Last updated on: 6/25/2008 11:52:00 AM PST

What Was the 1973 "Yom Kippur" War?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Benny Morris, PhD, Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, in his 2001 Book Righteous Victims, wrote:

"On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in what the Israelis call the Yom Kippur War. This is because the conflict broke out on the Day of Atonement. To the Arabs, it was the Ramadan war since Muslims were in the midst of the holy month of Ramadan. The Egyptian code name for the war was 'Operation Badr,' referring to the site of the Prophet Muhamad's first victory over the pagan Arabs in Arabia."

2001 - Benny Morris, PhD 

Albert Hourani, the late Director of St. Antony's College Middle East Centre at Oxford University, in his 1991 book A History of the Arab Peoples, wrote:

"In october 1973 it [Egypt] launched a sudden attack upon the Israeli forces on the east bank of the Suez Canal; at the same moment, and by agreement, the Syrian army attacked the Israelis in the Jawlan [Golan].

In the first rush of fighting, the Egyptian army succeeded in crossing the canal and establishing a bridgehead, and the Syrians occupied part of the Jawlan; weapons supplied by the Russians enabled them to neutralize the Israeli air force, which had won the victory of 1967. In the next few days, however, the military tide turned. Israeli forces crossed the canal and established their own bridgehead on the west bank, and drove the Syrians back towards Damascus...They [the attacks] ended in a cease-fire imposed by the influence of the super-powers which showed that, while the U.S.A. would not allow Israel to be defeated, neither it nor the U.S.S.R. would allow Egypt to be defeated, and that they [the super-powers] did not wish to allow the war to escalate in a way which would draw them in."

1991 - Albert Hourani 

The 1988 Country Studies/Area Handbook on Israel, published by the United States Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, contains the following description of the 1973 War:

"On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, October 6, 1973, Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack against Israel. In the south, waves of Egyptian infantrymen crossed the Suez Canal and overran the defense of the much touted Bar-Lev Line. In the north, Syrian forces outnumbering the Israeli defenders (1,100 Syrian tanks against 157 Israeli tanks) reached the outer perimeter of the Golan Heights overlooking the Hula Basin.

In the first few days of the war, Israeli counterattacks failed, Israel suffered hundreds of casualties, and lost nearly 150 planes. Finally, on October 10 the tide of the war turned; the Syrians were driven out of all territories conquered by them at the beginning of the war and on the following day Israeli forces advanced into Syria proper, about twenty kilometers from the outskirts of Damascus. The Soviet Union responded by making massive airlifts to Damascus and Cairo, which were matched by equally large United States airlifts to Israel. In the south, an Egyptian offensive into Sinai was repelled, and Israeli forces led by General Ariel Sharon crossed the canal to surround the Egyptian Third Army.

At the urgent request of the Soviet Union, United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger went to Moscow to negotiate a cease-fire arrangement. This arrangement found expression in UN Security Council Resolution 338, which called for a cease-fire to be in place within twelve hours, for the implementation of Resolution 242, and for 'negotiations between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.' Following Kissinger's return to Washington, the Soviets announced that Israel had broken the terms of the cease-fire and was threatening to destroy the besieged Egyptian Third Army. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev informed Nixon that if the siege were not lifted the Soviet Union would take unilateral steps. The United States pressured Israel, and the final cease-fire took effect on October 25."

1988 - Country Studies / Area Handbooks Program