The Arab-Israeli War of Attrition, 1967-1973. Volume 1: Aftermath of the Six-Day War, Renewed Combat, West Bank Insurgency and Air Forces

Published on
December 26, 2023
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Bill Norton
Other Publication Information
104 Pages, 8.3 x 11.7 in, c 80 b/w photos, 5 color photos, 12 color profiles, 3 maps, 3 line drawings, 9 tables. Illustrator(s): David Bacquelet, Luca Canossa, Tom Cooper
Product / Stock #
Company: Helion & Company - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Cover Arab-Istaeli War of Attrition

Helion has added another volume in their on-going series of modern conflicts in the Middle East. This is the first of a projected three volumes covering the War of Attrition between Israel and its Arab neighbors between the end of the Six Day War in 1967 and the beginning of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. If you have read any of Helion’s books on modern conflicts, this book follows a familiar outline. There are seven chapters providing a broad international context for the war. Events are outlined with an in-depth focus of the forces available with particular attention to the air forces of the various powers. It is richly illustrated with mostly black and white photographs contemporary to the conflict. In the center you will find color profiles of Israeli and Arab armies' ground and air equipment. The book finishes with an extensive bibliography of related works.

I imagine for the general public, the events of 1967 and 1973 are well known. The Israelis had a spectacular victory in the so-called Six Day War, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel’s Arab neighbors sought revenge. The period between these two wars was a simmering conflict that is known now as the War of Attrition. As the title suggests, Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan as well as non-state actors, namely Fatah/PLO skirmished throughout this time period. It was a costly conflict for all of the parties and would set up the conditions for the Yom Kippur War in the fall of 1973.

In the aftermath of the embarrassing defeats of 1967, the Arab powers rebuilt their armed forces. A good deal of the text and illustrations are devoted to the rebuilding and evolution of the various air forces. Rearmament was caught up in the Cold War and the Arab powers as well as Israelis became surrogates for the United States and Soviet Union. Nevertheless, their relationships with the super powers were complicated and fraught with difficulties. The Israelis began to draw away from French to American aircraft as well as use their domestic aviation industry to keep their existing fleets airborne and begin to develop their own aircraft. The Arab powers, realizing their weaknesses, devoted a great deal of time and effort to not only rebuild their fleets, but devote time and resources to giving them a qualitative edge that was missing. An important subset of this is that the Egyptians, using their Soviet ties, began to build an anti-aircraft network that was even more extensive than what was even in North Vietnam. As in Vietnam, it triggered the development of electronic countermeasures, in particular, to mitigate the effects of their missiles.

The other theme of the book are the challenges faced by the Israelis after their spectacular victories. While they welcomed the buffer zones afforded by the Sinai, West Bank, and Golan Heights, they now had to rule the occupied territories. With a small professional army staffed mostly with reservists, as well as the beginning of an insurgency led by the PLO, it created problems that were not necessarily foreseen in the aftermath of their victory. It exposed the weaknesses of the Israeli defense establishment. Of all of the Arab powers, Jordan was by far the most cautious and would experience issues with the thousands of Palestinian refugees and the insurgency led by Fatah and the PLO. That being said, the Jordanians were successful in blunting an Israeli raid, demonstrating that the Israelis were not invincible.

The War of Attrition is a critical time period in the long series of wars over the establishment of Israel. Much like the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Arab lands in 1967 was spectacularly successful, but had unintended consequences. I am looking forward to the future volumes in this series. My thanks to Casemate Publishers and IPMS for allowing me the opportunity to review this work.


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