Armed Forces Day in Egypt is observed every 6 October as the anniversary of the successful crossing of the Suez Canal by Egyptian forces during the October War of 1973. This war was fought to re-take the Sinai Peninsula from Israel.
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During the Six-Day War of 1967, Egypt, Syria, and other Arab states attacked the fledgling state of Israel simultaneously, hoping to quickly overwhelm it. Instead, Syria lost the Golan Heights and Egypt the Sinai Peninsula to Israeli forces. In an attempt to recapture this lost territory, on 6 October 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel called the “October War,” which would last a total of 19 days.
The October War led to the taking of a string of forts along the eastern side of the canal called the “Bar Lev Line.” Egypt was eventually defeated in the war, but did still get the Sinai back gradually in the years after the war’s end.
Egyptian forces showed great ingenuity in crossing the canal and destroying Israel’s defences. They used water cannons, for example, to shoot at packed dirt and sand barriers built by Israel and wash them away. They pinned down troops stationed inside the forts with a massive artillery and air barrage while their army crossed the canal on small bridges.
Although Israel counterattacked and won the war by 25 October, Egypt commemorates 6 October as a day they took action to retake lost land and a day of victory for their armies. Additionally, Israel did agree to withdraw from the Sinai after the war and peace between the two nations was finally obtained in the Camp David Accords of 1977.
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