NEWPORT BEACH – I was nine years old when Egypt entered what became known as its “war of attrition” with Israel. During this period of “no war and no peace,” underlying tensions festered, and a fragile tranquility was periodically interrupted by armed skirmishes.
The war of attrition followed the June 1967 war, in which Egypt – to the immense surprise of most of its citizens and the outside world – was soundly defeated. Its air force was crippled and its army was virtually overrun, with Israel capturing the entire Sinai Peninsula.
Positioned on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal, Israel’s army was just over 100 kilometers from Cairo. And, with Israeli jet fighters still controlling the airspace, Egypt’s capital and its major population centers were greatly exposed.
The official narrative reflected little of this. Whether on state television or in government-controlled newspapers – at the time, there was no free press, Internet, or cable news – citizens were reassured that Egypt had regained control of its destiny. But they knew better.