Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Thursday compared his country’s army to a cheap Spanish car that still managed to beat Israel’s high powered “Mercedes” in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Sissi told a gathering of Egyptian security leaders marking the 45th anniversary of Egypt’s “victory” in the war that there was a “vast power differential” between Israel and Egypt at the time.
Despite that, he contended the Egyptian army pulled off “a miracle,” all the greater given the scrappiness of the army.
“That is the truth—here is a SEAT and there is a Mercedes,” he said, referring to the cars metaphorically to describe the power relationship between Israel and Egypt during the war.
“Who is going to win?…Who is going to take that SEAT to that race other than men. They were men!…That was a miracle, an honor, a victory,” he added.
Mercedes-Benz produces high-end luxury cars, whereas SEAT vehicles are relatively inexpensive.
Though the IDF managed to repel initial Egyptian and Syrian surprise attacks in October 1973 and push across the Suez Canal and toward Damascus, the war is widely viewed as the catalyst that led Israel to make peace and withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula just a few years later.
Sissi said that the high number of casualties in the war led Israel to sue for peace with Egypt.
Over 2,500 Israeli soldiers died in the war along fronts in the north and south of the country, along with thousands of Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi troops.
“At that time, the losses were high. That was one of the most important reasons that pushed Israel to agree to peace,” Sissi said. “The families of the victims—whether they were killed or wounded…For them, this was an issue that they were not ready to repeat.”
Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace agreement in 1979, which remains in effect.
Both countries cooperate on matters related to security and economy, though most Egyptians still shun normalization with Israel.
Sissi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met publicly for the second time last month, on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.