Meanwhile, the Egyptian military Generals were preparing for a Major Battle that was supposed to start by 1972, if it wasn't for President Sadat delaying the zero hour several times until the 6th of October 1973, on 14:00 by the Local timing. Egypt had, for many years, suffered repeated defeat at the hands of the Israelis, most dramatically in the Six-Day War of 1967 where much of the Egyptian military had been destroyed and the Sinai peninsula across the Suez Canal had been taken by Israel.
President Sadat hoped to overwhelm the Israeli forces stationed there. His Soviet advisors thought otherwise and argued that it would take many days of fighting and a 50% casualty rate for Egypt to capture the canal, but he decided to proceed anyway.
Egypt, in cooperation with Syria, launched the attack on October 6, 1973. Initially, it was a spectacular success. Within hours over 80,000 Egyptian soldiers crossed the canal. The Israelis had constructed a massive line of fortifications along the canal called the Bar Lev Line, which they considered impregnable. The heart of these defences were massive sand banks with a series of 43 manned installations. The Israelis had calculated that blasting through the sand barriers would take several hours, however the Egyptians solved this problem by using pressurized water to quickly erode the hills. The Israelis' back-up plan had been to redirect the nearby oil pipeline into the canal and set it alight. However, the night before Egyptian commandos had managed to disable the pipeline. In the initial attack only 208 Egyptians lost their lives, while all 600 Israelis were killed or captured. It was the first Arab victory over the Israelis in a generation. Behind the initial defensive line the Israelis had a large armoured reserve. These were immediately dispatched to contain the breach. However they were sent without infantry or air support (due to heavy SAM cover provided by batteries situated on the Western side of the canal) and the tanks took very heavy losses from Egyptian infantry armed with new Soviet-supplied anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The Egyptian forces rushed north into the Sinai.
After the assault, Egyptian forces dug-in and tried to hold defensive positions in the Sinai. This proved unsuccessful because Israeli forces, with its reserves now fully mobilized and on the offensive and helped by an American resupply airlift, forced the Egyptians to retreat in some of the northern areas near the canal, and in the southern areas, under General Ariel Sharon the Israelis were able to counter-attack and cross the Suez Canal to the Western bank into Egypt. The crossing also marked the first time in history that the IDF had waged war on African soil. Eventually the Israelis managed to surround and cut off the Egyptian Third Army on the Southeastern side of the canal and were thus in a position to destroy it. It was only after US pressure to spare the Third Army that the Israelis agreed not to destroy the besieged force. President Sadat nearly lost his gamble. However, other parties were now in play, the Soviet Union threatened to mobilize its forces, the UN made strong appeals, OPEC started the 1973 oil crisis and the precarious situation of the Egyptian Third Army which was in dire need of resupply since it was running short of food and water led Israel and Egypt to agree to a cease-fire.