The Yom Kippur War, also known as the October War, was a significant military conflict that took place in 1973 between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. The war started on the holiest day in Judaism, Yom Kippur, a day of fasting and atonement, chosen intentionally to catch the Israeli military off guard. Despite the surprise attack, Israel, backed by the US, succeeded in defeating the Arab coalition, but not before suffering heavy losses.
The war began when Egypt and Syria launched simultaneous attacks on Israel in an attempt to regain territories lost during the Six-Day War in 1967. Egypt aimed at retaking Sinai Peninsula while Syria focused on recovering Golan Heights. After initial setbacks, Israel managed to turn the tide of war and push deep into both Egypt and Syria which culminated with ceasefires.
The Yom Kippur War is significant because of its impact on the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. It led to the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state, Egypt. Further, it was a catalyst in the process that led to the Camp David Accords in 1978.
Recent Hamas attacks on Israel are being compared to the Yom Kippur War because of the sudden and massive nature of these aggressions. Just as Israel was taken by surprise during the Yom Kippur War, the intensity and volume of the recent Hamas attacks exceeded Israel’s short-term expectations and preparations.
In addition, there is the geopolitical context. Like in 1973, the recent attacks are happening at a time when the Arab world is deeply divided. Some states like UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco have normalized relations with Israel, while others like Iran are supporting Palestinian militant groups.
However, while there are similarities, it’s crucial to remember that the context and substance of the current Israel-Hamas conflict differ substantially from the Yom Kippur War. The latter was a full-scale conventional war between sovereign states, while the former is an asymmetric conflict involving a state and a non-state actor