, felt psychologically vindicated by early successes in the conflict. In Israel, despite impressive operational and tactical achievements on the battlefield, the war effectively ended its sense of invincibility and complacency. The war also challenged many American assumptions; the United States initiated new efforts at mediation and peacemaking. These changes paved the way for the subsequent peace process. The Camp David Accords that followed led to the return of the Sinai to Egypt and normalized relations—the first peaceful recognition of Israel by an Arab country. Egypt continued its drift away from the Soviet Union and left the Soviet sphere of influence entirely.



          The war was part of the Arab–Israeli conflict, an ongoing dispute which included many battles and wars since 1948, when the state of Israel was formed. During the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel had captured Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and roughly half of Syria’s Golan Heights.

          According to Chaim Herzog:

          On June 19, 1967, the National Unity Government of Israel voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. The Golan would have to be demilitarized and special arrangement would be negotiated for the Straits of Tiran. The government also resolved to open negotiations with King Hussein of Jordan regarding the Eastern border.[37]

          The Israeli decision was to be conveyed to the Arab states by the U.S. government. The U.S. was informed of the decision, but not that it was to transmit it. There is no evidence it was conveyed to Egypt or Syria. The decision was kept a closely guarded secret within Israeli government circles and the offer was withdrawn in October 1967.[38]

          Egypt and Syria both desired a return of the land lost in the Six-Day War. In September 1967, the Khartoum Arab Summit issued the “three no’s”, resolving that there would be “no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel”. In the years following the war, Israel erected lines of fortification in both the Sinai and the Golan Heights. In 1971, Israel spent $500 million fortifying its positions on the Suez Canal, a chain of fortifications and gigantic earthworks known as the Bar Lev Line, named after Israeli General Chaim Bar-Lev.

          President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt died in September 1970 and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. In 1971, Sadat, in response to an initiative by UN intermediary Gunnar Jarring, declared that if Israel committed itself to “withdrawal of its armed forces from Sinai and the Gaza Strip“, to “achievement of a just settlement for the refugee problem”, to “the withdrawal of the Israeli armed forces from all the territories occupied since June 5, 1967″, and to implementation of other provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 242 as requested by Jarring, Egypt would then “be ready to enter into a peace agreement with Israel.” Israel responded that it would not withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967 lines.[39]

          Sadat hoped that by inflicting even a limited defeat on the Israelis, the status quo could be altered. Hafez al-Assad, the leader of Syria, had a different view. He had little interest in negotiation and felt the retaking of the Golan Heights would be a purely military option. After the Six-Day War, Assad had launched a massive military buildup and hoped to make Syria the dominant military power of the Arab states. With the aid of Egypt, Assad felt that his new army could win convincingly against Israel and thus secure Syria’s role in the region. Assad only saw negotiations beginning once the Golan Heights had been retaken by force, which would induce Israel to give up the West Bank and Gaza, and make other concessions.

          Sadat also had important domestic concerns in wanting war. “The three years since Sadat had taken office… were the most demoralized in Egyptian history…. A desiccated economy added to the nation’s despondency. War was a desperate option.”[40] In his biography of Sadat, Raphael Israeli argued that Sadat felt the root of the problem was in the great shame over the Six-Day War, and before any reforms could be introduced he felt that shame had to be overcome. Egypt’s economy was in shambles, but Sadat knew that the deep reforms that he felt were needed would be deeply unpopular among parts of the population. A military victory would give him the popularity he needed to make changes. A portion of the Egyptian population, most prominently university students who launched wide protests, strongly desired a war to reclaim the Sinai and was highly upset that Sadat had not launched one in his first three years in office.

          The other Arab states showed much more reluctance to fully commit to a new war. King Hussein of Jordan feared another major loss of territory as had occurred in the Six-Day War, in which Jordan lost all of the West Bank, territory it had conquered and annexed in 1948–49 which had doubled its population. Sadat was also backing the claim of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to the West Bank and Gaza and in the event of a victory promised Yasser Arafat that he would be given control of them. Hussein still saw the West Bank as part of Jordan and wanted it restored to his kingdom. Moreover, during the Black September crisis of 1970, a near civil war had broken out between the PLO and the Jordanian government. In that war, Syria had intervened militarily on the side of the PLO, estranging Hussein.

          Iraq and Syria also had strained relations, and the Iraqis refused to join the initial offensive. Lebanon, which shared a border with Israel, was not expected to join the Arab war effort because of its small army and already evident instability. The months before the war saw Sadat engage in a diplomatic offensive to try to win support for the war. By the fall of 1973, he claimed the backing of more than a hundred states. These were most of the countries of the Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement, and Organization of African Unity. Sadat had also worked to curry favour in Europe and had some success before the war. Britain and France for the first time sided with the Arab powers against Israel on the United Nations Security Council.

          Events leading up to the war

          Following Israel’s rejection of Sadat’s peace initiative, which had proposed a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-67 borders in exchange for a non-belligerency pact,[41] Sadat declared that Egypt was prepared to “sacrifice a million Egyptian soldiers” to recover its lost territory.[42] From the end of 1972, Egypt began a concentrated effort to build up its forces, receiving MiG-21 jet fighters, SA-2, SA-3, SA-6 and SA-7 antiaircraft missiles, T-55 and T-62 tanks, RPG-7 antitank weapons, and the AT-3 Sagger anti-tank guided missile from the Soviet Union and improving its military tactics, based on Soviet battlefield doctrines. Political generals, who had in large part been responsible for the rout in 1967, were replaced with competent ones.[43]

          The role of the superpowers, too, was a major factor in the outcome of the two wars. The policy of the Soviet Union was one of the causes of Egypt’s military weakness. President Nasser was only able to obtain the material for an anti-aircraft missile defense wall after visiting Moscow and pleading with Kremlin leaders. He said that if supplies were not given, he would have to return to Egypt and tell the Egyptian people Moscow had abandoned them, and then relinquish power to one of his peers who would be able to deal with the Americans. The Americans would then have the upper hand in the region, which Moscow could not permit.

          Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

          One of Egypt’s undeclared objectives of the War of Attrition was to force the Soviet Union to supply Egypt with more advanced arms and materiel. Egypt felt the only way to convince the Soviet leaders of the deficiencies of most of the aircraft and air defense weaponry supplied to Egypt following 1967 was to put the Soviet weapons to the test against the advanced weaponry the United States had supplied to Israel.[citation needed]

          Nasser’s policy following the 1967 defeat conflicted with that of the Soviet Union. The Soviets sought to avoid a new conflagration between the Arabs and Israelis so as not to be drawn into a confrontation with the United States. The reality of the situation became apparent when the superpowers met in Oslo and agreed to maintain the status quo. This was unacceptable to Egyptian leaders, and when it was discovered that the Egyptian preparations for crossing the canal were being leaked, it became imperative to expel the Soviets from Egypt. In July 1972, Sadat expelled almost all of the 20,000 Soviet military advisers in the country and reoriented the country’s foreign policy to be more favorable to the United States. The Syrians remained close to the Soviet Union.

          The Soviets thought little of Sadat’s chances in any war. They warned that any attempt to cross the heavily fortified Suez Canal would incur massive losses. Both the Soviets and the Americans were then pursuing détente, and had no interest in seeing the Middle East destabilized. In a June 1973 meeting with U.S. President Richard Nixon, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev had proposed Israel pull back to its 1967 border. Brezhnev said that if Israel did not, “we will have difficulty keeping the military situation from flaring up”—an indication that the Soviet Union had been unable to restrain Sadat’s plans.[44]

          In an interview published in Newsweek (April 9, 1973), President Sadat again threatened war with Israel. Several times during 1973, Arab forces conducted large-scale exercises that put the Israeli military on the highest level of alert, only to be recalled a few days later. The Israeli leadership already believed that if an attack took place, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) could repel it.

          Almost a full year before the war, in an October 24, 1972 meeting with his Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Sadat declared his intention to go to war with Israel even without proper Soviet support.[45] Planning had begun in 1971 and was conducted in absolute secrecy—even the upper-echelon commanders were not told of war plans until less than a week prior to the attack, and the soldiers were not told until a few hours beforehand. The plan to attack Israel in concert with Syria was code-named Operation Badr (Arabic for “full moon“), after the Battle of Badr, in which Muslims under Muhammad defeated the Quraish tribe of Mecca.

          Lead-up to the surprise attack

          The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Directorate of Military Intelligence‘s (abbreviated as “Aman”) Research Department was responsible for formulating Israel’s intelligence estimate. Their assessments on the likelihood of war were based on several assumptions. First, it was assumed correctly that Syria would not go to war with Israel unless Egypt did so as well. Second, the department learned from Ashraf Marwan, former Presidents Nasser’s son in law who was a senior Mossad agent[46] that Egypt wanted to regain all of the Sinai, but would not go to war until they were supplied MiG-23 fighter-bombers to neutralize the Israeli Air Force, and Scud missiles to be used against Israeli cities as a deterrent against Israeli attacks on Egyptian infrastructure.

          Since they had not received MiG-23s, and Scud missiles had only arrived in Egypt from Bulgaria in late August and it would take four months to train the Egyptian ground crews, Aman predicted war with Egypt was not imminent. This assumption about Egypt’s strategic plans, known as “the concept”, strongly prejudiced the department’s thinking and led it to dismiss other war warnings.

          By mid-1973, Aman was almost completely aware of the Arab war plans. It knew that the Egyptian Second and Third Armies would attempt to cross the Suez Canal and advance ten kilometers into the Sinai, followed by armored divisions which would advance towards the Mitla and Gidi passes, and that naval units and paratroopers would then attempt to capture Sharm el-Sheikh. Aman was also aware of many details of the Syrian war plan. However, Israeli analysts, following “the concept”, did not believe the Arabs were serious about going to war.[47]

          The Egyptians did much to further this misconception. Both the Israelis and the Americans felt that the expulsion of the Soviet military observers had severely reduced the effectiveness of the Egyptian army. The Egyptians ensured that there was a continual stream of false information on maintenance problems and a lack of personnel to operate the most advanced equipment. The Egyptians made repeated misleading reports about lack of spare parts that also made their way to the Israelis. Sadat had so long engaged in brinkmanship that his frequent war threats were being ignored by the world.

          In April and May 1973, Israeli intelligence began picking up clear signals of Egypt’s intentions for war, recognizing that it had the necessary divisions and bridging equipment to cross the Suez Canal, and a missile umbrella to protect any crossing operation from air attack. However, Aman Chief Eli Zeira was still confident that the probability of war was low.[47]

          In May and August 1973, the Egyptian Army conducted military exercises near the border, and Ashraf Marwan inaccurately warned that Egypt and Syria would launch a surprise attack on May 15. The Israeli Army mobilized in response to both exercises at considerable cost. These exercises were to ensure that the Israelis would dismiss the actual war preparations right before the attack was launched as another exercise.

          Egyptian and Syrian military exercises

          For the week leading up to Yom Kippur, the Egyptian army staged a week-long training exercise adjacent to the Suez Canal. Israeli intelligence, detecting large troop movements towards the canal, dismissed these movements as mere training exercises. Movements of Syrian troops towards the border were also detected, as were cancellation of leaves and a call-up of reserves in the Syrian army. These activities were considered puzzling, but not a threat because, Aman believed, they would not attack without Egypt and Egypt would not attack until the weaponry they wanted arrived. Despite this belief, Israel sent reinforcements to the Golan Heights. These forces were to prove critical during the early days of the war.

          On September 27 and 30, two batches of reservists were called up by the Egyptian army to participate in these exercises. Two days before the outbreak of the war, on October 4, the Egyptian command publicly announced the demobilization of part of the reservists called up during September 27 to lull suspicion on the Israeli side. Around 20,000 troops were demobilized, and subsequently some of these men were given leave to perform the Umrah (pilgrimage) to Mecca.[48][49] Reports were also given instructing cadets in military colleges to resume their courses on October 9.[47]

          On October 1, an Aman researcher, Lieutenant Binyamin Siman-Tov, submitted an assessment arguing that that the Egyptian deployments and exercises along the Suez Canal seemed to be a camouflage for an actual crossing of the canal. Siman-Tov sent a more comprehensive assessment on October 3. Both were ignored by his superior.[47]

          According to General El-Gamasy, “On the initiative of the operations staff, we reviewed the situation on the ground and developed a framework for the planned offensive operation. We studied the technical characteristics of the Suez Canal, the ebb and the flow of the tides, the speed of the currents and their direction, hours of darkness and of moonlight, weather conditions, and related conditions in the Mediterranean and Red sea.”[50] He explained further by saying, “Saturday 6 October 1973 (10 Ramadan 1393) was the day chosen for the September–October option. Conditions for a crossing were good, it was a feast day in Israel, and the moon on that day, 10 Ramadan, shone from sunset until midnight.”[50] The war coincided that year with the Muslim month of Ramadan, when many Arab Muslim soldiers also fast. On the other hand, the fact that the attack was launched on Yom Kippur may have helped Israel to more easily marshal reserves from their homes and synagogues, because roads and communication lines were largely open and this eased mobilizing and transporting the military.

          Despite refusing to participate, King Hussein of Jordan “had met with Sadat and Assad in Alexandria two weeks before. Given the mutual suspicions prevailing among the Arab leaders, it was unlikely that he had been told any specific war plans. But it was probable that Sadat and Assad had raised the prospect of war against Israel in more general terms to feel out the likelihood of Jordan joining in.”[51]

          On the night of September 25, Hussein secretly flew to Tel Aviv to warn Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir of an impending Syrian attack. “Are they going to war without the Egyptians, asked Mrs. Meir. The king said he didn’t think so. ‘I think they [Egypt] would cooperate.'”[52] This warning was ignored, and Aman concluded that the king had not told anything that was not already known. Throughout September Israel received eleven warnings of war from well-placed sources. However, Mossad Director-General Zvi Zamir continued to insist that war was not an Arab option, even after Hussein’s warning.[53] Zamir would later remark that “We simply didn’t feel them capable [of War].”[53]

          On the day before the war, General Ariel Sharon was shown aerial photographs and other intelligence by Yehoshua Saguy, his divisional intelligence officer. General Sharon noticed that the concentration of Egyptian forces along the canal was far beyond anything observed during the training exercises, and that the Egyptians had amassed all of their crossing equipment along the canal. He then called General Shmuel Gonen, who replaced him as head of Southern Command, and expressed his certainty that war was imminent.[54]

          On October 4–5, Zamir’s concern grew as additional signs of an impending attack were detected. Soviet advisers and their families left Egypt and Syria, transport aircraft thought to be laden with military equipment landed in Cairo and Damascus, and aerial photographs revealed that Egyptian and Syrian concentrations of tanks, infantry and SAM missiles were at an unprecedented high. According to declassified documents from the Agranat Commission Brigadier General Yisrael Lior who was Prime Minister Golda Meir’s military claimed that Mossad knew from Ashraf Marwan that an attack was going to occur under the guise of a military drill a week before it occurred, but the information the process of passing along the information to the Prime Ministers office failed. The information ended up with Mossad head Zvi Zamir‘s aide who passed it along to Zamir at 12:30AM 5 October. According to the claim an unfocused and groogy Zamir thanked the aide for the information and said he would pass it along to the Prime Ministers office in the morning.[46] On the night of October 5/6, Zamir personally went to Europe to meet with Marwan at midnight. Marwan informed him that a joint Syrian-Egyptian attack was imminent.[47] However, Marwan incorrectly told Zamir that the attack would take place at sunset.[55]

          It was this warning in particular, combined with the large number of other warnings, that finally goaded the Israeli High Command into action. Just hours before the attack began, orders went out for a partial call-up of the Israeli reserves.[56] Ironically, calling up the reserves proved to be easier than usual, as almost all of the troops were at synagogue or at home for the holiday.

          The attack by the Egyptian and Syrian forces caught the United States by surprise. According to the future CIA Director and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he was briefing a US arms negotiator on the improbability of armed conflict in the region when he heard the news of the outbreak of war on the radio. On the other hand, the KGB learned about the attack in advance, probably from its intelligence sources in Egypt.[57]

          Lack of Israeli pre-emptive attack

          Upon learning of the impending attack, Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir made the controversial decision not to launch a pre-emptive strike.

          The Israeli strategy was, for the most part, based on the precept that if war was imminent, Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike. It was assumed that Israel’s intelligence services would give, in the worst case, about 48 hours notice prior to an Arab attack.

          Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, and General David Elazar met at 8:05 am the morning of Yom Kippur, six hours before the war began. Dayan opened the meeting by arguing that war was not a certainty. Elazar then presented his argument in favor of a pre-emptive attack against Syrian airfields at noon, Syrian missiles at 3:00 pm, and Syrian ground forces at 5:00 pm “When the presentations were done, the prime minister hemmed uncertainly for a few moments but then came to a clear decision. There would be no preemptive strike. Israel might be needing American assistance soon and it was imperative that it would not be blamed for starting the war. ‘If we strike first, we won’t get help from anybody’, she said.”[58]

          Other developed nations, being more dependent on OPEC oil, took more seriously the threat of an Arab oil embargo and trade boycott, and had stopped supplying Israel with munitions. As a result, Israel was totally dependent on the United States for military resupply, and particularly sensitive to anything that might endanger that relationship. After Meir made her decision, at 10:15 am she met with US ambassador Kenneth Keating in order to inform the United States that Israel did not intend to preemptively start a war, and asked that US efforts be directed at preventing war. An electronic telegram with Keating’s report on the meeting was sent to the US at 16:33 GMT (6:33 pm local time).[59][60]

          A message arrived later from United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saying, “Don’t preempt.”[61] At the same time, Kissinger also urged the Soviets to use their influence to prevent war, contacted Egypt with Israel’s message of non-preemption, and sent messages to other Arab governments to enlist their help on the side of moderation. These late efforts were futile.[62] According to Henry Kissinger, had Israel struck first, it would not have received “so much as a nail.”[63]

          David Elazar proposed a mobilization of the entire Air Force and four armored divisions, a total of 100,000 to 120,000 troops, while Dayan favored a mobilization of the Air Force and two armored divisions, totaling around 70,000 troops. Meir chose Elazar’s proposal.[64]

          Combat operations

          In the Sinai

          Wreckage from an Egyptian Sukhoi Su-7 shot down over the Sinai on October 6 on display at the Israeli Air Force Museum.

          The Sinai was once again the arena of conflict between the Israelis and the Egyptians, the fifth such occasion. The Egyptians had prepared for an assault across the canal and deployed five divisions totaling 100,000 soldiers, 1,350 tanks and 2,000 guns and heavy mortars for the onslaught. Facing them were 450 soldiers of the Jerusalem Brigade, spread out in 16 forts along the length of the Canal. There were 290 Israeli tanks in all of Sinai divided into three armored brigades,[65] and only one of these was deployed near the Canal when hostilities commenced.[66]

          Large bridgeheads were established on the east bank on October 6. Israeli armoured forces launched counterattacks from October 6 to 8, but they were often piecemeal and inadequately supported and were beaten back principally by Egyptians using portable anti-tank missiles.

          The Egyptian units generally would not advance beyond a shallow strip for fear of losing the protection of their surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries, which were situated on the west bank of the canal. In the Six-Day War, the Israeli Air Force had pummelled the defenseless Arab armies. Egypt (and Syria) had heavily fortified their side of the ceasefire lines with SAM batteries provided by the Soviet Union, against which the Israeli Air Force had no time to execute a Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) operation due to the element of surprise.[67][68] Israel, which had invested much of its defense budget building the region’s strongest air force, would see the effectiveness of its air force curtailed in the initial phases of the conflict by the SAM presence.

          On October 9, the IDF chose to concentrate its reserves and build up its supplies while the Egyptians remained on the strategic defensive. It was decided to counterattack once Egyptian armour attempted to expand the bridgehead beyond the protective SAM umbrella. The riposte, codenamed Operation Gazelle, was launched on October 15. IDF forces spearheaded by Ariel Sharon‘s division broke through the Tasa corridor and crossed the Suez Canal to the north of the Great Bitter Lake.

          After intense fighting, Israeli progress towards Cairo was brought to a halt while the IDF advanced southwards on the east bank of the Great Bitter Lake and in the southern extent of the canal right up to Port Suez when the ceasefire was declared on October 24.

          Egyptian attack

          The 1973 War in the Sinai, October 6–15.

          Main article: Operation Badr (1973)

          Anticipating a swift Israeli armored counterattack by three armored divisions,[69] the Egyptians had armed their assault force with large numbers of man-portable anti-tank weapons—rocket-propelled grenades and the less numerous but more advanced Sagger guided missiles, which proved devastating to the first Israeli armored counterattacks. Each of the five infantry divisions that was to cross the canal had been equipped with RPG-7 rockets and RPG-43 grenades, and reinforced with an anti-tank guided missile battalion, as they would not have any armor support for nearly 12 hours.[70]

          In addition, the Egyptians had built separate ramps at the crossing points, reaching as high as 21 metres (69 ft) to counter the Israeli sand wall, provide covering fire for the assaulting infantry and to counter the first Israeli armored counterattacks.[71] The scale and effectiveness of the Egyptian strategy of deploying these anti-tank weapons coupled with the Israelis’ inability to disrupt their use with close air support (due to the SAM shield) greatly contributed to Israeli setbacks early in the war.

          Wreckage of an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk on display in Egypt’s war museum.

          The Egyptian Army put great effort into finding a quick and effective way of breaching the Israeli defenses. The Israelis had built large 18 meter (59 foot) high sand walls with a 60 degree slope and reinforced with concrete at the water line. Egyptian engineers initially experimented with explosive charges and bulldozers to clear the obstacles, before a junior officer proposed using high pressure water cannons. The idea was tested and found to be a sound one, and several high pressure water cannons were imported from Britain and East Germany. The water cannons effectively breached the sand walls using water from the canal.[72]

          At 2:00 pm on October 6, Operation Badr began with a large airstrike. More than 200 Egyptian aircraft conducted simultaneous strikes against three airbases, Hawk missile batteries, three command centers, artillery positions, and several radar installations.[73] Airfields at Refidim and Bir Tamada were temporarily put out of service, and damage was inflicted on a Hawk battery at Ophir. The aerial assault was coupled with a barrage from more than 2,000 artillery pieces for a period of 53 minutes against the Bar Lev Line and rear area command posts and concentration bases.[74]

          Author Andrew McGregor claimed that the success of the first strike negated the need for a second planned strike.[75][76][77] Egypt acknowledged the loss of 5 aircraft during the attack. However, Kenneth Pollack wrote that 18 Egyptian aircraft were shot down, and that these losses prompted the cancellation of the second planned wave.[78] In one notable engagement during this period, a pair of Israeli F-4E Phantoms challenged 28 Egyptian MiGs over Sharm el-Sheikh and within half an hour, shot down between seven and eight MiGs with no losses.[79][80] One of the Egyptian pilots killed was Captain Atif Sadat, President Sadat’s half-brother.[81]

          Simultaneously, 14 Egyptian Tupolev Tu-16 bombers attacked Israeli targets in the Sinai with Kelt missiles, while another two other Egyptian Tupolevs fired two Kelt missiles at a radar station in central Israel.[79] One missile was shot down by a patrolling Israeli Mirage fighter, and the second fell into the sea. The attack was an attempt to warn Israel that Egypt could retaliate if it bombed targets deep in Egyptian territory.[82]

          An Egyptian MiG-17 shot down during the dogfight over Sharm el-Sheikh.

          Under cover of the initial artillery barrage, the Egyptian assault force of 32,000 infantry began crossing the canal in twelve waves at five separate crossing areas, from 14:05 to 17:30, in what became known as The Crossing.[83] The Egyptians prevented Israeli forces from reinforcing the Bar Lev Line and proceeded to attack the Israeli fortifications. Meanwhile engineers crossed over to breach the sand wall.[84][85] The Israeli Air Force conducted air interdiction operations to try to prevent the bridges from being erected, but took losses from Egyptian SAM batteries. The air attacks were overall ineffective, as the sectional design of the bridges enabled quick repair when hit.[86]

          Despite fierce resistance, the Israeli reserve brigade garrisoning the Bar-Lev forts was overwhelmed. According to Shazly, within six hours, fifteen strongpoints had been captured as Egyptian forces advanced several kilometers unto the Sinai. Shazly’s account was disputed by Kenneth Pollack, who noted that for the most part, the forts only fell to repeated assaults by superior forces or prolonged sieges over many days.[87] The northernmost fortification of the Bar Lev Line, code-named ‘Fort Budapest‘, withstood repeated assaults and remained in Israeli hands throughout the war. Once the bridges were laid, additional infantry with the remaining portable and recoilless anti-tank weapons began to cross the canal, while the first Egyptian tanks started to cross at 20:30.[88]

          The Egyptians also attempted to land several heli-borne commando units in various areas in the Sinai to hamper the arrival of Israeli reserves. However, this attempt met with disaster as the Israelis shot down up to twenty helicopters, inflicting heavy casualties.[89][90] Israeli Major General (res.) Chaim Herzog placed Egyptian helicopter losses at fourteen.[91] Still, other sources claim that “several” helicopters were downed with “total loss of life” and that the few commandos that did filter through were ineffectual and presented nothing more than a “nuisance.”[92] However, Kenneth Pollack asserted that despite their heavy losses, the Egyptian commandos fought exceptionally hard and created considerable panic, prompting the Israelis to take precautions which hindered their ability to concentrate on stopping the assault across the canal.[93]

          Egyptian forces advanced approximately 4 to 5 km into the Sinai Desert with two armies (both corps-sized by western standards, included the 2nd Infantry Division in the northern Second Army). By the following morning, some 850 tanks had crossed the canal.[74] In his account of the war, Saad El Shazly noted that by the morning of October 7, the Egyptians had lost 280 soldiers killed and 20 tanks destroyed, though this account is disputed.[94][95]

          Most Israeli soldiers defending the Bar-Lev Line were casualties, and some 200 were taken prisoner.[14][96][97] In the subsequent days, some defenders of the Bar-Lev Line managed to break through Egyptian encirclement and return to their lines, or were extracted during Israeli counterattacks that came later on. For the next several days, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) played a minimal role in the fighting largely because it was needed to deal with the simultaneous, and ultimately more threatening, Syrian invasion of the Golan Heights.[98]

          Egyptian forces then consolidated their initial positions. On October 7, the bridgeheads were enlarged an additional 4 km, at the same time repulsing Israeli counterattacks. In the north, the Egyptian 18th Division attacked the town of Qantara, enaging Israeli forces in and around the town. The fighting there was conducted at close quarters, and was sometimes hand-to-hand. The Egyptians were forced to clear the town building by building. By evening, most of the town was in Egyptian hands. Qantara was completely cleared by the next morning.[99]

          Meanwhile the Egyptian commandos airdropped on October 6 began encountering Israeli reserves the following morning. Both sides suffered heavy losses, but the commandos were at times successful in delaying the movement of Israeli reserves to the front. These special operations often led to confusion and anxiety among Israeli commanders, who commended the Egyptian commandos.[100][101] However, this view was contradicted by another source which stated that few commandos made it to their objectives, and were usually nothing more than a nuisance.[102] According to Abraham Rabinovich, only the commandos near Baluza and those blocking the road to Fort Budapest had measurable successes. Of the 1,700 Egyptian commandos inserted behind Israeli lines during the war, 740 were killed — many in downed helicopters — and 330 taken prisoner.[103]

          Israeli counter-attack

          An Israeli M60 Patton tank destroyed in the Sinai.

          On October 7, David Elazar visited Shmuel Gonen, commander of the Israeli Southern front—who had only taken the position three months before at the retirement of Ariel Sharon—and met with Israeli commanders. The Israelis planned a cautious counterattack for the following day by Abraham Adan‘s 162nd Armored Division.[104] The same day, the Israeli Air Force carried out Operation Tagar, aiming to neutralize Egyptian Air Force bases and its missile defense shield.[105][106]

          Seven Egyptian airbases were damaged with the loss of two A-4 Skyhawks and their pilots. Two more planned attacks were called off due to the increasing need for airpower on the Syrian front. The IAF carried out additional air attacks against Egyptian forces on the east bank of the canal, reportedly inflicting heavy losses. Israeli jets had carried out hundreds of sorties against Egyptian targets by the following day, but the Egyptian SAM shield had taken a toll, and losses had mounted to three aircraft for every 200 sorties, a rate which was unsustainable. The Israelis responded by rapidly devising new tactics to thwart Egyptian air defenses.[105][106]

          On October 8, after Elazar had left, Gonen changed the plans on the basis of over-optimistic field reports. Adan’s division was composed of three brigades totaling 183 tanks. One of the brigades was in still en route to the area, and would participate in the attack by noon, along with a supporting mechanized infantry brigade with an additional 44 tanks.[107][108] The Israeli counterattack was in the direction of the Bar Lev strongpoints opposite the city of Ismailia, against entrenched Egyptian infantry. In a series of ill-coordinated attacks, which were met by stiff resistance, the Israelis suffered heavy losses.[109]

          That afternoon, Egyptian forces advanced once more to deepen their bridgeheads, and as a result the Israelis lost several strategic positions. Further Israeli attacks to regain the lost ground proved futile.[109] Towards nightfall, an Egyptian counterattack was repulsed with the loss of 50 tanks by the Israeli 143rd Armoured Division, which was led by General Ariel Sharon, who had been reinstated as a division commander at the outset of the war. Garwych, citing Egyptian sources, documented Egyptian tank losses up to October 13 at 240.[110]

          An Israeli Centurion tank operating in the Sinai.

          According to Herzog, by October 9 the front lines had stabilized. The Egyptians were unable to advance further,[111] and Egyptian armored attacks on October 9 and 10 were repulsed with heavy losses. However, this claim was disputed by Shazly, who claimed that the Egyptians continued to advance and improve their positions well into October 10. He pointed to one engagement, which involved elements of the 1st Infantry Brigade, attached to the 19th Division, which captured Ayoun Mousa, south of Suez.[112]

          Both Herzog and Shazly mentioned a failed Egyptian attack southward along the Gulf of Suez in the direction of Ras Sudar by the Egyptian 1st Mechanized Brigade. Leaving the safety of the SAM umbrella, the force was attacked by Israeli aircraft and suffered severe losses.[112][113] Shazly cited this experience as a basis to resist pressure by Minister of War, General Ahmad Ismail Ali to attack eastward toward the Mitla and Gidi Passes.

          Between October 10 and 13, both sides refrained from any large-scale actions, and the situation was relatively stable. Both sides launched small-scale attacks, and the Egyptians used helicopters to land commandos behind Israeli lines. Some Egyptian helicopters were shot down, and those commando forces that managed to land were quickly destroyed by Koah Patzi, a twelve-man squad consisting of officers from the Sayeret Shaked unit. In one key engagement on October 13, Koah Patzi destroyed a particularly large incursion and killed close to a hundred Egyptian commandos.[54]

          With the situation on the Syrian front stabilizing, the Israeli High Command agreed that the time was ripe for an Israeli counterattack and strike across the canal. General Sharon advocated an immediate crossing at Deversoir at the northern edge of Great Bitter Lake. On October 9, a reconnaissance force attached to Colonel Amnon Reshef’s Brigade detected a gap between the Egyptian Second and Third armies in this sector.[114] Chief of Staff Elazar and General Chaim Bar-Lev, who had by now replaced Gonen as Chief of Southern Command, agreed that this was the ideal spot for a crossing. However, given the size of the Egyptian armoured reserves, the Israelis chose to wait for an opportunity which would allow them to reduce Egyptian armored strength before initiating any crossing.

          The opportunity arrived on October 12, when Israeli intelligence detected signs that the Egyptians were gearing up for a major armored thrust.[115] This was precisely the moment the Israelis were waiting for. They could finally utilize their advantages in speed, maneuver and tank gunnery, areas in which they excelled. Once Egyptian armored strength was sufficiently degraded, the Israelis would commence their own canal crossing. General Shazly strongly opposed any eastward advance that would leave his armor without adequate air cover. He was overruled by General Ismail and Sadat, whose aims were to seize the strategic Mitla and Gidi Passes and the Israeli nerve centre at Refidim, which they hoped would relieve pressure on the Syrians (who were by now on the defensive) by forcing Israel to shift divisions from the Golan to the Sinai.[116][117]

          The 1973 War in the Sinai, October 15–24.

          The 2nd and 3rd Armies were ordered to attack eastward in six simultaneous thrusts over a broad front, leaving behind five infantry divisions to hold the bridgeheads. The attacking forces, consisting of 800[118]-1,000 tanks[114] would not have SAM cover, so the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) was tasked with the defense of these forces from Israeli air attacks. Armored and mechanized units began the attack on October 14 with artillery support. They were up against 700[118]-750[114] Israeli tanks.

          Preparatory to the tank attack, Egyptian helicopters set down 100 commandos near the Lateral Road to disrupt the Israeli rear. An Israeli reconnaissance unit quickly subdued them, killing 60 and taking numerous prisoners. Still bruised by the extensive losses their commandos had suffered on the opening day of the war, the Egyptians were unable or unwilling to implement further commando operations that had been planned in conjunction with the armored attack.[119] The Egyptian armored thrust suffered heavy losses. Instead of concentrating forces of maneuvering, except for the wadi thrust, Egyptian units launched head-on-attacks against the waiting Israeli defenses.[120]

          Kenneth Pollack credited a successful Israeli commando raid early on October 14 against an Egyptian signals-intercept site at Jebel Ataqah with seriously disrupting Egyptian command and control and contributing to its breakdown during the engagement.[121] The Egyptian attack was decisively repelled. At least 250 Egyptian tanks[122][123][124][125] and some 200 armored vehicles[123] were destroyed. Egyptian casualties exceeded 1,000.[125][126] Fewer than 40 Israeli tanks were hit and all but six of them were repaired by Israeli maintenance crews and returned to service.[123] Israeli casualties were light.

          Israeli breakthrough

          Israeli tanks crossing the Suez Canal.

          The Israelis immediately followed their success of October 14 with a multidivisional counterattack through the gap between the Egyptian 2nd and 3rd Armies, which had been detected by an American SR-71 Spyplane.[127] Sharon’s 143rd Division, now reinforced with a paratroop brigade commanded by Colonel Danny Matt, was tasked with establishing bridgeheads on the east and west banks of the canal. The 162nd and 252nd Armored Divisions, commanded by Generals Avraham Adan and Kalman Magen respectively, would then cross through the breach to the west bank of the canal and swing southward, encircling the 3rd Army.[128] The offensive was code-named Operation Stouthearted Men or alternatively, Operation Valiant.

          On the night of October 15, 750 of Colonel Matt’s paratroopers crossed the canal in rubber dinghies.[129] They were soon joined by tanks ferried on motorized rafts and additional infantry. The force encountered no resistance initially and fanned out in raiding parties, attacking supply convoys, SAM sites, logistic centers and anything of military value, with priority given to the SAMs. Attacks on SAM sites punched a hole in the Egyptian anti-aircraft screen and enabled the Israeli Air Force to more aggressively strike Egyptian ground targets.[130]

          On the night of October 15, 20 Israeli tanks and 7 APCs under the command of Colonel Haim Erez crossed the canal and penetrated 12 kilometers into mainland Egypt, taking the Egyptians by surprise. For the first 24 hours, Erez’s force attacked SAM sites and military columns with impunity. On the morning of October 17, it was attacked by the 23rd Egyptian Armored Brigade, but managed to repulse the attack. By this time, the Syrians no longer posed a credible threat and the Israelis were able to shift their air power to the south in support of the offensive.[131] The combination of a weakened Egyptian SAM umbrella and a greater concentration of Israeli fighter-bombers meant that the IAF was capable of greatly increasing sorties against Egyptian military targets, including convoys, armor and airfields. The Egyptian bridges across the canal were damaged in Israeli air and artillery attacks.[132]

          Israeli jets began attacking Egyptian SAM sites and radars, prompting General Ismail to withdraw much of the Egyptians’ air defense equipment. This in turn gave the IAF greater freedom to operate in Egyptian airspace. Israeli jets also attacked and destroyed underground communication cables at Banha in the Nile Delta, forcing the Egyptians to transmit selective messages by radio, which could be intercepted. Aside from the cables at Banha, Israel refrained from attacking economic and strategic infrastructure following an Egyptian threat to retaliate against Israeli cities with Scud missiles. Israeli aircraft bombed Egyptian Scud batteries at Port Said several times. The Egyptian Air Force attempted to interdict IAF sorties and attack Israeli ground forces, but suffered heavy losses in dogfights and from Israeli air defenses, while inflicting light aircraft losses on the Israelis. The heaviest air battles took place over the northern Nile Delta, where the Israelis repeatedly attempted to destroy Egyptian airbases.[132][133]

          Despite the success the Israelis were having on the west bank, Generals Bar-Lev and Elazar ordered Sharon to concentrate on securing the bridgehead on the east bank. He was ordered to clear the roads leading to the canal as well as a position known as the Chinese Farm, just north of Deversoir, the Israeli crossing point. Sharon objected and requested permission to expand and breakout of the bridgehead on the west bank, arguing that such a maneuver would cause the collapse of Egyptian forces on the east bank. But the Israeli high command was insistent, believing that until the east bank was secure, forces on the west bank could be cut off. Sharon was overruled by his superiors and relented.[134]

          On October 16, he dispatched Amnon Reshef’s Brigade to attack the Chinese Farm. Other IDF forces attacked entrenched Egyptian forces overlooking the roads to the canal. After three days of bitter and close-quarters fighting, the Israelis succeeded in dislodging the numerically superior Egyptian forces. The Israelis lost about 300 dead, 1,000 wounded, and 56 tanks. The Egyptians suffered heavier casualties, and lost 118 tanks destroyed and 15 captured.[135][136][137][138][139][140]

          Israeli forces across the Suez

          Israeli soldiers during the Battle of Ismailia. One of them has a captured Egyptian RPG-7.

          Egyptians meanwhile failed to grasp the extent and magnitude of the Israeli crossing nor did they appreciate its intent and purpose. This was partly due to attempts by Egyptian field commanders to obfuscate reports concerning the Israeli crossing[141] and partly due to a false assumption that the canal crossing was merely a diversion for a major IDF offensive targeting the right flank of the Second Army.[142] Consequently, on October 16, General Shazly ordered the 21st Armored Division to attack southward and the T-62-equipped 25th Independent Armored Brigade to attack northward in a pincer action to eliminate the perceived threat to the Second Army.[143]

          The Egyptians failed to scout the area and were unaware that by now, Adan’s 162nd Armored Division was in the vicinity. Moreover, the 21st and 25th failed to coordinate their attacks, allowing General Adan’s Division to meet each force individually. Adan first concentrated his attack on the 21st Armored Division, destroying 50–60 Egyptian tanks and forcing the remainder to retreat. He then turned southward and ambushed the 25th Independent Armored Brigade, destroying 86 of its 96 tanks and all of its APCs while losing 3 tanks.[143]

          Egyptian artillery shelled the Israeli bridge over the canal on the morning of October 17, scoring several hits. The Egyptian Air Force launched repeated raids, some with up to twenty aircraft, to take out the bridge and rafts, damaging the bridge. The Egyptians had to shut down their SAM sites during these raids, allowing Israeli fighters to intercept the Egyptians. The Egyptians lost 16 planes and 7 helicopters, while the Israelis lost 6 planes.[144]

          The bridge was damaged, and the Israeli Paratroop Headquarters, which was near the bridge, was also hit, wounding the commander and his deputy. During the night, the bridge was repaired, but only a trickle of Israeli forces crossed. According to Chaim Herzog, the Egyptians continued attacking the bridgehead until the cease-fire, using artillery and mortars to fire tens of thousands of shells into the area of the crossing. Egyptian aircraft attempted to bomb the bridge every day, and helicopters launched suicide missions, making attempts to drop barrels of napalm on the bridge and bridgehead. The bridges were damaged multiple times, and had to be repaired at night. The attacks caused heavy casualties, and many tanks were sunk when their rafts were hit. Egyptian commandos and frogmen with armored support launched a ground attack against the bridgehead, which was repulsed with the loss of 10 tanks. Two subsequent Egyptian counterattacks were also beaten back.[132]

          After the failure of the October 17 counterattacks, the Egyptian General Staff slowly began to realize the magnitude of the Israeli offensive. Early on October 18, the Soviets showed Sadat satellite imagery of Israeli forces operating on the west bank. Alarmed, Sadat dispatched Shazly to the front to assess the situation first hand. He no longer trusted his field commanders to provide accurate reports.[145] Shazly confirmed that the Israelis had at least one division on the west bank and were widening their bridgehead. He advocated withdrawing most of Egypt’s armor from the east bank to confront the growing Israeli threat on the west bank. Sadat rejected this recommendation outright and even threatened Shazly with a court martial.[146] Ahmad Ismail Ali recommended that Sadat push for a cease-fire so as to prevent the Israelis from exploiting their successes.[145]

          Israeli forces were by now pouring across the canal on two bridges, including one of indigenous design, and motorized rafts. Israeli engineers under Brigadier-General Dan Even had worked under heavy Egyptian fire to set up the bridges, and over 100 were killed and hundreds more wounded.[147] The crossing was difficult due to Egyptian artillery fire, though by 4:00 am, two of Adan’s brigades were on the west bank of the canal. On the morning of October 18, Sharon’s forces on the west bank launched an offensive toward Ismailia, slowly pushing back the Egyptian paratroop brigade occupying the sand rampart northward to enlarge the bridgehead.[132][148] Some of his units attempted to move west, but were stopped at the crossroads in Nefalia. Adan’s division rolled south toward Suez City while Magen’s division pushed west toward Cairo and south toward Adabiya.[149][150] On October 19, one of Sharon’s brigades continued to push the Egyptian paratroopers north towards Ismailia until the Israelis were within five or six miles of the city. Sharon hoped to seize the city and thereby sever the logistical and supply lines for most of the Egyptian Second Army. Sharon’s second brigade began to cross the canal. The brigade’s forward elements moved to the Abu Sultan Camp, from where they moved north to take Orcha, an Egyptian logistics base defended by a commando battalion. Israeli infantrymen cleared the trenches and bunkers, often engaging in hand-to-hand combat, as tanks moved alongside them and fired into the trench sections to their front. The position was secured before nightfall. More than 300 Egyptians were killed and 50 taken prisoner, while the Israelis lost 18 dead. The fall of Orcha caused the collapse of the Egyptian defensive line, allowing more Israeli troops to get onto the sand rampart. There, they were able to fire in support of Israeli troops facing Missouri Ridge, an Egyptian-occupied position on the Bar-Lev Line which could pose a threat to the Israeli crossing. On the same day, Israeli paratroopers participating in Sharon’s drive pushed the Egyptians back far enough for the Israeli bridges to be out of sight of Egyptian artillery observers, though the Egyptians continued shelling the area.[132][151]

          As the Israelis pushed towards Ismailia, the Egyptians fought a delaying battle, falling into defensive positions further north as they came under increasing pressure from the Israeli ground offensive, coupled with airstrikes. On October 21, one of Sharon’s brigades was occupying the city’s outskirts, but facing fierce resistance from Egyptian paratroopers and commandos. The same day, Sharon’s last remaining unit on the east bank attacked Missouri Ridge. Shmuel Gonen had demanded Sharon capture the position, and Sharon had reluctantly ordered the attack. The assault was preceded by an air attack which caused hundreds of Egyptian soldiers to flee and thousands of others to dig in. One battalion then attacked from the south, destroying 20 tanks and overrunning infantry positions before being halted by Sagger rockets and minefields. Another battalion attacked from southwest, and was stopped by fortified infantry. The Israelis managed to occupy one-third of Missouri Ridge. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan countermanded orders from Sharon’s superiors to continue the attack.[152][153] However, the Israelis continued to expand their holdings on the east bank. According to the Israelis, the IDF bridgehead was 25 miles wide and 20 miles deep by the end of October 21.[154]

          On October 22, Ismailia’s Egyptian defenders were occupying their last line of defense, but managed to repel an Israeli attempt to get behind Ismailia and encircle the city, then push some of Sharon’s forward troops back to the Sweetwater Canal. The Israeli advance on Ismailia had been stopped 10 km south of the city. Both sides had suffered heavy losses.

          On the northern front, the Israelis also attacked Port Said, facing Egyptian troops and a 900-strong Tunisian unit, who fought a defensive battle.[155] The Egyptian government claimed that the city was repeatedly bombed by Israeli jets, and that hundreds of civilians were killed or wounded.[156]

          Adan and Magen moved south, decisively defeating the Egyptians in a series of engagements, though they often encountered determined Egyptian resistance, and both sides suffered heavy casualties.[148] Adan advanced towards the Sweetwater Canal area, planning to break out into the surrounding desert and hit the Geneifa Hills, where many SAM sites were located. Adan’s three armored brigades fanned out, with one advancing through the Geneifa Hills, another along a parallel road south of them, and the third advancing towards Mina. Adan’s brigades met resistance from dug-in Egyptian forces in the Sweetwater Canal area’s greenbelt. Adan’s other brigades were also held by a line of Egyptian military camps and installations. Adan was also harassed by the Egyptian Air Force. The Israelis slowly advanced, bypassing Egyptian positions whenever possible. After being denied air support due to the presence of two SAM batteries that had been brought forward, Adan sent two brigades to attack them. The brigades slipped past the dug-in Egyptian infantry, moving out from the greenbelt for more than eight kilometers, and fought off multiple Egyptian counterattacks. From a distance of four kilometers, they shelled and destroyed the SAMs, allowing the IAF to provide Adan with close air support.[157] Adan’s troops advanced through the greenbelt and fought their way to the Geneifa Hills, clashing with scattered Egyptian, Kuwaiti, and Palestinian troops. The Israelis clashed with an Egyptian armored unit at Mitzeneft, as well as destroying multiple SAM sites. Adan also captured Fayid Airport, which was subsequently prepared by Israeli crews to serve as a supply base and to fly out wounded soldiers.[158]

          Ten miles west of the Bitter Lake, Colonel Natke Nir’s brigade overran an Egyptian artillery brigade that had been participating in the shelling of the Israeli bridgehead. Scores of Egyptian artillerymen were killed and many more taken prisoner. Two Israeli soldiers were also killed, including the son of General Moshe Gidron. Meanwhile, Magen’s division moved west and then south, covering Adan’s flank and eventually moving south of Suez City to the Gulf of Suez.[159] The Israeli advance southward reached Port Suez, on the southern boundary of the Suez Canal.

          By the end of the war, the Israelis had advanced to positions some 101 kilometers from Egypt’s capital, Cairo, and occupied 1,600 square kilometers west of the Suez Canal.[160] They had also cut the Cairo-Suez road and encircled the bulk of Egypt’s Third Army. The Israelis had also taken many prisoners after Egyptian soldiers, including many officers, began surrendering in masses towards the end of the war.[161] The Egyptians held a narrow strip on the east bank of the canal, occupying some 1,200 square kilometers of the Sinai.[162] One source estimated that the Egyptians had 70,000 men, 720 tanks and 994 artillery pieces on the east bank of the canal.[163] However, between 30,000 to 45,000 of them were now encircled by the Israelis.[164][165]

          Egypt’s trapped Third Army

          When the ceasefire came into effect, Israel had lost territory on the east side of the Suez Canal to Egypt –     , but gained territory west of the canal and in the Golan Heights –     .

           A soldier with an Uzi next to a road sign reading "ISMAILIA 36"

          An Israeli soldier on the road to Ismailia.

          The United Nations Security Council passed (14–0) Resolution 338 calling for a ceasefire, largely negotiated between the U.S. and Soviet Union, on October 22. It called upon the belligerents to immediately cease all military activity. The cease-fire was to come into effect 12 hours later at 6:52 pm Israeli time.[166] Because this was after dark, it was impossible for satellite surveillance to determine where the front lines were when the fighting was supposed to stop.[167] U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger intimated to Prime Minister Meir that he would not object to offensive action during the night before the ceasefire was to come into effect.[168]

          Several minutes before the ceasefire came into effect, three Scud missiles were fired at Israeli targets by either Egyptian forces or Soviet personnel in Egypt. This was first combat use of Scud missiles. One Scud targeted the port of Arish and two targeted the Israeli bridgehead on the Suez Canal. One hit an Israeli supply convoy and killed seven soldiers.[169] When the time for the ceasefire arrived, Sharon’s division had failed to capture Ismailia and cut off the Second Army’s supply lines, but Israeli forces were just a few hundred meters short of their southern goal—the last road linking Cairo and Suez.[170]

          Adan’s drive south had left Israeli and Egyptian units scattered throughout the battlefield, with no clear lines between them. As Egyptian and Israeli units tried to regroup, regular firefights broke out. During the night, Elazar reported that the Egyptians were attacking in an attempt to regain land at various locations, and that nine Israeli tanks had been destroyed. He asked permission from Dayan to respond to the attacks and Dayan agreed. Israel then resumed its drive south.[171]

          It is unclear which side fired first[172] but Israeli field commanders used the skirmishes as justification to resume the attacks. When Sadat protested alleged Israeli truce violations, Israel said that Egyptian troops had fired first. William B. Quandt noted that regardless of who fired the first post-ceasefire shot, it was the Israeli Army that was advancing beyond the October 22 ceasefire lines.[173]

          Adan resumed his attack on October 23.[174][175] Israeli troops finished the drive south, captured the last ancillary road, and encircled the Egyptian Third Army east of the Suez Canal.[176] The Israelis then transported enormous amounts of military equipment across the canal, which Egypt claimed was in violation of the ceasefire.[172] Egyptian aircraft launched repeated attacks in support of the Third Army, sometimes in groups of up to 30 planes, but took severe losses.[9]

          Israeli armor and paratroopers also entered Suez in an attempt to capture the city, but they were confronted by Egyptian soldiers and hastily raised local militia forces. They were surrounded, but towards night the Israeli forces managed to extricate themselves. The Israelis had lost 80 dead and 120 wounded, with an unknown number of Egyptian casualties, for no tactical gain (see Battle of Suez).[175][177]

          The next morning, October 23, a flurry of diplomatic activity occurred. Soviet reconnaissance flights had confirmed that Israeli forces were moving south, and the Soviets accused the Israelis of treachery. Kissinger called Meir in an effort to persuade her to withdraw a few hundred yards and she indicated that Israel’s tactical position on the ground had improved. Kissinger found out about the Third Army’s encirclement shortly thereafter.[178]

          Kissinger considered that the situation presented the United States with a tremendous opportunity and that Egypt was dependent on the United States to prevent Israel from destroying its trapped army. The position could be parlayed later into allowing the United States to mediate the dispute and wean Egypt from Soviet influence. As a result, the United States exerted tremendous pressure on the Israelis to refrain from destroying the trapped army, even threatening to support a UN resolution demanding that the Israelis withdraw to their October 22 positions if they did not allow non-military supplies to reach the army. In a phone call with Israeli ambassador Simcha Dinitz, Kissinger told the ambassador that the destruction of the Egyptian Third Army “is an option that does not exist.”[179]

          Despite being surrounded however, the Third Army managed to maintain its combat integrity east of the canal and keep up its defensive positions, to the surprise of many.[180] According to Trevor N. Dupuy, the Israelis, Soviets and Americans overestimated the vulnerability of the Third Army at the time. It was not on the verge of collapse, and he wrote that while a renewed Israeli offensive would probably overcome it, this was not a certainty.[181] and according to David Elazar chief of Israeli headquarter staff on 3 December 1973 “As for the third army, in spite of our encircling them they resisted and advanced to occupy in fact a wider area of land at the east. Thus, we can not say that we defeated or conquered them.”

          David T. Buckwalter agrees that despite the isolation of the Third Army, it was unclear if the Israelis could have protected their forces on the west bank of the canal from a determined Egyptian assault and still maintain sufficient strength along the rest of the front.[182] This assessment however was challenged by Patrick Seale, who stated that the Third Army was “on the brink of collapse.”[183] Seale’s position was supported by P.R. Kumaraswamy, who wrote that intense American pressure prevented the Israelis from annihilating the stranded Third Army.[184]

          Herzog noted that given the Third Army’s desperate situation, in terms of being cut off from re-supply and reassertion of Israeli air superiority, the destruction of the Third Army was inevitable and could have been achieved within a very brief period.[185] Shazly himself described the Third Army’s plight as “desperate” and classified its encirclement as a “catastrophe that was too big to hide.”[186] He further noted that, “the fate of the Egyptian Third Army was in the hands of Israel. Once the Third Army was encircled by Israeli troops every bit of bread to be sent to our men was paid for by meeting Israeli demands.”[187]

          On October 25, an Israeli tank battalion advanced into Adabiya shortly before a ceasefire was to come into effect. Adabiya was taken with support from the Israeli Navy. Some 1,500 Egyptian prisoners were taken, and about a hundred Egyptian soldiers assembled just south of Adabiya, where they held out against the Israelis. The Israelis also conducted their third and final incursion into Suez. They made some gains, but failed to break into the city center. As a result, the city was partitioned down the main street, with the Egyptians holding the city center and the Israelis controlling the outskirts, port installations and oil refinery, effectively surrounding the Egyptian defenders.[132][188]

          On the morning of October 26, the Egyptian Third Army violated the ceasefire by attempting to break through surrounding Israeli forces. The attack was repulsed by Israeli air and ground forces.[189] The Egyptians also made minor gains in attacks against Sharon’s forces in the Ismailia area.[132] The Israelis reacted by bombing and shelling priority targets in Egypt, including command posts and water reserves.[190] The front was quieter in the Second Army’s sector in the northern canal area, where both sides generally respected the ceasefire.[132]

          Though most heavy fighting ended on October 28, the fighting never stopped until January 18, 1974. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan stated that “The cease-fire existed on paper, but the continued firing along the front was not the only characteristic of the situation between October 24, 1973 and January 18, 1974. This intermediate period also held the ever-present possibility of a renewal of full-scale war. There were three variations on how it might break out, two Egyptian and one Israeli. One Egyptian plan was to attack our units west of the canal from the direction of Cairo. The other was to cut-off our canal bridgehead by a link-up of the Second and Third Armies on the east bank. Both plans were based on massive artillery pounding of our forces, who were not well fortified and who would suffer heavy casualties. It was therefore thought that Israel would withdraw from the west bank, since she was most sensitive on the subject of soldier’s lives. Egypt, at the time had a total of 1,700 first-line tanks on both sides of the canal front, 700 on the east bank and 1,000 on the west bank. Also on the west bank, in the second line, were an additional 600 tanks for the defense of Cairo. She had some 2,000 artillery pieces, about 500 operational aircraft, and at least 130 SAM missile batteries positioned around our forces so as to deny us air support.”[191]

          The IDF acknowledged the loss of 14 soldiers during this postwar period. Egyptian losses were higher, especially in the sector controlled by General Ariel Sharon, who ordered his troops to respond with massive firepower to any Egyptian provocation.[192] Some aerial battles took place, and the Israelis also shot down several helicopters attempting to resupply the Third Army.[10]

          The Final Situation on The Egyptian Front

          Despite Israel’s tactical successes west of the canal, the Egyptian military was reformed and organized. Consequently, The Israeli military position became “weak” for different reasons, “One, Israel now had a large force (about six or seven brigades) in a very limited area of land, surrounded from all sides either by natural or man-made barriers, or by the Egyptian forces. This put it in a weak position. Moreover, there were the difficulties in supplying this force, in evacuating it, in the lengthy communication lines, and in the daily attrition in men and equipment. Two, to protect these troops, the Israeli command had to allocate other forces (four or five brigades) to defend the entrances to the breach at the Deversoir. Three, to immobilize the Egyptian bridgeheads in Sinai the Israeli command had to allocate ten brigades to face the Second and Third army bridgeheads. In addition, it became necessary to keep the strategic reserves at their maximum state of alert. Thus, Israel was obliged to keep its armed force-and consequently the country-mobilized for a long period, at least until the war came to an end, because the ceasefire did not signal the end of the war. There is no doubt that this in total conflict with its military theories.”[193] For those reasons and according to Dayan, “It was therefore thought that Israel would withdraw from the west bank, since she was most sensitive on the subject of soldier’s lives.” The Egyptian forces didn’t pull to the west and held on to their positions east of the canal controlling both shores of the Suez Canal. None of the Canal’s main cities were occupied by Israel; however, the city of Suez was surrounded.

          On the Golan Heights

          Syrian attack

          President Hafez al-Assad (right) with soldiers, 1973.

          A map of the fighting on the Golan Heights.

          In the Golan Heights, the Syrians attacked two Israeli brigades and eleven artillery batteries with five divisions and 188 batteries. They began their attack with an airstrike by about 100 aircraft and a 50-minute artillery barrage. The forward brigades of three divisions then penetrated the cease-fire lines and bypassed United Nations observer posts, followed by the main assault force, which was covered by mobile anti-aircraft batteries, bulldozers to penetrate anti-tank ditches, bridge-layers to overcome obstacles and mine-clearance vehicles. The engineering vehicles were priority targets for Israeli gunners and took heavy losses, but Syrian infantrymen, braving intense fire, advanced forward and used their entrenching tools to build up earthen causeways for the tanks, enabling them to overcome anti-tank ditches.[194]

          At the onset of the battle, the Israeli brigades of some 3,000 troops, 180 tanks and 60 artillery pieces faced off against three infantry divisions with large armour components comprising 28,000 Syrian troops, 800 tanks and 600 artillery pieces. In addition, the Syrians deployed two armoured divisions from the second day onwards.[18][19][195][196] Every Israeli tank deployed on the Golan Heights was engaged during the initial attacks. Syrian commandos dropped by helicopter also took the most important Israeli stronghold at Mount Hermon, which had a variety of surveillance equipment. An Israeli force attempting to counterattack was stopped by a Syrian ambush.

          The Golan Heights front was given priority by the Israeli High Command. The fighting in the Sinai was sufficiently far away that Israeli population centers were not immediately threatened. The Golan however, was in close proximity to Israeli population centers, and should the Syrians regain the area, it would pose a serious threat to major Israeli cities such as Tiberias, Safed, Haifa and Netanya.

          Reservists were directed to the Golan as quickly as possible. They were assigned to tanks and sent to the front as soon as they arrived at army depots, without waiting for the crews they trained with to arrive, machine guns to be installed on the tanks, or taking the time to calibrate the tank guns (a time-consuming process known as bore-sighting). The Syrians had expected it to take at least 24 hours for Israeli reserves to reach the front lines; in fact, reserve units began reaching the battle lines only 15 hours after the war began. Israeli reserve forces approaching the Golan Heights were subjected to Syrian artillery fire directed from Mount Hermon.

          A destroyed Syrian T-55 tank on the Golan Heights.

          As the Egyptians had in the Sinai, the Syrians took care to stay under cover of their SAM batteries. Also as in the Sinai, the Syrians made use of Soviet anti-tank weapons, though they were not as effective as in the Sinai because of the uneven terrain.

          The Israeli Air Force initially lost 40 planes from Syrian anti-aircraft batteries, but Israeli pilots soon adopted a different tactic; flying in low over Jordan and diving in over the Golan heights, catching the Syrians in the flank and avoiding many of their batteries. Israeli aircraft dropped both conventional bombs and napalm, devastating Syrian armored columns. However, the Syrian Air Force repeatedly struck Israeli positions during this period.[9]

          On the second day of the war, the Israeli Air Force attempted to take out the Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. Codenamed Doogman 5, the attempt was a costly failure. The Israelis destroyed one Syrian missile battery and lost six aircraft.

          An Israeli Centurion tank. It was considered in many respects superior to the Soviet T-54/55.[197]

          Syrian forces suffered heavy losses as Israeli tanks and infantry fought desperately to buy time for reserve forces to reach to front lines, and conducted stopgap blocking actions whenever the Syrians were on the verge of breaking through. Having practiced on the Golan Heights numerous times, Israeli gunners made effective use of mobile artillery. However, the Syrians pressed the attack in spite of their losses, and the vastly outnumbered defenders lost a number of tanks.[194] Within six hours of the initial assault, the first Israeli line of defense was overrun by sheer weight of numbers, but the Israelis continued to resist.

          A Syrian tank brigade passing through the Rafid Gap turned northwest up a little-used route known as the Tapline Road, which cut diagonally across the Golan. This roadway would prove one of the main strategic hinges of the battle. It led straight from the main Syrian breakthrough points to Nafah, which was not only the location of Israeli divisional headquarters but the most important crossroads on the Heights.[198]

          During the night, Israeli forces successfully held back numerically superior Syrian forces. The Syrians were equipped with night-vision goggles, and struck with precision. The Israelis had to allow the Syrians to advance to ranges close enough for night fighting, and then open fire. Whenever Syrian tanks penetrated the Israeli lines, Israeli gunners would immediately rotate their turrets and destroy them before turning their attention back to the oncoming forces. Israeli tank commander Avigdor Kahalani lined up his tanks and began a barrage of gunfire into the valley beyond their position, leading the Syrians to believe that they were facing a vast Israeli tank armada. During the night, the Syrians regained some of the high ground that Israel had held since the Six Day War, but were soon pushed off by an Israeli counterattack.[199]

          Captain Zvika Greengold, who had just arrived unattached to any unit, fought running battles with Syrian armor for 20 hours, sometimes with his single tank and other times as part of a larger unit, changing tanks half a dozen times as they were knocked out. Greengold suffered burn injuries, but stayed in action and repeatedly showed up at critical moments from an unexpected direction to change the course of a skirmish.[198] For his actions, he received Israel’s highest decoration, the Medal of Valor.

          During over four days of fighting, the Israeli 7th Armored Brigade in the north (commanded by Avigdor Ben-Gal) managed to hold the rocky hill line defending the northern flank of their headquarters in Nafah, inflicting heavy losses on the Syrians. Syrian Brigadier-General Omar Abrash was killed on the third day of the fighting when his command tank was hit as he was preparing for an attack. However, the Syrians continued to press their attack, and the brigade began weakening as it took losses.[194]

          By the afternoon of October 9, only six of the brigade’s tanks remained in action. Just as it was starting to be pushed back, it was bolstered by a force of 15 repaired tanks whose crews included injured men. As individual Israeli tanks arrived to bolster the 7th Brigade, the Syrians, thinking that Israeli reinforcements were arriving and exhausted from three days of continuous fighting, began to retreat.[194]

          Abandoned Syrian T-62 tanks on the Golan Heights.

          To the south, the Israeli Barak Armored Brigade was bereft of any natural defenses. The Syrians were initially slowed down by a minefield. The Barak Brigade’s gunners inflicted severe losses on the Syrians with accurate cannon fire, but Syrians continued pushing and the Barak Brigade began to take heavy casualties. The Israelis continued to fight desperately, hoping to buy time for reserve forces to reach the front lines. In several instances, some tank crews sacrificed themselves rather than voluntarily give ground.[196]

          At night, the Syrians made deadly use of infrared technology, while the Israelis responded by using illumination rounds and xenon light projectors on their tanks and carried out a series of small blocking actions. Brigade Commander Colonel Shoham was killed on the second day, along with his second-in-command and operations officer, as the Syrians desperately tried to advance towards the Sea of Galilee and Nafah. At this point, the Barak Brigade stopped functioning as a cohesive force, although the surviving tanks and crewmen continued fighting independently. The Syrians were close to reaching the Israeli defenders at Nafah, yet stopped the advance on Nafah’s fences at 1700; the pause lasted all night, allowing Israeli forces to form a defensive line.[196] It is surmised that the Syrians had calculated estimated advances, and the commanders in the field did not want to diverge from the plan.

          The tide in the Golan began to turn as the arriving Israeli reserve forces were able to contain the Syrian advance. Beginning on October 8, the Israelis began pushing the Syrians back towards the pre-war ceasefire lines, inflicting heavy tank losses. Another Syrian attack north of Quneitra was repulsed. The tiny Golan Heights were too small to act as an effective territorial buffer, unlike the Sinai Peninsula in the south, but it proved to be a strategic geographical stronghold and was a crucial key in preventing the Syrians from bombarding the cities below. The Israelis, who had suffered heavy casualties during the first three days of fighting, also began relying more heavily on artillery to dislodge the Syrians at long-range.

          The aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on the Syrian General Staff headquarters in Damascus.

          On October 9, Syrian FROG-7 surface-to-surface missiles struck the Israeli Air Force base of Ramat David, killing a pilot and injuring several soldiers. Additional missiles struck civilian settlements. In retaliation, seven Israeli F-4 Phantoms flew into Syria and struck the Syrian General Staff Headquarters in Damascus. The jets attacked from Lebanese airspace to avoid the heavily defended regions around the Golan Heights, attacking a Lebanese radar station along the way. The upper floors of the Syrian GHQ and the Air Force Command were badly damaged. A Soviet cultural center, a television station, and other nearby structures were also mistakenly hit. One Israeli Phantom was shot down.[200] The strike prompted the Syrians to transfer air defense units from the Golan Heights to the home front, allowing the Israeli Air Force greater freedom of action.[194]

          On October 9, as the last Syrian units were being ejected from the Golan Heights, the Syrians launched a counterattack north of Quneitra. As part of the operation, they attempted to land heli-borne troops in the vicinity of El Rom. The counterattack was repulsed, and four Syrian helicopters were shot down with total loss of life.[201] By October 10, the last Syrian unit in the central sector had pushed back across the Purple Line (the pre-war ceasefire line).After four days of intense and incessant combat, the Israelis had succeeded in ejecting the Syrians from the entire Golan.[194]

          A decision now had to be made—whether to stop at the post-1967 border or to continue advancing into Syrian territory. The Israeli High Command spent all of October 10 debating this well into the night. Some favored disengagement, which would allow soldiers to be redeployed to the Sinai (Shmuel Gonen‘s defeat at Hizayon in the Sinai had taken place two days earlier). Others favored continuing the attack into Syria, towards Damascus, which would knock Syria out of the war; it would also restore Israel’s image as the supreme military power in the Middle East and would give Israel a valuable bargaining chip once the war ended.[202]

          Others countered that Syria had strong defenses—antitank ditches, minefields, and strongpoints— and that it would be better to fight from defensive positions in the Golan Heights (rather than the flat terrain deeper in Syria) in the event of another war with Syria. However, Prime Minister Golda Meir realized the most crucial point of the whole debate:

          It would take four days to shift a division to the Sinai. If the war ended during this period, the war would end with a territorial loss for Israel in the Sinai and no gain in the north—an unmitigated defeat. This was a political matter and her decision was unmitigating—to cross the purple line… The attack would be launched tomorrow, Thursday, October 11.[202]

          Israeli advance

          Israeli artillery pounds Syrian forces near the Valley of Tears.

          On October 11, Israeli forces pushed into Syria and advanced towards Damascus along the Quneitra-Damascus road until October 14, encountering stiff resistance by Syrian reservists in prepared defenses. Three Israeli divisions broke the first and second defensive lines near Sasa, and conquered a further 50 square kilometers of territory in the Bashan salient. From there, they were able to shell the outskirts of Damascus, only 40 km away, using M107 heavy artillery.

          On October 12, Israeli paratroopers from the elite Sayeret Tzanhanim reconnaissance unit launched Operation Gown, infiltrating deep into Syria and destroying a bridge in the tri-border area of Syria, Iraq, and Jordan. The operation disrupted the flow of weapons and troops to Syria. During the operation, the paratroopers destroyed a number of tank transports and killed several Syrian soldiers. There were no Israeli casualties.[203]

          As the Syrian position deteriorated, Jordan sent an expeditionary force into Syria. King Hussein, who had come under intense pressure to enter the war, told Israel of his intentions through US intermediaries, in the hope that Israel would accept that this was not a casus belli justifying an attack on Jordan. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declined to offer any such assurance, but said that Israel had no intention of opening another front.[204] Iraq also sent an expeditionary force to Syria, consisting of the 3rd Armoured Division, 6th Armoured Division, some 30,000 men, 250–500 tanks, and 700 APCs.[20][205][206] Israeli jets attacked Iraqi forces as they arrived in Syria.[207]

          The Iraqi divisions were a strategic surprise for the IDF, which expected 24-hour-plus advance intelligence of such moves. This turned into an operational surprise, as the Iraqis attacked the exposed southern flank of the advancing Israeli armor, forcing its advance units to retreat a few kilometers in order to prevent encirclement. Combined Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian counterattacks prevented any further Israeli gains. However, they were also unable to push the Israelis back from the Bashan salient, and suffered heavy losses in their engagements with the Israelis. The most effective attack took place on October 20, though Arab forces lost 120 tanks in that engagement.[207]

          The Syrian Air Force attacked Israeli columns, but its operations were highly limited due to Israeli air superiority, and it suffered heavy losses in dogfights with Israeli jets. On October 23, a large air battle took place near Damascus during which the Israelis shot down 10 Syrian aircraft. The Syrians claimed a similar toll against Israel.[208] The IDF also destroyed the Syrian missile defense system. The Israeli Air Force utilized its air superiority to attack strategic targets throughout Syria, including important power plants, petrol supplies, bridges and main roads. The strikes damaged the Syrian war effort, disrupted Soviet efforts to airlift military equipment into Syria, and disrupted normal life inside the country.[209]

          On October 22, the Golani Brigade and Sayeret Matkal commandos recaptured the outpost on Mount Hermon, after a hard fought battle that involved hand-to-hand combat and Syrian sniper attacks. An unsuccessful attack two weeks prior had cost the Israelis 23 dead and 55 wounded and the Syrians 29 dead and 11 wounded, while this second attack cost Israel an additional 55 dead and 79 wounded.[210] An unknown number of Syrians were also killed and some were taken prisoner. An IDF D9 bulldozer supported by infantry forced its way to the peak. An Israeli paratroop force, landing by helicopter took the corresponding Syrian Hermon outposts on the mountain, killing more than a dozen Syrians while losing one dead and four wounded. Seven Syrian MiGs and two Syrian helicopters carrying reinforcements were shot down as they attempted to intercede.[211]

          Northern front de-escalation

          The Syrians prepared for a massive counteroffensive to drive Israeli forces out of Syria, scheduled for October 23. A total of five Syrian divisions were to take part, alongside the Iraqi and Jordanian expeditionary forces. The Soviets had replaced most of the losses Syria’s tank forces had suffered during the first weeks of the war.

          However, the day before the offensive was to begin, the United Nations imposed its ceasefire (following the acquiescence of both Israel and Egypt). Abraham Rabinovich claimed that “The acceptance by Egypt of the cease-fire on Monday [October 22] created a major dilemma for Assad. The cease-fire did not bind him, but its implications could not be ignored. Some on the Syrian General Staff favored going ahead with the attack, arguing that if it did so Egypt would feel obliged to continue fighting as well… Others, however, argued that continuation of the war would legitimize Israel’s efforts to destroy the Egyptian Third Army. In that case, Egypt would not come to Syria’s assistance when Israel turned its full might northward, destroying Syria’s infrastructure and perhaps attacking Damascus“.[212]

          Ultimately, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad decided to cancel the offensive. On October 23, the day the offensive was to begin, Syria announced that it had accepted the ceasefire, and ordered its troops to cease-fire, while the Iraqi government ordered its forces home.

          Following the UN ceasefire, there were constant artillery exchanges and skirmishes, and Israeli forces continued to occupy positions deep within Syria. According to Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam, Syria’s constant artillery attacks were “part of a deliberate war of attrition designed to paralyse the Israeli economy”, and were intended to pressure Israel into yielding the occupied territory.[213] Some aerial engagements took place, and both sides lost several aircraft. In spring 1974, the Syrians attempted to retake the summit of Mount Hermon. The fighting lasted for more than a month and saw heavy losses on both sides, but the Israelis held their positions.[10] The situation continued until a May 1974 disengagement agreement.

          Jordanian Participation

          Though King Hussein of Jordan initially refrained from entering the conflict, on the night of October 12–13 Jordanian troops deployed to the Jordanian-Syrian frontier to buttress Syrian troops, and Jordanian forces joined Syrian and Iraqi assaults on Israeli positions on October 16 and October 19. Hussein sent a second brigade to the Golan front on October 21.[214]

          At sea

          Diagram of the Battle of Latakia

          Diagram of the Battle of Baltim

          On the first day of the war, Egyptian missile boats bombarded the Sinai Mediterranean ports of Rumana and Ras Beyron, Ras Masala and Ras Sudar on the Gulf of Suez, and Sharm el-Sheikh. Egyptian naval frogmen also raided the oil installations at Bala’eem, disabling the massive driller.[215]

          The Battle of Latakia, a revolutionary naval battle between the Israeli and Syrian navies, took place on October 7, the second day of the war. Five Israeli missile boats had been heading towards the Syrian port of Latakia, and sank a Syrian torpedo boat and minesweeper before encountering five Syrian missile boats. The Israelis used electronic countermeasures and chaff rockets to evade Syrian missiles, then sank all five Syrian missile boats. This revolutionary engagement, the first between missile boats using surface-to-surface missiles, proved the potency of small, fast missile boats equipped with advanced ECM packages. The battle also established the Israeli Navy, long derided as the “black sheep” of the Israeli military, as a formidable and effective force in its own right.

          On October 10–11, another engagement took place when Israeli missile boats fired into the port of Latakia, targeting two Syrian missile boats spotted maneuvering among merchant ships in the port. Both Syrian vessels were sunk, and two merchant ships were mistakenly hit and sunk.

          On October 7, the Israeli Navy defeated the Egyptian Navy in what became known as the Battle of Marsa Talamat. Two Israeli Dabur class patrol boats were patrolling in the Gulf of Suez, and encountered two Egyptian Zodiac boats loaded with Egyptian naval commandos, a patrol boat, and coastal guns. The Israeli patrol boats sank both Zodiacs and the patrol boat. Both Israeli patrol boats suffered damage during the battle.[216]

          The second naval battle which ended in a decisive Israeli victory was the Battle of Baltim, which took place on October 8–9 off the coast of Baltim and Damietta. Six Israeli missile boats heading towards Port Said encountered four Egyptian missile boats coming from Alexandria. In an engagement lasting about forty minutes, the Israelis evaded Egyptian Styx missiles using electronic countermeasures and sank three of the Egyptian missile boats with Gabriel missiles and gunfire.[217][218][219][220][221] The Battles of Latakia and Baltim “drastically changed the operational situation at sea to Israeli advantage”.[222]

          Five nights after the Battle of Baltim, five Israeli patrol boats entered the Egyptian anchorage at Ras Ghareb, where over fifty Egyptian small patrol craft, including armed fishing boats mobilized for the war effort that loaded with troops, ammunition and supplies bound for the Israeli side of the Gulf, were based. In the battle that followed, 19 Egyptian boats were sunk, while others remained bottled up in port.[188]

          The Israeli Navy had control of the Gulf of Suez during the war, which made possible the continued deployment of an Israeli SAM battery near an Israeli naval base close to the southern end of the Suez Canal, depriving the Egyptian Third Army of air support and preventing it from moving southward and attempting to capture the southern Sinai.[223]

          Israeli commandos from Shayetet 13, the Israeli Navy’s elite special unit, infiltrated the Egyptian port of Arkada on the night of October 9–10 and sank a Kumar-class missile boat after four previous attempts had failed. After another infiltration attempt failed, the commandos successfully infiltrated Arkada again on the night of October 21–22 and heavily damaged a missile boat with M72 LAW rockets. During one of the raids, the commandos also blew up the port’s main docking pier. On October 16, Shayetet 13 commandos infiltrated Port Said in two Hazir mini-submarines to strike Egyptian naval targets. During the raid, the commandos sank a torpedo boat, a coast guard boat, a tank landing craft, and a missile boat. Two frogmen went missing during the operation.[224][unreliable source?] On October 18, Israeli frogmen set off an explosion that severed two underwater communications cables off Beirut, one of which led to Alexandria and the other to Marseilles. As a result, telex and telecommunications between the West and Syria were severed, and were not restored until the cables were repaired on October 27. The cables had also been used by the Syrians and Egyptians to communicate with each other in preference to using radio, which was monitored by Israeli, US and Soviet intelligence. Egypt and Syria resorted to communicating via a Jordanian radio station in Ajloun, bouncing the signals off a US satellite.[225]

          On October 11, Israeli missile boats sank two Syrian missile boats in an engagement off Tartus. During the battle, a Soviet merchant ship was hit by Israeli missiles and sank.[226]

          During the last week of the war, Egyptian frogmen carried out three or four raids on Eilat. The attacks caused minor damage, but created some alarm.[225]

          A Syrian oil terminal in Baniyas after being shelled by Israeli Sa’ar 3-class missile boats

          Having decisively beaten the Egyptian and Syrian navies, the Israeli Navy had the run of the coastlines. Israeli missile boats utilized their 76mm cannons and other armaments to attack Syrian coastal oil installations, as well as radar stations and other targets of military value on both Syrian and Egyptian coastlines. The Israeli Navy even attacked some of Egypt’s northernmost SAM batteries.[227] The Israeli Navy’s attacks were carried out with minimal support from the Israeli Air Force (only one Arab naval target was destroyed from the air during the entire war).[188]

          The Egyptian Navy managed to enforce a blockade at Bab-el-Mandeb. Eighteen million tons of oil had been transported yearly from Iran to Israel through the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. The blockade was enforced by two Egyptian destroyers and two submarines, supported by ancillary craft. Shipping destined for Israel through the Gulf of Eilat was halted by the Egyptians. The Israeli Navy had no means of lifting the blockade due to the long range involved, and the Israeli Air Force, apparently also incapable of lifting the blockade, did not challenge it. The blockade was lifted on November 1, after Israel used the surrounded Egyptian Third Army as a bargaining chip. The Egyptians unsuccessfully attempted to blockade the Israeli Mediterranean coastline. The Egyptians also mined the Gulf of Suez to prevent the transportation of oil from the Bala’eem and Abu Rudeis oil fields in southwestern Sinai to Eilat in southern Israel. Two oil tankers, of 48,000 ton and 2,000 ton capacity, sank after hitting mines in the Gulf.[228][229] According to Admiral Ze’ev Almog, the Israeli Navy escorted tankers from the Gulf to Eilat throughout the war, and Israeli tankers sailing from Iran were directed to bypass the Red Sea. As a result of these actions and the failure of Egypt’s Mediterranean blockade, the transport of oil, grains and weapons to Israeli ports was made possible throughout nearly the entire war. A post-war survey found found that during the entire war period, Israel suffered no oil shortages, and even sold oil to third parties affected by the Arab oil embargo.[188] This claim was disputed by Edgar O’Ballance, who claimed that no oil went to Israel during the blockade, and the Eilat-Ashdod pipeline was empty by the end of the war.[230]

          Israel responded with a counter-blockade of Egypt in the Gulf of Suez. The Israeli blockade was enforced by naval vessels based at Sharm el-Sheikh and the Sinai coast facing the Gulf of Suez. The Israeli blockade substantially damaged the Egyptian economy. According to historian Gammal Hammad, Egypt’s principal ports, Alexandria and Port Safaga, remained open to shipping throughout the war.[215] Throughout the war, the Israeli Navy enjoyed complete command of the seas both in the Mediterranean approaches and in the Gulf of Suez.[231]

          According to Israeli and western sources, the Israelis lost no vessels in the war.[217][218][232][233] Israeli vessels were “targeted by as many as 52 Soviet-made anti-ship missiles”, but none hit their targets.[234] According to historian Benny Morris, the Egyptians lost seven missile boats and four torpedo boats and coastal defense craft, while the Syrians lost five missile boats, one minesweeper, and one coastal defense vessel.[232] All together, the Israeli Navy suffered three dead or missing and seven wounded.

          Atrocities against Israeli prisoners

          Syrian atrocities

          Syria ignored the Geneva Conventions and many Israeli prisoners of war (POW) were reportedly tortured or killed.[235] Advancing Israeli forces, re-capturing land taken by the Syrians early in the war, came across the bodies of 28 Israeli soldiers who had been blindfolded with their hands bound and summarily executed.[236] In a December 1973 address to the National Assembly, Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass stated that he had awarded one soldier the Medal of the Republic for killing 28 Israeli prisoners with an axe, decapitating three of them and eating the flesh of one of his victims.[237] The Syrians employed brutal interrogation techniques utilizing electric shocks to the genitals. A number of Israeli soldiers taken prisoner on Mount Hermon were executed. Near the village of Hushniye, the Syrians captured 11 administrative personnel from the Golan Heights Force, all of whom were later found dead, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs. Within Hushniye, seven Israeli prisoners were found dead, and another three were executed at Tel Zohar. Syrian prisoners who fell into Israeli captivity confirmed that their comrades killed IDF prisoners.[238]

          Some Israeli POWs reported having their fingernails ripped out while others were described as being turned into human ashtrays as their Syrian guards burned them with lit cigarettes.[239] A report submitted by the chief medical officer of the Israeli army notes that, “the vast majority of (Israeli) prisoners were exposed during their imprisonment to severe physical and mental torture. The usual methods of torture were beatings aimed at various parts of the body, electric shocks, wounds deliberately inflicted on the ears, burns on the legs, suspension in painful positions and other methods.”[240] Following the conclusion of hostilities, Syria would not release the names of prisoners it was holding to the International Committee of the Red Cross and in fact, did not even acknowledge holding any prisoners despite the fact they were publicly exhibited by the Syrians for television crews.[241] The Syrians, having been thoroughly defeated by Israel, were attempting to use their captives as their sole bargaining chip in the post-war negotiations.[242] One of the most famous Israeli POWs was Avraham Lanir, an Israeli pilot who bailed out over Syria and was taken prisoner.[243] Lanir died under Syrian interrogation.[79][244][245] When his body was returned in 1974, it exhibited signs of torture.[244]

          Egyptian atrocities

          Israeli historian Aryeh Yitzhaki estimated that the Egyptians killed about 200 Israeli soldiers who had surrendered. Yitzhaki based his claim on army documents. In addition, dozens of Israeli prisoners were beaten and otherwise mistreated in Egyptian captivity.[246]

          Individual Israeli soldiers gave testimony of witnessing comrades killed after surrendering to the Egyptians, or seeing the bodies of Israeli soldiers found blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs. Avi Yaffe, a radioman serving on the Bar-Lev Line, reported hearing calls from other soldiers that the Egyptians were killing anyone who tried to surrender, and also obtained recordings of soldiers who were saved from Egyptian firing squads. Photographic evidence of such executions exists, though some of it has never been made public. Photos were also found of Israeli prisoners who were photographed alive in Egyptian captivity, but were returned to Israel dead.[246][247]

          The order to kill Israeli prisoners came from General Shazly, who, in a pamphlet distributed to Egyptian soldiers immediately before the war, he advised his troops to kill Israeli soldiers even if they surrendered.[246]

          Soviet threat of intervention

          October 24. A UN-arranged meeting between IDF Lt. Gen. Haim Bar-Lev and an Egyptian general in Sinai.

          On October 9, the Soviet cultural center in Damascus was damaged during an Israeli airstrike, and two days later, the Soviet merchant ship Ilya Mechnikov was sunk by the Israeli Navy during a battle off Syria. The Soviets condemned Israeli actions, and there were calls within the government for military retaliation. The Soviets ultimately reacted by deploying two destroyers off the Syrian coast. Soviet warships in the Mediterranean were authorized to open fire on Israeli combatants approaching Soviet convoys and transports. There were several recorded instances of Soviet ships exchanging fire with Israeli forces. In particular, the Soviet minesweeper Rulevoi and the medium landing ship SDK-137, guarding Soviet transport ships at the Syrian port of Latakia, fired on approaching Israeli jets.[226]

          During the cease-fire, Henry Kissinger mediated a series of exchanges with the Egyptians, Israelis and the Soviets. On October 24, Sadat publicly appealed for American and Soviet contingents to oversee the ceasefire; it was quickly rejected in a White House statement. Kissinger also met with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin to discuss convening a peace conference with Geneva as the venue. Later in the evening (9:35 pm) of October 24–25, Brezhnev sent Nixon a “very urgent” letter. In that letter, Brezhnev began by noting that Israel was continuing to violate the ceasefire and it posed a challenge to both the US and USSR. He stressed the need to “implement” the ceasefire resolution and “invited” the US to join the Soviets “to compel observance of the cease-fire without delay” He then threatened “I will say it straight that if you find it impossible to act jointly with us in this matter, we should be faced with the necessity urgently to consider taking appropriate steps unilaterally. We cannot allow arbitrariness on the part of Israel.”[248][249] The Soviets were threatening to militarily intervene in the war on Egypt’s side if they could not work together to enforce the ceasefire.

          Kissinger immediately passed the message to White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, who met with Nixon for 20 minutes around 10:30 pm, and reportedly empowered Kissinger to take any necessary action.[248] Kissinger immediately called a meeting of senior officials, including Haig, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, and CIA Director William Colby. The Watergate scandal had reached its apex, and Nixon was so agitated and discomposed that they decided to handle the matter without him:

          When Kissinger asked Haig whether [Nixon] should be wakened, the White House chief of staff replied firmly ‘No.’ Haig clearly shared Kissinger’s feelings that Nixon was in no shape to make weighty decisions.[250]

          The meeting produced a conciliatory response, which was sent (in Nixon’s name) to Brezhnev. At the same time, it was decided to increase the Defense Condition (DEFCON) from four to three. Lastly, they approved a message to Sadat (again, in Nixon’s name) asking him to drop his request for Soviet assistance, and threatening that if the Soviets were to intervene, so would the United States.[250]

          The Soviets placed seven airborne divisions on alert and airlift was marshaled to transport them to the Middle East. An airborne command post was set up in the southern Soviet Union, and several air force units were also alerted. “Reports also indicated that at least one of the divisions and a squadron of transport planes had been moved from the Soviet Union to an airbase in Yugoslavia“.[251] The Soviets also deployed seven amphibious warfare craft with some 40,000 naval infantry in the Mediterranean.

          The Soviets quickly detected the increased American defense condition, and were astonished and bewildered at the response. “Who could have imagined the Americans would be so easily frightened,” said Nikolai Podgorny. “It is not reasonable to become engaged in a war with the United States because of Egypt and Syria,” said Premier Alexei Kosygin, while KGB chief Yuri Andropov added that “We shall not unleash the Third World War.”[252] The letter from the US cabinet arrived during the meeting. Brezhnev decided that the Americans were too nervous, and that the best course of action would be to wait to reply.[253] The next morning, the Egyptians agreed to the American suggestion, and dropped their request for assistance from the Soviets, bringing the crisis to an end.

          Participation by other states

          Aid to Israel

          Based on intelligence estimates at the commencement of hostilities, American leaders expected the tide of the war to quickly shift in Israel’s favor, and that Arab armies would be completely defeated within 72 to 96 hours.[254] On October 6, Secretary of State Kissinger convened the National Security Council‘s official crisis management group, the Washington Special Actions Group, which debated whether the U.S. should supply additional arms to Israel. High-ranking representatives of the Defense and State Departments opposed such a move. Kissinger was the sole dissenter; he said that if the US refused aid, Israel would have little incentive to conform to American views in postwar diplomacy. Kissinger argued the sending of U.S. aid might cause Israel to moderate its territorial claims, but this thesis raised a protracted debate whether U.S. aid was likely to make it more accommodating or more intransigent toward the Arab world.[255]

          By October 8, Israel had encountered military difficulties on both fronts. In the Sinai, Israeli efforts to break through Egyptian lines with armor had been thwarted, and while Israel had contained and begun to turn back the Syrian advance, Syrian forces were still overlooking the Jordan River and their air defense systems were inflicting a high toll on Israeli planes.[256][257][258] It became clear by October 9 that no quick reversal in Israel’s favor would occur and that IDF losses were unexpectedly high.[259]

          During the night of October 8–9, an alarmed Dayan told Meir that “this is the end of the third temple.”[257] He was warning of Israel’s impending total defeat, but “Temple” was also the code word for nuclear weapons.[258] Dayan again raised the nuclear topic in a cabinet meeting, warning that the country was approaching a point of “last resort.”[260] That night Meir authorized the assembly of thirteen 20-kiloton-of-TNT (84 TJ) tactical atomic weapons for Jericho missiles at Sdot Micha Airbase, and F-4 aircraft at Tel Nof Airbase, for use against Syrian and Egyptian targets.[258] They would be used if absolutely necessary to prevent total defeat, but the preparation was done in an easily detectable way, likely as a signal to the United States.[260] Kissinger learned of the nuclear alert on the morning of October 9. That day, President Nixon ordered the commencement of Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel’s material losses.[261] Anecdotal evidence suggests that Kissinger told Sadat that the reason for the U.S. airlift was that the Israelis were close to “going nuclear.”[258] European countries refused to allow US airplanes carrying supplies for Israel to refuel at their bases, fearing an Arab oil embargo, with the exception of Portugal and the Netherlands. Portugal permitted the United States to use a leased base in Azores,[262] and the defence minister of the Netherlands, apparently acting without consulting his cabinet colleagues, secretly authorised the use of Dutch airfields.[263]

          A cargo plane with its access door open, men, and a tank

          An M60 delivered during Operation Nickel Grass

          Israel began receiving supplies via US Air Force cargo airplanes on October 14,[264] although some equipment had arrived on planes from Israel’s national airline El Al before this date. By that time, the IDF had advanced deep into Syria and was mounting a largely successful invasion of the Egyptian mainland from the Sinai, but had taken severe material losses. According to Abraham Rabinovich, “while the American airlift of supplies did not immediately replace Israel’s losses in equipment, it did allow Israel to expend what it did have more freely”.[265] By the end of Nickel Grass, the United States had shipped 22,395 tons of matériel to Israel. 8,755 tons of it arrived before the end of the war.[266] American C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy aircraft flew 567 missions throughout the airlift.[267] El Al planes flew in an additional 5,500 tons of matériel in 170 flights.[268][269] The airlift continued after the war until November 14. The United States also delivered approximately 90,000 tons of matériel to Israel by sealift until the beginning of December, using 16 ships.[266] 33,210 tons of it arrived by October 30.[270]

          By the beginning of December, Israel had received between 34 to 40 F-4 fighter-bombers, 46 A-4 attack airplanes, 12 C-130 cargo airplanes, 8 CH-53 helicopters, 40 unmanned aerial vehicles, 200 M-60/M-48A3 tanks, 250 armored personnel carriers, 226 utility vehicles, 12 MIM-72 Chaparral surface-to-air missile systems, 3 MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile systems, 36 155 mm artillery pieces, 7 175 mm artillery pieces, large quantities of 105 mm, 155 mm and 175 mm ammunition, state of the art equipment, such as the AGM-65 Maverick missile and the BGM-71 TOW, weapons that had only entered production one or more years prior, as well as highly advanced electronic jamming equipment. Most of the combat airplanes arrived during the war, and many were taken directly from United States Air Force units. Most of the large equipment arrived after the ceasefire. The total cost of the equipment was approximately US$800 million (US$4.19 billion today).[268][269][271][272]

          On October 13 and 15, Egyptian air defense radars detected an aircraft at an altitude of 25,000 metres (82,000 ft) and a speed of Mach 3, making it impossible to intercept either by fighter or SAM missiles. The aircraft proceeded to cross the whole of the canal zone, the naval ports of the Red Sea (Hurghada and Safaga), flew over the airbases and air defenses in the Nile delta, and finally disappeared from radar screens over the Mediterranean Sea. The speed and altitude were those of the US SR-71 Blackbird, a long-range strategic-reconnaissance aircraft. According to Egyptian commanders, the intelligence provided by the reconnaissance flights helped the Israelis prepare for the Egyptian attack on October 14 and assisted it in conducting Operation Stouthearted Men.[273][274][275]

          Aid to Egypt and Syria

          Soviet Aid

          Two damaged armored personnel carriers. An Israeli flag is next to them.

          A Soviet made BMP-1 captured by Israeli forces

          Starting on October 9, the Soviet Union began supplying Egypt and Syria by air and by sea. The Soviets airlifted 12,500–15,000 tons of supplies, of which 6,000 tons went to Egypt, 3,750 tons went to Syria and 575 tons went to Iraq. General Shazly, the former Egyptian chief of staff, claimed that more than half of the airlifted Soviet hardware actually went to Syria. According to Ze’ev Schiff, Arab losses were so high and the attrition rate so great that equipment was taken directly from Soviet and Warsaw Pact stores to supply the airlift.[276] Antonov An-12 and AN-22 aircraft flew over 900 missions during the airlift.[277]

          The Soviets supplied another 63,000 tons, mainly to Syria, by means of a sealift by October 30.[278][279] Historian Gamal Hammad asserts that 400 T-55 and T-62 tanks supplied by the sealift were directed towards replacing Syrian losses, transported from Odessa on the Black Sea to the Syrian port of Latakia. Hammad claimed that Egypt did not receive any tanks from the Soviets,[280] a claim disputed by Schiff, who stated that Soviet freighters loaded with tanks and other weapons reached Egyptian, Algerian and Syrian ports throughout the war. The sealift may have included Soviet nuclear weapons, which were not unloaded but kept in Alexandria harbor until November to counter the Israeli nuclear preparations, which Soviet satellites had detected. American concern over possible evidence of nuclear warheads for the Soviet Scud missiles in Egypt contributed to Washington’s decision to go to DEFCON 3.[258]

          On the Golan front, Syrian forces received direct support from Soviet technicians and military personnel. At the start of the war, there were an estimated 2,000 Soviet personnel in Syria, of whom 1,000 were serving in Syrian air defense units. Soviet technicians repaired damaged tanks, SAMs and radar equipment, assembled fighter jets that arrived via the sealift, and drove tanks supplied by the sealift from ports to Damascus. On both the Golan and Sinai fronts, Soviet military personnel retrieved abandoned Israeli military equipment for shipment to Moscow.[281] Soviet advisors were reportedly present in Syrian command posts “at every echelon, from battalion up, including supreme headquarters”. Some Soviet military personnel went into battle with the Syrians, and it was estimated that 20 were killed in action and more were wounded. In July 1974, Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres informed the Knesset that high-ranking Soviet officers had been killed on the Syrian front during the war. There were strong rumors that a handful were taken prisoner, but this was denied. However, it was noted that certain Soviet Jews were allowed to emigrate just after the war, leading to suspicions of a covert exchange. The Observer wrote that seven Soviets in uniform were taken prisoner after surrendering when the Israelis overran their bunker. The Israelis reportedly took the prisoners to Ramat David Airbase for interrogation, and treated the incident with great secrecy.[282][283]

          Israeli military intelligence reported that Soviet-piloted MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor/reconnaissance aircraft conducted flyovers over the Canal Zone.[284]

          Other countries

          In total, Arab countries added up to 100,000 troops to Egypt and Syria’s frontline ranks.[12] Besides Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, several other Arab states were also involved in this war, providing additional weapons and financing.

          However, nearly all Arab reinforcements came with no logistical plan or support, expecting their hosts to supply them, and in several cases causing logistical problems. On the Syrian front, a lack of coordination between Arab forces led to several instances of friendly fire.[205][285]

          Algeria sent a squadron each of MiG-21s and Su-7s to Egypt, which arrived at the front between October 9 and October 11. It also sent an armored brigade of 150 tanks, the advance elements of which began to arrive on October 17, but reached the front only on October 24, too late to participate in the fighting. After the war, during the first days of November, Algeria deposited around US$200 million with the Soviet Union to finance arms purchases for Egypt and Syria.[285]

          Libya, which had forces stationed in Egypt before the outbreak of the war, provided one armored brigade and two squadrons of Mirage V fighters, of which one squadron was to be piloted by the Egyptian Air Force and the other by Libyan pilots. Libya also sent financial aid. Morocco sent one infantry brigade to Egypt and one armored regiment to Syria.[286][287] An infantry brigade composed of Palestinians was in Egypt before the outbreak of the war.[205][287] Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each sent 3,000 soldiers to Syria. These arrived with additional Jordanian and Iraqi reinforcements in time for a new Syrian offensive scheduled for October 23, which was later cancelled.[212] Kuwaiti troops were also sent to Egypt. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait also provided financial aid.[287] Tunisia sent 1,000–2,000 soldiers to Egypt, where they were stationed in the Nile Delta and some of them were stationed to defend Port Said.[205] Lebanon sent radar units to Syria for air defense.[288] Sudan deployed a 3,500-strong infantry brigade to Egypt. It arrived on October 28, too late to participate in the war.

          In addition to its forces in Syria, Iraq sent a single Hawker Hunter squadron to Egypt. The squadron quickly gained a reputation amongst Egyptian field commanders for its skill in air support, particularly in anti-armor strikes.[286]

          Cuba sent approximately 4,000 troops, including tank and helicopter crews to Syria, and they reportedly engaged in combat operations against the IDF.[8][289][290] North Korea sent 20 pilots and 19 non-combat personnel to Egypt. The unit had four to six encounters with the Israelis from August through the end of the war. According to Shlomo Aloni, the last aerial engagement on the Egyptian front, which took place on December 6, saw Israeli F-4s engage North Korean-piloted MiG-21s. The Israelis shot down one MiG, and another was mistakenly shot down by Egyptian air defenses. Egyptian sources said that the North Koreans suffered no losses but claimed no aerial victories in their engagements.[9][10][11]


          The Arab armies were equipped with predominantly Soviet-made weapons while Israel’s armaments were mostly Western-made. The Arabs’ T-54/55s and T-62s were equipped with night vision equipment, which the Israeli tanks lacked, giving them an advantage in fighting at night, while Israel tanks had better armor and/or better armament. Israeli tanks also had a distinct advantage in the “hull-down” position where steeper angles of depression resulted in less exposure. The main guns of Soviet tanks could only depress 4 degrees. By contrast, the 105 mm guns on Centurion and Patton tanks could depress 10 degrees.[291]

          Type Arab armies IDF
          AFVs Egypt, Syria and Iraq used T-34/85, T-54, T-55, T-62 and PT-76, as well as SU-100/152 World War II vintage self-propelled guns. M50 and M51 Shermans with upgraded engines, M48A5 Patton, M60A1 Patton, Centurion and about 200 T-54/55 captured during the Six-Day War. All tanks were upgraded with the British 105 mm L7 gun, prior to the war.
          APCs/IFVs BTR-40, BTR-152, BTR-50, BTR-60 APC’s & BMP 1 IFV’s M2 /M3 Half-track, M113
          Artillery M1937 Howitzer, BM-21, D-30 (2A18) Howitzer, M1954 field gun M109 self-propelled howitzer, M107 Self-Propelled Gun, M110 self-propelled howitzer, M50 self-propelled howitzer and Makmat 160 mm self-propelled mortar, Obusier de 155 mm Modèle 50, Soltam M-68 and 130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46)
          Aircraft MiG-21, MiG-19, MiG-17, Su-7B, Tu-16, Il-28, Il-18, Il-14, An-12, Aero L-29 A-4 Skyhawk, F-4 Phantom II, Dassault Mirage III, Dassault Super Mystère, IAI Nesher
          Helicopters Mi-6, Mi-8 Super Frelon, CH-53, AB-205
          AAW SA-6 Gainful, SA-3 Goa, SA-2 Guideline, ZSU-23-4, Strela 2 MIM-23 Hawk, MIM-72/M48 Chaparral, Bofors 40 mm
          Infantry weapons Port Said submachinegun, AK-47, RPK, RPD, DShK HMG, AT-3 Sagger, RPG-7 and B-11 recoilless rifle Uzi, FN FAL, AK-47, FN MAG, M2 Browning, Nord SS.11, LAW, TOW, RL-83 Blindicide and M40 recoilless rifle
          Sea to Sea Missiles P-15 Termit Gabriel missile
          Air-to-Air Missiles Vympel K-13 Shafrir 2, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow
          Air-to-Ground Missiles AGM-45 Shrike anti radiation missile

          Home front during the war

          The war created a state of emergency in the countries involved in fighting. Upon the outbreak of war, air raid sirens sounded throughout Israel. During the war, blackouts were enforced in major cities. The Egyptian government began to evacuate foreign tourists, and on October 11, 1973, the Egyptian ship Syria left Alexandria to Piraeus with a load of tourists wishing to exit Egypt. The US Interest Section in Cairo also requested US government assistance in removing US tourists to Greece.[292] On October 12, Kissinger ordered the US Interest Section in Cairo to speed up preparations for the departure of US tourists staying in Egypt, while notifying such actions to the IDF in order to avoid accidental military operations against them.[293]

          Post-ceasefire negotiations

          Kissinger pushes for peace

          1974 news report about warfare on the Golan prior to the May disengagement accords

          On October 24, the UNSC passed Resolution 339, serving as a renewed call for all parties to adhere to the ceasefire terms established in Resolution 338. Most heavy fighting on the Egyptian front ended by October 26, but clashes along the ceasefire lines and a few airstrikes on the Third Army took place. With some Israeli advances taking place, Kissinger threatened to support a UN withdrawal resolution, but before Israel could respond, Egyptian national security advisor Hafez Ismail sent Kissinger a stunning message—Egypt was willing to enter into direct talks with Israel, provided that it agree to allow non-military supplies to reach the Third Army and to a complete ceasefire.

          About noon on October 25, Kissinger appeared before the press at the State Department. He described the various stages of the crisis and the evolution of US policy. He reviewed the first two weeks of the crisis and the nuclear alert, reiterated opposition to US and Soviet troops in the area and more strongly opposed unilateral Soviet moves. He then reviewed the prospects for a peace agreement, which he termed “quite promising”, and had conciliatory words for Israel, Egypt and even the USSR. Kissinger concluded his remarks by spelling out the principles of a new US policy toward the Arab–Israeli conflict saying:[294]

          Our position is that… the conditions that produced this war were clearly intolerable to the Arab nations and that in the process of negotiations it will be necessary to make substantial concessions. The problem will be to relate the Arab concern for the sovereignty over the territories to the Israeli concern for secure boundaries. We believe that the process of negotiations between the parties is an essential component of this.

          Quandt considers, “It was a brilliant performance, one of his most impressive.” One hour later the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 340. This time the ceasefire held, and the fourth Arab–Israeli war was over.

          UN Emergency Forces at Kilometer 101

          From disengagement to peace

          Disengagement talks took place on October 28, 1973, at “Kilometer 101″ between Israeli Major General Aharon Yariv and Egyptian Major General Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy. Ultimately, Kissinger took the proposal to Sadat, who agreed. United Nations checkpoints were brought in to replace Israeli ones, nonmilitary supplies were allowed to pass, and prisoners-of-war were to be exchanged.

          A summit conference in Geneva followed in December 1973. All parties to the war – Israel, Syria, Jordan and Egypt – were invited to a joint effort by the Soviet Union and the United States to finally usher peace between the Arabs and Israelis. This conference was recognized by UN Security Council Resolution 344 and was based on the Resolution 338, calling for a “just and durable peace”. Nevertheless, the conference was forced to adjourn on January 9, 1974, as Syria refused attendance.[295]

          After the failed conference Henry Kissinger started conducting shuttle diplomacy, meeting with Israel and the Arab states directly. The first concrete result of this was the initial military disengagement agreement, signed by Israel and Egypt on January 18, 1974. The agreement commonly known as Sinai I had the official name of Sinai Separation of Forces Agreement. Under its terms, Israel agreed to pull back its forces from the areas West of Suez Canal which it had occupied since the end of hostilities. Moreover, Israeli forces were also pulled back on the length of the whole front to create security zones for Egypt, UN and Israel, each roughly ten kilometers wide. Thus Israel gave up its advances reaching beyond the Suez canal, but it still held nearly all of Sinai. It became the first of many such Land for Peace agreements where Israel gave up territory in exchange for treaties.[296]

          Another Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement, the Sinai Interim Agreement, was signed in Geneva on September 4, 1975, and was commonly known as Sinai II. This agreement led Israel to withdraw from another 20–40 km with UN forces buffering the vacated area. After the agreement, Israel still held more than two thirds of Sinai, which would prove to be a valuable bargaining chip in the coming negotiations.[297]

          On the Syrian front, skirmishes and artillery exchanges continued taking place. Shuttle diplomacy by Henry Kissinger eventually produced a disengagement agreement on May 31, 1974, based on exchange of prisoners-of-war, Israeli withdrawal to the Purple Line and the establishment of a UN buffer zone. The agreement ended the skirmishes and exchanges of artillery fire that had occurred frequently along the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line. The UN Disengagement and Observer Force (UNDOF) was established as a peacekeeping force in the Golan.

          A peace agreement between Israel and Egypt was finally reached in September 17, 1978 in the famous Camp David Accords after negotiations hosted by president Jimmy Carter. In accordance with the treaty, Israeli forces withdrew gradually from Sinai with last troops exiting on April 26, 1982.[298] There is still no formal peace agreement between Israel and Syria to this day.


          Israel suffered between 2,521[2][31][25] and 2,800 killed in action.[24] An additional 7,250[299] to 8,800[24] soldiers were wounded. Some 293 Israelis were captured.[300] Approximately 400 Israeli tanks were destroyed. Another 600 were disabled but returned to service after repairs.[33] A major Israeli advantage, noted by many observers, was their ability to quickly return damaged tanks to combat.[126][301] The Israeli Air Force lost 102 airplanes: 32 F-4s, 53 A-4s, 11 Mirages and 6 Super Mysteres. Two helicopters, a Bell 205 and a CH-53, were also lost.[34] According to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, nearly half of these were shot down during the first three days of the war.[29] IAF losses per combat sortie were less than in the preceding Six Day War of 1967.[302]

          An Israeli Air Force Mirage IIIC. Flag markings on the nose credit this particular aircraft with 13 aerial kills.

          Arab casualties were known to be much higher than Israel’s, though precise figures are difficult to ascertain as Egypt and Syria never disclosed official figures. The lowest casualty estimate is 8,000 (5,000 Egyptian and 3,000 Syrian) killed and 18,000 wounded.[24] The highest estimate is 18,500 (15,000 Egyptian and 3,500 Syrian) killed.[25] Most estimates lie somewhere in between the two, with the Insight Team of the The Sunday Times of London claiming combined Egyptian and Syrian losses of 16,000 killed[2] and yet another source citing a figure of some 15,000 dead and 35,000 wounded.[27] U.S. estimates placed Egyptian casualties at 13,000.[303] Iraq lost 278 killed and 898 wounded, while Jordan suffered 23 killed and 77 wounded.[304] Some 8,372 Egyptians, 392 Syrians, 13 Iraqis and 6 Moroccans were taken prisoner.[300][305]

          Arab tank losses amounted to 2,250[27][306] though Garwych cites a figure of 2,300.[28] 400 of these fell into Israeli hands in good working order and were incorporated into Israeli service.[27] Between 341[24] and 514[29] Arab aircraft were shot down. According to Herzog, 334 of these aircraft were shot down by the Israeli Air Force in air-to-air combat for the loss of only five Israeli planes.[29] The Insight Team of The Sunday Times notes Arab aircraft losses of 450.[2] 19 Arab naval vessels, including 10 missile boats, were sunk for no Israeli losses.[30]

          Long-term effects

          The peace discussion at the end of the war was the first time that Arab and Israeli officials met for direct public discussions since the aftermath of the 1948 war.

          Response in Israel

          Though the war reinforced Israel’s military deterrence, it had a stunning effect on the population in Israel. Following their victory in the Six-Day War, the Israeli military had become complacent. The shock and sudden reversals that occurred at the beginning of the war inflicted a terrible psychological blow to the Israelis, who had hitherto experienced no serious military challenges.[307]

          A protest against the Israeli government started four months after the war ended. It was led by Motti Ashkenazi, commander of Budapest, the northernmost of the Bar-Lev forts and the only one during the war not to be captured by the Egyptians.[308] Anger against the Israeli government (and Dayan in particular) was high. Shimon Agranat, President of the Israeli Supreme Court, was asked to lead an inquiry, the Agranat Commission, into the events leading up to the war and the setbacks of the first few days.[309]

          The Agranat Commission published its preliminary findings on April 2, 1974. Six people were held particularly responsible for Israel’s failings:

          • Though his performance and conduct during the war was lauded,[310] IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar was recommended for dismissal after the Commission found he bore “personal responsibility for the assessment of the situation and the preparedness of the IDF.”
          • Aman Chief, Aluf Eli Zeira, and his deputy, head of Research, Brigadier-General Aryeh Shalev, were recommended for dismissal.
          • Lt. Colonel Bandman, head of the Aman desk for Egypt, and Lt. Colonel Gedelia, chief of intelligence for the Southern Command, were recommended for transfer away from intelligence duties.
          • Shmuel Gonen, commander of the Southern front, was recommended by the initial report to be relieved of active duty.[311] He was forced to leave the army after the publication of the Commission’s final report, on January 30, 1975, which found that “he failed to fulfill his duties adequately, and bears much of the responsibility for the dangerous situation in which our troops were caught.”[312]

          Rather than quieting public discontent, the report—which “had stressed that it was judging the ministers’ responsibility for security failings, not their parliamentary responsibility, which fell outside its mandate”—inflamed it. Although it had absolved Meir and Dayan of all responsibility, public calls for their resignations (especially Dayan’s) intensified.[311] In the December 1973 legislative election, Meir’s Alignment party lost five Knesset seats.

          On April 11, 1974, Golda Meir resigned. Her cabinet followed suit, including Dayan, who had previously offered to resign twice and was turned down both times by Meir. A new government was seated in June, and Yitzhak Rabin, who had spent most of the war as an advisor to Elazar in an unofficial capacity, became Prime Minister.[313]

          In 1999, the issue was revisited by the Israeli political leadership to prevent similar shortcomings from being repeated. The Israeli National Security Council was created to improve coordination between the different security and intelligence bodies, and the political branch of government.

          Response in Egypt and Syria

          For the Arab states (and Egypt in particular), Arab successes during the war healed the psychological trauma of their defeat in the Six-Day War, allowing them to negotiate with the Israelis as equals. Due to the later setbacks in the war (which saw Israel gain a large salient on African soil and even more territory on the Syrian front)[not in citation given], some believe that the war helped convince many in the Arab world that Israel could not be defeated militarily, thereby strengthening peace movements and ending the old Arab ambition of destroying Israel by force.[314]

          General Shazly had angered Sadat for advocating the withdrawal of Egyptian forces from Sinai to meet the Israeli incursion on the West Bank of the Canal. Six weeks after the war, he was relieved of command and forced out of the army, ultimately going into political exile for years. Upon his return to Egypt, he was placed under house arrest.[315] Following his release, he advocated the formation of a “Supreme High Committee” modeled after Israel’s Agranat Commission in order to “probe, examine and analyze” the performance of Egyptian forces and the command decisions made during the war, but his requests were completely ignored.[316] He published a book, banned in Egypt, that described Egypt’s military failings and the sharp disagreements he had with Ismail and Sadat in connection with the prosecution of the war.[317]

          The commanders of the Second and Third Armies, Generals Khalil and Wasel, were also dismissed from the army.[315] The commander of the Egyptian Second Army at the start of the war, General Mamoun, suffered a heart attack,[126] or, alternatively, a breakdown, after the Egyptian defeat during the October 14 Sinai tank battle, and was replaced by General Khalil.[318][319]

          In Syria, Colonel Rafik Halawi, the Druze commander of an infantry brigade that had collapsed during the Israeli breakthrough, was executed before the war even ended.[315] He was given a quick hearing and sentenced to death; his execution was immediate.[320] Military historian Zeev Schiff referred to him as Syria’s “sacrificial lamb”.[320] The Syrians however offered vehement denials that Halawi was executed and expended great efforts trying to debunk the allegation.[321] They claimed he was killed in battle with Israel and threatened severe punishment to anyone repeating the allegation of execution.[321] Their concern stemmed from a desire to maintain Syrian Druze loyalty to Assad’s regime and prevent Syrian Druze from siding with their co-religionists in Israel.[321] On July 7, 1974, Halawi’s remains were removed from a Syrian military hospital and he was interred in Damascus at the “Cemetery of the Martyrs of the October War” in the presence of many Syrian dignitaries.[321] One analyst noted that the presence of so many high-level officials was unusual and attributed it to Syrian efforts to quell any suggestion of execution.[321]

          Camp David Accords

          Main article: Camp David Accords

          The Yom Kippur War upset the status quo in the Middle East, and the war served as a direct antecedent of the 1979 Camp David Accords.[182] The Accords resulted in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, the first ever between Israel and an Arab state. According to George Friedman, the war gave the Israelis increased respect for the Egyptian military and decreased their confidence in their own, and caused the Israelis to be uncertain whether they could defeat Egypt in the event of another war. At the same time, the Egyptians recognized that despite their improvements, they were defeated in the end, and became doubtful that they could ever defeat Israel militarily. Therefore, a negotiated settlement made sense to both sides.[322]

          Rabin’s government was hamstrung by a pair of scandals, and he was forced to step down in 1977. In the elections that followed, the right-wing Likud party won a majority in the Knesset, and Menachem Begin, the party’s founder and leader, was appointed Prime Minister. This marked a historic change in the Israeli political landscape: for the first time since Israel’s founding, a coalition not led by the Labor Party was in control of the government.

          Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin acknowledge applause during a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., during which President Jimmy Carter announced the results of the Camp David Accords, September 18, 1978.

          Sadat, who had entered the war in order to recover the Sinai from Israel, grew frustrated at the slow pace of the peace process. In a 1977 interview with CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite, Sadat admitted under pointed questioning that he was open to a more constructive dialog for peace, including a state visit. This seemed to open the floodgates, as in a later interview with the same reporter, the normally hard-line Begin – perhaps not wishing to be compared unfavorably to Sadat – said he too would be amenable to better relations. On November 9, 1977, Sadat stunned the world when he told parliament that he would be willing to visit Israel and address the Knesset. Shortly afterward, the Israeli government cordially invited him to address the Knesset. Thus, in November of that year, Sadat took the unprecedented step of visiting Israel, becoming the first Arab leader to do so, and so implicitly recognized Israel.

          The act jump-started the peace process. United States President Jimmy Carter invited both Sadat and Begin to a summit at Camp David to negotiate a final peace. The talks took place from September 5–17, 1978. Ultimately, the talks succeeded, and Israel and Egypt signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in 1979. Israel subsequently withdrew its troops and settlers in the Sinai, in exchange for normal relations with Egypt and a lasting peace.

          Many in the Arab world were outraged at Egypt’s peace with Israel. Sadat, in particular, became deeply unpopular both in the Arab world and in his own country. Egypt was suspended from the Arab League until 1989. Until then, Egypt had been “at the helm of the Arab world”.[323] Egypt’s tensions with its Arab neighbors culminated in 1977 in the short-lived Libyan–Egyptian War.

          Sadat was assassinated two years later on October 6, 1981, while attending a parade marking the eighth anniversary of the start of the war, by Islamist army members who were outraged at his negotiations with Israel.

          Oil embargo

          In response to U.S. support of Israel, the Arab members of OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, decided to reduce oil production by 5% per month on October 17. On October 19, President Nixon authorized a major allocation of arms supplies and $2.2 billion in appropriations for Israel. In response, Saudi Arabia declared an embargo against the United States, later joined by other oil exporters and extended against the Netherlands and other states, causing the 1973 energy crisis.[324]


          A destroyed Syrian T-62 stands as part of an Israeli memorial commemorating the battle of the ‘Valley of Tears’, Northern Golan Heights.

          October 6 is a national holiday in Egypt called Armed Forces Day. It is a national holiday in Syria as well, where it is called “Tishreen Liberation Day”.[325] Marking the 35th anniversary in 2006, Hosni Mubarak said that the conflict “breathed new life” into Egypt. He said Egypt and Syria’s initial victories in the conflict eased Arab bitterness over Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War and ultimately put the two nations on a path of peaceful coexistence.[326]

          In Egypt, many places were named after the October 6 date and Ramadan 10, its equivalent in the Islamic calendar. Examples of these commemorations are the October 6 Bridge in Cairo and the cities 6th of October City and 10th of Ramadan City.

          The “Museum of October 6 War” was built in 1989 in the Heliopolis district of Cairo. The center of the museum is occupied by a rotunda housing a panoramic painting of the struggle between Egyptian and Israeli armed forces. The panorama, the creation of which was outsourced to a group of North Korean artists and architects, is equipped with engines to rotate it 360° during a 30-minutes presentation accompanied by commentary in various languages.[327] A similar museum, which was also built with North Korean assistance—the October War Panorama—operates in Damascus.[328]

          In Israel, a Yom Kippur War exhibit can be found at The Armored Corps Museum at Yad La-Shiryon.[329]

          See also



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          2. ^ a b c d Insight Team of the London Sunday Times, p. 450
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          4. ^ Rabinovich (2004). The Yom Kippur War. Schocken Books. p. 498.
          5. ^ Kumaraswamy, PR (March 30, 2000). 0-313-31302-4#v=onepage&q=&f=false Revisiting The Yom Kippur War. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0-7146-5007-4.
          6. ^ Johnson; Tierney. Failing To Win, Perception of Victory and Defeat in International Politics. p. 177.
          7. ^ Liebman, Charles (July 1993) (PDF). The Myth of Defeat: The Memory of the Yom Kippur war in Israeli Society. Middle Eastern Studies. 29. London: Frank Cass. p. 411.[dead link]
          8. ^ a b c Perez, Cuba, Between Reform and Revolution, p. 377-379
          9. ^ a b c d Nicolle, David & Cooper, Tom: Arab MiG-19 and MiG-21 units in combat
          10. ^ a b c d Aloni, Shlomo: Arab-Israeli Air Wars 1947–82
          11. ^ a b Shazly, pp.83–84
          12. ^ a b c d e Rabinovich. p. 54.
          13. ^ Herzog. p. 239.
          14. ^ a b Shazly, p. 244
          15. ^ a b c The number reflects artillery units of caliber 100 mm and up
          16. ^ Shazly, p. 272.
          17. ^ Haber & Schiff, pp. 30–31
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          External links




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