Forgotten Pictures from a Forgotten War

Stand for Israel  |  July 5, 2019

War of Attrition, Sinai, 1969
War of Attrition, Sinai, 1969

While Israelis (and those who stand for Israel) know much about the Jewish state’s wars — her War of Independence, the Six-Day War, and the Yom Kippur War — not much is known about Israel’s longest war, the War of Attrition that began right after 1967’s Six-Day War and lasted for years, ultimately costing more than 1,000 Israeli lives. Now, Ynet News’ Nina Fox tells us, this little-known conflict’s 50th anniversary is being marked with a series of recently discovered photographs:

As Israel commemorates the 50th anniversary for the War of Attrition, which followed the Six Day War and lasted years, the National Library revealed a series of rare historical pictures that revive the lost moments of a war often forgotten.

The pictures show IDF soldiers in the Suez Canal going about their daily business, meeting commanders and hosting entertainment events with famous performers who traveled from Israel’s center.

“These pictures show artists on stage, trying to entertain soldiers,” says Dr. Hezi Amior, curator in the National Library. “Great theater actors used to go to Sinai and perform, you can see them traveling from post to post and perform in front of tiny audiences, just to entertain.”

Television had just debuted in Israel in those days, but it was not yet accustomed to broadcast news from the front line. “These photos are the only visual documentation we have of that war,” says the curator.

“Photo journalists used to accompany forces to the field to document the feelings from the front and convey it to readers. The photos were also a way for soldiers to send regards to the public,” says Amior. “But mostly to convey the fear, the ongoing bombings and the sensation of being in the front line.”

The War of Attrition has nearly been forgotten when it comes to Israeli military history, despite the many soldiers and commander who call it one of the most difficult wars the country has ever known. It was characterized by fierce and long sedentary fighting, a strategy that Israel’s enemies learned was effective against an army that had many advantages over them.

The war which was going on since 1967 saw the worst fighting from March 1969 until August 1970, in the Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian fronts. It was different from earlier wars Israel had known, with its heavy fire power and nearly 1,000 days of fighting. It’s often referred to as the 1,000 Day War…

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