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Baki Zaki Youssef: The Coptic Hero Behind the Destruction of Israel’s Bar Lev Line

February 23, 2023
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This is the second article of the series ‘Coptic Diaries’, where Marina Makary takes Egyptian Streets’ readers on a journey in the Coptic Orthodox church — its people, history, traditions, and culture. Though Egypt’s victory in the October 1973 war was attributed to the destruction of the Bar Lev line, only few knew the brains behind the master plan: Baki Zaki Youssef. Born in 1931 as a brother to six siblings, Baki Zaki Youssef joined the Egyptian military as an engineer, after graduating from Ain Shams University’s mechanical engineering school in 1954. From 1964 to 1967, Youssef worked on the construction of one of Egypt’s most distinctive and ambitious projects: Aswan’s High Dam. Observing how water moved enormous amounts of sand from the Aswan mountains, before pushing it into the dam, Youssef was inspired to create a cost-effective, non-explosive, and significantly unexpected plan to cross the Bar Lev line in 1973. The Bar Lev line was a huge barrier made from a chain of forts extending from the Suez Canal to 12 kilometers into Sinai. Following the 1967 war, Israel built this line of defense to prevent Egyptian tanks from…


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