Al-Ahram Weekly Online   9 - 15 October 2003
Issue No. 659
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Major events, facts and precedents

6 October,

2pm:

- 220 aircraft launch concerted aerial assault, hitting 95 per cent of targets.

- 2,000 artillery pieces and hundreds of direct fire guns open and sustain fire for 53 minutes, unleashing in this preliminary barrage approximately 10,500 shells in the first minute of fighting, or 175 shells per second.

2:05pm:

- Canal crossing begins. 1,600 rubber rafts race with time to transport first wave of 8,000 troops to the opposite bank.

- Engineer Corps begins construction of bridges. Hoses attached to dredging pumps in canal begin firing powerful jets of water at Bar Lev Line ramparts. The aim to create 81 breaches in this barrier requiring the removal of three million cubic metres of packed dirt.

2:30pm: Egyptian forces begin defenses against Israeli counter attacks.

2:37pm: First Egyptian flag planted on Bar Lev Line rampart.

2:46pm: First enemy strongholds fall at East Qantara and Al-Gabasat Sector in the southern canal zone.

5:15pm: First breach created in Bar Lev Line.

6:30pm: First pontoon crossing completed.

8:30pm: First solid construction bridge completed.

- By nightfall, 80,000 Egyptian forces were stationed on the east bank of the canal.

- By the end of the first day, Egyptian forces had destroyed more than 200 Israeli tanks and killed or captured more than 1,500 Israeli soldiers and officers.

- The October War marked the first deployment of the Egyptian human shield. Men on their feet, pitted against enemy tanks and planes, proved that the individual Egyptian infantryman or commando could have a farther reach than the "long arm" of Israel artillery.

- For the first time in the history of tank warfare, 150 enemy tanks were destroyed in a period of less than 20 minutes.

- The largest number of prisoners captured from a single stronghold was at Port Said Citadel. 37 Israeli soldiers and officers were taken.

- The October War inflicted the largest losses Israel had sustained in a war. By the end of hostilities, Israel had sustained 2,522 dead, an enormous toll when taken in ratio to the relatively small size of the Israeli population.

- "The October War was the first war in which the Israeli medical corps had to treat huge numbers of soldiers afflicted with combat-related psychological disturbances. Some of these patients had forgotten their own names as the result of the terror of the overwhelming Egyptian offensive." -- an Israeli commander cited in Earthquake in October by Zaev Schev

- The 10th of Ramadan War was the first electronic war in history.

- The Bar Lev Line, large parts of which Egyptian forces washed away in a matter of hours, had been the longest and strongest forward defense line in the history of warfare. The earthen rampart, constructed over a unique water barrier and containing reinforced strongholds, had an average height of 20 to 22 meters and a 45 degree incline on the side facing the canal.

- Egyptian armed forces created the first and largest air defense shield in the history of war. In the first day of combat the Egyptian air force downed 38 enemy air craft. Two days later, Israeli command instructed its pilots not to approach further than 15 km east of the canal.

- October 1973 brought the first use of the Arab oil weapon, marking first practical demonstration of Arab solidarity in centuries.

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