Egyptian troops cross the Suez
The Day of Atonement
On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. Leviticus 23:27
Six years after the Six Day war of June 1967, the Jewish nation of Israel was celebrating what is considered by many Jews as the most important of their holy days, the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. As the nation prepared to spend this most holy of days in peace, it rested in confidence gained by their decisive victory in 1967. While Awar Sadat of Egypt had theatened war in 1972 and continued to do so through early 1973, the Israelis were not overly alarmed. Because the Soviets were involved in seeking “detente” with the U.S. government at the time, they refused to openly back Egypt the way they had in 1967. This enraged Sadat and he immediately sent 20,000 Soveit “:advisors” home.
This, and because Israel felt Egypt wasn’t strong enough to attack by itself without Syria’s backing, lulled Israel into thinking they could spend Yom Kippur in peace with few troops on the Egyptian border and on the Golan heights, captured from Syria six years before. Even heavy tank manuevers by Egypt near Israels border failed to alarm them. And on the northern border when young Maj. Shmuel Askarov pointed out the heavy troop and tank employment by the Syrians to 6 Day War hero and commander, Moshe Dayan, and warned him war was imminent, Dayan told him they had no fear of war for at least 10 years.
They were soon to discover quite the opposite. As a matter of fact on October 6, Egypt and Syria were to launch a joint attack with combined forces that would equal the size of the entire NATO force deployed in Europe. While in tens of thousands of homes in Jerusalem and through out the nation of Israel residents were preparing for the fast, repentance and Sabbath rest of Yom Kippur, Egyptian and Syrian troops, supported by jets and tanks and troops from Iraq and other Arab nations swarmed across their borders in an all out blitz to destroy Israel.
On the top of the Golan Heights, only 189 Israeli tanks found themselves facing 1,400 Syrian Russian made tanks roaring across the desert towards them backed by blazing artillery and jets.
On the Egyptian front 436 Israeli defenders found themselves facing an onslaught by 80,000 Egyptian soldiers, tanks, artillery and Egyptian and Iraqi Migs and Hunter jets.
Needless to say, few Israelis enjoyed Yom Kippur that day.
[to be continued]