The tarnished legitimacy of the Arab states following the June 1967 War was especially poignant in Egypt. Israeli troops were situated on the east bank of the Suez Canal, the canal was closed to shipping, and Israel was occupying a large piece of Egyptian territory. Nasser responded by maintaining a constant state of military activity along the canal--the so-called War of Attrition-- between February 1969 and August 1970. Given the wide disparity in the populations of Israel and Egypt, Israel could not long tolerate trading casualties with the Egyptians. The Israeli government, now led by Golda Meir, pursued a policy of "asymmetrical response"-- retaliation on a scale far exceeding any individual attack.
As the tension along the Egyptian border continued to heat, United States secretary of state William Rogers proposed a new peace plan. In effect, the Rogers Plan was an interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242; it called for the international frontier between Egypt and Israel to be the secure and recognized border between the two countries. There would be "a formal state of peace between the two, negotiations on Gaza and Sharm ash Shaykh, and demilitarized zones." In November Israel rejected the offer, and in January 1970 Israeli fighter planes made their first deep penetration into Egypt.
Following the Israeli attack, Nasser went to Moscow requesting advanced surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and other military equipment. After some wavering, the Kremlin committed itself to modernizing and retraining the Egyptian military. Egypt's new Soviet-made arsenal threatened to alter the regional military balance with Israel. The tension in Israeli-Soviet relations escalated in July 1970, when Israeli fighter planes shot down four Egyptian planes flown by Soviet pilots about thirty kilometers west of the canal. Fearing Soviet retaliation, and uncertain of American support, Israel in August accepted a cease-fire and the application of Resolution 242.