erIt was the holy feast, Yom Kippur, the largest celebrated Jewish event. The sky was calm and the streets were empty. The beaches where packed while thousands enjoyed the cool Mediterranean weather. On the observation front, soldiers were swimming in the canal and playing soccer on its shore, completely ignorant of any Arab movement just a hundred meters away. People where singing and dancing whereas the children were playing, it was the farthest thing away from war.

October the 6th, 1973. 40 years ago, today.

At 2 pm, and in the midst of a beautiful sunshine, sirens roamed Tel Aviv while the first wave of Egyptian jets passed through the pale sky bombing the Bar Lev Line, the strongest fortification in the history of mankind and the Titanic of all defenses. By midnight, the Israeli Radio broadcasted a message announcing the advance of over one hundred thousand Egyptians across the Bar Lev, which had met its fate of total destruction.

To the Israelis, the wall was a defense barrier that could be rebuilt anytime with a few billion in aid and a bit of hard work, but to Egypt and the whole Arab nation, that wall represented a barrier of fear, the fear of Israel. The destruction of the Bar Lev Line was the first step towards regaining the dignity and sovereignty of millions of humiliated Arabs who lost their land and families to the occupants. The war did not only destroy the physical wall, but the mental obstacle of a power gap that had annihilated any thought of justice and equality in the eyes of the whole Palestinian population.

40 years from this moment, the first bullet of peace was shot and the first blood drop of justice had fallen. The war was the first move that made Israel realize that peaceful coexistence was not an act of kindness or pity, but a necessity to their safety and security. It  made those who prey on the fearful feel fear and horror, and made those who are afraid feel strength in their own power, not the power of guns nor missiles, but the power of balance that had finally been restored.

“There was a huge wall between us which you tried to build up over a quarter of a century. It was a wall of fear of the force that could sweep the entire Arab Nation. It was a wall that warned us against extermination and annihilation if we tried to use our legitimate right to liberate the occupied territories. It is this symbolic psychological barrier which I described in official statements as representing 70 percent of the whole problem. Together we have to admit that that wall fell and collapsed in 1973 to the hands of the glorious Egyptian military in an unprecedented victory.”

-Anwar El Sadat, President of Egypt and Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Tel Aviv, 1977.

By Youssef El Ghazzawy