Last updated on: 2/22/2012 5:36:12 PM PST
What Was the War of Attrition (Mar. 1969 -- Aug. 1970)?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Pierre Tristam, Editor and Publisher of non-profit news organization Flaglerlive.com, wrote in his article "What Was the War of Attrition Between Egypt and Israel (1968-1970)?" on About.com (accessed Jan. 30, 2012):

"The War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt lasted from 1968 to 1970 and was fought along the cease-fire lines that ended the 1967 Six Day War.

Both sides intended the war of attrition to weaken the other as much as possible in hopes of gaining advantages in subsequent negotiations. Egypt in particular sought to regain territory it had lost in 1967. Egypt's leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, calculated that by waging a low-grade war on Israel over territory belonging to Egypt, international pressure would force Israel to withdraw. Nasser was also intent on redressing the humiliation he and Egypt had suffered in the 1967 war. Israel, for its part, attempted to solidify its hold on Sinai as some members of the Israeli cabinet and Knesset believed the Peninsula should be annexed to Israel--a step toward achieving the old Zionist vision of Greater Israel. In the end, the war achieved none of those objectives. Egypt did not force an Israeli withdrawal. Israel, after the disengagement treaties of the mid-1970s and the Camp David accords of 1979, surrendered Sinai back to Egypt in exchange for peace...

The war of attrition began in June 1968 with an Egyptian bombardment of Israeli positions. For the next two years, the two sides exchanged fire and alternated artillery barrages and assaults, including commando assaults that struck deep inside each other's positions. The number of firing incidents approached 600 in some months.

On April 23, 1970, Abdel Nasser agreed to a three-month cease-fire. The cease-fire was known as the Rogers Plan, after its Nixon administration architect, U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers. The plan called for an end to hostilities and a United Nations-mediated peace process framed by the principles of U.N. Resolution 242...

Over the course of the war of attrition, Israel lost 14 military aircraft. Egypt lost 98, according to an Israeli tally. Egypt never held a full accounting of its war dead, hiding much of the war's losses from the Egyptian public. Israeli estimates put Egyptian losses at 10,000 military and civilian deaths between the end of the 1967 Six Day war and August 1970, when the war of attrition ended. Israel lost 367 soldiers on the Egyptian front and no civilians."

Jan. 30, 2012 - Pierre Tristam 

Avi Shlaim, PhD, Professor of International Relations at St. Antony's College, Oxford University, wrote in his 2001 book The Iron Wall:

"Military clashes between Egypt and Israel occurred intermittently from the end of the Six-Say War until the spring of 1969. However, it was the large-scale offensive mounted by the Egyptian army in March 1969, coupled with [Egyptian President] Nasser's renunciation of the U.N.-Decreed cease-fire, that marked the beginning of the War of Attrition. A formal declaration of intent came later, on June 23, [1969]. Nasser's immediate goal was to prevent the conversion of the Suez Canal into a de facto border [with Israel], while his ultimate goal was to force Israel to withdraw to the prewar border. The military strategy adopted for this purpose consisted of heavy artillery bombardment of Israel's positions on the canal front, occasional air attacks, and hit-and run commando raids. The idea was to take advantage of Egypt's massive superiority in manpower and Israel's comparative disadvantage in static warfare and well-known sensitivity to casualties in order to exhaust Israel militarily, economically, and psychologically, and thus pave the way to an Egyptian crossing to dislodge Israeli forces from Sinai...

The dangers of escalation prompted Secretary of State Rogers to put forward, on 19 June [1970], a second proposal [the first Roger's plan having been rejected by both sides], which came to be known as Rogers B. The proposal had three parts: first, a three-month cease-fire on the Egyptian front; second, a statement by Israel, Egypt, and Jordan that they accepted U.N. Resolution 242, and specifically the call for 'withdrawal from occupied territories'; and third, an undertaking from Israel to negotiate with Egypt and Jordan under [U.N. mediator] Dr. Jarring's auspices as soon as the cease-fire came into force...

On 31 July the [Israeli] cabinet voted by a majority of 17 to 6 for accepting Rogers B... The cease-fire on the Egyptian front went into effect on 7 August [1970], ending the War of Attrition."

2001 - Avi Shlaim, PhD