20th Century Battlefields: 1973 Yom Kippur Middle East War January 6, 2009Posted by chandrapong007 in History, Politics.
20th Century Battlefields – 1973 Middle East (9th July 2007, 9pm BBC2)
Throughout the 20th century, the Middle East has been riven by unrest, conflict and outright war. In this episode of Twentieth Century Battlefields, Peter and Dan Snow unpick the complex story of the fighting that broke out in 1973, in the biggest war between the Arabs and Israelis.
The roots of the war in October 1973 between Israel, Egypt and Syria date back to another conflict, the Six-Day War. On 5th June 1967, Israel pre-emptively attacked Egypt, swiftly followed by attacks on Syria and Jordan. The Israeli Air Force paralysed the Arab air forces and the Israeli Army routed the Arab armies. In just six days, Israel had seized control of vast swathes of territory, including the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. Israel effectively tripled in size. However, although the Israelis were triumphant, the Arab nations had been utterly humiliated. By October 1973, they were ready to retaliate.
On 6 October 1973, Egypt and her ally, Syria, launched a simultaneous attack on two fronts. The Israelis were taken utterly by surprise; most were celebrating the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. They had not believed the Arabs capable of organising anything so grand, and didn’t believe they would dare to fight back in the face of the omnipotent Israeli Air Force.
Peter and Dan describe the Egyptian plan to send 100,000 troops and 1,000 tanks across the Suez Canal, which separated Israeli-occupied Sinai and Egypt. They travel to the Golan Heights, where hundreds of Syrian tanks overran the Israeli army, and Dan discovers, while on a training exercise with the British Royal Marines, how the Egyptians used the latest anti-tank weaponry to stun the Israelis, who tried to counter-attack.