Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Contemporary World

1945 to the present

After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.

The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.





SINCE 1948


see also: United Nations member states -

see also collection: David Roberts "A Journey in the Holy Land"

see also: Marc Chagall


The State of Israel's fight for existence determines its policies and identity to this day. Between the wars, and especially after 1945, many Jews settled in Palestine and cultivated and developed the country with determination and idealism. However, from the beginning, no satisfactory political solution could be found for the consequent expulsion of the Palestinians who were already living in the area. Relations with Israel's Soviet-backed Arab neighbors have long been strained to breaking point. The US-Israeli alliance has become central to both countries' foreign policies, helping to ensure Israeli supremacy in the Middle East. After a series of military defeats, most Arab countries eventually reached an accommodation with Israel, leaving the Palestinians isolated in their struggle for a state of their own.



History of Israel






Part I

Introduction- Jewish history in Israel
Birth of Judaism and Israel 1400 BCE - 586 BCE
Babylonian, Persian and Greek rule 586 BCE - 150 BCE
The restoration of Jewish rule 174 BCE - 64 BCE
Roman rule 64 BCE - 330
Byzantine (Christian Roman) rule 330 - 631
Arab rule 636 - 1099
Crusader rule 1099 - 1291
Mamluk (Egyptian - Islamic) rule 1260 - 1517
Ottoman (Turkish - Islamic) rule 1517 - 1917
The Zionist Movement
1897–1917: The Zionist Revolution
1917–1948: British rule: the Jewish national home
The League of Nations Mandate
The growth of Arab resistance and immigration restrictions
The 1939 White Paper and the Holocaust
1945–1947: Jewish uprising against British rule
The United Nations decides to partition Palestine
The War of Independence: The civil war phase
Israel 1948 - Present
The State of Israel declared
The War of Independence/Nakba: the Arab invasion phase
Labour Party rule 1948–1977
1948–1953: Ben Gurion and mass immigration
1954–1955: Moshe Sharett and the Lavon Affair
1955–1963: Ben-Gurion II: Sinai Campaign & Eichmann Trial

Part II

1963–1969: Levi Eshkol and the Six-Day War


Part III

1969–1975: Golda Meir and Yom Kippur War
1975–1976: Yitzhak Rabin I: Operation Entebbe, start of Religious Settlements

Part IV

Likud domination 1977–1992
1977–1981: Menachem Begin I: the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty
1981–1983: Begin II: the First Lebanon War
1984–1988: Yitzhak Shamir/Shimon Peres rotation government and first Intifada
1988–1992: Shamir II: the Gulf War and Soviet immigration
1992–1995: Rabin II: Oslo peace talks
Direct elections for the Premier 1996–2005
1996–1999: Binyamin Netanyahu - the peace process slows
1999–2001: Ehud Barak and withdrawal from South Lebanon
2001–2006: Ariel Sharon and withdrawal from Gaza and the Northern West Bank
2006–2009: Ehud Olmert and growing Islamist confrontation
2009-present: Netanyahu II

Part V

List of Prime Ministers; List of presidents of the State of Israel

Part VI

Chagall in Israel

Part VII

United Nations member states - Israel


1969–1975: Golda Meir and Yom Kippur War


Upon learning of the impending attack,
Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir made
the controversial decision not to launch
a pre-emptive strike.

In the 1969 election, Golda Meir became Prime Minister with the largest percentage of the vote ever won by an Israeli party. Meir was the first female prime minister of Israel and is the only woman to have headed a Middle Eastern state in modern times.

In September 1970 King Hussein of Jordan drove the Palestine Liberation Organization out of his country. On 18 September 1970 Syrian tanks invaded Jordan, intending to aid the PLO. At the request of the USA, Israel moved troops to the border and threatened Syria, causing the Syrians to withdraw.

The center of PLO activity then shifted to Lebanon, where the 1969 Cairo agreement gave the Palestinians autonomy within the south of the country. The area controlled by the PLO became known by the international press and locals as "Fatahland" and contributed to the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War. The event also led to Hafez al-Assad taking power in Syria. Egyptian President Nasser died immediately after and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat.

During 1971, violent demonstrations by the Israeli Black Panthers, made the Israeli public aware of resentment among Mizrahi Jews at ongoing discrimination and social gaps.

Increased Soviet antisemitism contributed to a wave of Jews applying to emigrate to Israel. Many Jews were refused exit visas and persecuted by the authorities. They became known as Prisoners of Zion. Those who left could only take two suitcases.

In 1972 the US Jewish Mafia leader, Meyer Lansky, who had taken refuge in Israel, was deported to the USA.

At the Munich Olympics, 11 members of the Israeli team were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists. A botched German rescue attempt led to the death of all 11 Israeli athletes and coaches. Five of the terrorists were shot and three survived unharmed. The three surviving Palestinians were released without charge by the German authorities a month later.


Munich massacre

The Munich massacre is an informal name for events occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually murdered by Black September, a militant group with ties to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization.

By the end of the ordeal, the terrorist group had killed eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and one West German police officer. Five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police officers during an abortive rescue attempt. The three surviving terrorists were captured, and were later released by West Germany following the hijacking by Black September of a Lufthansa airliner. Israel responded to the massacre with Operation Spring of Youth and Operation Wrath of God, a series of airstrikes and assassinations of those suspected of planning the killings.


Members of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team, photographed just before their departure for Munich. The 11 team members taken hostage and subsequently murdered were: 1) wrestling referee Yossef Gutfreund (inset), age 40; 2) wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, 33; 3) weightlifter Yossef Romano, 31; 4) weightlifter David Berger, 28; 5) weightlifter Ze'ev Friedman, 28; 6) wrestler Eliezer Halfin, 24; 7) track coach Amitzur Shapira, 40; 8) shooting coach Kehat Shorr, 53; 9) wrestler Mark Slavin, 18; 10) fencing coach Andre Spitzer, 27; and 11) weightlifting judge Yakov Springer, 51.

The participation of an Israeli team in an Olympic Games held in Germany was significant, in that only 27 years had passed since the end of World War II, and the horrors of the Holocaust that had been carried out by Germany during World War II were still fresh in people's minds. Many of the members of the Israeli team had lost relatives in the Holocaust. The Olympic facilities were located less than ten miles (16 km) from the site of the Dachau concentration camp. The Israeli team visited Dachau just prior to the opening of the Games, and fencing coach Andre Spitzer was chosen to lay a wreath at the concentration camp.

Prior to the hostage-taking, the 1972 Munich Olympic Games were well into their 2nd week and there was a joyous mood. The West German Olympic Organising Committee had encouraged an open and friendly atmosphere in the Olympic Village to help erase memories of the militaristic image of wartime Germany, and, specifically, of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which had been exploited by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler for propaganda purposes. The documentary film One Day in September claims that security in the athletes' village was intentionally lax and that athletes often came and went from the village without presenting proper identification. Many athletes bypassed security checkpoints and climbed over the chain-link fence surrounding the village.

There were no armed security guards anywhere, a fact that had worried Israeli delegation head Shmuel Lalkin even before his team had arrived in Munich. In later interviews with journalists Serge Groussard and Aaron Klein, Lalkin said that he had also expressed concern with the relevant authorities about his team's lodgings. They were housed in a relatively isolated part of the Olympic Village, in a small building close to a gate, which he felt made his team particularly vulnerable to an outside assault. The German authorities apparently assured Lalkin that extra security would look after the Israeli team, but Lalkin doubts that these additional measures were ever taken. A West German forensic psychologist, Dr. Georg Sieber, had been asked by Olympic security experts to come up with 26 "worst-case" scenarios to aid them in planning Olympic security. His Situation 21 predicted with almost eerie accuracy the events of September 5, but it was dismissed by the security specialists as preposterous.

The hostage-taking
On the evening of 4 September, the Israeli athletes enjoyed a night out, watching a performance of Fiddler On The Roof and dining with the play's star, Israeli actor Shmuel Rodensky, before returning to the Olympic Village. On the return trip in the team bus, Lalkin denied his 13-year-old son, who had befriended weightlifter Yossef Romano and wrestler Eliezer Halfin, permission to spend the night in their apartment - an innocent refusal that undoubtedly saved the boy's life. At 4:30 A.M. local time on 5 September, as the athletes slept, eight tracksuit-clad Black September members carrying duffel bags loaded with AK-47 assault rifles, Tokarev pistols, and grenades scaled a two-meter chain-link fence with the assistance of unsuspecting athletes who were also sneaking into the Olympic Village. Once inside, they used stolen keys to enter two apartments being used by the Israeli team at 31 Connollystraße.

Yossef Gutfreund, a wrestling referee, was awakened by a faint scratching noise at the door of Apartment 1, which housed the Israeli coaches and officials. When he investigated, he saw the door begin to open and masked men with guns on the other side. He shouted a warning to his sleeping roommates and threw his nearly 300 lb. (135 kg.) weight against the door in a futile attempt to stop the intruders from forcing their way in. Gutfreund's actions gave his roommate, weightlifting coach Tuvia Sokolovsky, enough time to smash a window and escape. Wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg fought back against the intruders, who shot him through his cheek and then forced him to help them find more hostages. Leading the kidnappers past Apartment 2, Weinberg lied to the kidnappers by telling them that the residents of the apartment were not Israelis. Instead, Weinberg led them to Apartment 3, where the terrorists corralled six wrestlers and weightlifters as additional hostages. It is possible that Weinberg thought that the stronger men might have a better chance of fighting off the attackers, but they were all surprised in their sleep.

As the athletes from Apartment 3 were marched back to the coaches’ apartment, the wounded Weinberg again attacked the kidnappers, allowing one of his wrestlers, Gad Tsobari, to escape via the underground parking garage. The burly Weinberg knocked one of the intruders unconscious and slashed another with a fruit knife before being shot to death. Weightlifter Yossef Romano, a veteran of the Six-Day War, also attacked and wounded one of the intruders before being shot and killed.

The terrorists were left with nine living hostages. Gutfreund, physically the largest of the hostages, was bound to a chair (Groussard describes him as being tied up like a mummy). The rest were lined up four apiece on the two beds in Springer and Shapira's room and tied at the wrists and ankles, and then to each other. Romano's bullet-riddled corpse was left at the feet of his bound comrades as a warning.

Of the other members of Israel's team, racewalker Prof. Shaul Ladany had been jolted awake in Apartment 2 by Gutfreund’s screams and escaped by jumping off a balcony and running through the rear garden of the building. The other four residents of Apartment 2 (marksmen Henry Hershkowitz and Zelig Stroch and fencers Dan Alon and Moshe Yehuda Weinstain), plus Lalkin and the two team doctors, managed to hide and later fled the besieged building. The two female members of Israel's Olympic team, sprinter and hurdler Esther Shachamarov and swimmer Shlomit Nir, were housed in a separate part of the Olympic Village inaccessible to the terrorists. Three more members of Israel's Olympic team, two sailors and an official, were housed in Kiel, 550 miles (900 km) from Munich.

Black September's demands
The attackers were subsequently reported to be part of the Palestinian fedayeen from refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. They were identified as Luttif Afif (Issa), the leader (three of Issa's brothers were also reportedly members of Black September, two of them in Israeli jails), his deputy Yusuf Nazzal (Tony), and junior members Afif Ahmed Hamid (Paolo), Khalid Jawad (Salah), Ahmed Chic Thaa (Abu Halla), Mohammed Safady (Badran), Adnan Al-Gashey (Denawi), and his cousin Jamal Al-Gashey (Samir). According to Simon Reeve, Afif, Nazzal and one of their confederates had all worked in various capacities in the Olympic Village, and had spent a couple of weeks scouting out their potential target. A member of the Uruguayan Olympic delegation, which shared housing with the Israelis, claims that he found Nazzal actually inside 31 Connollystraße less than 24 hours before the attack, but since he was recognised as a worker in the Village, nothing was thought of it at the time. The other members of the hostage-taking group entered Munich via train and plane in the days before the attack. All of the members of the Uruguay and Hong Kong Olympic teams, which also shared the building with the Israelis, were released unharmed during the crisis.

The attackers demanded the release and safe passage to Egypt of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, along with two German radicals held by the German penitentiary system, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, who were founders of the German Red Army Faction. The hostage-takers threw the body of Weinberg out the front door of the residence to demonstrate their resolve. Israel's response was immediate and absolute: there would be no negotiation. It has been claimed that the German authorities, under the leadership of Chancellor Willy Brandt and Minister for the Interior Hans-Dietrich Genscher, rejected Israel’s offer to send an Israeli special forces unit to Germany. The Bavarian interior minister Bruno Merk, who headed the crisis centre jointly with Genscher and Munich's police chief Manfred Schreiber, denies that such an Israeli offer ever existed. One consequence was that the German police who took part in the attempted rescue operation, with no special training in hostage crisis operations, were deprived of specialised technical assistance.

According to journalist John K. Cooley, the hostage situation presented an extremely difficult political situation for the Germans because the hostages were Jewish. Cooley reported that the Germans offered the Palestinians an unlimited amount of money for the release of the athletes, as well as the substitution of high-ranking Germans. However, the kidnappers refused both offers.

Munich police chief Manfred Schreiber and Bruno Merk, interior minister for the Free State of Bavaria, negotiated directly with the kidnappers, repeating the offer of an unlimited amount of money. According to Cooley, the reply was that "money means nothing to us; our lives mean nothing to us." Magdi Gohary and Mohammad Khadif, both Egyptian advisors to the Arab League, and A.D. Touny, an Egyptian member of the International Olympic Committee, also helped try to win concessions from the kidnappers, but to no avail. However, the negotiators apparently were able to convince the kidnappers that their demands were being considered, as Issa granted a total of five extensions to their deadlines. Elsewhere in the village, athletes carried on as normal, seemingly oblivious of the events unfolding nearby. The Games continued until mounting pressure on the IOC forced a suspension of activities some 12 hours after the first athlete had been murdered. American marathon runner Frank Shorter, observing the unfolding events from the balcony of his nearby lodging, was quoted as saying, "Imagine those poor guys over there. Every five minutes a psycho with a machine gun says, 'Let's kill 'em now,' and someone else says, 'No, let's wait a while.' How long could you stand that?"

A small squad of German police was dispatched to the Olympic village. Dressed in Olympic sweatsuits and carrying submachine guns, these were members of the German border-police, poorly trained, and without specific operational plans in place for the rescue. The police took up positions awaiting orders that never came. In the meantime, camera crews filmed the actions of the police from German apartments, and broadcast the images live on television. The kidnappers were therefore able to watch the police as they prepared to attack. Footage shows the kidnappers leaning over to look at the police who were in hiding on the roof. In the end, after Issa threatened to kill two of the hostages, the police left the premises.

At one point during the crisis, the negotiators demanded direct contact with the hostages to satisfy themselves the Israelis were still alive. Fencing coach Andre Spitzer, who spoke fluent German, and shooting coach Kehat Shorr, the senior member of the Israeli delegation, had a brief conversation with German officials while standing at the second-floor window of the besieged building, with two kidnappers holding guns on them. When Spitzer attempted to answer a question, the coach was clubbed with the butt of an AK-47 in full view of international television cameras and pulled away from the window. A few minutes later, Genscher and Walter Tröger, the mayor of the Olympic Village, were briefly allowed into the apartments and spoke with the hostages. Tröger spoke of being very moved by the dignity with which the Israelis held themselves, and that they seemed resigned to their fate. He also noticed that several of the hostages, especially Gutfreund, showed signs of having suffered physical abuse at the hands of the kidnappers, and that David Berger had been shot in his left shoulder. While being debriefed by the crisis team, Genscher and Tröger told them that they had seen "four or five" terrorists inside the apartment. Crucially, these numbers were accepted as definitive.

Unsuccessful rescue

Relocation to Fürstenfeldbruck
While Genscher and Tröger were talking with the hostages, shooting coach Kehat Shorr, speaking for his captive teammates, had told the Germans that the Israelis would not object to being flown to an Arab country, provided that strict guarantees for their safety were made by the Germans and whichever nation they landed in. At 6 p.m. Munich time, the terrorists issued a new dictate, demanding transportation to Cairo. The authorities feigned agreement (although Egyptian Prime Minister Aziz Sedki had already told the German authorities that the Egyptians did not wish to become involved in the hostage crisis), and at 10:10 p.m. a bus carried the terrorists and their hostages from 31 Connollystraße to two military helicopters, which were to transport them to nearby Fürstenfeldbruck, a NATO airbase. Initially, the terrorists had wanted to go to Riem, the international airport near Munich at that time, but the negotiators convinced them that Fürstenfeldbruck would be more practical. The authorities, who preceded the Black Septemberists and hostages in a third helicopter, had an ulterior motive: they planned an armed assault on the terrorists at the airport.

The five German snipers who were chosen to ambush the kidnappers had been selected because they shot competitively on weekends. During a subsequent German investigation, an officer identified as “Sniper No. 2” stated: “I am of the opinion that I am not a sharpshooter.” The five snipers were deployed around the airport - three on the roof of the control tower, one hidden behind a service truck and one behind a small signal tower at ground level - but none of them had any special training. The members of the crisis team - Schreiber, Genscher, Merk and Schreiber's deputy Georg Wolf - supervised and observed the attempted rescue from the airport control tower. Cooley, Reeve and Groussard all place Mossad chief Zvi Zamir and Victor Cohen, one of Zamir's senior assistants, at the scene as well, but as observers only. Zamir has stated repeatedly in interviews over the years that he was never consulted by the Germans at any time during the rescue attempt and that he thought that his presence actually made the Germans uncomfortable.

A Boeing 727 jet was positioned on the tarmac with five or six armed German police inside dressed as flight crew. It was agreed that Issa and Tony would inspect the plane. The plan was that the Germans would overpower the two terrorists as they boarded, giving the snipers a chance to kill the remaining terrorists at the helicopters. These were believed to number no more than two or three, according to what Genscher and Tröger had seen inside 31 Connollystraße. However, during the transfer from the bus to the helicopters, the crisis team discovered that there were actually eight terrorists.

At the last minute, as the helicopters were arriving at Fürstenfeldbruck, the German police aboard the airplane voted to abandon their mission, without consulting the central command. This left only the five sharpshooters to try to overpower a larger and more heavily armed group of terrorists. At that point, General Ulrich Wegener, Genscher's senior aide and later the founder of the elite German counter-terrorist unit GSG 9, said "I'm sure this will blow the whole affair!"

Gunfire commences
The helicopters landed just after 10:30 p.m. and the four pilots and six of the kidnappers emerged. While four of the Black September members held the pilots at gunpoint (breaking an earlier promise that they would not take any Germans hostage), Issa and Tony walked over to inspect the jet, only to find it empty. Realizing they had been lured into a trap, the two fedayeen sprinted back toward the helicopters. As they ran past the control tower, Sniper 3 took one last opportunity to eliminate Issa, which would have left the terrorists leaderless. However, due to the poor lighting, he struggled to see his target and missed, hitting Tony in the thigh instead. Meanwhile, the German authorities gave the order for snipers positioned nearby to open fire, which occurred around 11:00 p.m.

In the ensuing chaos, two of the kidnappers holding the helicopter pilots (Ahmed Chic Thaa and Afif Ahmed Hamid) were killed, and the remaining terrorists (one or two of whom may have already been wounded) scrambled to safety, returning fire from behind and beneath the helicopters, out of the snipers’ line of sight, shooting out many of the airport lights. A German policeman in the control tower, Anton Fliegerbauer, was killed by the gunfire. The helicopter pilots fled; the hostages, tied up inside the craft, could not. During the gun battle, the hostages secretly worked on loosening their bonds and teeth marks were found on some of the ropes after the gunfire had ended.[11]

Frustrated at the Germans' seeming indifference to the gravity of the situation, Zamir and Cohen went up on the roof of the control tower with a megaphone and tried to talk the kidnappers into surrendering. The terrorists replied by firing upon the two Israelis, making it clear that the time for negotiation had long since passed.

Death of hostages
The Germans had not arranged for armored personnel carriers ahead of time and only at this point were they called in to break the deadlock. Since the roads to the airport had not been cleared, the carriers became stuck in traffic and finally arrived around midnight. With their appearance, the terrorists felt the shift in the status quo, and possibly panicked at the thought of the failure of their operation. At four minutes past midnight of September 6, one of the terrorists (likely Issa) turned on the hostages in the eastern helicopter and fired at them with a sub-machine gun from point-blank range. Springer, Halfin, and Friedman were killed instantly; Berger, shot twice in the leg, survived the initial onslaught. The terrorist then pulled the pin on a hand grenade and tossed it into the cockpit; the ensuing explosion destroyed the helicopter and incinerated the bound Israelis inside.

Issa then dashed across the tarmac and began firing at the police, who killed the fedayeen leader with return fire. Another terrorist, Khalid Jawad, attempted to escape and was gunned down by one of the snipers. What happened to the remaining hostages is still a matter of dispute. A German police investigation indicated that one of their snipers and a few of the hostages may have been shot inadvertently by the police. However, a Time Magazine reconstruction of the long-suppressed Bavarian prosecutor’s report indicates that a third kidnapper (Reeve identifies Adnan Al-Gashey) stood at the door of the helicopter and raked the remaining five hostages with machine gun fire; Gutfreund, Shorr, Slavin, Spitzer and Shapira were shot an average of four times each. Of the four hostages in the eastern helicopter, only Ze'ev Friedman’s body was relatively intact; he had been blown clear of the helicopter by the explosion. In some cases, the exact cause of death for the hostages in the eastern helicopter was difficult to establish because the rest of the corpses were burned almost beyond recognition in the explosion and subsequent fire. It is believed that Berger was the last hostage to die, succumbing to smoke inhalation.

Aftermath of unsuccessful rescue
Three of the remaining terrorists lay on the ground, two of them feigning death, and were captured by police. Jamal Al-Gashey had been shot through his right wrist, and Mohammed Safady had sustained a flesh wound to his leg. Adnan Al-Gashey had escaped injury completely. Tony, the final terrorist, escaped the scene, but was tracked down with police dogs 40 minutes later in an airbase parking lot. Cornered and bombarded with tear gas, he was shot dead after a brief gunfight. By around 1:30 a.m., the battle was over.

Initial news reports, published all over the world, indicated that all the hostages were alive, and that all the terrorists had been killed. Only later did a representative for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggest that "initial reports were overly optimistic." Jim McKay, who was covering the Olympics that year for ABC, had taken on the job of reporting the events as Roone Arledge fed them into his earpiece. At 3:24 a.m., McKay received the official confirmation:

“ When I was a kid, my father used to say "Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized." Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They’ve now said that there were eleven hostages. Two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone. ”

Criticisms of West German rescue attempt
Author Simon Reeve, among others, writes that the shootout with the well-trained Black September members showed an egregious lack of preparation on the part of the German authorities. They were not prepared to deal with this sort of situation. This costly lesson led directly to the founding, less than two months later, of GSG 9. In the early 1970s, most Western countries did not have any special anti-terrorist units to deal with this sort of attack.

The authors argue that German authorities made a number of mistakes. First, because of complications in the post-war West German constitution, the army could not participate in the attempted rescue, as the German armed forces are not allowed to operate inside Germany during peacetime. The responsibility was entirely in the hands of the Munich police and the Bavarian authorities.

It was known a full half-hour before the terrorists and hostages had even arrived at Fürstenfeldbruck that the number of terrorists was larger than first believed. Despite this new information, Schreiber stubbornly decided to continue with the rescue operation as originally planned, and the new information could not reach the snipers since they had no radios. It is a basic tenet of sniping operations that enough snipers (at least two for each known target, or in this case a minimum of ten) should have been deployed to neutralize as many of the terrorists as possible with the first volley of shots. It was this most basic failure of experience and technical foresight that led to the subsequent disaster.

The 2006 National Geographic Channel's Seconds From Disaster profile on the massacre stated that the helicopters were supposed to land sideways and to the west of the control tower, a manoeuvre which would have allowed the snipers clear shots into them as the kidnappers threw open the helicopter doors. Instead, the helicopters were landed facing the control tower and at the centre of the airstrip. This not only gave the terrorists a place to hide after the gunfight began, but put Snipers 1 and 2 in the line of fire of the other three snipers on the control tower. The snipers were denied valuable shooting opportunities as a result of the positioning of the helicopters, as well as the fact that the fight effectively became a clearly untenable three snipers versus eight heavily armed terrorists.

According to the same program, the crisis committee delegated to make decisions on how to deal with the incident consisted of Bruno Merk (the Bavarian interior minister), Hans-Dietrich Genscher (the West German interior minister) and Manfred Schreiber (Munich's Chief of Police); in other words, two politicians and only one tactician. The program mentioned that a year before the Games, Schreiber had participated in another hostage crisis (a failed bank robbery) in which he ordered a marksman to shoot one of the perpetrators, who was only wounded. As a result, the robbers shot dead an innocent woman and Schreiber had been charged with involuntary manslaughter. An investigation ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing, but the program suggested that the prior incident affected his judgement in the subsequent Olympic hostage crisis. Had the committee been made up of more experienced people, the situation might well have been handled differently.

As mentioned earlier, the five German snipers at Fürstenfeldbruck did not have radio contact with one another (nor with the German authorities conducting the rescue operation) and therefore were unable to coordinate their fire. The only contact the snipers had with the operational leadership was with Georg Wolf, who was lying next to the three snipers on the control tower giving orders directly to them. The two snipers at ground level had been given vague instructions to shoot when the other snipers began shooting, and were basically left to fend for themselves.

In addition, the snipers did not have the proper equipment for this anti-terrorism operation. The Heckler & Koch G3 battle rifles used were considered by several experts to be inadequate for the distance at which the snipers were trying to shoot the terrorists. The G3, the standard service rifle of the Bundeswehr at that time, had a 20-inch barrel; at the distances the snipers were required to shoot, a 27-inch barrel would have ensured far greater accuracy. None of the rifles were equipped with telescopic or infrared sights. Additionally, none of the snipers was equipped with steel helmets or bullet-proof vests. No armored vehicles were at the scene at Fürstenfeldbruck, and were only called in after the gunfight was well underway.

There were also numerous tactical errors. As mentioned earlier, "Sniper 2," stationed behind the signal tower, wound up directly in the line of fire of his fellow snipers on the control tower, without any protective gear and without any other police being aware of his location. Because of this, "Sniper 2" didn't fire a single shot until late in the gunfight, when hostage-taker Khalid Jawad attempted to escape on foot and ran right at the exposed sniper. "Sniper 2" killed the fleeing terrorist but was in turn wounded heavily by one of his fellow policemen, who was unaware that he was shooting at one of his own men. One of the helicopter pilots, Ganner Ebel, was lying near "Sniper 2" and was also wounded by friendly fire. Both Ebel and the sniper recovered from their injuries.

None of the police officers posing as the fake crew on the Boeing 727 were prosecuted or reprimanded for abandoning their posts. Many of the police officers and border guards who were approached for interviews by the One Day in September production team were threatened with the loss of their pension rights if they talked for the film. Some authors argue that this suggests an attempt at cover-up by the German authorities. Many of the errors made by the Germans during the rescue attempt were ultimately detailed by Heinz Hohensinn, who had participated in the operation, but had taken early retirement and had no pension to lose.

Effect on the Games
In the wake of the hostage-taking, competition was suspended for the first time in modern Olympic history. On September 6, a memorial service attended by 80,000 spectators and 3,000 athletes was held in the Olympic Stadium. IOC President Avery Brundage made little reference to the murdered athletes during a speech praising the strength of the Olympic movement and equating the attack on the Israeli sportsmen with the recent arguments about encroaching professionalism and disallowing Rhodesia's participation in the Games, which outraged many listeners. The victims' families were represented by Andre Spitzer's widow Ankie, Moshe Weinberg's mother, and a cousin of Weinberg's, Carmel Eliash. During the memorial service, Eliash collapsed and died of a heart attack.

Many of the 80,000 people who filled the Olympic Stadium for West Germany's football match with Hungary carried noisemakers and waved flags, but when several spectators unfurled a banner reading “17 dead, already forgotten?” security officers removed the sign and expelled the offenders from the grounds. During the memorial service, the Olympic Flag was flown at half-staff, along with the flags of most of the other competing nations at the request of Willy Brandt. Ten Arab nations objected to their flags being lowered to honor murdered Israelis; their flags were restored to the tops of their flagpoles almost immediately.

Willi Daume, president of the Munich organizing committee, initially sought to cancel the remainder of the Games, but in the afternoon Brundage and others who wished to continue the Games prevailed, stating that they could not let the incident halt the games. Brundage stated "The games must go on, and we must... and we must continue our efforts to keep them clean, pure and honest." The decision was endorsed by the Israeli government and Israeli Olympic team chef de mission Shmuel Lalkin.

On September 6, after the memorial service, the remaining members of the Israeli team withdrew from the Games and left Munich. All Jewish sportsmen were placed under guard. Mark Spitz, the American swimming star who had already completed his competitions, left Munich during the hostage crisis (it was feared that as a prominent Jew, Spitz might now be a kidnapping target). The Egyptian team left the Games on 7 September, stating they feared reprisals. The Philippine and Algerian teams also left the Games, as did some members of the Dutch and Norwegian teams. American marathon runner Kenny Moore, who wrote about the incident for Sports Illustrated, quoted Dutch distance runner Jos Hermens as saying, “You give a party, and someone is killed at the party, you don’t continue the party. I'm going home.” Many athletes, dazed by the tragedy, similarly felt that their desire to compete had been destroyed, although they stayed at the Games.

The families of some victims have asked the IOC to establish a permanent memorial to the athletes. The IOC has declined, saying that to introduce a specific reference to the victims could "alienate other members of the Olympic community," according to the BBC. Alex Gilady, an Israeli IOC official, told the BBC: "We must consider what this could do to other members of the delegations that are hostile to Israel."

There is, however, a memorial outside the Olympic stadium in Munich in the form of a stone tablet at the bridge linking the stadium to the former Olympic village. There is also a memorial tablet to the slain Israelis outside the front door of their former lodging at 31 Connollystraße. On 15 October 1999 (almost a year before the Sydney 2000 Games), a memorial plaque was unveiled in one of the large light towers (Tower 14) outside the Sydney Olympic Stadium, and remains there today.

On September 5, Golda Meir, then-Prime Minister of Israel, appealed to other countries to "save our citizens and condemn the unspeakable criminal acts committed." King Hussein of Jordan - the only leader of an Arab country to publicly denounce the Olympic attack - called it a "savage crime against civilization… perpetrated by sick minds."

The bodies of the five Palestinians — Afif, Nazzal, Chic Thaa, Hamid and Jawad — killed during the Fürstenfeldbruck gun battle were delivered to Libya, where they received heroes’ funerals and were buried with full military honors. On September 9, Israeli planes bombed Palestinian targets in Syria and Lebanon.

On October 29, hijackers of a German Lufthansa passenger jet demanded the release of the three surviving terrorists, who had been arrested after the Fürstenfeldbruck gunfight and were being held for trial. Safady and the Al-Gasheys were immediately released by Germany, receiving a tumultuous welcome when they touched down in Libya and giving their own firsthand account of their operation at a press conference broadcast worldwide. In both ESPN/ABC's documentary The Tragedy of the Munich Games and in Kevin Macdonald's Academy Award-winning documentary One Day in September, it is claimed that the whole Lufthansa hijacking episode was a sham, concocted by the West Germans and Black September so that the Germans could be rid of the three Munich perpetrators. The view is that the Germans were fearful that their mishandling of the rescue attempt would be exposed to the world if the three Fürstenfeldbruck survivors ever stood trial.

Horst Mahler, one of the founders of the Red Army Faction (Baader Meinhof gang), published a document from prison expressing support for the massacre. Years later, Mahler became a militant Holocaust denier.


Operations Wrath of God and Spring of Youth

Golda Meir and the Israeli Defense Committee secretly authorized the Mossad to track down and kill those allegedly responsible for the Munich massacre, a claim which was disputed by Zvi Zamir, who described the mission as “putting an end to the type of terror that was perpetrated” (in Europe). To this end the Mossad set up a number of special teams to locate and kill these terrorists, aided by the agency’s stations in Europe.

In a February 2006 interview, former Mossad chief Zvi Zamir is answering a direct question:

Was there no element of vengeance in the decision to take action against the terrorists? No. We were not engaged in vengeance. We are accused of having been guided by a desire for vengeance. That is nonsense. What we did was to concretely prevent in the future. We acted against those who thought that they would continue to perpetrate acts of terror. I am not saying that those who were involved in Munich were not marked for death. They definitely deserved to die. But we were not dealing with the past; we concentrated on the future. Did you not receive a directive from Golda Meir along the lines of “take revenge on those responsible for Munich”? Golda abhorred the necessity that was imposed on us to carry out the operations. Golda never told me to ‘take revenge on those who were responsible for Munich.’ No one told me that.

The Israeli mission later became known as Operation Wrath of God or Mivtza Za'am Ha'El. Reeve quotes General Aharon Yariv — who, he writes, was the general overseer of the operation — as stating that after Munich the Israeli government felt it had no alternative but to exact justice.

We had no choice. We had to make them stop, and there was no other way… we are not very proud about it. But it was a question of sheer necessity. We went back to the old biblical rule of an eye for an eye… I approach these problems not from a moral point of view, but, hard as it may sound, from a cost-benefit point of view. If I’m very hard-headed, I can say, what is the political benefit in killing this person? Will it bring us nearer to peace? Will it bring us nearer to an understanding with the Palestinians or not? In most cases I don’t think it will. But in the case of Black September we had no other choice and it worked. Is it morally acceptable? One can debate that question. Is it politically vital? It was.

Benny Morris writes that a target list was created using information from “turned” PLO personnel and friendly European intelligence services. Once complete, a wave of assassinations of suspected Black September operatives began across Europe.

On 9 April 1973, Israel launched Operation Spring of Youth, a joint Mossad-IDF operation in Beirut. The targets were Mohammad Yusuf al-Najjar (Abu Yusuf), head of Fatah’s intelligence arm, which ran Black September, according to Morris; Kamal Adwan, who headed the PLO's so-called Western Sector, which controlled PLO action inside Israel; and Kamal Nassir, the PLO spokesman. A group of Sayeret commandos were taken in nine missile boats and a small fleet of patrol boats to a deserted Lebanese beach, before driving in two cars to downtown Beirut, where they killed Najjar, Adwan and Nassir. Two further detachments of commandos blew up the PFLP’s headquarters in Beirut and a Fatah explosives plant. The leader of the commando team that conducted the operations was Ehud Barak.

On 21 July 1973, in the so-called Lillehammer affair, a team of Mossad agents killed Ahmed Bouchiki, a Moroccan man unrelated to the Munich attack, in Lillehammer, Norway, after an informant mistakenly said Bouchiki was Ali Hassan Salameh, the head of Force 17 and a Black September operative. Five Mossad agents, including two women, were captured by the Norwegian authorities, while others managed to slip away. The five were convicted of the killing and imprisoned, but were released and returned to Israel in 1975. The Mossad later found Ali Hassan Salameh in Beirut and killed him on 22 January 1979 with a remote-controlled car bomb.

Simon Reeve writes that the Israeli operations continued for more than 20 years. He details the assassination in Paris in 1992 of the PLO’s head of intelligence, and says that an Israeli general confirmed there was a link back to Munich. Reeve also writes that while Israeli officials have stated Operation Wrath of God was intended to exact vengeance for the families of the athletes killed in Munich, “few relatives wanted such a violent reckoning with the Palestinians”. Reeve states the families were instead desperate to know the truth of the events surrounding the Munich massacre. Reeve outlines what he sees as a lengthy cover-up by German authorities to hide the truth. After 20 years of fighting the German government, the families, led by Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano (widows of fencing coach Andre and weightlifter Yossef, respectively), acquired official documentation proving the depth of the cover-up. After a lengthy court fight, in 2004 the families of the Munich victims reached a financial settlement with the German government.

Surviving hostage-takers
After many years, the fate of the three Fürstenfeldbruck survivors is in dispute. It has long been claimed that both Mohammed Safady and Adnan Al-Gashey were killed by the Mossad as part of Operation Wrath of God. According to the Klein book, Adnan Al-Gashey actually died of heart failure in the 1970s, not as a result of an attack by the Israeli hit squads. Additionally, in the summer of 2004, PLO veteran Tawfiq Tirawi told Klein that his friend Mohammed Safady was "as alive as you are." He did not go beyond that rather cryptic comment. No additional evidence has come to light regarding Safady's survival.

The prevailing belief is that Jamal Al-Gashey is the sole remaining hostage-taker alive today (November 2009), living underground, claiming to still fear retribution from Israeli authorities. He is the only one of the surviving terrorists to consent to interviews since 1972, having granted an interview in 1992 to a Palestinian newspaper, and having briefly emerged from hiding in 1999 to participate in an interview for the film One Day in September, during which he was disguised and his face shown only in blurry shadow.

Abu Daoud
Of those believed to have planned the Munich massacre, only Abu Daoud, the man who claims that the attack was his idea, is known to be alive, and is believed to be in hiding somewhere in the Middle East or in Africa. In January 1977, Daoud was intercepted by French police in Paris while traveling from Beirut under an assumed name.[39] Under protest from the PLO, Iraq, and Libya, who claimed that because Daoud was traveling to a PLO comrade's funeral he should receive diplomatic immunity, the French government refused a West German extradition request on grounds that forms had not been filled in properly and put him on a plane to Algeria before Germany could submit another request. On 27 July 1981, he was shot 13 times from a distance of around two meters in a Warsaw Victoria (now Sofitel) hotel coffee shop, but survived the attack, chasing his would-be assassin down to the front entrance before collapsing.

Abu Daoud was allowed safe passage through Israel in 1996 so he could attend a PLO meeting convened in the Gaza Strip for the purpose of rescinding an article in its charter that called for Israel’s eradication. In his autobiography, From Jerusalem to Munich, first published in France in 1999, and later in a written interview with Sports Illustrated, Abu Daoud, now in his seventies, writes that funds for Munich were provided by Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the PLO since 11 November 2004 and President of the Palestinian National Authority since 15 January 2005.

Though he claims he didn’t know what the money was being spent for, longtime Fatah official Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, was responsible for the financing of the Munich attack.

Abu Daoud, who lives with his wife on a pension provided by the Palestinian Authority, has said that “the [Munich] operation had the endorsement of Arafat,” although Arafat was not involved in conceiving or implementing the attack. In his autobiography, Daoud writes that Arafat saw the team off on the mission with the words “Allah protect you.” Arafat rejected this claim.

Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andre, has refused several offers of meetings with Abu Daoud, saying that the only place she wants to meet him is in a courtroom. According to Spitzer, “He [Abu Daoud] didn’t pay the price for what he did.”

Memorial panel for the victims of the attack on the site of the Munich Olympic Park


The Israeli government responded with an assassination campaign against the organizers and a raid on the PLO headquarters in Lebanon.

The 1972 expulsion of Soviet advisors by the new Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, led to Israeli complacency about the military threat from the Arab world. In 1973, 11 days before Yom Kippur, King Hussein repaid Israel for its assistance in September 1970 by warning Golda Meir of an impending Syrian attack. Meir ignored the warning.

The Yom Kippur War (also known as the October War) began on October 6, 1973 (the Jewish Day of Atonement), the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and a day when adult Jews are required to fast. The Syrian and Egyptian armies launched a well-planned surprise attack against the unprepared Israeli Defense Forces. For the first few days there was a great deal of uncertainty about Israel's capacity to repel the invaders, however the Syrians were repulsed and, although the Egyptians captured a strip of territory in Sinai, Israeli forces had in turn crossed the Suez Canal and were 100 kilometres from Cairo.


Yom Kippur War

An Israeli tank driving past wounded soldiers during the Yom Kippur War (1973),
the fourth Arab-Israeli war.

The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War (Hebrew: מלחמת יום הכיפורים‎; transliterated: Milẖemet Yom HaKipurim or מלחמת יום כיפור, Milẖemet Yom Kipur; Arabic: حرب أكتوبر‎; transliterated: ħarb October or حرب تشرين, ħarb Tishrin), also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to October 26, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states backing Egypt and Syria. The war began with a joint surprise attack against Israel by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. Egypt and Syria respectively crossed the cease-fire lines in the Sinai and the Golan Heights, which had been captured and occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Attacking across the Suez Canal, the Egyptians were successful during the first four days of the war, following which the front settled into a stalemate. After a disastrous Egyptian attempt to renew the offensive, the Israelis counterattacked, striking at the seam between two Egyptian armies. In over a week of heavy fighting, the Israelis crossed the Suez Canal (where the old ceasefire line had been), and eventually cut off elements of the Egyptian Third Army after a United Nations cease-fire had failed. The Syrian attack on the Golan Heights achieved modest gains during the first 24–48 hours, after which momentum began to swing in Israel's favor. By the second week of the war, the Syrians had been pushed out of the heights as the Israelis launched their own counterattack.

The war had far-reaching implications for many nations. The Arab World, which had been humiliated by the lopsided defeat of the Egyptian-Syrian-Jordanian alliance during the Six-Day War, felt psychologically vindicated by its string of victories early in the conflict. This vindication paved the way for the peace process that followed, as well as liberalizations such as Egypt's infitah policy. The Camp David Accords, which came soon after, led to normalized relations between Egypt and Israel—the first time any Arab country had recognized the Israeli state. Egypt, which had already been drifting away from the Soviet Union, then left the Soviet sphere of influence entirely.


Casus belli
This war was part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, an ongoing dispute which included many battles and wars since 1948 when the state of Israel was formed. During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Israelis captured Egypt's Sinai Peninsula all the way up to the Suez Canal, which had become the cease-fire line, and roughly half of Syria's Golan Heights.

According to Chaim Herzog:

On June 19, 1967, the National Unity Government of Israel voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. The Golans would have to be demilitarized and special arrangement would be negotiated for the Straits of Tiran. The government also resolved to open negotiations with King Hussein of Jordan regarding the Eastern border.

The Israeli decision was to be conveyed to the Arab states by the U.S. government. The U.S. was informed of the decision, but not that it was to transmit it. There is no evidence of receipt from Egypt or Syria, who thus apparently never received the offer. The decision was kept a closely guarded secret within Israeli government circles and the offer was withdrawn in October, 1967.

Egypt and Syria both desired a return of the land lost in the Six-Day War. In September 1967 the Khartoum Arab Summit issued the "three no's", resolving that there would be "no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel". In the years following the war, Israel erected lines of fortification in both the Sinai and the Golan Heights. In 1971 Israel spent $500 million fortifying its positions on the Suez Canal, a chain of fortifications and gigantic earthworks known as the Bar Lev Line, named after Israeli General Chaim Bar-Lev.

President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt died in September 1970. He was succeeded by Anwar Sadat, who resolved to win back the territory lost in the Six-Day War. In 1971, Sadat, in response to an initiative by UN intermediary Gunnar Jarring, declared that if Israel committed itself to "withdrawal of its armed forces from Sinai and the Gaza Strip" and to implementation of other provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 242 as requested by Jarring, Egypt would then "be ready to enter into a peace agreement with Israel." Israel responded that it would not withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967 lines.

Sadat hoped that by inflicting even a limited defeat on the Israelis, the status quo could be altered. Hafiz al-Assad, the head of Syria, had a different view. He had little interest in negotiation and felt the retaking of the Golan Heights would be a purely military option. Since the Six-Day War, Assad had launched a massive military buildup and hoped to make Syria the dominant military power of the Arab states. With the aid of Egypt, Assad felt that his new army could win convincingly against the Israeli army and thus secure Syria's role in the region. Assad only saw negotiations beginning once the Golan Heights had been retaken by force, which would induce Israel to give up the West Bank and Gaza, and make other concessions.

Sadat also had important domestic concerns in wanting war. "The three years since Sadat had taken office… were the most demoralized in Egyptian history… A desiccated economy added to the nation's despondency. War was a desperate option." In his biography of Sadat, Raphael Israeli argued that Sadat felt the root of the problem was in the great shame over the Six-Day War, and before any reforms could be introduced he felt that shame had to be overcome. Egypt's economy was in shambles, but Sadat knew that the deep reforms that he felt were needed would be deeply unpopular among parts of the population. A military victory would give him the popularity he needed to make changes. A portion of the Egyptian population, most prominently university students who launched wide protests, strongly desired a war to reclaim the Sinai and was highly upset that Sadat had not launched one in his first three years in office.

The other Arab states showed much more reluctance to fully commit to a new war. King Hussein of Jordan feared another major loss of territory as had occurred in the Six-Day War, during which Jordan had been halved in population. Sadat was also backing the claim of the PLO to the territories (West Bank and Gaza) and in the event of a victory promised Yasser Arafat that he would be given control of them. Hussein still saw the West Bank as part of Jordan and wanted it restored to his kingdom. Moreover, during the Black September crisis of 1970, a near civil war had broken out between the PLO and the Jordanian government. In that war, Syria had intervened militarily on the side of the PLO, estranging Assad and Hussein.

Iraq and Syria also had strained relations, and the Iraqis refused to join the initial offensive. Lebanon, which shared a border with Israel, was not expected to join the Arab war effort because of its small army and already evident instability. The months before the war saw Sadat engage in a diplomatic offensive to try to win support for the war. By the fall of 1973, he claimed the backing of more than a hundred states. These were most of the countries of the Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement, and Organization of African Unity. Sadat had also worked to curry favour in Europe and had some success before the war. Britain and France for the first time sided with the Arab powers against Israel on the United Nations Security Council.

Events leading up to the war
Anwar Sadat in 1972 publicly stated that Egypt was committed to going to war with Israel, and that they were prepared to "sacrifice one million Egyptian soldiers." From the end of 1972, Egypt began a concentrated effort to build up its forces, receiving MiG-21 jet fighters, SA-2, SA-3, SA-6 and SA-7 antiaircraft missiles, T-55 and T-62 tanks, RPG-7 antitank weapons, and the AT-3 Sagger anti-tank guided missile from the Soviet Union and improving its military tactics, based on Soviet battlefield doctrines. Political generals, who had in large part been responsible for the rout in 1967, were replaced with competent ones.

The role of the superpowers, too, was a major factor in the outcome of the two wars. The policy of the Soviet Union was one of the causes of Egypt's military weakness. President Nasser was only able to obtain the material for an anti-aircraft missile defense wall after visiting Moscow and pleading with the Kremlin leaders. He said that if supplies were not given, he would have to return to Egypt and tell the Egyptian people Moscow had abandoned them, and then relinquish power to one of his peers who would be able to deal with the Americans. The Americans would then have the upper hand in the region, which Moscow could not permit.

One of Egypt's undeclared objectives of the War of Attrition was to force the Soviet Union to supply Egypt with more advanced arms and war materiel. Egypt felt the only way to convince the Soviet leaders of the deficiencies of most of the aircraft and air defense weaponry supplied to Egypt following 1967 was to put the Soviet weapons to the test against the advanced weaponry the United States had supplied to Israel.

Nasser's policy following the 1967 defeat conflicted with that of the Soviet Union. The Soviets sought to avoid a new conflagration between the Arabs and Israelis so as not to be drawn into a confrontation with the United States. The reality of the situation became apparent when the superpowers met in Oslo and agreed to maintain the status quo. This was unacceptable to Egyptian leaders, and when it was discovered that the Egyptian preparations for crossing the canal were being leaked, it became imperative to expel the Soviets from Egypt. In July 1972, Sadat expelled almost all of the 20,000 Soviet military advisers in the country and reoriented the country's foreign policy to be more favorable to the United States. The Syrians remained close to the Soviet Union.

The Soviets thought little of Sadat's chances in any war. They warned that any attempt to cross the heavily fortified Suez would incur massive losses. Both the Soviets and the Americans were then pursuing détente, and had no interest in seeing the Middle East destabilized. In a June 1973 meeting with U.S. President Richard Nixon, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev had proposed Israel pull back to its 1967 border. Brezhnev said that if Israel did not, "we will have difficulty keeping the military situation from flaring up"—an indication that the Soviet Union had been unable to restrain Sadat's plans.

In an interview published in Newsweek (April 9, 1973), President Sadat again threatened war with Israel. Several times during 1973, Arab forces conducted large-scale exercises that put the Israeli military on the highest level of alert, only to be recalled a few days later. The Israeli leadership already believed that if an attack took place, the Israeli Air Force could repel it.

Almost a full year before the war, in an October 24, 1972 meeting with his Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Sadat declared his intention to go to war with Israel even without proper Soviet support.[20] Planning had begun in 1971, and was conducted in absolute secrecy—even the upper-echelon commanders were not told of war plans until less than a week prior to the attack, and the soldiers were not told until a few hours beforehand. The plan to attack Israel in concert with Syria was code-named Operation Badr (Arabic for "full moon"), after the Battle of Badr, in which Muslims under Muhammad defeated the Quraish tribe of Mecca.

Lead up to the surprise attack
The IDF's Directorate of Military Intelligence's (abbreviated as "Aman") Research Department was responsible for formulating Israel's intelligence estimate. Their assessments on the likelihood of war were based on several assumptions. First, it was assumed correctly that Syria would not go to war with Israel unless Egypt went to war as well. Second, the department learned from a high-level Egyptian informant that Egypt wanted to regain all of the Sinai, but would not go to war until they were supplied MiG-23 fighter-bombers to neutralize the Israeli Air Force, and Scud missiles to be used against Israeli cities as a deterrent against Israeli attacks on Egyptian infrastructure. Since they had not received MiG-23s, and Scud missiles had only arrived in Egypt from Bulgaria in late August and it would take four months to train the Egyptian ground crews, Aman predicted war with Egypt was not imminent. This assumption about Egypt's strategic plans, known as "the concept", strongly prejudiced the department's thinking and led it to dismiss other war warnings. It was later revealed in a book published by London-based Israeli historian Ahron Bregman that the informant (or possible double agent) was Ashraf Marwan, an Egyptian political insider.

The Egyptians did much to further this misconception. Both the Israelis and the Americans felt that the expulsion of the Soviet military observers had severely reduced the effectiveness of the Egyptian army. The Egyptians ensured that there was a continual stream of false information on maintenance problems and a lack of personnel to operate the most advanced equipment. The Egyptians made repeated misleading reports about lack of spare parts that also made their way to the Israelis. Sadat had so long engaged in brinkmanship, that his frequent war threats were being ignored by the world. In May and August 1973 the Egyptian army conducted military exercises near the border, and the Israeli army mobilized in response both times at considerable cost.

For the week leading up to Yom Kippur, the Egyptian army staged a week-long training exercise adjacent to the Suez Canal. Israeli intelligence, detecting large troop movements towards the canal, dismissed these movements as mere training exercises. Movements of Syrian troops towards the border were puzzling, but not a threat because, Aman believed, they would not attack without Egypt and Egypt would not attack until the weaponry they wanted arrived.

On September 27 and September 30, two batches of reservists were called up by the Egyptian army to participate in these exercises. Two days before the outbreak of the war, on October 4, the Egyptian command publicly announced the demobilization of part of the reservists called up during September 27 to lull suspicion on the Israeli side. Around 20,000 troops were demobilized, and subsequently some of these men were given leave to perform the Umrah (pilgrimage) to Mecca.

The obvious reason for choosing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur to stage a surprise attack on Israel was that on this specific holiday (unlike any other) the country comes to a complete standstill. Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar; both religiously observant Jews and most of the secular majority fast, abstain from any use of fire, electricity, engines, communications, etc., and all road traffic ceases. Many soldiers also go home from military facilities for the holiday, and Israel is more vulnerable with much of its military on leave. The war coincided that year with the Muslim month of Ramadan, when many Arab Muslim soldiers also fast. Other analysts believe that the attack on Yom Kippur actually helped Israel to more easily marshal reserves from their homes and synagogues, because the nature of the holiday meant that roads and communication were largely open and this eased mobilizing and transporting the military.

Despite refusing to participate, King Hussein of Jordan "had met with Sadat and [Syrian President] Assad in Alexandria two weeks before. Given the mutual suspicions prevailing among the Arab leaders, it was unlikely that he had been told any specific war plans. But it was probable that Sadat and Assad had raised the prospect of war against Israel in more general terms to feel out the likelihood of Jordan joining in." On the night of September 25, Hussein secretly flew to Tel Aviv to warn Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir of an impending Syrian attack.

"Are they going to war without the Egyptians, asked Mrs. Meir. The king said he didn't think so. 'I think they [Egypt] would cooperate'".

Surprisingly, this warning fell on deaf ears. Aman concluded that the king had not told it anything it did not already know. "Eleven warnings of war were received by Israel during September from well placed sources. But Mossad chief Zvi Zamir continued to insist that war was not an Arab option. Not even Hussein's warnings succeeded in stirring his doubts". He would later remark that "We simply didn't feel them capable [of War]"

Finally, Zvi Zamir personally went to Europe to meet with Marwan, at midnight on October 5/6th. Marwan informed him that a joint Syrian-Egyptian attack on Israel was imminent. It was this warning in particular, combined with the large number of other warnings, that finally goaded the Israeli high command into action. Just hours before the attack began, orders went out for a partial call-up of the Israeli reserves. Ironically, calling up the reserves proved to be easier than usual, as almost all of the troops were at synagogue or at home for the holiday.

Lack of an Israeli pre-emptive attack

Upon learning of the impending attack, Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir made the controversial decision not to launch a pre-emptive strike.The Israeli strategy was, for the most part, based on the precept that if war was imminent, Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike. It was assumed that Israel's intelligence services would give, at the worst case, about 48 hours notice prior to an Arab attack.

Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, and Israeli general David Elazar met at 8:05 a.m. the morning of Yom Kippur, six hours before the war was to begin. Dayan opened the meeting by arguing that war was not a certainty. Elazar then presented his argument, in favor of a pre-emptive attack against Syrian airfields at noon, Syrian missiles at 3:00 p.m., and Syrian ground forces at 5:00 p.m. "When the presentations were done, the prime minister hemmed uncertainly for a few moments but then came to a clear decision. There would be no preemptive strike. Israel might be needing American assistance soon and it was imperative that it not be blamed for starting the war. 'If we strike first, we won't get help from anybody', she said." Other developed nations, being more dependent on OPEC oil, took more seriously the threat of an Arab oil embargo and trade boycott, and had stopped supplying Israel with munitions. As a result, Israel was totally dependent on the United States for military resupply, and particularly sensitive to anything that might endanger that relationship. After Meir made her decision, she informed the United States that Israel did not intend to preemptively start a war, and asked that US efforts be directed at preventing war. A message arrived later from United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saying: "Don't preempt." At the same time, Kissinger also urged the Soviets to use their influence to prevent war, contacted Egypt with Israel’s message of non-preemption, and sent messages to other Arab governments to enlist their help on the side of moderation. These late efforts were futile. According to Henry Kissinger, had Israel struck first, they would not have received "so much as a nail".

David Elazar proposed a mobilization of the entire Air Force and four armored divisions, a total of 100,000 to 120,000 troops, while Dayan favored a mobilization of the Air Force and two armored divisions, totaling around 70,000 troops. Meir sided with Elazar's proposal, and the mobilization proceeded.


Combat operations

In the Sinai

The 1973 War in the Sinai, October 6–15.

The Egyptian units generally would not advance beyond a shallow strip for fear of losing protection of their SAM batteries, which were situated on the West bank of the canal. In the Six-Day War, the Israeli Air Force had pummelled the defenseless Arab armies. Egypt (and Syria) had heavily fortified their side of the cease-fire lines with SAM batteries provided by the Soviet Union, against which the Israeli Air Force had no effective countermeasures. Israel, which had invested much of its defense budget building the region's strongest air force, would see the effectiveness of its air force drastically reduced by the presence of the SAM batteries.

Anticipating a swift Israeli armored counterattack by three armored divisions, the Egyptians had armed their assault force with large numbers of man-portable anti-tank weapons—rocket propelled grenades and the less numerous but more advanced Sagger guided missiles, which proved devastating to the first Israeli armored counter-attacks. Each of the five infantry divisions that was to cross the canal had been equipped with RPG-7 rockets and RPG-43 grenades, and reinforced with an ATGW battalion as they would not have any armor support for nearly 12 hours. In addition, the Egyptians had built separate ramps at the crossing points, reaching as high as 21 meters to counter the Israeli sand wall, provide covering fire for the assaulting infantry and to counter the first Israeli armored counterattacks. The scale and effectiveness of the Egyptian strategy of deploying these anti-tank weapons coupled with the Israelis' inability to disrupt their use with close air support (due to the SAM shield) greatly contributed to Israeli setbacks early in the war.

The Egyptian army put great effort into finding a quick and effective way of breaching the Israeli defenses. The Israelis had built large 18 meter high sand walls with a 60 degree slope and reinforced with concrete at the water line. Egyptian engineers initially experimented with explosive charges and bulldozers to clear the obstacles, before a junior officer proposed using high pressure water cannons. The idea was tested and found to be a sound one, and several high pressure water cannons were imported from Britain and from East Germany. The Egyptian forces used these water-cannons with water pumped from the Suez Canal. The water-cannons effectively breached through the sand walls.

At 2:00 pm, Operation Badr began with a large air strike. More than 200 Egyptian aircraft flying at very low altitudes conducted simultaneous strikes against numerous Israeli targets, principally air bases and Hawk batteries. The airstrike was highly successful with the loss of five aircraft.] The aerial assault was coupled with a barrage from more than 2000 artillery pieces for a period of 53 minutes, against the Bar Lev Line and rear area command posts and concentration bases.

Under cover of this artillery barrage, the Egyptian assault force of 32,000 infantry began crossing the canal in twelve waves at five separate crossing areas, from 14:05 to 17:30, in what became known as The Crossing. The Egyptians prevented Israeli forces from reinforcing the Bar Lev Line and proceeded to attack the Israeli fortifications. Meanwhile engineers crossed over to breach the sand wall. The Israeli air force conducted air interdiction operations to prevent the bridges from being erected, but were met with heavy resistance from SAM batteries. These attacks were overall ineffective, as bridges that were hit were quickly repaired. The Israeli brigade garrisoning the Bar-Lev forts was overwhelmed, and within six hours, fifteen strongpoints had been captured as Egyptian forces advanced several kilometers. Only the northernmost fortification of the Bar Lev Line, code-named 'Budapest', would remain in Israeli control throughout the war. Once the bridges were laid, additional infantry with the remaining portable and recoilless AT weapons began to cross the canal, while the first Egyptian tanks started to cross at 20:30. The Egyptians also landed several commando units in various areas in the Sinai to hamper the arrival of Israeli reserves. Of over 36 helicopters used for these operations, ten to fourteen were shot down, as the helicopters had neither SAM cover nor fighter escort.

Egyptian forces advanced approximately 4 to 5 km into the Sinai desert with the combined forces of two armies (both corps-sized by western standards, included the 2nd Infantry Division in the northern 2nd Army). By the following morning, some 850 tanks had crossed the canal.[38] The crossing was completed with few casualties on the Egyptian side: 280 men killed, 10 aircraft and 20 tanks. Israeli forces defending the Bar Lev Line suffered heavy losses. IAF losses in the first 27 hours of the war were 30 aircraft.

Egyptian forces then consolidated their initial positions. On October 7 the bridgeheads were enlarged an additional 4 km, at the same time repulsing Israeli counter-attacks. In the north, the Egyptians managed to seize most of the town of Qantara by evening, clearing it completely by next morning. Meanwhile the commandos airdropped during October 6 began encountering Israeli reserves the following morning. The commandos inflicted and at times incurred heavy losses during these battles, but were successful where they established themselves in delaying Israeli reserves to the front. These special operations often led to confusion and anxiety among Israeli commanders, who commended the Egyptian commandos. One source however states that few commandos made it to their objectives, and were usually nothing more than a nuisance.

On October 7, David Elazar visited Shmuel Gonen, commander of the Israeli Southern front—who had only taken the position 3 months before at the retirement of Ariel Sharon—and met with Israeli commanders. The Israelis planned a cautious counterattack for the following day by Abraham Adan's 162nd Armored Division. On October 8 however, after Elazar had left, Gonen changed plans on the basis of over-optimistic field reports. Adan's division was composed of three brigades totaling 183 tanks. One of the brigades was in still en route to the area, and would participate in the attack by noon, along with a supporting mechanized infantry brigade with an additional 44 tanks. The Israeli counterattack came in the direction of the Bar Lev strongpoints opposite the town of Ismailia, against entrenched Egyptian infantry. In a series of ill-coordinated attacks, which were met by stiff Egyptian resistance, the Israelis suffered heavy losses. That afternoon, Egyptian forces advanced once more to deepen their bridgeheads, and as a result the Israelis lost several strategic positions. Further Israeli attacks to regain the lost ground proved futile. Towards nightfall, a counterattack by the Egyptians was stopped by Ariel Sharon's 143rd Armoured Division—Sharon had been reinstated as a division commander at the outset of the war. Israeli losses in these early battles in the Sinai were 49 planes and approximately 500 tanks.

Throughout the front on October 9, Egyptian forces continued to conduct probing attacks to consolidate and expand their bridgeheads, which were met with costly Israeli counterattacks. In Sharon's sector, Egyptian forces carried out several attacks, and in response, Sharon ordered a number of counterattacks throughout the day, in clear contravention of Elazar's decision to shift to the defensive. Additional attacks to regain positions lost on October 8 were unsuccessful. By nightfall, Sharon had lost a further 50 tanks without making any gains, although the Israelis succeeded in extracting the garrison at the Purkan strongpoint.

After learning of Sharon's disobedient actions, Elazar became furious. But rather than remove Sharon, who was considered innovative, he opted to replace Gonen, who had proven to be out of his depth, with Chaim Bar-Lev, brought out of retirement. Because it was considered dangerous to morale to replace the front commander during the middle of a battle, rather than being sacked, Gonen was made chief of staff to the newly appointed Bar-Lev. By October 10, both sides had settled into an operational pause.


The 1973 War in the Sinai, October 15–24.

Following several days of waiting, it became clear to the Egyptian Command that Israeli efforts were concentrated against Syrian forces on the Golan. Sadat, wanting to ease pressure on the Syrians, ordered his chief generals (Saad El Shazly and Ahmad Ismail Ali chief among them) to attack. The 2nd and 3rd Armies were to attack eastward at the same time with their forces, leaving behind five infantry divisions to hold the bridgeheads. The attacking forces, consisting of 400 tanks would not have SAM cover, so the EAF was tasked with the defense of these forces from Israeli air attacks. Armored and mechanized units began the attack on October 14 with artillery support. They were up against 600 Israeli tanks, supported by infantry with SS.11 and newly delivered TOW missiles (the IDF had roughly 60,000 infantry in the Sinai by October 14) "The attack, the most massive since the initial Egyptian assault on Yom Kippur, was a total failure, the first major Egyptian reversal of the war. Instead of concentrating forces of maneuvering, except for the wadi thrust, they had expended them in head-on attack against the waiting Israeli brigades. Egyptian losses for the day were estimated at between 150 and 250 tanks." Herzog said Egyptian losses were 264 tanks, excluding tanks destroyed by the IAF, although most sources state total losses were only 250 tanks or less.

The following day, October 15, the Israelis launched Operation Abiray-Lev ("Valiant" or "Stouthearted Men")—the counterattack against the Egyptians and crossing of the Suez Canal. The attack was a tremendous change of tactics for the Israelis, who had previously relied on air and tank support—support that had been decimated by the well-prepared Egyptian forces. Instead, the Israelis used infantry to infiltrate the positions of the Egyptian SAM and anti-tank batteries, which were unable to cope as well with forces on foot. On the basis of the assumption that the Egyptians had returned to their 1967 form following the failed attack on October 14, Stouthearted Men called for a one day crossing of the Suez Canal and another day for a lightning dash towards Suez. These timetables proved unduly optimistic.

The 143rd Armoured Division led by Major General Ariel Sharon and Adan's 162nd Armored Division, attacked the Egyptian line just north of Bitter Lake, in the vicinity of Ismailiya. The Israelis struck at a weak point in the Egyptian line, the "seam" between the Egyptian Second Army in the north and the Egyptian Third Army in the south. In three days of some of the most brutal fighting of the war in and around the Chinese Farm (an irrigation project east of the canal and north of the crossing point), the Israelis opened a hole in the Egyptian line and reached the Suez Canal. Ahead of the main Israeli forces a paratrooper brigade commanded by Colonel Danny Matt crossed the canal closely followed by 30 tanks in the early hours of October 16 unopposed, and subsequently established a bridgehead 5 km deep. The brigade was cut off from Israeli units for nearly 24 hours as the battle continued in the Chinese Farm. An Egyptian infantry brigade launched an attack in the morning of October 16, advancing to within under a mile from the canal, before mounting losses forced the brigade to pull back. Sharon sent out raiding units against SAM units, and although only around three batteries were knocked out of action, the Egyptian Command decided to pull back the remaining batteries to safer positions, decreasing their effectiveness and enabling the Israeli Air Force to provide support to its troops.

Prior to the war, fearing a preemptive Israeli crossing of the canal, no Western nation would supply the Israelis with bridging equipment, but they had been able to purchase obsolete modular pontoon bridging equipment from a French WWII scrap lot and these were refurbished. Deploying the pontoon bridge on the night of October 16/17, Adan's 162nd Division crossed on the night of October 17/18. An Egyptian paratrooper brigade, which had been directing effective artillery fire against the Israeli crossing area, was pushed northwards by Sharon's division until they lost sight of the crossing area. This decreased the effectiveness of the Egyptian artillery. The Israelis also had constructed their own rather sophisticated "roller bridge" but logistical delays involving heavy congestion on the roads leading to the crossing point delayed its arrival to the canal for several days. By morning on October 19 the Israelis put their second bridge across, although there remained indications of heavy Israeli losses from artillery fire. Sharon's division of one paratroop and three armored brigades, proceeded to advance northwards in an attempt to capture Ismailia and cut off Second Army's main supply lines. A combined force of two Egyptian paratrooper brigades and an armored brigade halted this thrust 10 km south of Ismailia in four days of battle from October 18 to October 22, inflicting heavy casualties on Israeli armor and Matt's paratroopers. Meanwhile Adan, having crossed on October 17, headed south, intent on cutting off the Egyptian Third Army. On October 19, Sadat sent Saad El Shazly to the front to assess the situation. A degree of controversy exists surrounding the events that occurred following Shazly's return from the front, when he suggested a withdrawal of a number of Egyptian forces to counter the Israeli penetration. Whatever Shazly's proposals were, they were entirely rejected by Sadat and Ahmed Ismail. Sadat promptly ordered that no Egyptian forces were to be withdrawn.

By the end of the war, the Israelis had reached a point 101 kilometers from Egypt's capital, Cairo. The Egyptians maintained control of the captured Bar-Lev Line and had 70,000 men and 720 tanks on the East bank of the canal.

On the Golan Heights

Golan Heights campaign

In the Golan Heights, the Syrians attacked the Israeli defenses of two brigades and eleven artillery batteries with five divisions and 188 batteries. At the onset of the battle, two Israeli brigades of some 3,000 troops, 180 tanks and 60 artillery pieces faced off against three mechanized divisions incorporating 28,000 Syrian troops, 800 tanks and 600 artillery pieces. Every Israeli tank deployed on the Golan Heights was engaged during the initial attacks. Syrian commandos dropped by helicopter also took the most important Israeli stronghold at Jabal al Shaikh (Mount Hermon), which had a variety of surveillance equipment.

Fighting in the Golan Heights was given priority by the Israeli High Command. The fighting in the Sinai was sufficiently far away that the Israeli population centers were not immediately threatened; should the Golan Heights fall, the Syrians could easily advance towards Tiberias, Safed, Haifa, Netanya, and Tel Aviv. Reservists were directed to the Golan as quickly as possible. They were assigned to tanks and sent to the front as soon as they arrived at army depots, without waiting for the crews they trained with to arrive, without waiting for machine guns to be installed on their tanks, and without taking the time to calibrate their tank guns (a time-consuming process known as bore-sighting).

As the Egyptians had in the Sinai, the Syrians on the Golan Heights took care to stay under cover of their SAM batteries. Also as in the Sinai, the Syrians made use of Soviet anti-tank weapons (which, because of the uneven terrain, were not as effective as in the flat Sinai desert).

The Syrians had expected it would take at least 24 hours for Israeli reserves to reach the front lines; in fact, Israeli reserve units began reaching the battle lines only fifteen hours after the war began.

By the end of the first day of battle, the Syrians had achieved moderate success. The Israelis put up fierce resistance, as tanks and infantry desperately tried to fend off the Syrians. Having practiced on the Golan heights numerous times, Israeli gunners made deadly use of mobile artillery. Syrian anti-aircraft batteries shot down 40 Israeli planes, but Israeli pilots soon adopted a different tactic- flying in low over Jordan- swooping in over the Golan heights, catching the Syrians in the flank and avoiding many of the batteries. The Israeli pilots dropped both conventional explosives and napalm bombs, and wrecked Syrian vehicles soon littered the ground. Within six hours of the initial assault, however, the first Israeli line of defense had been overrun by sheer weight of numbers.

A Syrian tank brigade passing through the Rafid Gap turned northwest up a little-used route known as the Tapline Road, which cut diagonally across the Golan. This roadway would prove one of the main strategic hinges of the battle. It led straight from the main Syrian breakthrough points to Nafah, which was not only the location of Israeli divisional headquarters but the most important crossroads on the Heights.

During the night, Captain Zvika Greengold, who had just arrived at the battle unattached to any unit, fought them off with his single tank until help arrived.

For the next 20 hours, Zvika Force, as he came to be known on the radio net, fought running battles with Syrian tanks—sometimes alone, sometimes as part of a larger unit, changing tanks half a dozen times as they were knocked out. He was wounded and burned but stayed in action and repeatedly showed up at critical moments from an unexpected direction to change the course of a skirmish.

For his actions, Greengold received Israel's highest decoration, the Medal of Valor.

During over four days of fighting, the Israeli 7th Armoured Brigade in the north (commanded by Yanush Ben Gal) managed to hold the rocky hill line defending the northern flank of their headquarters in Nafah. To the south, however, the Barak Armored Brigade, bereft of any natural defenses, began to take heavy casualties. Israeli Brigade Commander Colonel Shoham was killed during the second day of fighting, along with his second in command and their Operations Officer (each in a separate tank), as the Syrians desperately tried to advance towards the Sea of Galilee and Nafah. At this point, the Brigade stopped functioning as a cohesive force, although the surviving tanks and crewmen continued fighting independently. However, the Syrians were also taking heavy casualties. Israeli tanks raining shells at the advancing Syrians had caused heavy casualties, and Syrian brigadier general Omar Abrash was killed when his command tank took a direct hit. For some as-yet-unexplained reason, the Syrians were close to reaching the Israeli defenders at Nafah yet stopped the advance on Nafah's fences, allowing Israeli forces to assemble a defensive line. The most reasonable explanation for this is that the Syrians had calculated estimated advances, and the commanders in the field didn't want to digress from the plan.

The tide in the Golan began to turn as the arriving Israeli reserve forces were able to contain and, beginning on October 8, push back the Syrian offensive. The tiny Golan Heights were too small to act as an effective territorial buffer, unlike the Sinai Peninsula in the south, but it proved to be a strategic geographical stronghold and was a crucial key in preventing the Syrian army from bombarding the cities below. By Wednesday, October 10, the last Syrian unit in the Central sector had been pushed back across the Purple Line, that is, the pre-war border.

A decision now had to be made—whether to stop at the 1967 border, or to continue into Syrian territory. Israeli High Command spent the entire October 10 debating this well into the night. Some favored disengagement, which would allow soldiers to be redeployed to the Sinai (Shmuel Gonen's defeat at Hizayon in the Sinai had taken place two days earlier). Others favored continuing the attack into Syria, towards Damascus, which would knock Syria out of the war; it would also restore Israel's image as the supreme military power in the Middle East and would give them a valuable bargaining chip once the war ended. Others countered that Syria had strong defenses—antitank ditches, minefields, and strongpoints— and that it would be better to fight from defensive positions in the Golan Heights (rather than the flat terrain of Syria) in the event of another war with Syria. However, Prime Minister Meir realized the most crucial point of the whole debate:

It would take four days to shift a division to the Sinai. If the war ended during this period, the war would end with a territorial loss for Israel in the Sinai and no gain in the north—an unmitigated defeat. This was a political matter and her decision was unmitigating—to cross the purple line… The attack would be launched tomorrow, Thursday, October 11.

From October 11 to October 14, the Israeli forces pushed into Syria, although Syrian reservists put up stiff resistance from prepared defenses. The Israelis continued their advance, and reached the main defensive line around Sassa. The Israelis had conquered a further 50 square-kilometers box of territory in the Bashan. From there they would have been able to shell the outskirts of Damascus, only 40 km away, using M107 heavy artillery. Syrian MIG fighters swooped in on the Israelis, as part of the desperate defense of Damascus.

As Arab position on the battlefields deteriorated, pressure mounted on King Hussein to send his Army into action. He found a way to meet these demands without opening his kingdom to Israeli air attack. Instead of attacking Israel from their common border, he sent an expeditionary force into Syria. He let Israel know of his intentions, through US intermediaries, in the hope that it [Israel] would accept that this was not a casus belli justifying an attack into Jordan… Dayan declined to offer any such assurance, but Israel had no intention of opening another front.

Iraq also sent an expeditionary force to the Golan, consisting of some 30,000 men, 250–500 tanks, and 700 APCs. The Iraqi divisions were actually a strategic surprise for the IDF, which expected a 24-hour-plus advance intelligence of such moves. This turned into an operational surprise, as the Iraqis attacked the exposed southern flank of the advancing Israeli armor, forcing its advance units to retreat a few kilometers, in order to prevent encirclement.

Combined Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian counterattacks prevented any further Israeli gains. However, they were also unable to push the Israelis back from the Bashan salient.

On October 22, the Golani Brigade and Sayeret Matkal commandos recaptured the outpost on Mount Hermon, after sustaining very heavy casualties from entrenched Syrian snipers strategically positioned on the mountain. An attack two weeks before had cost 25 dead and 67 wounded, while this second attack cost an additional 55 dead and 79 wounded. An Israeli D9 bulldozer with Israeli infantry breached a way to the peak, preventing the peak from falling into Syrian hands after the war. A paratrooper brigade took the corresponding Syrian outposts on the mountain.


At sea
Naval engagements in Yom Kippur War saw the first naval battles between missile boats using surface-to-surface missiles. The Battle of Latakia, a revolutionary naval battle between the Syrians and the Israelis, took place on October 7, the second day of the war, resulting in a resounding Israeli victory that proved the potency of small, fast missile boats equipped with advanced ECM packages. This battle was the world's first battle between missile boats equipped with surface-to-surface missiles. The battle also established the Israeli Navy, long derided as the "black sheep" of the Israeli services, as a formidable and effective force in its own right. Following this and other smaller naval battles, the Syrian Navy stayed at their Mediterranean Sea ports throughout most of the war, enabling the Mediterranean sea lanes to Israel to remain partially open. The second naval battle which ended in a decisive Israeli victory was the Battle of Baltim in which the Israelis, with the use of electronic countermeasures, evaded the Egyptian missiles, and sank three Egyptian vessels, before finally returning to port. The Battle of Latakia and the Battle of Baltim "drastically changed the operational situation at sea to Israeli advantage".

According to Israeli and Western sources, the Israelis lost no vessels in the war. In the course of the naval battles Israeli vessels were "targeted by as many as 52 Soviet-made anti-ship missiles, yet no one hit its target." According to historian Benny Morris, the Egyptians lost seven missile boats and four torpedo boats and coastal defense craft, while the Syrians lost five missile boats, one minesweeper, and one coastal defense vessel. All together, the Israeli Navy suffered three casualties: two Shayetet 13 frogmen, part of a team that penetrated Port Said with the purpose of hitting Egyptian naval targets, and one Dabur Patrol Boat crewman, killed during the Battle of Mersa Talemet, in the Gulf of Suez.

Even though most western military historians agree that the Israeli Navy decisively won all naval engagements, one Egyptian historian, Hassan El Badri, said that the Egyptian Navy had some success, and that on October 8 it managed to sink four Israeli vessels. Badri is the only one to report such an engagement.

The Egyptian Navy managed to enforce a blockade at Bab-el-Mandeb. Eighteen million tons of oil were transported yearly from Iran to Israel through the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. The naval blockade, which lasted throughout the war until November 1, halted entirely all shipping destined for Israel. The Gulf of Suez was also mined to prevent the transportation of oil from the Bala'eem and Abu Rudeis oil fields in southwestern Sinai to Eilat. Two oil tankers, one with a 48,000 ton capacity and one with a 2,000 ton capacity, sank after hitting mines in the Gulf of Suez.


Participation by other states

Aid to Egypt and Syria
Starting on October 9, the Soviet Union began supplying Egypt and Syria by air and by sea. The Soviets airlifted 12,500–15,000 tons of supplies, of which more than half went to Syria, and supplied another 63,000 tons mainly to Syria by means of a sealift. All 400 T-55 and T-62 tanks supplied by the sealift were directed towards replacing Syrian losses, while Egypt did not receive any tanks from the Soviet supply effort. Throughout the sea and airlifts it remained difficult for Egypt and Syria to choose which supplies were to be delivered often resulting in important supplies not being where they were most needed.

Besides Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, several other Arab states were also involved in this war, providing additional weapons and financing. Algeria sent a squadron of MiG-21s and a squadron of Su-7s to Egypt, both of which arrived at the front between October 9 and October 11. It also sent an armored brigade of nearly 200 tanks, the advance elements of which began to arrive on October 17, but it arrived at the front only on October 24, too late to participate in the fighting. Libyan forces were stationed in Egypt before the outbreak of the war. Libya provided one armored brigade and two squadrons of Mirage V fighters, of which one squadron was to be piloted by the Egyptian Air Force and the other by Libyan pilots. Morocco sent one infantry brigade to Egypt, and one tank regiment to Syria. An infantry brigade composed of Palestinians was in Egypt before the outbreak of the war. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait gave financial aid and sent some token forces to join in the battle. Pakistan sent sixteen pilots and an ambulance unit to Egypt and another to Syria. Bangladesh sent a medical team and relief supplies.

In addition to its forces in Syria, Iraq sent a single Hawker Hunter squadron to Egypt. The squadron quickly gained a reputation amongst Egyptian field commanders for its skill in air support, particularly in anti-armor strikes.

A Sudanese brigade also made a late appearance, arriving on October 28, again too late to participate in the war. Nearly all Arab reinforcements came with no logistical plan or support, expecting their hosts to supply them, and in several cases causing logistical problems. In the Syrian front, a lack of coordination between Arab forces led to several instances of friendly fire.

After the war, during the first days of November, Algeria deposited around 200 million dollars with the Soviet Union to finance arms purchases for both Egypt and Syria.

Cuba also sent approximately 1,500 troops including tank and helicopter crews who reportedly also engaged in combat operations against the IDF.

Aid to Israel
On commencement of hostilities, American leaders expected the tide of the war to quickly shift in favor of the better-equipped IDF and that Arab armies would be completely defeated within 72 to 96 hours. American supplies to Israel until then had consisted of ammunition, particularly AT and AA ammunition. It became clear however by October 9 that no such quick reversal would occur, and that IDF losses were unexpectedly high.

On the afternoon of October 7, an alarmed Dayan told Meir that "this is the end of the third temple". He was warning of Israel's impending total defeat, but "Temple" was also the code word for nuclear weapons. Dayan again raised the nuclear topic in a cabinet meeting, warning that the country was approaching a point of "last resort." Meir on 8 October authorized the assembling of 13 20-kiloton-of-TNT (84 TJ) atomic bombs. Nuclear-capable Jericho missiles at Hirbat Zachariah and F-4s at Tel Nof were prepared for action against Syrian and Egyptian targets; the preparation was done in an easily detectable way, likely as a signal to the United States. Kissinger learned of the nuclear alert on the morning of October 9. That day, President Nixon ordered the commencement of Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel's material losses. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Kissinger told Sadat that the reason for the U.S. airlift was that the Israelis were close to "going nuclear."

Israel began receiving supplies on October 13, although, some equipment, such as the TOW missiles had arrived before October 11. According to Abraham Rabinovich, "while the American airlift of supplies did not immediately replace Israel's losses in equipment, it did allow Israel to expend what it did have more freely". By the end of Nickel Grass, the United States had shipped 22,395 short tons (20,316 t) of matériel to Israel. The Israeli National Airline El Al took part in the airlift and flew in an additional 5,500 short tons (5,000 t) of materiel. Among the supplies sent to Israel were state of the art equipment, such as the AGM-65 Maverick missile and the BGM-71 TOW, weapons that had only entered production one or more years prior, as well as highly advanced electronic jamming equipment, along with US Army instructors to rapidly train IDF forces in the use of these weapons.

The United States also conducted its own seaborne supply operation, delivering 33,210 short tons (30,130 t) to Israel by October 30.

Egyptian commanders note that on October 13 and on October 15, air defense radars had detected an aircraft with an altitude of 25,000 metres (82,000 ft) and a speed of Mach 3, making it impossible to intercept the plane either by fighter or SAM missiles. The aircraft proceeded to cross the whole of the canal zone, the naval ports of the Red Sea (Hurghada and Safaga), flew over the airbases and air defenses in the Nile delta and finally disappeared from the radar screens over the Mediterranean Sea. The speed and altitude were those of the US SR-71 Blackbird, a long range strategic reconnaissance aircraft. According to Egyptian commanders, the intelligence provided by both reconnaissance flights helped the Israelis prepare for the Egyptian attack on October 14, and assisted it in conducting Operation Stouthearted Men.

The Arab armies were equipped with predominantly Soviet-made weapons while Israel's armaments were mostly Western-made. The Arab armies' T-54/55s and T-62s were equipped with night vision equipment, which the Israeli tanks lacked, giving them an added advantage on the battlefield during the fighting that took place at night, while western tanks used by Israel had better armor, and/or better armament.


The cease-fire and immediate aftermath

Egypt's trapped Third Army
The United Nations Security Council passed (14–0) Resolution 338 calling for a cease-fire, largely negotiated between the U.S. and Soviet Union, on October 22. It called upon "all parties to the present fighting" to "terminate all military activity immediately." The cease-fire was to come into effect 12 hours later at 6:52 p.m. Israeli time. Because this timing was after dark, it was impossible for satellite surveillance to determine where the front lines were when the fighting was supposed to stop. Also prior to the ceasefire coming into force, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had told Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, "You won't get violent protests from Washington if something happens during the night, while I'm flying. Nothing can happen in Washington until noon tomorrow."

When the time for the cease-fire arrived, Sharon's division had failed in repeated attempts along established lines to capture Ismailia and cut off the Second Army's supply lines, but Israeli forces were just a few hundred meters short of their southern goal—the last road linking Cairo and Suez. Adan's drive south had left Israeli and Egyptian units scattered throughout the battlefield, with no clear lines between them. As Egyptian and Israeli units tried to regroup, regular firefights broke out. During the night, nine Israeli tanks had been destroyed in various locations. It is unclear which side fired first, but Israeli field commanders, frustrated because they had been unable to seize the northern Cairo-Suez road, used the skirmishes as an excuse to resume the drive south. When Sadat protested Israeli truce violations, Israel said that Egyptian troops had fired first. William B. Quandt notes, “It did not now matter which side was technically responsible for firing the first shot after the cease-fire was to have gone into effect. What was clear was that Israeli forces were advancing beyond the October 22 cease-fire lines.”

Adan decided to continue his attack on the October 23. David Elazar requested permission to resume the offensive, and Moshe Dayan approved. Israeli troops finished the drive south, captured the road, and trapped the Egyptian Third Army east of the Suez Canal. The Israelis transported enormous amounts of equipment across the canal, which was also in violation of the ceasefire. Israeli armor and paratroopers also entered Suez in an attempt to capture the town, but they were ambushed by Egyptian soldiers and hastily raised local militia forces. They were surrounded, but towards night the Israeli paratroopers managed to escape the town, albeit at high losses for no tactical gain.

The next morning, October 23, a flurry of diplomatic activity occurred. Soviet reconnaissance flights had confirmed that Israeli forces were moving south, and the Soviets accused the Israelis of treachery. In a phone call with Golda Meir, Henry Kissinger asked, "How can anyone ever know where a line is or was in the desert?" Meir responded, "They'll know, all right." Kissinger found out about the trapped Egyptian army shortly thereafter.

Kissinger realized the situation presented the United States with a tremendous opportunity—Egypt was totally dependent on the United States to prevent Israel from destroying its trapped army, which now had no access to food or water. The position could be parlayed later into allowing the United States to mediate the dispute, and push Egypt out of Soviet influence.

As a result, the United States exerted tremendous pressure on the Israelis to refrain from destroying the trapped army, even threatening to support a UN resolution to force the Israelis to pull back to their October 22 positions if they did not allow non-military supplies to reach the army. In a phone call with Israeli ambassador Simcha Dinitz, Kissinger told the ambassador that the destruction of the Egyptian Third Army "is an option that does not exist." Despite being surrounded however, the Third Army managed to maintain its combat integrity east of the canal and keep up its defensive positions.

Nuclear alert
In the meantime, Kissinger conducted a series of exchanges with the Egyptians, Israelis and the Soviets. On October 24 Sadat publicly appealed for American and Soviet contingents to oversee the cease-fire; it was quickly rejected in a White House statement. Kissinger also met with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin to discuss convening a peace conference with Geneva as the venue. Later in the evening (9:35pm) of October 24–25, Brezhnev sent Nixon a "very urgent" letter. In that letter, Brezhnev began by noting that Israel was continuing to violate the cease-fire and it posed a challenge to both the US and USSR. He stressed the need to "implement" the cease-fire resolution and "invited" the US to join the Soviets "to compel observance of the cease-fire without delay" He then threatened "I will say it straight that if you find it impossible to act jointly with us in this matter, we should be faced with the necessity urgently to consider taking appropriate steps unilaterally. We cannot allow arbitrariness on the part of Israel." In short, the Soviets were threatening to intervene in the war on Egypt's side if they could not work together to enforce the cease-fire.

Kissinger immediately passed the message to Haig, who met with Nixon for 20 minutes around 10:30 pm, and reportedly empowered Kissinger to take any necessary action. Kissinger immediately called a meeting of senior officials, including Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, CIA Director William Colby, and White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig. The Watergate scandal had reached its apex, and Nixon was so agitated and discomposed that they decided to handle the matter without him:

When Kissinger asked Haig whether [Nixon] should be wakened, the White House chief of staff replied firmly 'No.' Haig clearly shared Kissinger's feelings that Nixon was in no shape to make weighty decisions.

The meeting produced a conciliatory response, which was sent (in Nixon's name) to Brezhnev. At the same time, it was decided to increase the Defense Condition (DEFCON) from four to three. Lastly, they approved a message to Sadat (again, in Nixon's name) asking him to drop his request for Soviet assistance, and threatening that if the Soviets were to intervene, so would the United States.

The Soviets placed seven airborne divisions on alert and an airlift was marshaled to transport them to the Middle East. An airborne command post was set up in the southern Soviet Union, and several air force units were also alerted. "Reports also indicated that at least one of the divisions and a squadron of transport planes had been moved from the Soviet Union to an airbase in Yugoslavia". The Soviets also deployed seven amphibious warfare craft with some 40,000 naval infantry in the Mediterranean.

The Soviets quickly detected the increased American defense condition, and were astonished and bewildered at the response. "Who could have imagined the Americans would be so easily frightened," said Nikolai Podgorny. "It is not reasonable to become engaged in a war with the United States because of Egypt and Syria," said Premier Alexei Kosygin, while KGB chief Yuri Andropov added that "We shall not unleash the Third World War." In the end, the Soviets reconciled themselves to an Arab defeat. The letter from the American cabinet arrived during the meeting. Brezhnev decided that the Americans were too nervous, and that the best course of action would be to wait to reply. The next morning, the Egyptians agreed to the American suggestion, and dropped their request for assistance from the Soviets, bringing the crisis to an end.

Northern front de-escalation
On October 23, a large air battle took place near Damascus during which the IAF shot down 10 Syrian aircraft. The Syrians claimed a similar toll against Israel. The Syrians had been preparing for a massive counter-attack, scheduled for October 23. In addition to Syria's five divisions, Iraq had supplied two, and there were smaller complements of troops from other Arab countries, including Jordan. The Soviets had replaced most of the losses Syria's tank forces had suffered during the first weeks of the war.

However, the day before the offensive was to begin, the United Nations imposed its cease-fire (following the acquiescence of both Israel and Egypt). Abraham Rabinovich states "The acceptance by Egypt of the cease-fire on Monday [October 22] created a major dilemma for Assad. The cease-fire did not bind him, but its implications could not be ignored. Some on the Syrian General Staff favored going ahead with the attack, arguing that if it did so Egypt would feel obliged to continue fighting as well… Others, however, argued that continuation of the war would legitimize Israel's efforts to destroy the Egyptian Third Army. In that case, Egypt would not come to Syria's assistance when Israel turned its full might northward, destroying Syria's infrastructure and perhaps attacking Damascus"

Ultimately, Assad decided to call off the offensive, and on October 23, Syria announced it had accepted the cease-fire, and the Iraqi government ordered its forces home.


Post-cease-fire negotiations
On October 24, the UNSC passed Resolution 339, serving as a renewed call for all parties to adhere to the cease fire terms established in Resolution 338. Most heavy fighting on the Egyptian front ended by October 26, but several airstrikes took place against Third Army from October 25 to 28. The cease-fire did not end the sporadic clashes along the cease-fire lines, nor did it dissipate military tensions.

With continuing Israeli advances, Kissinger threatened to support a UN withdrawal resolution, but before Israel could respond, Egyptian national security advisor Hafez Ismail sent Kissinger a stunning message—Egypt was willing to enter into direct talks with the Israelis, provided that the Israelis agree to allow non-military supplies to reach their army and agree to a complete cease-fire.

About noon on October 25, Kissinger appeared before the press at the State Department. He described the various stages of the crisis and the evolution of US policy. He reviewed the first two weeks of the crisis and the nuclear alert, reiterated opposition to US and Soviet troops in the area and more strongly opposed unilateral Soviet moves. He then reviewed the prospects for a peace agreement, which he termed “quite promising”, and had conciliatory words for Israel, Egypt and even the USSR. Kissinger concluded his remarks by spelling out the principles of a new US policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict saying;

Our position is that… the conditions that produced this war were clearly intolerable to the Arab nations and that in the process of negotiations it will be necessary to make substantial concessions. The problem will be to relate the Arab concern for the sovereignty over the territories to the Israeli concern for secure boundaries. We believe that the process of negotiations between the parties is an essential component of this.

Quandt considers, “It was a brilliant performance, one of his most impressive.” One hour later the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 340. This time the cease-fire held, and the fourth Arab-Israeli war was over.

Disengagement talks took place on October 28, at "Kilometer 101" between Israeli Major General Aharon Yariv and Egyptian Major General Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy. Ultimately, Kissinger brought the proposal to Sadat, who agreed almost without debate. United Nations checkpoints were brought in to replace Israeli checkpoints, nonmilitary supplies were allowed to pass, and prisoners-of-war were to be exchanged. A summit conference in Geneva followed, and ultimately, an armistice agreement was worked out. On January 18, Israel signed a pullback agreement to the east side of the canal, and the last of their troops withdrew from the west side of the canal on March 5, 1974. Between the UN ceasefire and the armstice agreement in January, a minor war of attrition took place against Israeli forces west of the canal, during which 187 Israeli soldiers were killed, 41 tanks were destroyed, and 11 planes were downed;

On the Syrian front, shuttle diplomacy by Henry Kissinger eventually produced a disengagement agreement on May 31, 1974, based on exchange of prisoners-of-war, Israeli withdrawal to the Purple Line and the establishment of a UN buffer zone. Israel accused Syria of torturing its prisoners of war, claiming a violation of the Geneva conventions. The agreement ended the skirmishes and exchanges of artillery fire that had occurred frequently along the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line. The UN Disengagement and Observer Force (UNDOF) was established as a peacekeeping force in the Golan.

Long-term effects of the war

The peace discussion at the end of the war was the first time that Arab and Israeli officials met for direct public discussions since the aftermath of the 1948 war.

Militarily, the war could best be described as a stalemate. On a tactical level, its end saw Israel with territorial gains in the Golan Heights and the encirclement of the Egyptian third army. Some believe the cease fire prevented Israel from landing its harshest blow, as a USMC report asserts:

They were now in position to threaten the rear administrative and supply areas of the entire Egyptian Army. Largely due to the efforts of the Soviet Union, which was fearful of the possibility of a serious Egyptian defeat, the U.N. Security Council imposed a cease-fire effective 22 October.

The report also argues that the Arab side succeeded in surprising Israeli and worldwide intelligence agencies both strategically and tactically:

From a purely military point of view, the first and most important Arab success was the strategic and tactical surprise achieved. While this was aided to no small degree by mistakes made by Israeli Intelligence and the political and military leadership in Israel, the bulk of the credit must go to the highly sophisticated deception plan mounted by the Egyptians. They succeeded in convincing the Israeli Command that the intensive military activity to the west of the Canal during the summer and autumn of 1973 was nothing more than a series of training operations and maneuvers. This deception must be marked as one of the outstanding plans of deception mounted in the course of military history. The plan was successful not only as far as Israeli intelligence was concerned, but also with world-wide intelligence agencies.

For the Arab states (and Egypt in particular), the psychological trauma of their defeat in the Six-Day War had been healed. In many ways, it allowed them to negotiate with the Israelis as equals. However, given that the war had started about as well as the Arab leaders could have wanted, at the end they had made only limited territorial gains in the Sinai front, while Israel gained more territory on the Golan Heights than it held before the war; also given the fact that Israel managed to gain a foothold on African soil west of the canal, the war helped convince many in the Arab World that Israel could not be defeated militarily, thereby strengthening peace movements. The war effectively ended the old Arab ambition of destroying Israel by force.

The war had a stunning effect on the population in Israel. Following their victory in the Six-Day War, the Israeli military had become complacent. The shock and sudden defeats that occurred at the beginning of the war sent a terrible psychological blow to the Israelis, who had thought they had military supremacy in the region. However, in time, they began to realize what an astounding, almost unprecedented, turnaround they had achieved:

Reeling from a surprise attack on two fronts with the bulk of its army still unmobilized, and confronted by staggering new battlefield realities, Israel's situation was one that could readily bring strong nations to their knees. Yet, within days, it had regained its footing and in less than two weeks it was threatening both enemy capitals, an achievement having few historical parallels.

The report goes on to describe the war as a political and strategic Egyptian victory.

In Israel, however, the casualty rate was high. Per capita, Israel suffered three times as many casualties in 3 weeks of fighting as the United States did during almost a decade of fighting in Vietnam. The 1973 war produced unprecedented numbers of soldiers suffering from combat shock and other psychiatric problems. The ratio of psychiatric cases was as high as 23.1 percent of all non fatal cases. The IDF was unprepared to deal with such cases because, in all previous wars (with the exception of the 1948 war), the Israelis often achieved quick victory with low casualty rates. The Yom Kippur War however, was noted for its lethality and intense, prolonged fighting, creating such high incidents of combat shock. General Ariel Sharon pointed to this reality by saying: "I have been fighting for 25 years, and all the rest were just battles. This was a real war." The lowest estimate puts the number of Israeli soldiers killed at 2,656, while a more common estimate puts it at 2,688 dead. The highest estimate puts Israeli military fatalities at 2,800 dead. 7,250–9,000 Israeli soldiers were wounded in the war, and an estimated 500 Israeli soldiers were captured. Israel also lost 400–500 tanks destroyed, with 600 tanks damaged and returned to service, and 102–200 planes destroyed, although Soviet estimates suggested 280 planes destroyed. Arab casualties were known to be much higher. Israel estimated 15,000 Egyptian and 3,500 Syrian dead during the war, 35,000 Arab wounded. Many Syrian soldiers were also captured. Western estimates put the Arab casualty toll as 8,528 dead and 19,540 wounded. Another estimate puts Arab losses at 5,000 dead, 1,200 tanks destroyed and 370 aircraft lost. Israel estimates 2,250 Arab tanks and 432 aircraft were destroyed.

Oil Embargo
In response to U.S. support of Israel, the Arab members of OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, decided to reduce oil production by 5% per month on October 17. On October 19, President Nixon authorized a major allocation of arms supplies and $2.2 billion in appropriations for Israel. In response, Saudi Arabia declared an embargo against the United States, later joined by other oil exporters and extended against the Netherlands and other states, causing the 1973 energy crisis.

Sadat's new public image
The initial success greatly increased Sadat's popularity, giving him much firmer control of the Egyptian state and the opportunity to initiate many of the reforms he felt were necessary. In later years this would fade, and the destructive 1977 anti-government food riot in Cairo had the slogan "Hero of the crossing, where is our breakfast?" ("يا بطل العبور، فين الفطور؟", "Yā batl al-`abūr, fēn al-futūr?").

Fallout in Israel
A protest against the Israeli government started four months after the war ended. It was led by Motti Ashkenazi, commander of Budapest, the northernmost of the Bar-Lev forts and the only one during the war not to be captured by the Egyptians. Anger against the Israeli government (and Dayan in particular) was high. Shimon Agranat, President of the Israeli Supreme Court, was asked to lead an inquiry, the Agranat Commission, into the events leading up to the war and the setbacks of the first few days.

The Agranat Commission published its preliminary findings on April 2, 1974. Six people were held particularly responsible for Israel's failings:

IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar was recommended for dismissal, after the Commission found he bore "personal responsibility for the assessment of the situation and the preparedness of the IDF."
Intelligence Chief, Aluf Eli Zeira, and his deputy, head of Research, Brigadier-General Aryeh Shalev, were recommended for dismissal.
Lt. Colonel Bandman, head of the Aman desk for Egypt, and Lt. Colonel Gedelia, chief of intelligence for the Southern Command, were recommended for transfer away from intelligence duties.
Shmuel Gonen, commander of the Southern front, was recommended by the initial report to be relieved of active duty. He was forced to leave the army after the publication of the Commission's final report, on January 30, 1975, which found that "he failed to fulfill his duties adequately, and bears much of the responsibility for the dangerous situation in which our troops were caught."
Rather than quieting public discontent, the report—which "had stressed that it was judging the ministers' responsibility for security failings, not their parliamentary responsibility, which fell outside its mandate"—inflamed it. Although it had cleared Meir and Dayan of all responsibility, public calls for their resignation (especially Dayan's) became more vociferous.

Finally, on April 11, 1974, Golda Meir resigned. Her cabinet followed suit, including Dayan, who had previously offered to resign twice and was turned down both times by Meir. Yitzhak Rabin, who had spent most of the war as an advisor to Elazar in an unofficial capacity, became head of the new Government, which was seated in June.

In 1999, the issue was revisited by the Israeli political leadership to prevent similar shortcomings from being repeated. The Israeli National Security Council was created to improve coordination between the different security and intelligence bodies, and the political branch of government.

Camp David Accords
Rabin's government was hamstrung by a pair of scandals, and he was forced to step down in 1977. The right-wing Likud party, under the prime ministership of Menachem Begin, won the elections that followed. This marked a historic change in the Israeli political landscape: for the first time since Israel's founding, a coalition not led by the Labor Party was in control of the government.

Sadat, who had entered the war in order to recover the Sinai from Israel, grew frustrated at the slow pace of the peace process. In a 1977 interview with CBS News' Walter Cronkite, Sadat admitted under pointed questioning that he was open to a more constructive dialog for peace, including a state visit. This seemed to open the floodgates, as in a later interview with the same reporter, the normally hard-line Begin – perhaps not wishing to be compared unfavorably to Sadat – said he too would be amenable to better relations and offered his invitation for such a visit. Thus in November of that year, Sadat took the unprecedented step of visiting Israel, becoming the first Arab leader to do so, and so implicitly recognized Israel.

The act jump-started the peace process. United States President Jimmy Carter invited both Sadat and Begin to a summit at Camp David to negotiate a final peace. The talks took place from September 5–17, 1978. Ultimately, the talks succeeded, and Israel and Egypt signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in 1979. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from the Sinai, in exchange for normal relations with Egypt and a lasting peace.

Many in the Arab community were outraged at Egypt's peace with Israel. Egypt was expelled from the Arab League. Until then, Egypt had been "at the helm of the Arab world."[158] Egypt's tensions with its Arab neighbors culminated in 1977 in the short-lived Libyan–Egyptian War.

Anwar Sadat was assassinated two years later, on October 6, 1981, while attending a parade marking the eighth anniversary of the start of the war, by Islamist army members who were outraged at his negotiations with Israel.

October 6 is a national holiday in Egypt called Armed Forces Day. It is a national holiday in Syria as well.

In Egypt, many places were named after the October 6 date and Ramadan 10, its equivalent in the Islamic calendar. Examples of these commemorations are the 6th October Bridge in Cairo and the cities 6th of October City and 10th of Ramadan City.

Museum of 6 October War has been built in 1989 in Cairo district of Heliopolis. Central place of the Museum is occupied by a rotunda housing the Panoramic painting of the struggle between Egyptian and Israeli armed forces. The panorama, creation of which had been outsourced to a group of North Korean artists and architects, is equipped with engines rotating it full 360° during a 30-minutes long spectacle accompanied by commentary in various languages. A similar museum, which was also built with North Korean assistance—the October War Panorama—operates in Damascus.



Although the war's results were generally favourable to Israel, it cost over 2,000 dead and resulted in a heavy arms bill. The war generally made Israelis more aware of their vulnerability. Following the war, both Israelis and Egyptians showed greater willingness to negotiate. On January 18, 1974, following extensive diplomacy by US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, a Disengagement of Forces agreement was signed with the Egyptian government, and on May 31 with the Syrian government.

On the international scene, the war led the Saudi Government to initiate the oil embargo, in conjunction with OPEC, against countries trading with Israel, contributing to stagflation in the US economy. As a result, many African and Asian countries broke off relations with Israel. Israel was banned from participation in the Asian Games.

In May 1974, Palestinians attacked a school in Ma'alot, holding 102 children hostage. Twenty-two children were killed. In November 1974 the PLO was granted observer status at the UN and Yasser Arafat addressed the General Assembly.

Later that year the Agranat Commission, appointed to assess responsibility for Israel's lack of preparedness for the war, exonerated the government of responsibility and held the Chief of Staff and head of military intelligence responsible. Despite the report, public anger at the Government led to Golda Meir's resignation.

1975–1976: Yitzhak Rabin I: Operation Entebbe, start of Religious Settlements

Following Meir's resignation, Yitzhak Rabin (Chief of Staff during the Six Day War) became prime minister.

Modern Orthodox Jews (Religious Zionist followers of the teachings of Rabbi Kook), formed the Gush Emunim movement and began an organized drive to settle the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In November 1975 the United Nations General Assembly, under the guidance of Austrian Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, adopted Resolution 3379 which asserted Zionism to be a form of racism. The General Assembly rescinded this resolution in December 1991 with Resolution 46/86.

In July 1976, an Air France plane carrying 260 people was hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and flown to Uganda, then ruled by Idi Amin Dada. There, the Germans separated the Jewish passengers from the Non-Jewish passengers, releasing the non-Jews. The hijackers threatened to kill the remaining, 100-odd Jewish passengers (and the French crew who had refused to leave). Despite the distances involved, Rabin ordered a daring rescue operation in which the kidnapped Jews were freed. UN Secretary General Waldheim described the raid as "a serious violation of the national sovereignty of a United Nations member state" (meaning Uganda). Waldheim subsequently turned out to be a former Nazi officer, whose name appeared on a 1947 list of wanted war criminals submitted to the UN by Yugoslavia.


Operation Entebbe

Yonatan Netanyahu

Operation Entebbe (also known as the Yonatan Operation (Hebrew: מבצע יונתן‎), the Entebbe Raid or Operation Thunderbolt) was a counter-terrorism hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on the night of 3 July and early morning of 4 July 1976. IDF acted on intelligence provided by Israeli secret agency Mossad. In the wake of the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 by members of the militant organizations Revolutionary Cells and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - External Operations and the hijackers' threats to kill the hostages if their prisoner release demands were not met, a plan was drawn up to airlift the hostages to safety. These plans took into account the likelihood of armed resistance from Ugandan military troops.

Originally codenamed Operation Thunderball by the IDF, the operation was retroactively renamed Operation Yonatan in memory of the Sayeret Matkal commander Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan "Yoni" Netanyahu, the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, who was the only commando killed in the fighting. All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed, and five Israeli commandos were wounded. A fourth hostage was murdered  by Ugandan army officers at a nearby hospital.

Idi Amin, the leader of Uganda at the time, was humiliated by the surprise raid. He believed Kenya had colluded with Israel in planning the raid and hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda were massacred soon afterwards. The building in which the hostages were being held was built by an Israeli construction firm, which still had the blueprints. While planning the military operation, the Israeli army built a partial replica of the airport terminal with the help of the construction firm.


On 27 June 1976, Air France Flight 139, an Airbus A300 (Airbus A300B4-203), registration F-BVGG (cn 019), originating from Tel Aviv, Israel, carrying 248 passengers and a crew of 12, took off from Athens, heading for Paris.[note 2] Soon after the 12:30 p.m. takeoff, the flight was hijacked by two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-EO) and two Germans from the German Revolutionary Cells—Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann. The hijack was led by Böse who diverted the flight to Benghazi, Libya.There it was held on the ground for seven hours for refuelling, during which time a female hostage was released—who pretended to be having a miscarriage. The plane left Benghazi, and at 3:15 p.m. it arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda.

At Entebbe, the four hijackers were joined by at least four others, supported by the pro-Palestinian forces of Uganda's President, Idi Amin. They demanded the release of 40 Palestinians held in Israel and 13 other detainees imprisoned in Kenya, France, Switzerland, and West Germany. They threatened that if these demands were not met, they would begin to kill hostages on 1 July 1976. The hijackers deliberately sorted the hostages into two groups—Jews and Gentiles. As they did so a Holocaust survivor showed Böse a camp registration number tattooed on his arm, Böse protested "I'm no Nazi! ... I am an idealist". The hijackers held the passengers hostage for a week in the transit hall of Entebbe Airport—now the old terminal. Some hostages were released, but 105 remained captive. The hijackers threatened to kill them if Israel did not comply with their demands.

Upon the announcement by the hijackers that the airline crew and non-Jewish passengers would be released and put on another Air France plane that had been brought to Entebbe for that purpose, the flight captain Michel Bacos told the hijackers that all passengers, including those remaining, were his responsibility and that he would not leave them behind. Bacos' entire crew followed suit. A French nun also refused to leave, insisting that one of the remaining hostages take her place, but she was forced into the awaiting Air France plane by Ugandan soldiers. A total of 85 Israeli and/or Jewish hostages remained, as well as 20 others, most of whom included the crew of the Air France plane.

Operational planning
On the 1 July deadline, the Israeli government offered to negotiate with the hijackers in order to extend the deadline to 4 July. Idi Amin—Uganda's president of the time who supported the hijackers, asked them to extend the deadline until 4 July. This meant he could take a diplomatic trip to Port Louis, Mauritius, in order to officially hand over the chairmanship of the Organisation of African Unity to Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. This extension of the hostage deadline would prove crucial in allowing Israeli forces enough time to get to Entebbe. On 3 July, the Israeli cabinet approved the rescue mission, under the command of Major General Yekutiel "Kuti" Adam with Matan Vilnai as the Deputy Commander. Brigadier General Dan Shomron was appointed to command the operation on the ground. After days of collecting intelligence and planning by Netanyahu's deputy Moshe "Muki" Betser, four Israeli Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flew secretly to Entebbe Airport, by cover of night, without aid of Entebbe ground control.

Their route was over Sharm al-Sheikh, and down the international flight path over the Red Sea, flying at a height of no more than 30 m (100 feet) to avoid radar detection by Egyptian, Sudanese, and Saudi Arabian forces. Near the south outlet of the Red Sea the C-130s turned south and passed south of Djibouti. From there they went to a point north east of Nairobi, Kenya—likely across Somalia and the Ogaden area of Ethiopia. They then turned west passing through the African Rift Valley and over Lake Victoria. They were followed by two Boeing 707 jets. The first Boeing contained medical facilities and landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. The commander of the operation, General Yekutiel Adam, was on board the second Boeing that circled over Entebbe Airport during the raid.

The Israeli ground task force numbered approximately 100 personnel, and comprised the following:

-The Ground Command and Control Element
This small group comprised the overall ground commander, Brig. Gen. Shomron, and the communications and support personnel.

-The Assault Element
A 29-man assault unit led by Lt. Col. Netanyahu, this force was composed entirely of commandos from Sayeret Matkal, and were given the primary task of assaulting the old terminal and rescuing the hostages. Major Betser led one of the element's assault teams, Matan Vilnai led another.

-The Reinforcement Element
Securing the area, and preventing any hostile ground forces from interfering with the C-130 Hercules aircraft and the actual rescue.
Destroying the squadron of MiG fighter jets on the ground, to prevent any possible interceptions by the Ugandan Air Force.
Providing protection for and assisting in the loading of the hostages aboard the transports.
Assisting in the ground refuelling of the air transports.

The raid

Aerial photo of the city of Entebbe and the Entebbe International Airport in sunset

The Israeli forces landed at Entebbe at 2300 hours, Israeli time, with their cargo bay doors already open. A black Mercedes and accompanying Land Rovers were taken along to give the impression that the Israeli troops driving from the landed aircraft to the terminal building were an escort for a returning Amin, or other high-ranking official. The Mercedes and its escort vehicles were quickly driven by the Israeli assault team members to the airport terminal in the same fashion as Amin. Along the way, two Ugandan sentries, who were aware that Idi Amin had recently purchased a white Mercedes to replace his black one, ordered this procession of vehicles to stop. The commandos shot at the sentries with silenced pistols, missing both of them. As they pulled away, an Israeli commando in one of the Land Rovers that followed the Mercedes noticed that they had failed to eliminate the sentries and immediately killed them with a burst from his Kalashnikov. Fearing premature alerting of associates to the hijackers, the assault team was quickly sent into action.

The Israelis sprang from their vehicles and burst towards the terminal. During this brief but intense moment, Commander Yonatan Netanyahu was fatally wounded, possibly by a Ugandan sniper in the airport control tower. He was the only Israeli commando killed in the operation. The hostages were in the main hall of the airport building, directly adjacent to the runway. Upon entering the terminal, the commandos were shouting through a megaphone, "Stay down! Stay down! We are Israeli soldiers." in both Hebrew and English. A 19-year-old French Jew named Jean-Jacques Maimoni—who chose to identify himself as an Israeli Jew to the hijackers even though he had a French passport—stood up, but was killed by the Israeli commandos, who mistook him for a hijacker. Another hostage, Pasco Cohen, 52, manager of an Israeli medical insurance fund, was also fatally wounded by gunfire, either from the hijackers or accidentally by the Israeli commandos. In addition, a third hostage, 56-year-old Ida Borochovitch, a Russian Jew who had emigrated to Israel, was killed in the crossfire.

At one point, an Israeli commando called out in Hebrew, "Where are the rest of them?", referring to the hijackers. The hostages pointed to a connecting door of the airport's main hall, into which the Israeli commandos threw several hand grenades. They then entered the room and shot dead the three remaining hijackers, thus completing their assault. Meanwhile, the other three C-130 Hercules had landed and unloaded armoured personnel carriers, which were to be used for defense during the anticipated hour of refuelling, for the destruction of Ugandan jet fighters at the airport so as to prevent them from pursuing the Israelis after their departure from Entebbe Airport, and for intelligence-gathering.

After the raid, the Israeli assault team returned to their aircraft and began loading the hostages on board. Ugandan soldiers shot at them in the process. The Israeli commandos returned fire with their assault rifles, killing many Ugandan soldiers. The Israelis finished the loading, loaded Netanyahu's body into one of the aeroplanes, and then left Entebbe Airport. The entire operation lasted 53 minutes—of which the assault lasted only 30 minutes, and all seven hijackers that were present were killed. At least five other Israeli commandos were wounded. Out of the 105 hostages, three were killed and approximately 10 were wounded. Around 33 to 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed during the raid, and about 11 Ugandan Army Air Force MiG-17 fighter planes were destroyed on the ground at Entebbe Airport. The rescued hostages were flown to Israel via Nairobi, Kenya, shortly after the fighting.

Dora Bloch, a 75-year-old hostage taken to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, was murdered by the Ugandan government, as were some of her doctors and nurses for apparently trying to intervene. In April 1987, Henry Kyemba, Uganda's Attorney General and Minister of Justice at the time, told the Uganda Human Rights Commission that Bloch had been dragged from her hospital bed and murdered by two army officers on Idi Amin's orders. Bloch's remains were recovered near a sugar plantation 20 miles (32 km) east of Kampala in 1979, after the Ugandan–Tanzanian War led to the end of Amin's rule.

Israeli firms were often involved in building projects in Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. One reason the raid was so well-planned was that the building in which the hostages were being held was built by Solel Boneh, an Israeli construction firm, which still had the blueprints, and supplied them to the government of Israel. Additionally, Mossad built an accurate picture of the whereabouts of the hostages, the number of militants and the involvement of Ugandan troops from the released hostages in Paris. While planning the military operation, the Israeli army built a partial replica of the airport terminal with the help of some Israeli civilians who were involved in building the actual terminal. A very high level of secrecy was maintained, and the civilian contractors who had built the replica were detained as "guests" of the military until the rescue was declared a success.

According to a 5 July 2006, Associated Press interview with raid organizer "Muki" Betser, Mossad operatives extensively interviewed the hostages who had been released. As a result, another source of information was a French-Jewish passenger who had been mistakenly released with the non-Jewish hostages. Betser reports that the man had military training and "a phenomenal memory," allowing him to give information about the number and arms of the hostage-takers, among other useful details.

In the week prior to the raid, Israel had tried a number of political avenues to obtain the release of the hostages. Many sources indicate that the Israeli cabinet was prepared to release Palestinian prisoners if a military solution seemed unlikely to succeed. A retired IDF officer, Baruch "Burka" Bar-Lev, had known Idi Amin for many years and was considered to have a strong personal relationship with him. At the request of the cabinet he spoke with Amin on the phone many times, attempting to obtain the release of the hostages, without success.

The government of Uganda, led by Juma Oris, the Ugandan Foreign Minister at the time, later convened a session of the United Nations Security Council to seek official condemnation of the Israeli raid, as a violation of Ugandan sovereignty. The Security Council ultimately declined to pass any resolution on the matter, condemning neither Israel, nor Uganda. In his address to the Council, Israeli ambassador Chaim Herzog said:

We come with a simple message to the Council: we are proud of what we have done because we have demonstrated to the world that a small country, in Israel's circumstances, with which the members of this Council are by now all too familiar, the dignity of man, human life and human freedom constitute the highest values. We are proud not only because we have saved the lives of over a hundred innocent people—men, women and children—but because of the significance of our act for the cause of human freedom.
—HERZOG, Chaim.

UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim described the raid as "a serious violation of the national sovereignty of a United Nations member state" (meaning Uganda). For refusing to depart when given leave to do so by the hijackers, Captain Bacos was reprimanded by his superiors at Air France and suspended from duty for a period. Idi Amin was humiliated by the surprise raid. He believed Kenya had colluded with Israel in planning the raid and hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda were massacred soon afterwards. But from this time, Amin's regime began to break down, and two years later, he was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia. Amin died in Jeddah in August 2003. In the ensuing years, Betser and the Netanyahu brothers—Iddo and Benjamin, all Sayeret Matkal veterans—argued in increasingly public forums about who was to blame for the unexpected early firefight which caused Yonatan Netanyahu's death and partial loss of tactical surprise.

Claim of Israeli involvement
According to a UK government file on the crisis, an unnamed contact within the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Association attempted to convince a British diplomat in Paris, shortly after the hijacking, that the Israeli Secret Services and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), had acted together to seize the plane. According to this version, the Shin Bet helped design the operation to undermine the PLO's standing in France and its rapprochement with the USA. Israel denied the contact's claim about Israeli involvement, with officials in the Vice Premier's office calling it "foolishness" and "not worthy of comment." The absence of specific details supporting the allegation led to claims that there had been a deliberate act of disinformation, an attempt to develop a conspiracy theory.

The aircraft was carrying 248 passengers and 12 crew members—of which four passengers were killed and ten injured. From the total of 260 people on board, 256 returned home safely. A fourth hostage was later killed by Ugandan army officers at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala.

The four passengers killed included:

Jean-Jacques Maimoni—a 19-year-old French Jew who stood up while the Israeli commandos were eliminating the hijackers. They mistook him for a hijacker.
Pasco Cohen—a 52-year-old manager of an Israeli medical insurance fund, who was fatally wounded by gunfire, either from the hijackers or accidentally by the Israeli commandos.
Ida Borochovitch—a 56-year-old Russian Jew who had emigrated to Israel, also killed in the crossfire.
Dora Bloch—a 75-year-old murdered by the Ugandan government at Mulago Hospital in Kampala while receiving treatment for a condition unrelated to the raid. Ms. Bloch's remains were recovered near a sugar plantation 20 miles east of Kampala in 1979.



In 1976, the ongoing Lebanese Civil War led Israel to allow some South Lebanese to cross the border and work in Israel.

At the end of 1976, Rabin resigned after it emerged that his wife maintained a dollar account in the United States (illegal at the time), which had been opened while Rabin was Israeli ambassador. The incident became known as the Dollar Account affair.

Shimon Peres replaced him as prime minister, leading the Alignment in the subsequent elections.

In January 1977, French authorities arrested Abu Daoud, the planner of the Munich massacre, releasing him a few days later.

In March 1977 Anatoly Sharansky, a prominent Russian Zionist was sentenced to 13 years hard labour.

Anatoly Sharansky


see also: United Nations member states -



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