Let’s take a moment to consider probably the most profound and least discussed episodes in the Jewish State’s short history – America’s refusal to honor its commitment to enforce the 1970 Egypt-Israel ceasefire.
A refusal that was ultimately responsible for the Yom Kippur War.
The last time I can recall that a national leader saw fit to allude to this terrible series of events was then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s 30 September 2001 address at the main memorial service for those who died in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Sharon noted that Israel was surprised in that war by Egypt because the Egyptians did not honor the 1970 cease-fire agreement and thus the lesson of the Yom Kippur War is that one must always pay attention when agreements are not honored.
For reference below is the 13 August 1970 statement by the Defense Minister Dayan on the immediate Egyptian violation of the 7 August cease-fire agreement.
Now we know the following:
#1 The Egyptians moved anti-aircraft missiles close to the Suez Canal the very moment that the cease-fire went into effect.
#2 The US had a spy plane that flew over the area that first day and photographed the violations. They were aware that first day that the Egyptians had violated the agreement. It should be noted that at the time the US asked Israel to provide evidence and for several days said it was waiting for evidence of violation.
#3 Whereas before the agreement was signed, the US promised Israel that if the Egyptians moved up their missiles that the US would press the Egyptians to pull them back, when they finally had to face up to the violation, the US explained that they could not pressure Egypt.
#4 The US ultimately compensated Israel with “black boxes” for Israeli aircraft that were meant to offset the damage to Israel’s security caused by the Egyptian violation.
#5 Those same anti-aircraft missiles ultimately provided invading Egyptian forces protection from the Israeli Air Force at the opening of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
#6. Without the anti-aircraft cover, the invasion would have been quickly repulsed.
#7. In point of fact, in all likelihood, Egypt would have never tried to cross the Suez Canal if the anti-aircraft missiles hadn’t been deployed in the Canal area.
Simply put, if the United States had honored it’s word in 1970 and insisted that Egypt pull back the anti-aircraft missiles to their pre-truce positions the Yom Kippur War would never have taken place.
There is certainly much to be learned from the events of 1970 and the nightmare that followed in 1973.
Much that is extremely relevant to our own times.
Israel paid dearly in 1973 for accepting the Egyptian violation of the 1970 agreement.
And the Jewish State may yet again pay dearly if it continues to accept the ongoing security violations of Oslo in the Gaza Strip.
================= Statement to the Knesset by Defence Minister Dayan, 13 August 1970: [From the Foreign Ministry of Israel Website]
On the night when the cease-fire between Israel and Egypt came into effect, the Egyptians, with Soviet help, began to move SA-2 and SA-3 missiles into the standstill zone, embarked on the construction of new missile sites, and moved missile deployments closer to the Canal in flagrant violation of the cease-fire. On 13 August, the Minister of Defence made a statement to the Knesset:
The Minister began by citing the full text of the agreement as follows:
A. Israel and the UAR will observe a cease-fire effective at 2200 hours GMT Friday 7 August.
B. Both sides will stop all incursions and all firing, on the ground and in the air, across the cease-fire lines.
C. Both sides will refrain from changing the military status quo within zones extending 50 kilometres to the east and the west of the cease-fire line. Neither side will introduce or construct any new military installations in these zones. Activities within the zones will be limited to the maintenance of existing installations at their present sites and positions and to the rotation and supply of forces presently within the zones.
D. For the purposes of verifying observance of the cease-fire, each side will rely on its own national means, including reconnaissance aircraft, which will be free to operate without interference up to 10 kilometres from the cease-fire line on its own side of the line.
E. Each side may avail itself as appropriate of all United Nations machinery in reporting alleged violations by each other of the cease-fire and of the military standstill.
F. Both sides will abide by the Geneva Convention of 1949 relative to the treatment of prisoners of war and will accept the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross in carrying out their obligations under that Convention.
The Minister then explained how the agreement was drafted and accepted by the parties: