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Nuclear Nightmare: How Egypt’s October War Onslaught Made Israel Consider the Bomb

October 8, 2022
Image Credit: Egyptian Streets

The October War, known in Israel as the Yom Kippur War, is remembered today as the final turning point in Egypt’s lasting conflict with Israel, thought of as one last punch to peace. To Egyptians, it was a war of liberation, eventually ending in the country’s retrieval of Sinai, which was occupied by Israel since the 1967 War. To Israelis, it was their darkest and most traumatic event, and the first time the nation truly feared the possibility of an Arab invasion. To historians and political officials of the era, it was one step away from being a nuclear crisis. On 7 October 1973, Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, called upon Shalhevet Freier, Israel’s director-general of its Atomic Energy Commission, to a meeting with Prime Minister Golda Meir regarding the current status of the war. Dayan dejectedly announced the impending demise of the ‘Third Temple’, a Hebrew reference to the modern state of Israel, after seeing significant Israeli losses on the front lines of the war. By the time Dayan witnessed the war, both Egyptian and Syrian troops had advanced on Israeli-occupied territories, destroying multiple brigades, and causing a large…

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