This week in Israeli history, Israel, Jordan and Egypt sign a ceasefire agreement, ending the 1967-1970 War of Attrition.
August 7, 1970 – Ceasefire Agreement Signed with Jordan, Egypt
By the end of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel had gained control of an area roughly three times its original size. This victory also enabled the Jewish state to unify Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, as well as to gain control over the Sinai, the Golan Heights, Gaza and Judea and Samaria.
Israel’s leaders had hoped that such a stunning triumph would compel the Arab states to enter into peace negotiations, especially since Israel had made it clear that it was willing to relinquish nearly all the territory gained in order to end hostilities.
Unfortunately, these dreams of reconciliation were unrealized. In August 1967 Arab leaders met in Khartoum, where they established the “Three Nos” policy – No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.
Thus began what is known as the war of attrition. Egypt began shelling Israeli positions near the Suez Canal. On October 21, 1967, Egypt sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat, killing 47 people, and less than a year later started shelling Israeli positions along the Suez Canal.
The goal was to wear Israel out. Then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser assumed that Israel could not withstand a long, drawn-out war of attrition as well, including the economic burden. He also believed that a constant flow of casualties would undermine Israeli morale.
The War of Attrition lasted three years, ending with a ceasefire agreement signed by Israel, Jordan and Egypt on August 7, 1970. All told, Israel lost 15 combat aircraft, 1,424 soldiers and more than 100 civilians.