Yom Kippur War

A surprise attack on a holy day in 1973.

Print this page Print this page

Other North African countries responded to Arab and Soviet calls to aid the front­line states. Algeria sent three aircraft squadrons of fighters and bombers, an armored brigade and 150 tanks. Approximately 1,000-2,000 Tunisian soldiers were positioned in the Nile Delta. Sudan stationed 3,500 troops in southern Egypt, and Morocco sent three brigades to the front lines, including 2,500 men to Syria.

Lebanese radar units were used by Syrian air defense forces. Lebanon also allowed Palestinian terrorists to shell Israeli civilian settlements from its territory. Palestinians fought on the Southern Front with the Egyptians and Kuwaitis.

The least enthusiastic participant in the October fighting was probably Jordan's King Hussein, who apparently had been kept uninformed of Egyptian and Syrian war plans. But Hussein did send two of his best units--the 40th and 60th Armored Brigades--to Syria. This force took positions in the southern sector, defending the main Amman-Damascus route and attacking Israeli positions along the Kuneitra-Sassa road on October 16. Three Jordanian artillery batteries also participated in the assault, carried out by nearly 100 tanks.

Israel Recovers

Thrown onto the defensive during the first two days of fighting, Israel mobilized its reserves and eventually repulsed the invaders and carried the war deep into Syria and Egypt. The Arab states were swiftly re-supplied by sea and air from the Soviet Union, which rejected U.S. efforts to work toward an immediate cease­fire. As a result, the United States belatedly began its own airlift to Israel. Two weeks later, Egypt was saved from a disastrous defeat by the U.N. Security Council, which had failed to act while the tide was in the Arabs' favor.

The Soviet Union showed no interest in initiating peacemaking efforts while it looked like the Arabs might win. The same was true for U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. (Waldheim's service with a World War II German army unit guilty of war crimes in the Balkans resulted in his being barred from entering the United States after his election as president of Austria.)

On October 22, the Security Council adopted Resolution 338 calling for "all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately." The vote came on the day that Israeli forces cut off and isolated the Egyptian Third Army and were in a position to destroy it.

Despite the Israel Defense Forces' ultimate success on the battlefield, the war was considered a diplomatic and military failure. A total of 2,688 soldiers were killed.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Mitchell Bard

Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst who lectures frequently on U.S.-Middle East policy. Dr. Bard is also the director of the Jewish Virtual Library.