Launched on Yom Kippur, the Jewish holy day, the combined Egyptian/Syrian invasion of Sinai and the Golan Heights achieved near complete surprise. In the Suez Canal zone, the Egyptians opened up with massive aerial and artillery bombardment. Under this cover, troops moved across the canal en masse. The Bar-Lev line, Israel’s protective fortifications built around a massive sand berm, was blasted through with explosives, high-pressure hoses and bulldozers. Within 24 hours, 100,000 troops and 1,000 tanks had made the crossing, and the Bar-lev was breached in 60 places and overrun. After the initial advance, Israel countered forcefully, but suffered heavy losses. Egyptian attempts to renew their offensive were likewise repulsed. By 10 October, an uneasy stalemate had developed, with the Egyptians reluctant to advance beyond the protective umbrella of their surface-to-air missile defences. An attempted raid by Egyptian commandos behind Israeli lines at Rumani was quickly repulsed. In the Golan, meanwhile the Syrians were failing, spectacularly.
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