August 7, 1970
Following the June 1967 War, relations between Israel and its enemies Egypt and Jordan remained tenuous. Nasser had suffered an embarrassing defeat, leaving his military crippled and his country without the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan suffered a similarly devastating loss as Israel took control of the West Bank territory, and left the Jordanian army weakened.
Despite the ceasefire signed on June 11, 1967, which effectively ended the June 1967 War, fighting between Israel and these two countries continued. Jordan was also home to the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, which planned and executed malicious attacks against Israel.
The initial stages of the War of Attrition included small military skirmishes and mortar attacks again Israel until Nasser made an official call to war on March 8, 1969. Egypt then began large-scale shelling of Israeli positions along the Suez Canal, and aerial warfare between the countries’ air forces and commando raids resulted. The Soviet Union supplied Nasser with arms to aid the fighting. A critical turning point occurred on July 30, 1970, when five Soviet-piloted MIG-21s were shot down by Israeli-flown aircraft. These Soviet planes were of grave concern to the Israelis, who feared the conflict broadening into a larger confrontation with Moscow. In this case the USSR backed-down.
Otherwise, despite the Soviet munitions, the Egyptian air force and army performed poorly and were not able to weaken Israeli positions in the Sinai or along the Suez Canal. On the Jordanian front, the PLO’s attacks remained minor.
The Jordanian regime eventually tired of being dragged into unwanted violence with Israel by the PLO. Jordan took action against the Palestinian militant group, culminating in a 1970 massacre of Palestinians referred to as Black September.
On August 7, 1970, the warring parties finally signed a ceasefire. Nasser died of a heart attack two months later.
In the photo, an Israeli soldier overlooks the Suez Canal in August 1970.