Yom Kippur War: Overview

Yom Kippur War

Context: In a recent development on October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. This action by Hamas has shifted the spotlight back to the ‘Yom Kippur War,’ which took place from October 6 to October 25, 1973.

Yom Kippur War Map
  • Palestine was a territory under the Ottoman Rule.
  • Following the Sykes-Picot Accord, Palestine was given to England as a protectorate.
  • Antisemitic attitude of Hitler and ostracization of Jews in Europe, led to a decision where England and USA tried to resettle Jews in their original homeland.
  • Palestine at that time was Arab state inhabited by Muslims.
  • The incoming migrant Jews with the aid of USA and Britain, dominated the local Arab population and tried to carve out a state and marginalise Arabs in two pockets of West Bank and Gaza.
  • Thus, Arabs were made as a Stateless-refugees in their own country.
  • This created a lot of anger and resistance in other neighbouring Arab countries which wanted to restore the status of fellow Arabs in Palestine.

About Six-Day War of 1967:

  • The Six-Day War, also known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, was a conflict that took place between Israel and the Arab nations of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
  • It was triggered by Palestinian guerrilla attacks on Israel from bases in Syria, which escalated tensions between the two parties.
  • Syria, fearing an impending Israeli invasion, sought support from Egypt.
  • In response, Egypt ordered the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces from the Sinai Peninsula and deployed its troops there.
  • Additionally, Egypt and Jordan entered into a mutual defence treaty, heightening the atmosphere of confrontation.
  • Feeling encircled and under the perceived threat of an imminent Arab attack, Israel initiated a pre-emptive strike against the three Arab states on June 5, 1967.
  • This military action resulted in Israel gaining control of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank of the Jordan River, Old City of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.
  • The status of these occupied territories later became a major point of contention between the conflicting parties.

What was Yom Kippur War? 

The Yom Kippur war, also known as the October war or the Ramadan war, marked a pivotal moment in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This conflict, fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, involved Israel on one side and Egypt and Syria on the other. 

Causes and Course of war: 

1.Israel’s Post-1967 Ascendancy: 

  • Following its decisive victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel had emerged as a dominant regional power.
  • It annexed territories, including the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, setting the stage for future tensions.

2.Anwar Sadat’s Diplomatic Calculus: 

  • Anwar el-Sadat became Egypt’s president in 1970.
  • The country was facing economical-challenges, no longer to sustain continuous conflict with Israel. 
  • Sadat hatched a bold plan to attack Israel, hoping that even an unsuccessful assault would compel Israel to consider peace with Egypt.
  • In 1972, he took significant diplomatic steps, expelling Soviet advisers from Egypt and establishing diplomatic channels with Washington (Israel’s key ally).
  • A new alliance with Syria was forged, setting the stage for a coordinated attack on Israel.

4.The Outbreak of War on Yom Kippur: 

  • The Yom Kippur war commenced on October 6, 1973 which is a significant date for Judaism. 
  • Arab coalition forces launched surprise attacks on Israeli-occupied territories. 
  • The attack, during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, further exacerbated Israel’s unpreparedness as many of its soldiers were on leave for Yom Kippur.
  • Consequently, Egypt and Syria initially made substantial gains.

5.The Course of Battle and International Involvement: 

  • Israel eventually rallied its forces and counterattacked.
  • Fighting intensified primarily in the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.
  • U.S. President Richard Nixon issued a global nuclear alert due to heightened geopolitical tensions.
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Comparing the Yom Kippur War to the recent Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

  • Recently, Hamas initiated ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.’ The surge of violence has been attributed to the longstanding tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, notably stemming from the dispute over the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
  • The episode has drawn comparisons to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, marking one of the deadliest assaults on Israel since that time.
  • Despite its advanced intelligence and interception systems, Israel was caught off guard by the sudden onslaught by Hamas, echoing the Yom Kippur War, during which Israel also found itself ill-prepared due to many soldiers being on leave for Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.

Prelims Practice Question 

Q. ‘Yom-Kippur war’, recently in news, related to the affairs of:

(a)Saudi Arabia and Iran

(b)Israel and Palestine

(c)Ethiopia and Eritrea

(d)Yemen and Oman

Answer: (b)

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