Today in military history: Yom Kippur War begins
On Oct. 6, 1973, the Yom Kippur War began as Egyptian and Syrian forces attacked Israel on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Six years earlier, during the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel had managed to take control of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
And the Arab powers wanted it all back.
Egypt’s president, Anwar el-Sadat, conceived a plan that would either gain back Egypt’s losses, or hurt Israel enough that they would consider making peace. Sadat formed an alliance with Syria and together they attacked Israel’s forces while they were observing the holiday.
The Yom Kippur War did not go as planned for the Arab powers. The Israeli response was much faster than anticipated and Israel surrounded Egypt’s Third Army in their own territory West of the Suez as Israelis advanced within 40 miles of Damascus.
Still, fighting continued until the United Nations secured a cease-fire later in the month. Israel retained more of the Golan Heights but would eventually cede the Sinai back to Egypt after the 1979 Camp David Accords.
On the eighth anniversary of the start of the war, Sadat was assassinated by Islamist army members for making peace with Israel.
Featured Image: A scene from a major battle where Israeli troops fought off Syrian soldiers in the Golan Heights, the area was later named the Valley of Tears. (IDF photo archives.)