Skirmishes between Egypt and Israel had continued after 1969, and this “war of attrition” had resulted in high Egyptian casualties and burdensome military expenditures. Sadat tried to find a way out of that impasse by negotiation. Unsuccessful, he secretly planned another round against Israel. He first repaired his fences with the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, which financed arms purchases from the Soviet Union. Then, on October 6, 1973, on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur and during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Egypt launched an air and artillery assault across the Suez Canal. Within hours, thousands of Egyptian soldiers had successfully crossed into the Sinai. Protected by a missile umbrella that destroyed Israeli aircraft, they overran and captured the string of Israeli fortifications known as the Bar-Lev line. Israel was caught unprepared. By the middle of the month, however, it had regained the initiative and was able to encircle Egyptian units on the outskirts of Suez. The United Nations then imposed a cease-fire, and an armistice line patrolled by UN forces was eventually established between the Egyptian and the Israeli armies.
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