Arab israeli wars
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Arab-Israeli Wars. Lsn 36. ID & SIG. Camp David Accords, Golan Heights, Israel, Nasser, OPEC, PLO, preemptive strike, Sadat, Sharon, Sinai, Six Day War, Suez Canal, unity of command, Yom Kippur War, War of Israeli Independence. Importance of the Middle East during the Cold War.

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Arab-Israeli Wars

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Arab israeli wars

Arab-Israeli Wars

Lsn 36

Id sig


  • Camp David Accords, Golan Heights, Israel, Nasser, OPEC, PLO, preemptive strike, Sadat, Sharon, Sinai, Six Day War, Suez Canal, unity of command, Yom Kippur War, War of Israeli Independence

Importance of the middle east during the cold war

Importance of the Middle East during the Cold War

  • Colonial legacies

  • Oil reserves

  • Islamic, Jewish, Christian religious roots

  • Location on the southern flank of the Soviet Union

  • Soviet and American client states

    • Presence of advanced weapons

  • Suez Canal as a vital link between the Red and Mediterranean Seas

Creation of israel

Creation of Israel

  • Jews had long hoped to establish an independent state in Palestine based on the covenant between Yahweh and Abraham (Genesis 17:7-8)

  • Arabs rejected this desire with equal passion

  • After the European anti-Semitism of the 1930s and the Holocaust of World War II, Jews increasingly began migrating to Palestine

Creation of israel1

Creation of Israel

  • Following World War I and the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations’ mandate gave Great Britain control of Palestine

  • After World War II, the British concluded they could no longer control the escalating violence between Arabs and Jews and turned the problem over to the United Nations

  • In November 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine

Creation of israel2

Creation of Israel

  • British forces withdrew and on May 14, 1948 the Jews proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel

  • The next day the Arabs attacked

David Ben-Guiron, first prime minister of Israel, declares Israel’s independence

War of israeli independence 1948

War of Israeli Independence (1948)

  • At first the Egyptian air force struck Tel Aviv

  • Soon after that forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia all attacked

  • Most analysts felt the more numerous and better equipped Arabs would overwhelm the Israelis easily

War of israeli independence 19481

War of Israeli Independence (1948)

  • Instead the Israelis fought with great courage and skill

  • The Arabs on the other hand frittered away their numerical advantage with uncoordinated attacks

  • The war turned into a series of disorganized clashes among small units

  • After four weeks of fighting, both sides accepted a UN-sponsored ceasefire

Abdel nasser

Abdel Nasser

  • In spite of the ceasefire, tensions remained high

  • They increased after 1954 when General Abdel Nasser, a bold Arab nationalist, gained control of the Egyptian government

    • Nasser first tried to acquire weapons from the West but when that failed he turned to the Soviet Union

    • The USSR began indirectly supplying Egypt with weapons through Czechoslovakia

  • France became upset with Egypt’s providing weapons to insurgents in Algeria so France began supplying Israel

Suez canal 1956

Suez Canal (1956)

  • On July 27, 1956, Nasser unexpectedly nationalized the Suez Canal Zone, hoping to end the British presence there

  • The British and the French decided to intervene militarily and Israel joined them in attacking Egypt

Between 1859 and 1869, the British constructed the Suez Canal. In 1882 the British army occupied Egypt to ensure the safety of the canal which was crucial to British communications with India

Suez canal 19561

Suez Canal (1956)

  • On Oct 28 Israel called up its reserves and then conducted a daring airborne landing deep inside the Sinai east of Milta Pass

  • At the same time a small force of Israeli infantry and tanks drove across the desert and linked up with the paratroopers on Oct 30

Suez canal 19562

Suez Canal (1956)

  • In the north the Israelis bypassed the strong Egyptian defenses at Abu Agelia and attacked them from the rear

  • In the south the Israelis attacked Sharm el-Sheikh, the strategic point at the mouth of the Gulf of Aquaba

  • On Oct 31, British and French bombers began attacking Egyptian airfields and destroyed most of the Egyptian air force

Suez canal 19563

Suez Canal (1956)

  • Nasser began fearing his forces would be cut off in the Sinai and ordered a withdraw

  • The Israelis continued to advance and halted about 15 km east of the Suez Canal

  • The British and French landed one and a half infantry divisions near the northern mouth of the canal on Nov 6 and started advancing down the canal

Suez canal 19564

Suez Canal (1956)

  • Soon after they began moving, the British and French accepted a UN ceasefire

  • It was a decisive Israeli, French, and British victory

  • Nonetheless, the US, and then the USSR, began demanding the Israelis relinquish the captured Egyptian territory

    • Both the US and Russia were concerned about the explosiveness of the situation

    • One Soviet diplomat wrote President Eisenhower, “If this war is not curbed, it… can develop into a third world war.”

Suez canal 19565

Suez Canal (1956)

  • In the face of this international pressure, Israel had no choice but to withdraw

  • The intervention also cost the British and the French much of their influence in the region

  • Eisenhower announced the “Eisenhower Doctrine” saying, “The existing vacuum in the Middle East must be filled by the United States before it is filled by Russia.”

President Eisenhower was upset by the Israeli, French, and British actions surrounding the Suez Crisis

The six day war 1967

The Six Day War (1967)

  • A fragile peace lasted until May 1967 when the Soviet Union informed Nasser (incorrectly as it turned out) that Israel was massing forces for a strike against Syria

  • Nasser responded to this report by mobilizing his reserves and moving troops into the Sinai

  • He also pressured the UN to withdraw its peacekeeping forces from the Sinai and soon occupied Sharm el-Sheikh

Nasser and Soviet premier Khrushchev

The six day war 19671

The Six Day War (1967)

  • With Sharm el-Sheikh in his control, Nasser cut off Israeli shipping through the Gulf of Aquaba

  • To correct previous problems, the Arabs tried to establish unity of command under Egyptian control

    • In reality there was no true unity of command of the diverse forces

King Hussein of Jordan and Nasser signing a mutual defense treaty

The six day war 19672

The Six Day War (1967)

  • Israel realized the serious situation, mobilized its reserves, and launched a preemptive air strike on June 5

  • The strike hit eleven Egyptian airfields and in a matter of hours destroyed most of the Egyptian air force

  • Then Israel turned its attention to the other Arab countries

    • By the evening of the second day of the strike, Israel had destroyed over 400 Arab aircraft and lost only 26 of its own

The six day war 19673

The Six Day War (1967)

  • Israel then used its central position to defeat first the Egyptians and the Jordanians, and then the Syrians

    • Israel attacked through the Sinai and reached the Suez Canal, captured Jerusalem, and seized the Golan Heights

  • On June 10 a UN ceasefire went into effect

The six day war 19674

The Six Day War (1967)

  • Controlling the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Sinai gave Israel depth in its defense that it had never had before

  • Its highly skilled and coordinated air and ground attacks were in stark contrast to the tentative and piecemeal Arab efforts

The six day war 19675

The Six Day War (1967)

  • However the stunning Israeli success increased superpower involvement in the region as the US increased its diplomatic support for Israel and Russia began directly shipping weapons to Arab states rather than funneling them through Czechoslovakia

  • Arab frustration and tensions also gave rise to more activity of the Palestinian Liberation Organization which increasingly used terrorist tactics against the Israelis

In 1969 Yasser Arafat became chairman of the PLO executive committee

The yom kippur war 1973

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • In 1970 Nasser died and Anwar Sadat became president of Egypt

  • Sadat was more moderate than Nasser but that still didn’t keep him from going to war with Israel

  • However, Sadat’s objective was not the decisive defeat of Israel

    • Sadat instead sought a limited military victory designed to gain larger political objectives

The yom kippur war 19731

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • Sadat had greatly improved Egypt’s military in terms of weapons and quality of soldiers

  • He also improved coordination with Syria and Jordan

  • Sadat’s plan was to fight a set-piece battle in which superior Arab numbers would wear down the Israelis

Anwar Sadat

The yom kippur war 19732

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • Egypt attacked along the entire front of the Suez Canal on Saturday, Oct 6, both the Jewish Sabbath as well as the holy Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

  • Syria simultaneously attacked in the Golan Heights

  • By Oct 9 the Egyptians had bridgeheads 10 to 12 km across the canal

  • There they halted, established a strong air defense umbrella, and waited for the Israeli counterattack

The yom kippur war 19733

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • The Israelis attacked with three armored brigades without infantry or artillery support

  • The Egyptians were able to defeat these with their Russian Sagger antitank missiles

Israeli tank driving by wounded soldiers

The yom kippur war 19734

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • On Oct 14 the Egyptians attacked out of their bridgeheads

  • The Egyptians penetrated about 15 to 18 kilometers but diluted their effort by attacking in six major thrusts

  • They also suffered from moving outside of their protective air defense umbrella

  • Moreover the Israelis benefited from newly arrived TOW antitank missiles from the US

    • The Egyptians lost 200 tanks

The yom kippur war 19735

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • With the tide of the battle turning, Israel went on the offensive

  • Brigadier General Ariel Sharon cleared a corridor through the Egyptian defenses to the east bank of the canal and Israeli divisions began crossing the canal

  • Israel was also experiencing success in the Golan Heights and captured Mount Hermon on the north end of the heights but could not advance further into Syria

The yom kippur war 19736

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • As an Israeli victory became apparent, both the US and the USSR called for a ceasefire

  • Russia, fearing the complete destruction of Arab forces threatened to act “unilaterally” and to send troops to enforce a ceasefire

  • US forces worldwide were placed on alert

  • On Oct 24, the Israelis reluctantly agreed to a ceasefire

The yom kippur war 19737

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • Israel won the war but Egypt won the peace

  • Sadat had had enough battlefield success to achieve his strategic objective of destroying the aura of Israeli invincibility

  • The conflict also showed the political and economic power of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

    • To punish the US for supporting Israel, OPEC shut off the flow of oil to the US

Gas lines during the oil embargo

The yom kippur war 19738

The Yom Kippur War (1973)

  • The superpowers realized how serious the volatile Middle East situation had become and could not afford to let things get worse

  • The Camp David Accords of 1978 normalized relations between Egypt and Israel and resulted in the signing of a peace treaty in 1979

The Multinational Force and Observers, of which the US is a participant, is the peacekeeping force that helps supervise the Israel-Egypt peace agreement

Continued violence

Continued Violence

  • However the Israel-Egypt peace treaty did not solve the longterm problem or end the violence

  • The PLO has increased in influence and terrorist activity

  • The PLO and Hezbollah paramilitary forces became increasingly active in Lebanon where a civil war broke out in 1975

  • In 1978, 1982, and 2006 Israel attacked Lebanon

Beirut bombing

Beirut Bombing

  • On Sept 29, 1982, US military forces were inserted in Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force

  • The Marines were first welcomed but steadily became perceived as being pro-Israeli

  • The violence culminated on October 23, 1983 with a terrorist bombing that claimed the lives of 241 service members

Continuing issues

Continuing Issues

  • Oil

  • In 2005 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that Israel should be “wiped out from the map”

  • Palestinian self government and statehood

  • Terrorism

  • Desert Storm and the Iraq War

Arab israeli wars


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