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Index / Political / Modern Wars /
Yom Kippur War
also called Ramadan War and October War



Yom Kippur War

Yom Kippur War

War fought between Israel on one side, and Egypt and Syria on the other, backed by Iraq and Jordan and supported economically by Saudi Arabia.
The war lasted for 3 weeks, and started on October 6, 1973 and ended on October 22 on the Syrian front and on October 26 on the Egyptian front. The war and its outcome represent a watershed in Middle Eastern history. For the first time, vulnerability on Israeli side was evident, both Syria and Egypt proved their new strength, both military and in organization. It also left Israel with loss of territory, even if that was not its own, but occupied territory from the Six Day War.
The names of this conflict stems from the important Jewish festival of Yom Kippur, and the Muslim month of Ramadan, in which the annual fast of Sawm is performed. From a rare moment of flabbiness in Israeli intelligence and in the government, Israel did not expect any attacks from its neighbours just at this point in time. The background for this is that 2 very important religious festivals coincided in both Islam and Judaism, two festivals in which there was a prohibition against warfare.
Egypt and Syria used this laxity to launch a surprise attack on Israel. The goal of the war was to win back lost Arab territory from preceding wars, first in 1947-49, then 1956 and especially in the last, the Six-Day War of 1967. Following these wars there had been no political progress in solving the situation of lost territory and large groups of Palestinian refugees. A deep frustration had come over the entire Arab world, which came to motivate strong sentiments, and new political orientations in the populations. At the eve of the 1973 war, the Arab nations felt that they had every excuse to wage war against Israel.
The total cost off the war was estimated to US$7 billion on both Israeli and Egyptian side, but much of the operations on Arab side were financed by Saudi Arabia.

History
1973 October 6: Surprise attacks are launched on Israel controlled territories by Egypt and Syria. Egypt attacks their own territory of Sinai that is under Israeli occupation, while Syria attacks their own territory of the Golan Heights that is also under Israeli occupation. Syria gains several victories during the first days.
October 11: After initial victories the Syrian-led troops have lost the Golan Heights, and Israeli troops are now advancing into Syria.
October 16: After Egyptian victories on the Sinai, advancing about 10 km into the peninsula, Israel starts getting their first victories, and on this day they are crossing the Suez Canal.
October 22: A cease fire is arranged by UN on the Syrian front, where the two nations return to pre-war border lines.
October 26: Cease fire on the Egyptian front. US-led talks soon results in a disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel, and Egypt is left with an increased territory compared to before the war — full control over both shores of the Suez Canal is regained, and a strip of land along the first half of the western coast of Sinai is gained. UN forces are stationed along the Suez Canal to monitor the agreement.
October: Oil embargo by Arab oil producing countries on the Western nations that support Israel, starts.
1974 March: End of the oil embargo — which has resulted in strong increase in oil prices, and many difficulties on Western nations.
1974-75: After US-led talks, disengagement agreements are reached between Syria and Israel. The agreement leaves Syria with a small part of the Golan Heights, around the town of Quneitra. UN forces are stationed here to monitor the agreement.




By Tore Kjeilen