Ken Stein: Recollections from the October War

Ken Stein
October 9, 2013

Many recollections remain from the Egyptian-Syrian surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur in 1973. The war set in motion a diplomatic process that eventually culminated in the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty.

Recollections from the war include:

  • Israel’s misreading of Arab military intentions;
  • Israel not striking pre-emptively;
  • Overwhelming numbers of Egyptian soldiers pouring across the Suez Canal;
  • Syrian troops coming down the Golan Heights but stopping suddenly when they arrived at the B’not Ya’accov Bridge;
  • Moscow and Washington sending military supplies to their allies;
  • The Arab oil embargo on western countries;
  • European countries refusing(except Portugal) to allow transports carrying military supplies from the United States to Israel to land for refueling;
  • Israel’s morale starkly shaken;
  • Arab euphoria from early war gains;
  • Israel’s counter attacks that blocked the Syrian army on the Golan and injected Israeli forces across the canal;
  • Two cease-fire resolutions not observed;
  • Washington and Moscow going eye to eye in a threatened military confrontation, and then standing down;
  • The war’s end with Egyptian and Israeli generals negotiating the cease-fire’s implementation 101 kilometers from Cairo;
  • A December 1973 Geneva Middle East Peace Conference;
  • A signing of an Egyptian-Israeli military disengagement agreement less than 100 days after the war started. Six years later, the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty was signed.