October War

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HistoryCentral.com > World History > Middle East > 1973- October War

1973- October War

On October 6th, 1973, which was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Egyptians and the Syrians launched a surprise attack against Israel. The attack caught Israel almost totally by surprise. Although there were signs of imminent attack, Israeli analysts did not believe that the Arabs would actually invade until they had reached strategic parity.

On the morning of October 6th, Israeli leaders received information confirming an impending attack. By then it was too late to mobilize the reserves. Due to American pressure, it was also decided not to strike first -- not to launch a pre-emptive attack. In the initial assault, the Egyptians successfully crossed the Suez Canal, and were able to capture most of the Israeli installations on the Canal's East Bank. Attempts to counterattack were repulsed by the Egyptians via extensive use of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Syrian troops managed to penetrate Israeli defenses on the Golan Heights. However, the hastily activated reserve forces were able to hold back the Syrian onslaught.

As the war continued, Israel was finally able to take the offensive on the Syrian front. Soldiers advanced to Sasa and captured the summit of Mt. Hermon. On the Egyptian front, Israeli troops successfully crossed the Suez Canal, and surrounded the Egyptian Third Army. As the enormity of the Israeli threat became clear, the Arabs called for an immediate cease-fire. After a brief confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, a cease-fire went into effect on October 22nd.