The War of Attrition

VOL. 3


No. 1
P. 60
The War of Attrition

The War of Attrition between Egypt and Israel from March 1969 to the restoration of the cease-fire on August 7, 1970 has not been generally recognized for the major confrontation that it was. Its inconclusive outcome has led observers to overlook the fact that it was not a limited war in any sense of the word, since both the combatants had objectives which, if they had been successful, would have caused a major upheaval in the area. The Egyptian intention was eventually to achieve the capability of crossing the Suez Canal in strength and reoccupying Sinai; the Israelis not only aimed at preventing this and re-establishing the cease-fire, but seriously attempted to undermine the Egyptian regime through military pressure. Both sides, furthermore, used the major proportion of their military strength in the conflict (either directly or as a part of the "static" situation), and the confrontation, although centered on the Suez Canal, was not limited to that particular area and indeed has to be seen in the light of concurrent conflicts conducted on Israel's other fronts. The war was, in short, of considerable significance, and it is the purpose of this article briefly to describe the course of conflict and to examine the light it throws on the strategic thinking of the participants in the aftermath of the Six Day War.

Ahmed S. Khalidi is a Ph. D. candidate at the War Studies Department, Kings College, London University, and co-author of Weapons and Equipment of the Israeli Armed Forces (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1970).