Learning the Lessons of Israel’s War of Attrition with Egypt

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of Israel’s much-remembered victory in the Six-Day War. Only three weeks later, Egyptian forces violated the ceasefire by attacking Israeli troops near the Suez Canal—beginning the largely forgotten War of Attrition. With help from the USSR, the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser would attempt, through repeated, small-scale attacks, to force Jerusalem to withdraw from the territory it had recently acquired. Sean Durns considers this conflict, the failed attempts to end it, and its lessons for the present:

In June 1970, the U.S. secretary of state William Rogers introduced a [peace] plan, which included a 90-day ceasefire. [Israel’s then-Prime Minister Golda] Meir, worrying that Egypt would exploit the ceasefire for military benefit, was inclined to oppose it. But the U.S. made clear that doing so would come at the cost of promised military aid. Eventually American reassurances—including that no Israeli soldier would be withdrawn from the present lines until a binding peace agreement was achieved—[convinced] the Meir government to accept the plan.

The ceasefire began on August 8, 1970. Yet, in the hours before it took effect, Israeli aerial surveillance witnessed Egyptian soldiers moving Russian surface-to-air missiles into place on their side—despite the fact that the agreements forbade moving military equipment into the area. . . . Washington, however, initially denied that any violations had occurred. By September, the U.S. State Department grudgingly admitted that, in fact, they had been violated, but no consequences followed.

Those missiles would exact a devastating toll on Israel three years later, when Egypt initiated what became known as the Yom Kippur War. While Israel would eventually rebound, the dramatic losses of that war’s early days were the result, in part, of what flowed from the Rogers plan. Just as Meir had feared, Israel’s enemies had exploited the U.S.-backed agreement, taking full advantage of American naiveté.

The slow, intermittent fighting during the War of Attrition was a precursor of many of Israel’s subsequent wars, from Lebanon to the second intifada. And it would not be the last time that international actors and allies would encourage Israel to accept agreements requiring it to make concessions without receiving in return the commensurate peace.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Egypt, Golda Meir, Israeli history, US-Israel relations, War of Attrition

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion