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The Cold War

Yom Kippur War

The Yom Kippur War was fought between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt and Syria. It took place between October 6th and October 25th in 1973 with the initial attack taking place on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. The war heightened tensions in the Cold War between the world's two nuclear superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Leaders

The Prime Minister of Israel was Golda Meir. Israeli military leaders at the time included Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, David Elazar, and Israel Tal.

Golda Meir
Golda Meir by Marion S. Trikosko

The President of Egypt was Anwar Sadat. The Commander-in-Chief of Egypt's army was Ahmad Ismail Ali. The President of Syria was Hafez al-Assad and the Minister of Defense was Mustafa Tlass.
Anwar Sadat
Anwar Sadat by Unknown

What Other Countries Were Involved

The United States was on the side of Israel. They helped to supply Israel with weapons as well as put pressure on the attacking states to stop fighting. A few years after the war the United States would help to broker a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt at the Camp David Accords.

Egypt and Syria were supported directly with armed forces from Iraq and Jordan. They were also supported by the Soviet Union and a number of Arab states including Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon.

How the War Began

The Egyptians and the Syrians started the attack on Yom Kippur. They figured that the Israeli Army would be less alert on their holy day. The initial attack worked very well. The Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal and took control of the Sinai Peninsula. At the same time the Syrians attacked to the north taking control of the Golan Heights.

Israel Counterattacks

A few days after the initial attack, the Israelis counterattacked. They quickly took back the Golan Heights as well as the Sinai Peninsula. They continued to push back both the Egyptians and the Syrians. Soon the Israeli Army was a mere 35 miles from Damascus, the capital of Syria, and only 65 miles from Cairo, capital of Egypt.

How it Ended

On October 22, the United Nations negotiated a cease-fire, however, the fighting soon broke out again. Soon Israel had the Egyptian Army nearly surrounded.

With the war escalating, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union began to mount. If one of them should join in the war to help out an ally, the other would likely join as well. Many people felt the world was on the brink of World War III.

On October 25, 1973 another cease fire was negotiated. This time the effort was successful and the war came to an end.

Facts About the Yom Kippur War

To learn more about the Cold War:

Back to the Cold War summary page.

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