It was the holiest day in the Jewish religion when people fast and pray. It was time for Anwar Sadat’s Egypt and Hafez al-Assad’s Syria to attack and make good a 1971 vow to take back lands lost in the 1967 war. Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Kuwait, Jordan and the Lebanon pledged their support to the attackers.
Golda Meir’s Israelis were unprepared and outnumbered.
On the Golan Heights, 150 Israeli tanks faced 1,400 Syria tanks. In the Suez 500 Israeli soldiers were faced with 80,000-100,000 Egyptian soldiers. The Arab states were being supplied by the Soviet Union. Israel had American support.
Days later the Israelis had gone on the offensive and were within 65 miles of Cairo and 35 miles of Damascus. On October 22, the UN led by the Austrian former Nazi Kurt Waldheim, called for a ceasefire. The Israelis were reluctant to listen and pressed on. But on October 26, the last heavy fighting was at an end.
The result? Thousands dead – A renewed confidence in Arab nations routed in the Six Day War of 1967 – The Camp David Accords that brought the return of the Sinai to Egypt and normalized relations—the first peaceful recognition of Israel by an Arab country.
But what has changed? As now, opportunities for peace were missed. As now, there was dispute over land. As now, Israel is at odds with the region.