An Egyptian soldier celebrating after the destruction of Bar-Lev line on October 6th, 1973 - File Photo

An Egyptian soldier celebrating after the destruction of Bar-Lev line on October 6th, 1973 - File Photo

6th of October War etched in Egyptian memory

Fri, Oct. 6, 2017
CAIRO - 6 October 2017: “The victory made me recover my dignity. I felt that Egypt was a great country. I was happy and proud after the war. Beforehand, I was depressed,” said Sanaa, who was 20 when 1973 Arab–Israeli War (The 6th of October War) took place.

With a big smile, Sanaa continued in an interview with Egypt Today on the 44th anniversary of the war. “My father was a police officer in Port Said and he was on holiday in Cairo. When he heard on the Radio that the war had begun, he left quickly for Port Said to resume his duties.”

The anniversary of the war marks great memories for certain generations in Egypt as they lived the moments of victory, and glory eliminating all sense of sorrow incurred by the defeat in the Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. On October 6, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. (Cairo time) Egyptian forces launched its war against the Israeli troops, which were forced to retreat 15 kilometers eastern the Suez Canal; meanwhile, Syrian troops waged the war near Golan Heights against the Israeli troops.

The 64-year-old lady described how the defeat in 1967 made her feel ashamed, and perceive the future as obscure. She did not even anticipate the war as she had no hope.

Sanaa is part of the generation that was quite young at the time whereas the youth of this generation are concerned like the rest of the nation with the revocation of Sinai rather than their own dreams for their future.

“After the victory, I felt proud and dignified. I visited the battlefields after the war was over,” said Adel, who was 24 years old when the war took place.

He remembers that there was a stone fence in front of the building they lived in at Suez, one of the Suez Canal governorates (also Ismailia and Port Said) overlooking the territories occupied in 1967, and that his family used to take shelter in the basement during raids by Israel during the six-day war.

He also recalls that they had to paint the windows black. During 1967, hundreds of thousands of Suez residents were forced to the leave the city, which was destroyed by Israeli raids.

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Egyptian soldiers in Sinai during the war in 1973 - File Photo

Hanaa, who was 17 back then, said that she used to feel rage and indifference before the 1973 victory. The only thing she was sure of is that she would continue her life in Egypt and would not leave no matter the conditions.

“I was sure we would get our land back because we are Egyptians. We are very patient but our willpower is very strong. I trust the willpower of the Egyptians when they decide to take an action,” Hanaa enthusiastically said.

Hanaa described how Egyptians were very angry for not going to war after the Sinai was occupied by Israel, and the amount of pride and self-respect they felt after the victory.

“I later travelled to Germany (After the 6th of October War) and Germans were very eager to hear from us what happened. Western media transmitted wrong information. They viewed our victory in six hours as a miracle when they learnt about the difference in weapons between us and Israel,” Hanaa added.

Amal, who was 14 and lived in Ismailia, remembers that the victory made people feel optimistic about the future after the terror they lived in during the Six-Day War as they used to run to their basements during the raids.

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Egyptian soldiers reinstall Egypt’s flag in Sinai after liberating a certain area from Israeli forces - File Photo

Hoda was 17 when the war took place and she had to leave Port Said with her family to temporarily dwell in Ras El Bar. She recalls that her father refused to leave and remained there. “I was certain that we would never be defeated in any combat,” she said nostalgically expressing how all people she knew had aspirations to rebuild the country.

Safaa was in high school when the 6th of October War broke out saying, “I remember our conversations in the family were revolving around our frustration from the situation till the victory was accomplished. We celebrated. We were looking forward for a bright future.”

Ibrahim was 17 when the war happened and he lived in Cairo as he had to leave Port Said after the Six-Day War. Ibrahim said that like his friends and colleagues he did not believe that the war to liberate Sinai would happen because of the “myths” propagated internationally at that time on the strength of the Israeli army.

“Presidents Nasser and Sadat delayed the war several times for political, economic, military, and strategic reasons, while the army and the people were in a hurry to liberate Sinai and take vengeance from Israel as the sense of belonging to Egypt was in its highest degrees among all sectors of the Egyptian people,” Ibrahim proceeded passionately.

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Former President Sadat (center) in the operations room during the war with Defense Minister Ahmed Ismail (r) and Chief of Staff Saad El Shazly - File Photo

Ibrahim continued, “No one expected the date and time of the war but we knew it was going to happen as our relatives in the police and the army used to assure us that the military preparations, plans, and logistics that would guarantee Egypt’s victory are almost finished.”

Ibrahim described how most people felt deep sorrow after the defeat in 1967, and how many lost trust in the political leadership which used to promise them victory in case of war. “No words can describe the joy and happiness people felt after the victory on October 6th, 1973. The trust in leadership and the pride were restored,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim added that the feelings of bitterness and pleasure before and after the victory were amplified for Egyptian expats.


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