• The Six Day War ended with no peace treaty so tensions were still high between Egypt and Israel
  • Tensions came to head in 1968 when the two sides started fighting over the Suez Canal
    • Egypt wanted to clear of sunken ships
    • Israel would only allow a clearing if their ships would be allowed through the Canal
  • By 1960 both sides were tired of fighting but continued in a war of attrition (A war in which each side tries to wear the other out)
  • Nassar did not have the support from the other Arab nations that he needed to dislodge the Israelis
  • Nassar died in September 1970 and Anwar Sadat took over
    • Realized the fighting was completely draining Egypt of money and morale and promised that it would be over by 1971
    • Did not uphold his promise
    • Looked for US support because they held “99 per cent of the cards in the Middle East”
    • US was preoccupied with Vietnam and therefore did not extend a helping hand
  • Received aide from the Soviet Union in the form of military equipment and military advisors
    • Equipment was not technologically advanced enough to better the Israelis
    • The Soviets had no influence over the Israelis and Sadat expelled all 15 000 Soviet advisors in the military in 1972


  • Yom Kippur took place on October 6th, 1973
  • Ended on October 24th, 1973

Size of military forces

  • 90 000 Egyptian soldiers and 850 tanks crossed the Suez Canal in 24 hours

o   Destroyed 300 Israeli tanks

o   Regained part of Sinai

  • 500 Syrian tanks attacked Golan Heights


  • Israel fought on one side
  • Egypt and Syria fought on the other
  • The Soviet Union supported the Arab states and gave them weapons to fight the Israelis
  • The US was a mediator and organized a massive airlift to Israel

Strategic importance of war

  • The Yom Kippur War was an attempt by the Egyptians and the Syrians to gain back land they had lost to the Israelis in 1967

Key tactics used during the war

  • In support of Egypt, Arab countries (mostly Saudi Arabia who ban all oil exports to the USA and the Netherlands) created an oil embargo
  • Embargo was to pressure the US and Western Europe into forcing Israeli withdrawal
  • Embargo was lifted in 1974 after a seize-fire was called but the price of oil was quadrupled
  • Arab states also worked together militarily to pull off the simultaneous attack
  • Israel was able to pull through and push the Arabs back through sheer military strength

o   Were able to push the Syrians back and encircle the Egyptian third army

Key Technology used during the war

  • Arabs shocked Israelis with the use of Soviet surface-to-air missiles

o   Basically the missiles are launched from the ground, they lock on a target and then shot it out of the sky

o   It is a great defence against any air force as the Israelis found out

Timeline of Key Events

  • Egyptian forces attacked Israelis on The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) October 6th, 1973
  • Was a religious holiday, most soldiers were on leave, complete surprise for the Israelis
  • Syria simultaneously attacked in the North
  • Took the Israeli army three days to fully mobilize
  • October 12th, pushed Syrians back (refer to map)
  • October 15th, cut off Egyptian third army (refer to map)
  • Arab countries supported Egypt and Syria introduced an embargo on oil shipments
  • Saudi Arabia was the biggest oil supplier and cut all oil exports to the US and the Netherlands
  • Ceasefire called on October 24th after both the US and the Soviet Union appealed to the UN
  • Few days later UN troops were sent to Egypt to preserve the ceasefire

How did this battle alter/impact the course of the history?

  • Tensions between Israelis and Arabs continued after this conflict
  • Israel eventually withdrew troops from the West Bank of the Suez Canal but retained them in Sinai Peninsula
  • Arab states rejected any settlement and pressed for complete Israeli withdrawal
  • 1975 “Arab States persuaded the UN General Assembly… to adopt a resolution condemning Zionism as a form of racism.” (p. 944 of the History of the Modern World, Palmer and Colton)
    • It was eventually repealed in 1992
  • Military victory for Israelis
    • Weapons, training and tactics were superior
    • BUT more losses (men and weaponry) than ever before
  • Arabs destroyed the myth of Israelis invincibility
  • “proved that Arab soldiers could fight with courage and determination under skilled leaders.” (p. 57 Crisis in the Middle East, Scott-Baumann)
  • Arabs worked together militarily and with the oil embargo
  • Caused the world to have more respect for the Arabs because they had acted together and achieved a common goal
  • President Sadat emerged as a world leader
    • Broke stalemate
    • Forced a change in US policy
  • 1973-1975 US Secretary Henry Kissinger engaged in ‘shuttle diplomacy’ (hopped between Israeli, Egyptian and Syrian capitals)
    • Arranged treaties of ‘disengagement’
  • 1974-75 Kissinger secured agreements by which Israeli forces would withdraw from Suez and Golan
    • Enabled Egypt to finally clear the Canal (reopened in 1975)
    • Saudi Arabia started selling oil to the US and the Netherlands again

Camp David (1978)

  • Sadat wanted a permanent peace because four wars had caused the loss of many Israeli lives and the diminishing of the Egyptian economy
  • Egypt needed a lasting peace to recover
  • November 1977 Sadat announced “he was willing to go to Israel and discuss peace”
  • Bold move because for 30 years no Arab leader had acknowledged the existence of Israel
  • December 1977 Peace talks started between Menachem Begin (Israeli Prime Minister) and Sadat slowed down in 1978
  • President Carter invited both to Camp David (US President’s mountain retreat)
  • Discussions lasted for 13 days

Brief Biography and Quotes

Golda Meir is Israeli’s fourth Prime Minister. Meir successfully lead the Israeli’s through the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Meir illustrated her leadership skills after the surprise attack by securing an alliance with the United States and enabling an airlift of aircrafts, artillery and weaponry to Israel during the war. ‘[America was] the only real friend we had and a very powerful one’

David Elazer the 9th Chief of Staff of the Israel’s Defense Force held back the Israelis in preparing of the forthcoming of the Yom Kippur War. He was later forced to resign on April 1 1974. –‘Elazer bears personal responsibility for the assessment of the situation and the preparedness of the IDF’

Henry Kissinger was America’s 56th Secretary of State from 1973-1977. During the Yom Kippur War, Kissinger was one of the main officials dealing with the diplomatic issues and was seeking for the Israel’s to withdraw from the war. –‘there were limits beyond which we could not go, with all our friendship for Israel, and one of them was to make the leader of another superpower look like an idiot.’

President Sadat was the third President of Egypt. He is widely known for his leadership in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 where he successfully demonstrated his strategically and tactically abilities. His visit to Jerusalem in 1977 leading up to the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty gained him gained him credit to be awarded the Noble Peace Prize. –Fear is, I believe, a most effective tool in destroying the soul of an individual – and the soul of a people.”

Political Ideology (Allies)

The political ideology during the Yom Kippur was the practice of containment. Secretary of State, Kissinger was mainly responsible for foreign affairs during this time period. He believed in Realpolitik, is an ideology that is not fixed on rules but rather goal oriented and put into practice for the interest of the nation. For instance, after the Yom Kippur, Kissinger introduced ‘shuttle diplomacy’ in which he persuaded the Israelis to withdraw from Sinai and the areas surrounding it.

Wartime Goals/Objectives

During the Six Day War, Egypt lost the Gaza Strip and Sinai while Syria lost the Golan Heights, Jordan, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Furiously, at the 1967 Khartoum Summit the Arab countries vowed ‘three goals: no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation with Israel’ The UN Security Council Resolution 242 was passed on November 22, 1967 and called for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders and respect ever nation in the area. Israel was not easily persuaded to do so and took no action. Sadat repeatedly threatened to attack the Israelis if they did not follow Resolution 242. Unfortunately, his actions were not taken serious by Jerusalem or the United States. Sadat then began to prepare for war. He gained the ally of Syrian President Hafez al Assad.

Peacetime Goals/Objectives

When US President Jimmy Carter took presidential office on January 20, 1977, he immediately began to fix the issues in the Middle East. The Americans simply wanted the Israelis to vacate all Egyptian and Syrian Fronts. During the May 1977 election in Syria, Prime Minister Rabin had been replaced by Prime Minister Menachem Begin. In November of 1977 President Sadat made a visit to Israel as the first Arab leader to travel and visit Israel. Starting in November 1977, Egypt and Israel embarked on a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. President Jimmy Carter then invited both Begin and Sadat to a US-Israeli-Egyptian Summit meeting at a Presidential retreat known as Camp David. This meeting commenced on September 5, 1978. Between the 5th and the 17th, secret negotiations between Sadat and Begin took placed and were mediated by President Carter.

Camp David Accord

Two parts:

A Framework of Peace in the Middle East:

  • established a government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
  • UN Security Council Resolution 242 where Israel was forced to leave the land taken over during the 1967 war and respect for all nations surrounding them

A Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace between Israel and Egypt:

  • decided the future of the Sinai peninsula (was restored back to Egypt)
  • guarantee Israel passage to the Suez Canal
  • restricted the amount of arms Egypt was allowed to have on the Sinai Peninsula (20-40km from Israel) and also restricted Israeli’s force
  • guaranteed Egypt to pass between Egypt and Jordan

Lasting Legacy to World History

Most dangerous moment of the Cold War since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962’

  • Oil Embargo on the US: quadrupled the oil price to 12$ a barrel by 1974, at the beginning Americans would import 1.2 million barrels a day and at the end of the oil embargo only 19,000 barrels were imported
  • Israel finally returned the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt and Egypt for the first time recognizes Israel
  • the Camp David Accord made Egypt Americans 2nd largest US foreign aid after Israel
  • 1978 President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin receives the Noble Peace Prize
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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