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

June 10 2020

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 Eventually American reassurances—including that no Israeli soldier would be withdrawn from the present lines until a binding peace agreement was achieved—[convinced] the Meir government to accept the plan.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.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror