Six-Day War: Wikis


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Six-Day War
(Arab-Israeli conflict)
Soldiers Western Wall 1967.jpg
IDF Paratroopers at Jerusalem's Western Wall shortly after its capture.[1]
Date June 5, 1967 (1967-06-05) – June 10, 1967
Location Middle East
Result Decisive Israeli victory
Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
 Israel  Egypt
Flag of Iraq (1963-1991).svg Syria
Israel Yitzhak Rabin,
Israel Moshe Dayan,
Israel Uzi Narkiss,
Israel Israel Tal,
Israel Mordechai Hod,
Israel Ariel Sharon,,
Israel Ezer Weizman,
Egypt Abdel Hakim Amer,
Egypt Abdul Munim Riad,
Jordan Zaid ibn Shaker,
Jordan Asad Ghanma,
Flag of Iraq (1963-1991).svg Hafez al-Assad,
Iraq Abdul Rahman Arif
50,000 (and 214,000 reserve troops)
300 combat aircraft
800 tanks [2]
Egypt: 240,000
Syria, Jordan, and Iraq: 307,000
957 combat aircraft
2,504 tanks[3]
Casualties and losses
776[4]- 983[5] killed:
4,517 wounded
15 captured,[6]
46 aircraft destroyed[7]
Egypt - 10,000[8]-15,000[9] killed, wounded & missing. 4,338 captured[10]
Jordan- 700[11]-6,000[12] killed or missing. 533 captured.[13]
Syria- 1,000 killed,[14] 367 captured.[15]
Iraq - 10 killed, 30 wounded
Israeli troops examine destroyed Arab aircraft

The Six-Day War of June 5–10, 1967 was a war between Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The Arab states of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria also contributed troops and arms.[16] At the war's end, Israel had gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day.

Following numerous border clashes between Israel and its Arab neighbours, particularly Syria, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) from the Sinai Peninsula in May 1967.[17] The peacekeeping force had been stationed there since 1957, following a British-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt which was launched during the Suez Crisis.[18] Egypt amassed 1,000 tanks and nearly 100,000 soldiers on the Israeli border[19] and closed the Straits of Tiran to all ships flying Israeli flags or carrying strategic materials, receiving strong support from other Arab nations.[20] Israel responded with a similar mobilization that included the call up of 70,000 reservists to augment the regular IDF forces.[21]

On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a preemptive attack on Egypt.[22] The Arab countries denied planning to attack Israel, and asserted that Israel's strike was not preemptive but an unwarranted and illegal act of aggression.[23] Jordan, which had signed a mutual defence treaty with Egypt on May 30, then attacked western Jerusalem and Netanya.[24][25][26]

In Arabic, the war is called Ḥarb al‑Ayyam as‑Sitta (Arabic: حرب الأيام الستة‎), or more commonly Ḥarb 1967 Arabic: حرب 1967‎). In Hebrew, it is known as Milhemet Sheshet Ha‑Yamim Hebrew: מלחמת ששת הימים‎). It is also known as the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the Third Arab-Israeli War, Six Days' War, an‑Naksah (The Setback), or the June War.




Suez Crisis aftermath

The Suez Crisis of 1956 represented a military defeat but a political victory for Egypt. It was a pivotal event in the days up to the Six-Day War. In a victory speech delivered to the Knesset, David Ben-Gurion said that the 1949 armistice agreement with Egypt was dead and buried, and that the armistice lines were no longer valid and could not be restored. Under no circumstances would Israel agree to the stationing of UN forces on its territory or in any area it occupied.[27][28] Heavy diplomatic pressure from both the United States and the Soviet Union forced Israel into a conditional withdrawal of its military from the Sinai Peninsula,[29] only after satisfactory arrangements had been made with the international force that was about to enter the canal zone.[30]

After the 1956 war, Egypt agreed to the stationing of a UN peacekeeping force in the Sinai, the United Nations Emergency Force, to keep that border region demilitarized, and prevent Palestinian fedayeen guerrillas from crossing the border into Israel.[31]

Egypt also agreed to reopen the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, whose closure had been a significant catalyst in precipitating the Suez Crisis. As a result, the border between Egypt and Israel remained quiet for a while.[32]

After the 1956 war, the region returned to an uneasy balance without the resolution of any of the underlying issues. At the time, no Arab state had recognized Israel. Syria, aligned with the Soviet bloc, began sponsoring guerrilla raids on Israel in the early 1960s as part of its "people's war of liberation", designed to deflect domestic opposition to the Ba'ath Party.[33] Even after nearly two decades of its existence, no neighboring Arab country of Israel was willing to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel or accept its existence. Tunisian President Habib Bourgiba suggested in a speech in Jericho in 1965 that the Arab world should face reality and negotiate with Israel, but this was rejected by the other Arab countries.[34][35]

Water dispute

In 1964, Israel began withdrawing water from the Jordan River for its National Water Carrier. The following year, the Arab states began construction of the Headwater Diversion Plan, which, once completed, would divert the waters of the Banias Stream before the water entered Israel and the Sea of Galilee, to flow instead into a dam at Mukhaiba for use by Jordan and Syria, and divert the waters of the Hasbani into the Litani River, in Lebanon.[18] The diversion works would have reduced the installed capacity of Israel's carrier by about 35%, and Israel's overall water supply by about 11%.[36]

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the diversion works in Syria in March, May, and August 1965, perpetuating a prolonged chain of border violence that linked directly to the events leading to war.[37]

Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank Palestinians

The long border between Jordan and Israel was tense since the beginning of Fatah's guerrilla operations in January 1965. While Syria was the main supporter of such operations, Israel viewed the state from which the raids were perpetrated as responsible. King Hussein, the Hashemite ruler, was in a bind: he did not want to appear as cooperating with Israel in light of the delicate relationship of his government with the majority Palestinian population in his kingdom, and his success in preventing such raids was only partial. In the summer and autumn of 1966 several incidents occurred, involving Israeli civilians and military personnel. This culminated on 11 November 1966, when an Israeli border patrol hit a land mine, killing three soldiers and injuring six others. Israel believed the mine had been planted by militants from Es Samu, a village in the southern West Bank, close to where the incident took place, which was a Fatah stronghold.[38] This led the Israeli cabinet to approve a large scale operation called 'Shredder'. On November 12, King Hussein of Jordan, fearing Israeli retaliation, issued a condolence letter to Israel via the U.S. Embassy, but the U.S ambassador to Israel, Walworth Barbour, did not deliver it in a timely manner.[citation needed]

On the morning of November 13, the Israel Defense Force mobilized, crossed the border into the West Bank and attacked Es Samu. The attacking force consisted of 3,000-4,000 soldiers backed by tanks and aircraft. They were divided into a reserve force, which remained on the Israeli side of the border, and two raiding parties, which crossed into the West Bank.

The larger force of eight Centurion Tanks, followed by 400 paratroopers mounted in 40 open-topped half-tracks and 60 engineers in 10 more half-tracks, headed for Samu; while a smaller force of three tanks and 100 paratroopers and engineers in 10 half-tracks headed towards two smaller villages: Kirbet El-Markas and Kirbet Jimba. According to Terrence Prittie's Eshkol: The Man and the Nation, 50 houses were destroyed, but the inhabitants had been evacuated hours before.

To Israel's surprise, the Jordanian military intervened. The 48th Infantry Battalion of the Jordanian Army ran into the Israeli forces northwest of Samu; and two companies approaching from the northeast were intercepted by the Israelis, while a platoon of Jordanians armed with two 106 mm recoilless guns entered Samu. The Jordanian Air Force intervened as well and a Jordanian Hunter fighter was shot down in the action. In the ensuing battles, three Jordanian civilians and 15 soldiers were killed; 54 other soldiers and 96 civilians were wounded. The commander of the Israeli paratroop battalion, Colonel Yoav Shaham, was killed and 10 other Israeli soldiers were wounded.[39][40]

According to the Israeli government, 50 Jordanians were killed, but the true number was never disclosed by the Jordanians, in order to keep up morale and confidence in King Hussein's regime.[41] The whole battle was short: the Israeli forces crossed the border at 6:00 A.M. and returned by 10:00 A.M.

Hussein felt betrayed by the operation. He had been having secret meetings with Israeli foreign ministers Abba Eban and Golda Meir for three years. According to him he was doing everything he could to stop guerrilla attacks from the West Bank and Jordan. "I told them I could not absorb a serious retaliatory raid, and they accepted the logic of this and promised there would never be one".[42]

Two days later, in a memo to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, his Special Assistant Walt Rostow wrote: "retaliation is not the point in this case. This 3000-man raid with tanks and planes was out of all proportion to the provocation and was aimed at the wrong target," and went on to describe the damage done to US and Israeli interests: "They've wrecked a good system of tacit cooperation between Hussein and the Israelis... They've undercut Hussein. We've spent $500 million to shore him up as a stabilizing factor on Israel's longest border and vis-à-vis Syria and Iraq. Israel's attack increases the pressure on him to counterattack not only from the more radical Arab governments and from the Palestinians in Jordan but also from the Army, which is his main source of support and may now press for a chance to recoup its Sunday losses... They've set back progress toward a long term accommodation with the Arabs... They may have persuaded the Syrians that Israel didn't dare attack Soviet-protected Syria but could attack US-backed Jordan with impunity."[43]

The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 228 unanimously deploring "the loss of life and heavy damage to property resulting from the action of the Government of Israel on 13 November 1966", censuring "Israel for this large-scale military action in violation of the United Nations Charter and of the General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan" and emphasizing "to Israel that actions of military reprisal cannot be tolerated and that, if they are repeated, the Security Council will have to consider further and more effective steps as envisaged in the Charter to ensure against the repetition of such acts."[44]

Facing a storm of criticism from Jordanians, Palestinians, and his Arab neighbors for failing to protect Samu, Hussein ordered a nation-wide mobilization on 20 November.[45] Hussein complained that Egypt and Syria had failed to protect the West Bank, while "hiding behind UNEF skirts"; this accusation may have been a factor in Nasser's decision to rid his country of the UNEF force on the eve of the Six-Day War.[18]

The operation was the largest scale one that Israel was involved with since the Suez Crisis. While the diplomatic and political developments were not as Israel expected, following the operation Hussein worked hard to avoid any further clashes by preventing guerrilla operations from being launched from within Jordan.[46]

Some view the Samu raid as the beginning of the escalation in tensions that led to the war.[47] According to Moshe Shemesh, a historian and former senior intelligence officer in the IDF, Jordan's military and civilian leaders estimated that Israel's main objective was conquest of the West Bank. They felt that Israel was striving to drag all of the Arab countries into a war. After the Samu raid, these apprehensions became the deciding factor in Jordan's decision to participate in the war. King Hussein was convinced Israel would try to occupy the West Bank whether Jordan went to war, or not.[48]

Israel and Syria

In addition to sponsoring attacks against Israel[18] (often through Jordanian territory, much to King Hussein's chagrin), Syria repeatedly shelled Israeli civilian communities in north-eastern Galilee from positions on the Golan Heights,[49] as part of the dispute over control of the Demilitarized Zones (DMZs), small parcels of land claimed by both Israel and Syria.[50] Concerning attacks on Israel's territory, Syria maintained that it could not be held responsible for the activities of El-Fatah and El-Asefa, nor for the rise of Palestinian organizations.[51]

Israel was accused of harassing Arab farmers in the Demilitarized Zone and opening fire on Syrian military positions, while Israeli armored tractors were cultivating Arab land in the Demilitarized Zone, backed by Israel armed forces illegally placed there. Syria felt that the situation was the result of an Israeli aim to increase tension so as to justify large-scale aggression and to expand its occupation of the Demilitarized Zone by liquidating the rights of Arab cultivators. Syria stated that in every instance where there was a Syrian firing, it was in return of provocative Israel fire directed against peaceful Arab farmers or Syrian posts.[52] Nine years later, Moshe Dayan, the Israeli defense minister at the time of the war, stated in an interview not published until 1997 that Israeli policy on the Syrian border between 1949 and 1967 consisted of "snatching bits of territory and holding on to it until the enemy despairs and gives it to us." About events on the Israeli-Syrian border he said:[53][54][55][56]

After all, I know how at least 80 percent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 percent, but let's talk about 80 percent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn't possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was. I did that, and Laskov and Czera did that, and Yitzhak did that, but it seemed to me that the person who most enjoyed these games was Dado. We thought that we could change the lines of the ceasefire accords by military actions that were less than war. That is, to seize some territory and hold it until the enemy despairs and gives it to us.

Historian and Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren admitted that "There is an element of truth to Dayan's claim", though he considers the ceasefire violations justified as "Israel regarded the de-militarized zones in the north as part of their sovereign territory"[57]

In 1966, Egypt and Syria signed a defense pact whereby each country would support the other if it were attacked. According to Indar Jit Rikhye, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad told him that the Soviet Union had persuaded Egypt to enter the pact with two ideas in mind: to reduce the chances of a punitive attack on Syria by Israel and to bring the Syrians under Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's moderating influence.[58]

During a visit to London in February 1967, Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban briefed journalists on Israel's "hopes and anxieties" explaining to those present that, although the governments of Lebanon, Jordan and the United Arab Republic (Egypt's official name until 1971) seemed to have decided against active confrontation with Israel, it remained to be seen whether Syria could maintain a minimal level of restraint at which hostility was confined to rhetoric.[59]

On April 7, 1967, a minor border incident escalated into a full-scale aerial battle over the Golan Heights, resulting in the loss of six Syrian MiG-21s to Israeli Air Force (IAF) Dassault Mirage IIIs, and the latter's flight over Damascus.[60] Tanks, heavy mortars, and artillery were used in various sections along the 47 mile (76 km) border in what was described as "a dispute over cultivation rights in the demilitarized zone south-east of Lake Tiberias." Earlier in the week, Syria had twice attacked an Israeli tractor working in the area and when it returned on the morning of 7 April the Syrians opened fire again. The Israelis responded by sending in armor-plated tractors to continue ploughing, resulting in further exchanges of fire. Israeli aircraft dive-bombed Syrian positions with 250 and 500 kg bombs. The Syrians responded by shelling Israeli border settlements heavily, and Israeli jets retaliated by bombing the village of Sqoufiye, destroying around 40 houses in the process. At 15:19 Syrian shells started falling on Kibbutz Gadot; over 300 landed within the kibbutz compound in 40 minutes.[61] The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) attempted to arrange a ceasefire, but Syria declined to co-operate unless Israeli agricultural work was halted.[62]

Speaking to a Mapai party meeting in Jerusalem on 11 May Prime Minister of Israel Levi Eshkol warned that Israel would not hesitate to use air power on the scale of 7 April in response to continued border terrorism and on the same day Israeli envoy Gideon Rafael presented a letter to the president of the Security Council warning that Israel would "act in self-defense as circumstances warrant".[63] Writing from Tel Aviv on 12 May, James Feron reported that some Israeli leaders had decided to use force against Syria "of considerable strength but of short duration and limited in area" and quoted "one qualified observer" who "said it was highly unlikely that Egypt (then officially called United Arab Republic), Syria's closest ally in the Arab world, would enter the hostilities unless the Israeli attack were extensive".[64] In early May the Israeli cabinet authorized a limited strike against Syria, but Rabin's renewed demand for a large-scale strike to discredit or topple the Ba'ath regime was opposed by Eshkol.[65] BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen reports:

The toughest threat was reported by the news agency United Press International (UPI) on 12 May: 'A high Israeli source said today that Israel would take limited military action designed to topple the Damascus army regime if Syrian terrorists continue sabotage raids inside Israel. Military observers said such an offensive would fall short of all-out war but would be mounted to deliver a telling blow against the Syrian government.' In the West as well as the Arab world the immediate assumption was that the unnamed source was Rabin and that he was serious. In fact, it was Brigadier-General Aharon Yariv, the head of military intelligence, and the story was overwritten. Yariv mentioned 'an all-out invasion of Syria and conquest of Damascus' but only as the most extreme of a range of possibilities. But the damage had been done. Tension was so high that most people, and not just the Arabs, assumed that something much bigger than usual was being planned against Syria.[66][67]

Border incidents multiplied and numerous Arab leaders, both political and military, called for an end to Israeli reprisals. Egypt, then already trying to seize a central position in the Arab world under Nasser, accompanied these declarations with plans to re-militarize the Sinai. Syria shared these views, although it didn't prepare for an immediate invasion. The Soviet Union actively backed the military needs of the Arab states. It was later revealed that on 13 May a Soviet intelligence report given by Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny to Egyptian Vice President Anwar Sadat claimed falsely that Israeli troops were massing along the Syrian border.[68][69] In May 1967, Hafez al-Assad, then Syria's Defense Minister declared: "Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian Army, with its finger on the trigger, is united... I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation."[70]

Removal of U.N. peacekeepers from Egypt

At 10:00 p.m. on 16 May, the commander of United Nations Emergency Force, General Indar Jit Rikhye, was handed a letter from General Mohammed Fawzy, Chief of Staff of the United Arab Republic, reading: "To your information, I gave my instructions to all U.A.R. armed forces to be ready for action against Israel, the moment it might carry out any aggressive action against any Arab country. Due to these instructions our troops are already concentrated in Sinai on our eastern border. For the sake of complete security of all U.N. troops which install OPs along our borders, I request that you issue your orders to withdraw all these troops immediately." Rikhye said he would report to the Secretary-General for instructions.[71]

The UN Secretary-General U Thant attempted to negotiate with the Egyptian government, but on May 18 the Egyptian Foreign Minister informed nations with troops in UNEF that the UNEF mission in Egypt and the Gaza Strip had been terminated and that they must leave immediately, and Egyptian forces prevented UNEF troops from entering their posts. The Governments of India and Yugoslavia decided to withdraw their troops from UNEF, regardless of the decision of U Thant. While this was taking place, U Thant suggested that UNEF be redeployed to the Israeli side of the border, but Israel refused, arguing that UNEF contingents from countries hostile to Israel would be more likely to impede an Israeli response to Egyptian aggression than to stop that aggression in the first place.[72] The Permanent Representative of Egypt then informed U Thant that the Egyptian government had decided to terminate UNEF's presence in the Sinai and the Gaza Strip, and requested steps that the force withdraw as soon as possible. On May 19 the UNEF commander was given the order to withdraw.[73][74] Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser then began the re-militarization of the Sinai, and concentrated tanks and troops on the border with Israel.[75]

The withdrawal of UNEF was to be spaced over a period of some weeks. The troops were to be withdrawn by air and by sea from Port Said. The withdrawal plan envisaged that the last personnel of UNEF would leave the area on 30 June 1967. On the morning of 27 May, Egypt demanded that the Canadian contingent be evacuated within 48 hours "on grounds of the attitude adopted by the Government of Canada in connection with UNEF and the United Arab Republic Government's request for its withdrawal, and "to prevent any probable reaction from the people of the United Arab Republic against the Canadian Forces in UNEF."" The withdrawal of the Canadian contingent was accelerated and completed on 31 May, with the effect that UNEF was left without its logistics and air support components. In the war itself 15 members of the remaining force were killed and the rest evacuated through Israel [76]

Yitzhak Rabin, who served as the Chief of the General Staff for Israel during the war stated: "I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it." Menachem Begin stated that "The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him." [77] Former Chief of Staff of the armed forces, Haim Bar-Lev (a deputy chief during the war) had stated: "the entrance of the Egyptians into Sinai was not a casus belli," but argued instead that the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran ultimately caused the war. Major General Mattityahu Peled, the Chief of Logistics for the Armed Forces during the war, said the survival argument was "a bluff which was born and developed only after the war... ..."When we spoke of the war in the General Staff, we talked of the political ramifications if we didn't go to war —what would happen to Israel in the next 25 years. Never of survival today." [78] Peled also stated that "To pretend that the Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the existence of Israel constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of anyone capable of analyzing this sort of situation, but above all an insult to Zahal (Israeli military)[79]"

The Straits of Tiran

Strait tiran 83.jpg

In 1967, Israel leaders repeatedly threatened to invade Syria and overthrow the Syrian government if Palestinian guerrilla actions across the border did not stop. [80] In addition, the Soviet Union fed the Syrian government false information that Israel was planning to invade Syria; Syrian officials informed the Egyptian government.[81] On May 22, Egypt responded by announcing, in addition to the UN withdrawal,[81] that the Straits of Tiran would be closed to "all ships flying Israeli flags or carrying strategic materials", with effect from May 23.[82]

The rights of Egypt regarding the Straits of Tiran had been debated at the General Assembly pursuant to Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai following the Suez Crisis. A number of states, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States argued that the Straits were international waters, and, as such, all vessels had the right of "free and unhampered passage" through them. India, however, argued that Egypt was entitled to require foreign ships to obtain its consent before seeking access to the gulf because its territorial sea covered the Strait of Tiran. It too recognized the right of "innocent passage" through such waters, but argued it was up to the coastal State to decide which passage was "innocent".[1] Nasser stated, "Under no circumstances can we permit the Israeli flag to pass through the Gulf of Aqaba." Most of Israel's commerce used Mediterranean ports, and, according to John Quigley, no Israeli-flag vessel had used the port of Eilat for the two years preceding June 1967. There were ambiguities, however, about how rigorous the blockade would be, particularly whether it would apply to non-Israeli flag vessels. Citing international law, Israel considered the closure of the straits to be illegal, and it had stated it would consider such a blockade a casus belli in 1957 when it withdrew from the Sinai and Gaza.[83] Egypt stated that the Gulf of Aqaba had always been a national inland waterway subject to the sovereignty of the only three legitimate littoral States — Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt — who had the right to bar enemy vessels. The representative of the United Arab Republic further stated that "Israel's claim to have a port on the Gulf was considered invalid, as Israel was alleged to have occupied several miles of coastline on the Gulfline, including Umm Rashrash, in violation of Security Council resolutions of 1948 and the Egyptian-Israel General Armistice Agreement." [84]

The Arab states disputed Israel's right of passage through the Straits, noting they had not signed the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone specifically because of article 16(4) which provided Israel with that right.[85] To note, state practice and customary international law that ships of all states have a right of innocent passage through territorial seas.[86][87] That Egypt had consistently granted passage as a matter of state practice until then suggests that its opinio juris in that regard was consistent with practice.[88] As well, during the Egyptian occupation of the Saudi islands of Sanafir and Tiran in 1950, it provided assurances to the US that the military occupation would not be used to prevent free passage, and that Egypt recognizes that such free passage is "in conformity with the international practice and the recognized principles of international law.".[89] In 1949 the International Court of Justice held in the Corfu Channel Case (United Kingdom v. Albania) that where a strait was overlapped by a territorial sea foreign ships, including warships, had unsuspendable right of innocent passage through such straits used for international navigation between parts of the high seas, but express provision for innocent passage through straits within the territorial sea of a foreign state was not codified until the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone.[86][87][90]

In the UN General Assembly debates after the war, the Arab states and their supporters argued that even if international law gave Israel the right of passage, Israel was not entitled to attack Egypt to assert it because the closure was not an "armed attack" as defined by Article 51 of the UN Charter. Pursuant to this point, international law professor John Quigley argues that under the doctrine of proportionality, Israel would only be entitled to use such force as would be necessary to secure its right of passage.[91] Others disagreed: after the 1956 campaign in which Israel conquered Sharm el-Sheikh and opened the blocked Straits, it was forced to withdraw and return the territory to Egypt. At the time, members of the international community pledged that Israel would never again be denied use of the Straits of Tiran. The French representative to the UN, for example, announced that an attempt to interfere with free shipping in the Straits would be against international law, and American President Dwight Eisenhower went so far as publicly to recognize that reimposing a blockade in the Straits of Tiran would be seen as an aggressive act which would oblige Israel to protect its maritime rights in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.[92] United Nations Secretary-General U Thant also went to Cairo to help negotiate an agreement to avoid conflict, but after the closing of the Straits of Tiran, Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, contended this was enough to start the war. Eban said, "From May the 24th onward, the question who started the war or who fired the first shot became momentously irrelevant. There is no difference in civil law between murdering a man by slow strangulation or killing him by a shot in the head... From the moment at which the blockade was posed, active hostilities had commenced, and Israel owed Egypt nothing of her charger rights." [93] Contrary to this view in a letter written to the New York Times in June 1967 lawyer Roger Fisher argued that

The United Arab Republic had a good legal case for restricting traffic through the Strait of Tiran. First it is debatable whether international law confers any right of innocent passage through such a waterway.... {Secondly]... a right of innocent passage is not a right of free passage for any cargo at any time. In the words of the Convention on the Territorial Sea: 'Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order, or security of the coastal state... taking the facts as they were I, as an international lawyer, would rather defend before the International Court of Justice the legality of the U.A.R's action in closing the Strait of Tiran than to argue the other side of the case...[94]

Israel viewed the closure of the straits with some alarm[citation needed] and the U.S. and UK were asked to open the Straits of Tiran, as they guaranteed they would in 1957. Harold Wilson's proposal of an international maritime force to quell the crisis was adopted by President Johnson, but received little support, with only Britain and the Netherlands offering to contribute ships.

Yitzhak Rabin reported that the cabinet was deadlocked over the issue of the blockade.[95] Interior Minister Moshe Haim Shapira in particular had pointed out that the Straits had been closed from 1951 to 1956 without the situation endangering Israel's security.[96]

In a 30 March 1968 Ma’ariv interview Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained: "What do you mean, [the war was] unavoidable? It was, of course, possible to avoid the war if the Straits [of Tiran] had stayed closed to Israeli shipping.[97]

Egypt and Jordan

During May and June the Israeli government had worked hard to keep Jordan out of any war; it was concerned about being attacked on multiple fronts, and did not want to have to deal with the Palestinian West Bank. However, Jordan's King Hussein got caught up in the wave of pan-Arab nationalism preceding the war;[26] and so, on May 30, Jordan signed a mutual defense treaty with Egypt, thereby joining the military alliance already in place between Egypt and Syria. The move surprised both Egyptians and foreign observers, because President Nasser had generally been at odds with Hussein, calling him an "imperialist lackey" just days earlier.[98] Nasser said that any differences between him and Hussein were erased "in one moment" and declared: "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."[98]

At the end of May 1967, Jordanian forces were given to the command of an Egyptian general, Abdul Munim Riad.[99] On the same day, Nasser proclaimed: "The armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria are poised on the borders of Israel ... to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not of more declarations."[100] Israel called upon Jordan numerous times to refrain from hostilities. According to Mutawi, Hussein was caught on the horns of a galling dilemma: allow Jordan to be dragged into war and face the brunt of the Israeli response, or remain neutral and risk full-scale insurrection among his own people. Army Commander-in-Chief General Sharif Zaid Ben Shaker warned in a press conference that "If Jordan does not join the war a civil war will erupt in Jordan".[101] However, according to Avi Shlaim, Hussein's actions were prompted by his feelings of Arab nationalism.[26]

On June 3, days before the war, Egypt flew to Amman two battalions of commandos tasked with infiltrating Israel's borders and engaging in attacks and bombings so as to draw IDF into a Jordanian front and ease the pressure on the Egyptians. Soviet-made artillery and Egyptian military supplies and crews were also flown to Jordan.[102]

Nasser, backed by Arab states, kicks Israel into the Gulf of Aqaba. Pre-1967 War cartoon. Al-Jarida newspaper, Lebanon.

Israel's own sense of concern regarding Jordan's future role originated in the illegal Jordanian control of the Palestinian West Bank. This put Arab forces just 17 kilometers from Israel's coast, a jump-off point from which a well-coordinated tank assault would likely cut Israel in two within half an hour.[102] Hussein had doubled the size of Jordan's army in the last decade and had US training and arms delivered as recently as early 1967, and it was feared that it could be used by other Arab states as staging grounds for operations against Israel; thus, attack from the West Bank was always viewed by the Israeli leadership as a threat to Israel's existence.[102] At the same time several other Arab states not bordering Israel, including Iraq, Sudan, Kuwait and Algeria, began mobilizing their armed forces.

The drift to war

In his speech to Arab trade unionists on May 26, Nasser announced: "If Israel embarks on an aggression against Syria or Egypt, the battle against Israel will be a general one and not confined to one spot on the Syrian or Egyptian borders. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel."[103][104]

Nasser publicly denied that Egypt would strike first and spoke of a negotiated peace if the Palestinians were allowed to return to their homeland and of a possible compromise over the Strait of Tiran. [105]

Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban wrote in his autobiography that he found "Nasser's assurance that he did not plan an armed attack" convincing, adding that "Nasser did not want war; he wanted victory without war".[106][107] Writing from Egypt on 4 June 1967 New York Times journalist James Reston observed: "Cairo does not want war and it is certainly not ready for war. But it has already accepted the possibility, even the likelihood, of war, as if it had lost control of the situation."[108]

Writing in 2002, American National Public Radio journalist Mike Shuster expressed a view that was prevalent in Israel before the war that the country "was surrounded by Arab states dedicated to its eradication. Egypt was ruled by Gamal Abdel Nasser, a firebrand nationalist whose army was the strongest in the Arab Middle East. Syria was governed by the radical Baathist Party, constantly issuing threats to push Israel into the sea."[81] With what Israel saw as provocative acts by Nasser, including the blockade of the Straits and the mobilization of forces in the Sinai, creating military and economic pressure, and the United States temporizing because of its entanglement in the Vietnam War, Israel's political and military elite came to feel that preemption was not merely militarily preferable, but transformative.

Diplomacy and intelligence assessments

The Israeli cabinet met on 23 May and decided to launch an attack if the Straits of Tiran were not re-opened by 25 May. Following an approach from United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Eugene Rostow to allow time for the negotiation of a nonviolent solution Israel agreed to a delay of ten days to two weeks.[109] UN Secretary General, U Thant, visited Cairo for mediation and recommended a moratorium in the Straits of Tiran and a renewed diplomatic effort to solve the crisis. Egypt agreed and Israel rejected these proposals. Nasser's concessions did not necessarily suggest that he was making a concerted effort to avoid war. The decision benefited him both politically and strategically. Agreeing to diplomacy helped garner international political support. Moreover every delay gave Egypt time to complete its own military preparations and coordinate with the other Arabs forces. Also, Israel's rejection did not necessarily demonstrate a desire for war so much as it demonstrated the urgency it felt the situation warranted. Israel felt it could not afford to sustain total mobilization for long.[110]

Caught up in Arab enthusiasm for military action and encouraged by the lack of response to the closure of the Straits, Egyptian Field Marshal Amer planned for initiating an attack on Israel in late May. He told one of his generals that "This time we will be the ones to start the war." This was counter to Nasser's strategy of pushing Israel to start the war. Historian Michael Oren states that Egyptian sources are divided over why Nasser did not veto Amer's plan. Oren suggests that "Nasser was apprised of [the plan] but lacked the political strength to override Amer's order. Also, the preparation of an Egyptian invasion of Israel had certain advantages for Nasser...." [111]

The U.S. also tried to mediate, and Nasser agreed to send his vice-president to Washington to explore a diplomatic settlement. The meeting did not happen because Israel launched its offensive. Some analysts suggest that Nasser took actions aimed at reaping political gains, which he knew carried a high risk of precipitating military hostilities. Nasser's willingness to take such risks was based on his fundamental underestimation of Israel's capacity for independent and effective military action.[110]

On 25 May 1967, Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban landed in Washington “with instructions to discuss American plans to re-open the Strait of Tiran” As soon as he arrived, he was given new instructions in a cable from the Israeli government. The cable said that Israel had learned of an imminent Egyptian attack, which overshadowed the blockade. No longer was he to emphasize the strait issue; he was instructed to ‘inform the highest authorities of this new threat and to request an official statement from the United States that an attack on Israel would be viewed as an attack on the United States.” Despite his own skepticism, Eban followed his instructions during his first meeting with Secretary Rusk, Under Secretary Rostow, and Assistant Secretary Lucius Battle. American intelligence experts spent the night analyzing each of the Israeli claims.[112] On May 26, Eban met with United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and finally with President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Americans said their intelligence sources could not corroborate the Israeli claim; the Egyptian positions in the Sinai remained defensive. Eban left the White House distraught. According to most sources, including those involved, the new instructions were sent at the instigation of Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, who was eager to force an American decision; either Johnson would have to commit to specific American action then, or Israel would be free to act on its own.[112]

Historian Michael Oren explains his reaction: "Eban was livid. Unconvinced that Nasser was either determined or even able to attack, he now saw Israelis inflating the Egyptian threat - and flaunting their weakness - in order to extract a pledge that the President, Congress-bound, could never make. 'An act of momentous irresponsibility... eccentric...' were his words for the cable, which, he wrote, 'lacked wisdom, veracity and tactical understanding. Nothing was right about it'."[113] In a lecture given in 2002, Oren said, "Johnson sat around with his advisors and said, ‘What if their intelligence sources are better than ours?’ Johnson decided to fire off a Hotline message to his counterpart in the Kremlin, Alexey Kosygin, in which he said, ‘We've heard from the Israelis, but we can't corroborate it, that your proxies in the Middle East, the Egyptians, plan to launch an attack against Israel in the next 48 hours. If you don't want to start a global crisis, prevent them from doing that.’ At 2:30 a.m. on 27 May, Soviet Ambassador to Egypt Dimitri Pojidaev knocked on Nasser's door and read him a personal letter from Kosygin in which he said, ‘We don't want Egypt to be blamed for starting a war in the Middle East. If you launch that attack, we cannot support you.’ `Amer consulted his sources in the Kremlin, and they corroborated the substance of Kosygin's message. Despondent, Amer told the commander of Egypt's air force, Major General Mahmud Sidqi, that the operation was cancelled."[114] According to then Egyptian Vice-President Hussein el-Shafei, as soon as Nasser knew what Amer planned, he cancelled the operation.[115]

CIA Analysis of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. The first page of the draft of the "special estimate" that predicted the outcome of the war

On 30 May, Nasser responded to Johnson's request of 11 days earlier and agreed to send his Vice President, Zakkariya Muhieddin, to Washington on 7 June to explore a diplomatic settlement in "precisely the opening the White House had sought".[116] Secretary of State Rusk was bitterly disappointed that Israel attacked on 5 June, as he thought he might have been able to find a diplomatic solution if the meeting had gone ahead.[117] Historian Michael Oren writes that Rusk was "mad as hell" and that Johnson later wrote "I have never concealed my regret that Israel decided to move when it did".[118]

Within Israel's political leadership, it was decided that if the US would not act, and if the UN could not act, then Israel would have to act. On 1 June, Moshe Dayan was made Israeli Defense Minister, and on 3 June the Johnson administration gave an ambiguous statement; Israel continued to prepare for war. Israel's attack against Egypt on June 5 began what would later be dubbed the Six-Day War. According to Martin van Creveld, the IDF pressed for war: "...the concept of 'defensible borders' was not even part of the IDFs own vocabulary. Anyone who will look for it in the military literature of the time will do so in vain. Instead, Israel's commanders based their thought on the 1948 war and, especially, their 1956 triumph over the Egyptians in which, from then Chief of Staff Dayan down, they had gained their spurs. When the 1967 crisis broke they felt certain of their ability to win a 'decisive, quick and elegant' victory, as one of their number, General Haim Bar Lev, put it, and pressed the government to start the war as soon as possible".[119] Some of Israel's political leaders, however, hoped for a diplomatic solution.[81]

The combatant armies

On the eve of the war, Egypt massed approximately 100,000 of its 160,000 troops in the Sinai, including all of its seven divisions (four infantry, two armored and one mechanized), as well as four independent infantry and four independent armored brigades. No less than a third of them were veterans of Egypt's intervention into the Yemen Civil War and another third were reservists. These forces had 950 tanks, 1,100 APCs and more than 1,000 artillery pieces.[120] At the same time some Egyptian troops (15,000 - 20,000) were still fighting in Yemen.[121][122][123][124] Nasser's ambivalence about his goals and objectives was reflected in his orders to the military. The general staff changed the operational plan four times in May 1967, each change requiring the redeployment of troops, with the inevitable toll on both men and vehicles. Towards the end of May, Nasser finally forbade the general staff from proceeding with the Qahir ("Victory") plan, which called for a light infantry screen in the forward fortifications with the bulk of the forces held back to conduct a massive counterattack against the main Israeli advance when identified, and ordered a forward defense of the Sinai.[125] In the meantime, he continued to take actions intended to increase the level of mobilization of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, in order to bring pressure on Israel.

Syria's army had a total strength of 75,000.[126] Jordan's army had 55,000 troops,[127] including 300 tanks, 250 of which were US M48 Patton, sizable amounts of M113 APCs, a new battalion of mechanized infantry, and a paratrooper battalion trained in the new US-built school. They also had 12 battalions of artillery and six batteries of 81 mm and 120 mm mortars.[102]

Documents captured by the Israelis from various Jordanian command posts record orders from the end of May for the Hashemite Brigade to capture Ramot Burj Bir Mai'in in a night raid, codenamed "Operation Khaled". The aim was to establish a bridgehead together with positions in Latrun for an armored capture of Lod and Ramle. The "go" codeword was Sa'ek and end was Nasser. The Jordanians also planned for the capture of Motza and Sha'alvim in the strategic Jerusalem Corridor. Motza was tasked to Infantry Brigade 27 camped near Ma'ale Adummim: "The reserve brigade will commence a nighttime infiltration onto Motza, will destroy it to the foundation, and won't leave a remnant or refugee from among its 800 residents".[102]

100 Iraqi tanks and an infantry division were readied near the Jordanian border. Two squadrons of fighter-aircraft, Hawker Hunters and MiG 21 respectively, were rebased adjacent to the Jordanian border.[102]

The Israeli army had a total strength, including reservists, of 264,000, though this number could not be sustained, as the reservists were vital to civilian life.[128] James Reston, writing in the New York Times on 23 May 1967 noted, "In discipline, training, morale, equipment and general competence his [Nasser's] army and the other Arab forces, without the direct assistance of the Soviet Union, are no match for the Israelis... Even with 50,000 troops and the best of his generals and air force in Yemen, he has not been able to work his way in that small and primitive country, and even his effort to help the Congo rebels was a flop."[129]

On the evening of June 1, Israeli minister of defense Moshe Dayan called Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and the GOC, Southern Command Brigadier General Yeshayahu Gavish to present plans against Egypt. Rabin had formulated a plan in which Southern Command would fight its way to the Gaza Strip and then hold the territory and its people hostage until Egypt agreed to reopen the Straits of Tiran; while Gavish had a more comprehensive plan that called for the destruction of Egyptian forces in the Sinai. Rabin favored Gavish's plan, which was then endorsed by Dayan with the caution that a simultaneous offensive against Syria should be avoided.[130]

On 2 June, Jordan called up all reserve officers, and the West Bank commander met with community leaders in Ramallah to request assistance and cooperation for his troops during the war, assuring them that "in 3 days we'll be in Tel-Aviv".[102]

The fighting fronts

Preliminary air attack

Israel's first and most critical move was a surprise pre-emptive attack on the Egyptian Air Force. Egypt had by far the largest and the most modern of all the Arab air forces, consisting of about 450 combat aircraft, all of them Soviet-built and with a heavy quota of top-of-the line MiG-21 capable of attaining Mach 2 speed. Initially, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country.[131][132][133][134]

Of particular concern to the Israelis were the 30 Tu-16 “Badger” medium bombers, capable of inflicting heavy damage on Israeli military and civilian centers.[135] On 5 June at 7:45 Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched Operation Focus (Moked). All but 12 of its nearly 200 operational jets[136] left the skies of Israel in a mass attack against Egypt's airfields.[137] The Egyptian defensive infrastructure was extremely poor, and no airfields were yet equipped with hardened aircraft shelters capable of protecting Egypt's warplanes. Most of the Israeli warplanes headed out over the Mediterranean Sea before turning toward Egypt. Others flew over the Red Sea.[138] Meanwhile, the Egyptians hindered their own defense by effectively shutting down their entire air defense system: they were worried that rebel Egyptian forces would shoot down the plane carrying Field Marshal Amer and Lt-Gen. Sidqi Mahmoud, who were en route from al Maza to Bir Tamada in the Sinai to meet the commanders of the troops stationed there. In any event, it did not make a great deal of difference as the Israeli pilots came in below Egyptian radar cover and well below the lowest point at which its SA-2 surface-to-air missile batteries could bring down an aircraft.[139] However, the powerful Jordanian radar facility at Ajlun observed the waves of Israeli aircraft and reported the code word for "war" up the Egyptian command chain. However, Egyptian command and communications problems prevented the warning from reaching the targeted airfields.[140] The Israelis employed a mixed attack strategy: bombing and strafing runs against the planes themselves, and tarmac-shredding penetration bombs dropped on the runways that rendered them unusable, leaving any undamaged planes unable to take off and therefore helpless targets for later Israeli waves. The attack was more successful than expected, catching the Egyptians by surprise and destroying virtually all of the Egyptian Air Force on the ground, with few Israeli casualties. Over 300 Egyptian aircraft were destroyed and 100 Egyptian pilots were killed.[141] Among the Egyptian planes lost were all 30 Tu-16 bombers, as well as 27 out of 40 Il-28 bombers, 12 Su-7 fighter-bombers, over 90 MiG-21s, 20 MiG-19s, 25 MiG-17 fighters and around 32 assorted transport planes and helicopters. The Israelis lost 19 planes, mostly operational losses (mechanical failure, accidents, etc). The attack guaranteed Israeli air superiority for the rest of the war.

Before the war, Israeli pilots and ground crews had trained extensively in rapid refitting of aircraft returning from sorties, enabling a single aircraft to sortie up to four times a day (as opposed to the norm in Arab air forces of one or two sorties per day). This enabled the IAF to send several attack waves against Egyptian airfields on the first day of the war, overwhelming the Egyptian Air Force. This also has contributed to the Arab belief that the IAF was helped by foreign air forces (see below). The Arab air forces themselves were aided by pilots from the Pakistan Air Force, as well as some aircraft from Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to make up for the massive losses suffered on the first day of the war.[142]

Egyptian MiG-17s attacking an Israeli convoy, June 9 1967

Following the success of the initial attack waves against the major Egyptian airfields and subsequent air raids, attacks were carried out that afternoon against Israel by the Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi air forces. Subsequent attacks against secondary Egyptian airfields as well as Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi fields wiped out most of those nations' air forces. By the evening of the first day, the Jordanian air force was wiped out, losing over 20 Hawker Hunter fighters, as well as six transport aircraft and two helicopters. The Syrian Air Force lost some 32 MiG 21s, and 23 MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters, and two Ilyushin Il-28 bombers. A number of Iraqi Air Force aircraft were destroyed at H3 base in western Iraq by an Israeli airstrike which included 12 out of 20 MiG-21s, two MiG-17s, five Hunter F6s, and three Il-28 bombers. A lone Iraqi Tu-16 bomber was shot down earlier that day by Israeli anti-aircraft fire while attempting to bomb Tel Aviv. On the morning of June 6, 1967, a Lebanese Hunter, one of 12 Lebanon owned, was shot down over the Lebanon/Israel border by an Israeli Mirage IIIJC piloted by Uri Even-Nir.[143]

By nightfall, Israel said it destroyed 416 Arab aircraft, while losing 26 of their own in the first two days of the war. Israeli aircraft shot down included six out of 72 of its Mirage IIICJ fighters, four out of its 24 Super Mystère fighters, eight out of 60 Mystère IVA ground attack aircraft, four out of 40 Ouragan ground attack aircraft, and five out of 25 of its Vautour II medium bombers. The number of Arab aircraft claimed destroyed by Israel were at first regarded as "greatly exaggerated" by the Western press. However, the fact that the Egyptian, Jordanian, and other Arab air forces made practically no appearance for the remaining days of the conflict proved that the numbers were most likely authentic. Throughout the war, Israeli aircraft continued strafing Arab airfield runways to prevent their return to usability. Meanwhile, Egyptian state-run radio had reported an Egyptian victory, falsely claiming that 70 Israeli planes had been forced down the first day of fighting.[81]

Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula

Conquest of Sinai. June 5-June 6, 1967
Conquest of Sinai. June 7-June 8, 1967

The Egyptian forces consisted of seven divisions: four armored, two infantry, and one mechanized infantry. Overall, Egypt had around 100,000 troops and 900-950 tanks in the Sinai, backed by 1,100 APCs and 1,000 artillery pieces.[144] This arrangement was thought to be based on the Soviet doctrine, where mobile armor units at strategic depth provide a dynamic defense while infantry units engage in defensive battles.

Israeli forces concentrated on the border with Egypt included six armored brigades, one infantry brigade, one mechanized infantry brigade, three paratrooper brigades and 700 tanks, giving a total of around 70,000 men, who were organized in three armored divisions. The Israeli plan was to surprise the Egyptian forces in both timing (the attack exactly coinciding with the IAF strike on Egyptian airfields), location (attacking via northern and central Sinai routes, as opposed to the Egyptian expectations of a repeat of the 1956 war, when the IDF attacked via the central and southern routes) and method (using a combined-force flanking approach, rather than direct tank assaults).

The northernmost Israeli division, consisting of three brigades and commanded by Major General Israel Tal, one of Israel's most prominent armor commanders, advanced slowly through the Gaza Strip and El-Arish, which were not heavily protected.

The central division (Maj. Gen. Avraham Yoffe) and the southern division (Maj. Gen. Ariel Sharon), however, entered the heavily defended Abu-Ageila-Kusseima region, leading to what is known as the Battle of Abu-Ageila. Egyptian forces there included one infantry division (the 2nd), a battalion of tank destroyers and a tank regiment, formed of Soviet WW2 armor, which included 90 T-34-85 tanks (with 85 mm guns), 22 SU-100 tank destroyers (with 100 mm guns), and about 16,000 men,[145] while the Israelis had a man-power of about 14,000, and 150 post-WW2 tanks including the AMX-13 with 90 mm guns, Centurions, and Super Shermans (both types with 105 mm guns).

Sharon initiated an attack, precisely planned, coordinated and carried out. He sent two of his brigades to the north of Um-Katef, the first one to break through the defenses at Abu-Ageila to the south, and the second to block the road to El-Arish and to encircle Abu-Ageila from the east. At the same time, a paratrooper force was heliborne to the rear of the defensive positions and attacked the Egyptian artillery positions. Although the paratrooper force's plan quickly fell apart, the confusion sown among the artillery crews helped to slow but not quite stop artillery fire.[146] Combined forces of armor, paratroopers, infantry, artillery and combat engineers then attacked the Egyptian position from the front, flanks and rear, cutting the enemy off. The breakthrough battles, which were in sandy areas and minefields, continued for three and a half days until Abu-Ageila fell.

Many of the Egyptian units remained intact and could have tried to prevent the Israelis from reaching the Suez Canal or engaged in combat in the attempt to reach the canal. However, when the Egyptian Minister of Defense, Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer heard about the fall of Abu-Ageila, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt.

Due to the Egyptians' retreat, the Israeli High Command decided not to pursue the Egyptian units but rather to bypass and destroy them in the mountainous passes of West Sinai. Therefore, in the following two days (June 6 and 7), all three Israeli divisions (Sharon and Tal were reinforced by an armored brigade each) rushed westwards and reached the passes. Sharon's division first went southward then westward to Mitla Pass. It was joined there by parts of Yoffe's division, while its other units blocked the Gidi Pass. Tal's units stopped at various points to the length of the Suez Canal.

Israel's blocking action was only partially successful. Only the Gidi pass was captured before the Egyptians approached it, but at other places, Egyptian units managed to pass through and cross the canal to safety. Nevertheless, in four days of operations, Israel defeated the largest and most heavily equipped Arab army, leaving numerous points in the Sinai littered with hundreds of burning or abandoned Egyptian vehicles and military equipment.

On June 8, Israel had completed the capture of the Sinai by sending infantry units to Ras-Sudar on the western coast of the peninsula. Sharm El-Sheikh, at its southern tip, had already been taken a day earlier by units of the Israeli Navy.

Several tactical elements made the swift Israeli advance possible: first, the surprise attack that quickly gave the Israeli Air Force complete air superiority over its Egyptian counterpart; second, the determined implementation of an innovative battle plan; third, the lack of coordination among Egyptian troops. These factors would prove to be decisive elements on Israel's other fronts as well.

West Bank

The Jordan salient. June 5–7

Jordan was reluctant to enter the war. Nasser used the obscurity of the first hours of the conflict to convince Hussein that he was victorious; he claimed as evidence a radar sighting of a squadron of Israeli aircraft returning from bombing raids in Egypt which he said was an Egyptian aircraft en route to attacking Israel.[147] One of the Jordanian brigades stationed in the West Bank was sent to the Hebron area in order to link with the Egyptians. Hussein decided to attack.

Prior to the war, Jordanian forces included 11 brigades totaling some 55,000 troops, equipped with some 300 modern Western tanks. Of these, nine brigades (45,000 troops, 270 tanks, 200 artillery pieces) were deployed in the West Bank, including elite armored 40th, and 2 in the Jordan Valley. The Arab Legion was a long-term-service, professional army relatively well-equipped and well-trained. Furthermore, Israeli post-war briefings said that the Jordanian staff acted professionally as well, but was always left "half a step" behind by the Israeli moves. The tiny Royal Jordanian Air Force consisted of only 24 UK Hawker Hunter fighters. According to the Israelis, the British-made Hawker Hunter was essentially on par with the French-built Dassault Mirage III - the IAF's best plane.[148]

Against Jordan's forces on the West Bank, Israel deployed about 40,000 troops and 200 tanks (8 brigades).[149] Israeli Central Command forces consisted of five brigades. The first two were permanently stationed near Jerusalem and were called the Jerusalem Brigade and the mechanized Harel Brigade. Mordechai Gur's 55th paratrooper brigade was summoned from the Sinai front. An armored brigade was allocated from the General Staff reserve and advanced toward Ramallah, capturing Latrun in the process. The 10th armored brigade was stationed north of the West Bank Region. The Israeli Northern Command provided a division (3 brigades) led by Maj. Gen. Elad Peled, which was stationed to the north of the West Bank, in the Jezreel Valley.

The IDF's strategic plan was to remain on the defensive along the Jordanian front, to enable focus in the expected campaign against Egypt. However, on the morning of 5 June, Jordan began shelling targets in west Jerusalem, Netanya, and the outskirts of Tel Aviv.[24] The Royal Jordanian Air Force attacked Israeli airfields. Despite this, both air and artillery attacks caused little damage, and Israel sent a message promising not to initiate any action against Jordan if it stayed out of the war. Hussein replied that it was too late, "the die was cast".[150] On the evening of June 5, the Israeli cabinet convened to decide what to do; Yigal Allon and Menahem Begin argued that this was an opportunity to take the Old City of Jerusalem, but Eshkol decided to defer any decision until Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin could be consulted.[151] Uzi Narkis made a number of proposals for military action, including the capture of Latrun, but the cabinet turned him down. The Israeli military only commenced action after Jordanian forces made thrusts in the area of Jerusalem, occupying Government House, used as the headquarters for the UN observers and a Demilitarized zone since the 1949 Armistice Agreements, which was seen as a threat to the security of Jerusalem.[152]

On June 6, Israeli units were scrambled to attack Jordanian forces in the West Bank. In the afternoon of that same day, Israeli Air Force (IAF) strikes destroyed the Royal Jordanian Air Force. By the evening of that day, the Jerusalem infantry brigade moved south of Jerusalem, while the mechanized Harel and Gur's paratroopers encircled it from the north. The reserve paratroop brigade completed the Jerusalem encirclement in the bloody Battle of Ammunition Hill. Fearing damage to holy places and having to fight in built-up areas, Dayan ordered his troops not to go into the city itself.[151]

On June 7, heavy fighting ensued. The infantry brigade attacked the fortress at Latrun, capturing it at daybreak, and advanced through Beit Horon towards Ramallah. The Harel brigade continued its push to the mountainous area of northwest Jerusalem, linking the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University with the city of Jerusalem. By the evening, the brigade arrived in Ramallah. The IAF detected and destroyed the 60th Jordanian Brigade en route from Jericho to reinforce Jerusalem.

In the north, one battalion from Peled's division was sent to check Jordanian defenses in the Jordan Valley. A brigade belonging to Peled's division captured the western part of the West Bank, another captured Jenin and the third (equipped with light French AMX-13s) engaged Jordanian M48 Patton main battle tanks to the east.

Dayan had ordered his troops not to enter Jerusalem; however, upon hearing that the UN was about to declare a ceasefire, he changed his mind, and without cabinet clearance, decided to take the city.[153] Gur's paratroopers entered the Old City of Jerusalem via the Lion's Gate, and captured the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. The intense battle for the Old City was fought mostly by paratroopers, who had to engage in heavy street fighting. The Israeli high command had ordered the IDF not to use heavy armor in the Old City - since this was an area holy to Judaism, the Israeli government wanted to leave it intact. The Jerusalem brigade then reinforced the paratroops, and continued to the south, capturing Judea, Gush Etzion and Hebron. The Harel brigade proceeded eastward, descending to the Jordan River.

In the West Bank, one of Peled's brigades seized Nablus; then it joined one of Central Command's armored brigades to fight the Jordanian forces; as the Jordanians held the advantage of superior equipment and were equal in numbers to the Israelis.

Again, the air superiority of the IAF proved paramount as it immobilized the enemy, leading to its defeat. One of Peled's brigades joined with its Central Command counterparts coming from Ramallah, and the remaining two blocked the Jordan river crossings together with the Central Command's 10th (the latter crossed the Jordan river into the East Bank to provide cover for Israeli combat engineers while they blew the Abdullah and Hussein bridges, but was quickly pulled back because of American pressure).

No specific decision had been made to capture any other territories controlled by Jordan. After the Old City was captured, Dayan told his troops to dig in to hold it. When an armored brigade commander entered the West Bank on his own initiative, and stated that he could see Jericho, Dayan ordered him back. It was only after intelligence reports indicated that Hussein had withdrawn his forces across the Jordan River that Dayan ordered his troops to capture the West Bank.[152] According to Narkis:

First, the Israeli government had no intention of capturing the West Bank. On the contrary, it was opposed to it. Second, there was not any provocation on the part of the IDF. Third, the rein was only loosened when a real threat to Jerusalem's security emerged. This is truly how things happened on June 5, although it is difficult to believe. The end result was something that no one had planned.[154]

Golan Heights

The Battle of Golan Heights, June 9-10

False Egyptian reports of a crushing victory against the Israeli army[81] and forecasts that Egyptian artillery would soon be in Tel-Aviv influenced Syria's willingness to enter the war. Syrian leadership, however, adopted a more cautious approach, and instead began shelling and conducting air raids on northern Israel. When the Israeli Air Force had completed its mission in Egypt, and turned around to destroy the surprised Syrian Air Force, Syria understood that the news it had heard from Egypt of the near-total destruction of the Israeli military could not have been true.[155] During the evening of June 5, Israeli air strikes destroyed two-thirds of the Syrian Air Force, and forced the remaining third to retreat to distant bases, without playing any further role in the ensuing warfare. A minor Syrian force tried to capture the water plant at Tel Dan (the subject of a fierce escalation two years earlier), Kibbutz Dan, and She'ar Yashuv. But a broader Syrian offensive quickly failed. Several Syrian tanks are reported to have sunk in the Jordan River. Other problems included tanks too wide for bridges, lack of radio communications between tanks and infantry, and units ignoring orders to advance. A post-war Syrian army report concluded "Our forces did not go on the offensive either because they did not arrive or were not wholly prepared or because they could not find shelter from the enemy's planes. The reserves could not withstand the air attacks; they dispersed after their morale plummeted."[156] The Syrian command abandoned hopes of a ground attack and began a massive shelling of Israeli towns in the Hula Valley instead.

On June 7 and June 8, the Israeli leadership debated about whether the Golan Heights should be attacked as well; the attack on Syria was initially planned for June 8, but was postponed for 24 hours. At 3 AM on June 9, Syria announced its acceptance of the cease-fire. Despite this, four hours later at 7 AM, Israel’s minister of defense, Moshe Dayan, “gave the order to go into action against Syria.”[157] In addition to long-standing Zionist claims on the Mt Hermon area,[158] Syria also had supported the pre-war raids that had helped raise tensions and had routinely shelled Israel from the Heights, so some Israeli leaders wanted to see Syria punished.[159] Military advice was that the attack would be extremely costly, since assailing the heights would be an uphill battle against a strongly fortified enemy. The western side of the Golan Heights consists of a rock escarpment that rises 500 metres (1700 ft) from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, and then flattens to a more gently sloping plateau. Moshe Dayan believed such an operation would yield losses of 30,000 and opposed it bitterly. Levi Eshkol, on the other hand, was more open to the possibility of an operation in the Golan Heights, as was the head of the Northern Command, David Elazar, whose unbridled enthusiasm for and confidence in the operation may have eroded Dayan's reluctance. Eventually, as the situation on the Southern and Central fronts cleared up, intelligence estimated that the likelihood of Soviet intervention had reduced, reconnaissance showed some Syrian defenses in the Golan region collapsing, and an intercepted cable showed Nasser urging the President of Syria to immediately accept a cease-fire, Moshe Dayan became more enthusiastic about the idea, and he authorized the operation.[160]

The Syrian army consisted of about 75,000 men grouped in nine brigades, supported by an adequate amount of artillery and armor. Israeli forces used in combat consisted of two brigades (one armored led by Albert Mandler and the Golani Brigade) in the northern part of the front at Givat HaEm, and another two (infantry and one of Peled's brigades summoned from Jenin) in the center. The Golan Heights' unique terrain (mountainous slopes crossed by parallel streams every several kilometres running east to west), and the general lack of roads in the area channeled both forces along east-west axes of movement and restricted the ability of units to support those on either flank. Thus the Syrians could move north-south on the plateau itself, and the Israelis could move north-south at the base of the Golan escarpment. An advantage Israel possessed was the excellent intelligence collected by Mossad operative Eli Cohen (who was captured and executed in Syria in 1965) regarding the Syrian battle positions. Syria had built extensive defensive fortifications in depths up to 15 kilometers,[161] comparable to the Maginot Line.

As opposed to all the other campaigns, IAF was only partially effective in the Golan because the fixed fortifications were so effective. However, the Syrian forces proved unable to put up an effective defense largely because the officers were poor military leaders and treated their soldiers poorly; often officers would retreat to escape danger leaving their men confused and ineffective. By the evening of 9 June, the four Israeli brigades had broken through to the plateau, where they could be reinforced and replaced.

On the next day, June 10, the central and northern groups joined in a pincer movement on the plateau, but that fell mainly on empty territory as the Syrian forces fled. Several units joined by Elad Peled climbed to the Golan from the south, only to find the positions mostly empty as well. During the day, the Israeli units stopped after obtaining manoeuvre room between their positions and a line of volcanic hills to the west. In some locations, Israeli troops advanced after an agreed-upon cease-fire to occupy strategically strong positions.[162] To the east, the ground terrain is an open gently sloping plain. This position later became the cease-fire line known as the "Purple Line".

Time magazine reported: "In an effort to pressure the United Nations into enforcing a ceasefire, Damascus Radio undercut its own army by broadcasting the fall of the city of Quneitra three hours before it actually capitulated. That premature report of the surrender of their headquarters destroyed the morale of the Syrian troops left in the Golan area."[163]

War in the air

During the Six-Day War, the IAF demonstrated the importance of air superiority during the course of a modern conflict, especially in a desert theatre. Following the IAF's preliminary air attack, in which the IAF achieved near total tactical surprise (only four unarmed Egyptian training flights were in the air when the strike began [164]), it was able to thwart and harass what remained of the Arab air forces and to grant itself air superiority over all fronts; it then complemented the strategic effect of its initial strike by carrying out tactical support operations.

In contrast, the Arab air forces never managed to mount an effective attack. Attacks of Jordanian fighters and Iraqi Tu-16 bombers into the Israeli rear during the first two days of the war were not successful and led to the destruction of the aircraft (several Iraqi and Jordanian aircraft were shot down, while Jordan's air arm was crippled in strikes against its air bases).

In 1966, Iraqi Captain Munir Redfa defected by flying his MiG-21F-13 to Israel. Israel capitalized on the defection by test-flying the MiG to determine its maximum operational and flight characteristics (its envelope), thus giving Israeli pilots great advantage over their opponents.[165]

On June 6, the second day of the war, King Hussein and Nasser declared that American and British aircraft took part in the Israeli attacks. (See False allegations of U.S. and British combat support below).

War at sea

War at sea was extremely limited. Movements of both Israeli and Egyptian vessels are known to have been used to intimidate the other side, but neither side directly engaged the other at sea. The only moves that yielded any result were the use of six Israeli combat divers in Alexandria harbor (they were captured, having sunk a minesweeper), and the Israeli light boat crews that captured the abandoned town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula on June 7.

An Egyptian mine sweeper was sunk in Hurgahda harbour. The sunken vessel is known as El Mina, which translates as "harbour".[166]

On June 8, USS Liberty, a United States Navy electronic intelligence vessel sailing 13 nautical miles (24 km) off Arish (just outside Egypt's territorial waters), was attacked by Israeli air and sea forces, nearly sinking the ship and causing heavy casualties. Israel said the attack was a case of mistaken identity, apologized for the mistake, and paid restitution to the victims or their families. After an investigation, the US accepted the explanation that the incident was friendly fire and the issue was closed by the exchange of diplomatic notes in 1987. The surviving crew members still claim, and present some evidence, that the attacks might have been deliberate (see USS Liberty incident).

Conclusion of conflict and post-war situation

By the 10th of June, Israel had completed its final offensive in the Golan Heights, and a ceasefire was signed the day after. Israel had seized the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank of the Jordan River (including East Jerusalem), and the Golan Heights. Overall, Israel's territory grew by a factor of three, including about one million Arabs placed under Israel's direct control in the newly captured territories. Israel's strategic depth grew to at least 300 kilometers in the south, 60 kilometers in the east and 20 kilometers of extremely rugged terrain in the north, a security asset that would prove useful in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War six years later.

The political importance of the 1967 War was immense; Israel demonstrated that it was not only able, but also willing, to initiate strategic strikes that could change the regional balance. Egypt and Syria learned tactical lessons and would launch an attack in 1973 in an attempt to reclaim their lost territory.[167]

Speaking three weeks after the war ended, as he accepted an honorary degree from Hebrew University, Yitzhak Rabin gave his reasoning behind the success of Israel:

Our airmen, who struck the enemies' planes so accurately that no one in the world understands how it was done and people seek technological explanations or secret weapons; our armored troops who beat the enemy even when their equipment was inferior to his; our soldiers in all other branches...who overcame our enemies everywhere, despite the latter's superior numbers and fortifications-all these revealed not only coolness and courage in the battle understanding that only their personal stand against the greatest dangers would achieve victory for their country and for their families, and that if victory was not theirs the alternative was annihilation.[168]

In recognition of contributions, Rabin was given the honor of naming the war for the Israelis. From the suggestions proposed, he "chose the least ostentatious, the Six-Day War, evoking the days of creation."[169]

Dayan's final report on the war to the Israeli general staff listed several shortcomings in Israel's actions, including misinterpretation of Nasser's intentions, overdependence on the United States, and reluctance to act when Egypt closed the Straits. He also credited several factors for Israel's success: Egypt did not appreciate the advantage of striking first and their adversaries did not accurately gauge Israel's strength and its willingness to use it.[170]

After the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Egypt reviewed the causes of its loss of the 1967 war. Issues that were identified included "the individualistic bureaucratic leadership"; "promotions on the basis of loyalty, not expertise, and the army's fear of telling Nasser the truth"; lack of intelligence; and better Israeli weapons, command, organization, and will to fight.[171]

According to Chaim Herzog:

On June 19, 1967, the National Unity Government [of Israel] voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. The Golans would have to be demilitarized and special arrangement would be negotiated for the Straits of Tiran. The government also resolved to open negotiations with King Hussein of Jordan regarding the Eastern border.[172]

The Israeli decision was to be conveyed to the Arab nations by the United States. The US was informed of the decision, but not that it was to transmit it. There is no evidence of receipt from Egypt or Syria, and some historians claim that they may have never received the offer.[173]

In September, the Khartoum Arab Summit resolved that there would be "no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel." However, as Avraham Sela notes, the Khartoum conference effectively marked a shift in the perception of the conflict by the Arab states away from one centered on the question of Israel's legitimacy toward one focusing on territories and boundaries and this was underpinned on November 22 when Egypt and Jordan accepted United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.[174]

The June 19 Israeli cabinet decision did not include the Gaza Strip, and left open the possibility of Israel permanently acquiring parts of the West Bank. On June 25-27, Israel incorporated East Jerusalem together with areas of the West Bank to the north and south into Jerusalem's new municipal boundaries.

Yet another aspect of the war touches on the population of the captured territories: of about one million Palestinians in the West Bank, 300,000 (according to the United States Department of State[175]) fled to Jordan, where they contributed to the growing unrest. The other 600,000[176] remained. In the Golan Heights, an estimated 80,000 Syrians fled.[177] Only the inhabitants of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights became entitled to receive full Israeli citizenship, as Israel applied its law, administration and jurisdiction to these territories in 1967 and 1981 respectively, and the vast majority in both territories declined to do so. See also Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Golan Heights. Both Jordan and Egypt eventually withdrew their claims to the West Bank and Gaza (the Sinai was returned on the basis of Camp David Accords of 1978 and the question of the Golan Heights is still being negotiated with Syria). After Israeli conquest of these newly acquired 'territories,' a large settlement effort was launched to secure Israel's permanent foothold. There are now hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in these territories, though the Israeli settlements in Gaza were evacuated and destroyed in August 2005 as a part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan.

The 1967 War also laid the foundation for future discord in the region - as on November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 242, the "land for peace" formula, which called for Israeli withdrawal "from territories occupied" in 1967 in return for "the termination of all claims or states of belligerency."

The framers of Resolution 242 recognized that some territorial adjustments were likely, and therefore deliberately[178] did not include words all or the in the official English language version of the text when referring to "territories occupied" during the war, although it is present in other, notably French, Spanish and Russian versions. It recognized the right of "every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1978, after the Camp David Accords, and disengaged from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, though its army frequently re-enters Gaza for military operations and still retains control of border crossings, seaports and airports.

The aftermath of the war is also of religious significance. Under Jordanian rule, Jews were effectively barred from visiting the Western Wall (even though Article VIII of the 1949 Armistice Agreement provided for Israeli Jewish access to the Western Wall).[179] Jewish holy sites were not maintained, and their cemeteries had been desecrated. After the annexation to Israel, each religious group was granted administration over its holy sites. Despite the Temple Mount's importance in Jewish tradition, the al-Aqsa Mosque is under sole administration of a Muslim Waqf, and Jews are barred from conducting services there.[180]


The number of Israelis killed were 983, and 4,517 were wounded. 46 Israeli aircraft were also destroyed. 15 Israeli soldiers were captured. Over 9,800 Egyptian soldiers were listed as killed, wounded or missing in action.[8] Jordan lost 700 soldiers killed, with around 2,500 wounded. Syrian losses are unknown, but are lower than Jordanian casualties.[6]

Allegations that the IDF killed Egyptian prisoners

After the war, a national debate ensued in Israel regarding allegations that soldiers killed unarmed Egyptians. A few soldiers said that they had witnessed the execution of unarmed prisoners. Gabby Bron, a journalist for Yedioth Ahronoth, said he had witnessed the execution of five Egyptian prisoners.[181] Michael Bar-Zohar said that he had witnessed the murder of three Egyptian POWs by a cook,[182] and Meir Pa'il said that he knew of many instances in which soldiers had killed PoWs or Arab civilians.[183] Uri Milstein, a controversial military historian, was reported[184] as claiming that there were many incidents in the 1967 war in which Egyptian soldiers were killed by Israeli troops after they had raised their hands in surrender. "It was not an official policy, but there was an atmosphere that it was okay to do it," Milstein said. "Some commanders decided to do it; others refused. But everyone knew about it."[185] Allegations that Egyptian soldiers fleeing into the desert were shot were confirmed in reports written after the war. Israeli historian and journalist Tom Segev, in his book "1967", quotes one soldier who wrote, "our soldiers were sent to scout out groups of men fleeing and shoot them. That was the order, and it was done while they were really trying to escape".[186]

According to a New York Times report of 21 September 1995, the Egyptian government announced that it had discovered two shallow mass graves in the Sinai at El Arish containing the remains of 30 to 60 Egyptian prisoners allegedly shot by Israeli soldiers during the 1967 war. Israel responded by sending Eli Dayan, a Deputy Foreign Minister, to Egypt to discuss the matter. During his visit, Dayan offered compensation to the families of victims, but explained that Israel was unable to pursue those responsible owing to its 20-year statute of limitations. The Israeli Ambassador to Cairo, David Sultan, asked to be relieved of his post after the Egyptian daily Al Shaab said he was personally responsible for the killing of 100 Egyptian prisoners, although both the Israeli Embassy and Foreign Ministry denied the charge and said that it was not even clear that Sultan had served in the military.[187]

Capt. Milovan Zorc and Miobor Stosic, a military liaison official, who were members of the Yugoslav Reconnaissance Battalion that formed part of the 3,400-strong UNEF deployed as a buffer between Egypt and Israel and witnessed the war, have cast doubt on claims that Israel executed Egyptian prisoners of war in the area where they were stationed. They said that if an Israeli unit had killed some 250 POWs near the Egyptian town of el-Arish, they would likely have come to know about it.[188]

Declassified IDF documents show that on 11 June 1967, the operations branch of the general staff felt it necessary to issue new orders concerning the treatment of prisoners. The order read: "Since existing orders are contradictory, here are binding instructions. a) Soldiers and civilians who give themselves up are not to be hurt in any way. b) Soldiers and civilians who carry a weapon and do not surrender will be killed... Soldiers who are caught disobeying this order by killing prisoners will be punished severely. Make sure this order is brought to the attention of all IDF soldiers".[189]

According to Israeli sources, 4,338 Egyptian soldiers were taken captive by IDF. 11 Israeli soldiers were taken captive by Egyptian forces. POW exchanges were completed on 23 January 1968.[190]

Combat support

According to George Lenczowski, as early as May 23, President Johnson secretly authorized supplying Israel by air with a variety of arms systems, even when an embargo on weapons shipments were placed on the Middle East. [191]

Stephen Green wrote in his book that the United States sent reconnaissance aircraft to track nighttime movement of Egyptian ground forces in order to facilitate daytime Israeli air attacks that proved important for Israel's advances.[192] Richard Parker disputes this and suggests that it is a hoax, based on the questionable testimony of one single man.[193]

On the second day of the war, Arab state-run media reported that American and British troops were fighting on Israel's side. Radio Cairo and the government newspaper Al-Ahram made a number of claims, among them: that U.S. and British carrier-based aircraft flew sorties against the Egyptians; that U.S. aircraft based in Wheelus Air Base-Libya attacked Egypt; and that American spy satellites provided imagery to Israel. Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, the chief of “Al-Ahram” in the Nasserite period, repeated similar claims at Al Jazeera channel. Later, Muammar al-Gaddafi's Libyan government confirmed these claims also only to get a pretext for the coup that took place on 1 September 1969. The governments of United States and Britain made too little efforts either to confirm or deny these claims. Similar reports were aired by Radio Damascus and Radio Amman. Egyptian media even said that King Hussein had personally seen radar observations showing British aircraft taking off from aircraft carriers.

Outside of the Arab world claims of American and British military intervention were not taken seriously. Britain, the U.S. and Israel denied these allegations. On 8 June, Egyptian credibility was further damaged when Israel released an audio recording to the press, which they said was a radio-telephone conversation intercepted two days earlier between Nasser and King Hussein of Jordan.[194]

Nasser: ...Shall we include also the United States? Do you know of this, shall we announce that the U.S. is cooperating with Israel?

Hussein: Hello. I do not hear, the connection is the worst - the line between you and the palace of the King from which the King is speaking is bad.
Nasser: Hello, will we say the U.S. and England or just the U.S.?
Hussein: The U.S. and England.
Nasser: Does Britain have aircraft carriers?
Hussein: (Answer unintelligible).
Nasser: Good. King Hussein will make an announcement and I will make an announcement. Thank you... Will his Majesty make an announcement on the participation of Americans and the British?
Hussein: (Answer unintelligible).
Nasser: By God, I say that I will make an announcement and you will make an announcement and we will see to it that the Syrians will make an announcement that American and British airplanes are taking part against us from aircraft carriers. We will issue an announcement, we will stress the matter and we will drive the point home.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, as the extent of the Arab military defeat became apparent, Arab leaders differed on whether to continue to assert that the American military had assisted the Israeli victory. On 9 June 1967, Nasser stated in his resignation speech (his resignation was not accepted):

What is now established is that American and British aircraft carriers were off the shores of the enemy helping his war effort. Also, British aircraft raided, in broad daylight, positions of the Syrian and Egyptian fronts, in addition to operations by a number of American aircraft reconnoitering some of our positions... Indeed, it can be said without exaggeration that the enemy was operating with an air force three times stronger than his normal force.

King Hussein, however, later denied the allegations of American military support. On 30 June, he announced in New York that he was "perfectly satisfied" that "no American planes took part, or any British planes either".[195] In September, The New York Times reported that Nasser had privately assured Arab leaders, gathered in Sudan to discuss the Khartoum Resolution, that his earlier claims were false.[195]

Nonetheless, these allegations, that the Arabs were fighting the Americans and British rather than Israel alone, took hold in the Arab world. As reported by the British Representative in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a country at odds with Egypt as a result of the Yemen war:

President Abdel Nasser's allegation ... is firmly believed by almost the whole Arab population here who listen to the radio or read the press ... Our broadcast denials are little heard and just not believed. The denials we have issued to the broadcasting service and press have not been published. Even highly educated persons basically friendly to us seem convinced that the allegations are true. Senior foreign ministry officials who received my formal written and oral denials profess to believe them but nevertheless appear skeptical. I consider that this allegation has seriously damaged our reputation in the Arab world more than anything else and has caused a wave of suspicion or feeling against us which will persist in some underlying form for the foreseeable future ... Further denials or attempts at local publicity by us will not dispel this belief and may now only exacerbate local feeling since the Arabs are understandably sensitive to their defeat with a sense of humiliation and resent self-justification by us who in their eyes helped their enemy to bring this about.

Well after the end of the war, the Egyptian government and its newspapers continued to make claims of collusion between Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. These included a series of weekly articles in Al-Ahram, simultaneously broadcast on Radio Cairo by Mohamed Heikal. Heikal attempted to uncover the "secrets" of the war. He presented a blend of facts, documents, and interpretations. Heikal's conclusion was clear-cut: there was a secret U.S.-Israeli collusion against Syria and Egypt.

According to Israeli historian Elie Podeh: "All post-1967 [Egyptian] history textbooks repeated the claim that Israel launched the war with the support of Britain and the United States. The narrative also established a direct link between the 1967 war and former imperialist attempts to control the Arab world, thus portraying Israel as an imperialist stooge. The repetition of this fabricated story, with only minor variations, in all history school textbooks means that all Egyptian schoolchildren have been exposed to, and indoctrinated with, the collusion story." The following example comes from the textbook Abdallah Ahmad Hamid al-Qusi, Al-Wisam fi at-Ta'rikh:[196]

The United States' role: Israel was not (fighting) on its own in the (1967) war. Hundreds of volunteers, pilots, and military officers with American scientific spying equipment of the most advanced type photographed the Egyptian posts for it (Israel), jammed the Egyptian defense equipment, and transmitted to it the orders of the Egyptian command.

In Six Days of War, historian Michael Oren argues that the Arab leadership spread false claims about American involvement in order to secure Soviet support for the Arab side.[197] After the war, as the extent of the Israeli victory became apparent to the Arab public, these claims helped deflect blame for the defeat away from Nasser and other Arab leaders. In reaction to these claims, Arab oil-producing countries announced either an oil embargo on the United States and Britain or suspended oil exports altogether.

Six Arab countries broke off diplomatic relations with the United States, and Lebanon withdrew its Ambassador.[198] More broadly, the Six Day war hastened the process of anti-American radicalization in the Middle East, a process expressed by the growth of both leftist and religious-fundamentalist movements and their increased resort to terrorism as a weapon in their anti-American struggle. In fact, it transcended the Arab countries and spread to Iran, Pakistan and the Third World, whose delegates at the UN began adopting increasingly critical posture toward America.[199]

A British guidance telegram to Middle East posts concluded: "The Arabs' reluctance to disbelieve all versions of the big lie springs in part from a need to believe that the Israelis could not have defeated them so thoroughly without outside assistance."[200]

Non-combat support

USS Independence was in service with the Sixth Fleet, in 1967

In a 1993 interview for the Johnson Presidential Library oral history archives, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara revealed that a carrier battle group, the U.S. 6th Fleet, on a training exercise near Gibraltar was re-positioned towards the eastern Mediterranean to be able to defend Israel. The administration "thought the situation was so tense in Israel that perhaps the Syrians, fearing Israel would attack them, or the Russians supporting the Syrians might wish to redress the balance of power and might attack Israel". The Soviets learned of this deployment, which they regarded as offensive in nature, and in a hotline message from Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin threatened the United States with war.[201]

The Soviet Union supported its Arab allies.[202] In May 1967, the Soviets started a surge deployment of their naval forces into the East Mediterranean. Early in the crisis they began to shadow the US and British carriers with destroyers and intelligence collecting vessels. The Soviet naval squadron in the Mediterranean was sufficiently strong to act as a major restraint on the U.S. Navy.[203] In a 1983 interview with the Boston Globe, McNamara said that "We damn near had war". He said Kosygin was angry that "we had turned around a carrier in the Mediterranean".[204]

In his book Six Days, veteran BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen claims that on 4 June 1967, the Israeli ship Miryam left Felixstowe with cases of machine guns, 105 mm tank shells, and armored vehicles in "the latest of many consignments of arms that had been sent secretly to Israel from British and American reserves since the crisis started" and that "Israeli transport planes had been running a 'shuttle service' in and out of RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire". Bowen claims that Harold Wilson had written to Eshkol saying that he was glad to help as long as the utmost secrecy was maintained.[205][206]

Displaced populations


In his book Righteous Victims, Israeli "New Historian" Benny Morris writes:

In three villages southwest of Jerusalem and at Qalqilya, houses were destroyed "not in battle, but as punishment ... and in order to chase away the inhabitants ... ---contrary to government...policy," Dayan wrote in his memoirs. In Qalqilya, about a third of the homes were razed and about 12,000 inhabitants were evicted, though many then camped out in the environs. The evictees in both areas were allowed to stay and later were given cement and tools by the Israeli authorities to rebuild at least some of their dwellings. But many thousands of other Palestinians now took to the roads. Perhaps as many as seventy thousand, mostly from the Jericho area, fled during the fighting; tens of thousands more left over the following months. Altogether, about one-quarter of the population of the West Bank, about 200-250,000 people, went into exile. ... They simply walked to the Jordan River crossings and made their way on foot to the East Bank. It is unclear how many were intimidated or forced out by the Israeli troops and how many left voluntarily, in panic and fear. There is some evidence of IDF soldiers going around with loudspeakers ordering West Bankers to leave their homes and cross the Jordan. Some left because they had relatives or sources of livelihood on the East Bank and feared being permanently cut off. Thousands of Arabs were taken by bus from East Jerusalem to the Allenby bridge, though there is no evidence of coercion. The free Israeli-organized transportation, which began on June 11, 1967, went on for about a month. At the bridge they had to sign a document stating that they were leaving of their own free will. Perhaps as many as seventy thousand people emigrated from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. On July 2 the Israeli government announced that it would allow the return of those 1967 refugees who desired to do so, but no later than August 10, later extended to September 13. The Jordanian authorities probably pressured many of the refugees, who constituted an enormous burden, to sign up to return. In practice only 14,000 of the 120,000 who applied were actually allowed by Israel back into the West Bank by the beginning of September. After that, only a trickle of "special cases" were allowed back, perhaps 3,000 in all.(328-9)

In addition, between 80,000 and 110,000 Syrians fled the Golan Heights,[207][208] of which about 20,000 were from the city of Quneitra.[209]

Jews in Arab countries

With the loss of Arab lands, the minority Jews living in the Arab world immediately faced persecution and expulsion, following the Israeli victory. According to historian Michael B. Oren,

mobs attacked Jewish neighborhoods in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco, burning synagogues and assaulting residents. A pogrom in Tripoli, Libya, left 18 Jews dead and 25 injured; the survivors were herded into detention centers. Of Egypt's 4,000 Jews, 800 were arrested, including the chief rabbis of both Cairo and Alexandria, and their property sequestered by the government. The ancient communities of Damascus and Baghdad were placed under house arrest, their leaders imprisoned and fined. A total of 7,000 Jews were expelled, many with merely a satchel.[210]

See also

Key people involved



  1. ^ a b It was twenty minutes after the capture of the Western Wall that David Rubinger shot his "signature" photograph of three Israeli paratroopers gazing in wonder up at the wall [Kaniuk, Yoram. "June 10, 1967 - Israeli paratroopers reach the Western Wall". The Digital Journalist. Retrieved 2008-12-02. ]. As part of the terms for his access to the front lines, Rubinger handed the negatives to the Israeli government, who then distributed this image widely. Although he was displeased with the violation of his copyright, the widespread use of his photo made it famous [Silver, Eric (February 16, 2006). "David Rubinger in the picture". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-12-02. ], and it is now considered a defining image of the conflict and one of the best-known in the history of Israel [Urquhart, Conal (May 6, 2007). "Six days in June". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-12-02. ]
  2. ^ Geoffrey Regan, p.211
  3. ^ Regan, p.211
  4. ^ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  5. ^ Gawrych, The Albatross of Desicive Victory, p. 3
  6. ^ a b George Gawrych, [The Albatross of Desicive Victory], p.3
  7. ^ Arab - Israeli Aircraft Losses
  8. ^ a b El Gammasy The October War, 1973 p.79
  9. ^ Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars, Random House, 1982, p. 165
  10. ^ Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  11. ^ George Gawrych, The Albatross of Desicive Victory, p.3
  12. ^ Herzog p. 183
  13. ^ Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  14. ^ Randolph Churchill & Winston Churchill, The Six Day War, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1967, p. 189
  15. ^ Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  16. ^ Krauthammer, Charles (2007-05-18). "Prelude to the Six Days". The Washington Post: pp. A23. ISSN 0740-5421. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  17. ^ Expelled the U.N. force:
    • "In 1967, Egypt ordered the UN troops out and blocked Israeli shipping routes - adding to already high levels of tension between Israel and its neighbours." "Israel and the Palestinians in depth, 1967: Six Day War", BBC website. URL accessed December 28, 2008.
    • "Buoyed by the almost universal Arab acclaim he received for his actions, Nasser expelled the UNEF forces and announced the closing of the Straits of Tiran" Robert Owen Freedman. World Politics and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Pergamon Press, 1979, p. 79.
    • "The Israeli attack ended a nerve-wracking three weeks of waiting... begun when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled the United Nations peacekeepers from the Gaza Strip and the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, blockaded the nearby Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, and deployed his massive army along the Israeli border." Dan Perry, Alfred Ironside. Israel and the Quest for Permanence, McFarland, 1999, p. 18.
    • "Soon after Nasser expelled UN forces from the Sinai, Secretary of State Dean Rusk directed State Department officials in Washington, New York, and Moscow to urge the Soviets to restrain their Arab friends." Nigel John Ashton. Cold War in the Middle East: Regional Conflict and the Superpowers 1967-73, Routledge, 2007, p. 18.
    • "Nasser... closed the Gulf of Aqaba to shipping, cutting off Israel from its primary oil supplies. He told U.N. peacekeepers in the Sinai Peninsula to leave. He then sent scores of tanks and hundreds of troops into the Sinai closer to Israel. The Arab world was delirious with support," "The Mideast: A Century of Conflict Part 4: The 1967 Six Day War", NPR morning edition, October 3, 2002. URL accessed December 28, 2008.
    • "...a Middle East crisis erupted on May 16, 1967, when Nasser expelled the UN troops that had policed the Sinai since the end of the Suez-Sinai War in 1957." Peter L. Hahn. Crisis and Crossfire: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945, Potomac Books, 2005 , p.50.
    • "In May, 1967 President Nasser expelled UNEF from Egypt and set in train the events that precipitated Israel's blitzkrieg invasion and conquest of the Sinai." J. L. Granatstein. Canadian Foreign Policy: Historical Readings, Copp Clark Pitman, 1986, p. 236.
  18. ^ a b c d Oren, Michael. "The Six-Day War", in Bar-On, Mordechai. Never-Ending Conflict: Israeli Military History, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, ISBN 0275981584, p. 135.
  19. ^ Pimlott, John. Middle East Conflicts: From 1945 to the Present, Orbis, 1983, ISBN 085613547X, p. 53.
  20. ^
    • "In 1967, Egypt ordered the UN troops out and blocked Israeli shipping routes - adding to already high levels of tension between Israel and its neighbours." Israel and the Palestinians in depth, 1967: Six Day War, BBC website. URL accessed May 14, 2006.
    • "In June 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan massed their troops on Israel's borders in preparation for an all-out attack." "Mideast 101: The Six Day War", CNN website. URL accessed May 14, 2006.
    • "Nasser... closed the Gulf of Aqaba to shipping, cutting off Israel from its primary oil supplies. He told U.N. peacekeepers in the Sinai Peninsula to leave. He then sent scores of tanks and hundreds of troops into the Sinai closer to Israel. The Arab world was delirious with support," The Mideast: A Century of Conflict Part 4: The 1967 Six Day War, NPR morning edition, October 3, 2002. URL accessed May 14, 2006.
    • "War returned in 1967, when Egypt, Syria and Jordan massed forces to challenge Israel." "Country Briefings: Israel", The Economist website. URL accessed March 3, 2007.
    • "After Israel declared its statehood in 1948, several Arab states and Palestinian groups immediately attacked Israel. After a long and bitter war, they were driven back. In 1956 Israel overran Egypt in the Suez-Sinai War. Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser vowed to avenge Arab losses and press the cause of Palestinian nationalism. To this end, he organized an alliance of Arab states surrounding Israel and mobilized for war." "Six-Day War", Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007. URL accessed April 10, 2007.
  21. ^ Ben-Gurion Diary: May-June 1967 Israel Studies - Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1999, pp. 199-220
  22. ^ Pre-emptive strike on June 5, 1967:
    • "...Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egyptian planes as they stood on the airfields. These events triggered the so-called June war of 1967, but the pre-emptive action of Israel was not condemned by the S.C. - or indeed by the G.A. There appeared to be a general feeling, certainly shared by the Western states, that taken in the context this was a lawful use of anticipatory self-defence, and that for Israel to have waited any longer could well have been fatal to her survival." Antonio Cassese. The Current Legal Regulation of the Use of Force: Current Legal Regulation Vol10, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1986, p. 443. ISBN 9024732476
    • "War was inevitable under these conditions. Israel, seeing war as inevitable, decided on a pre-emptive strike, launching its attack on 5 June 1967." Erik Goldstein. Wars and Peace Treaties, 1816–1991, Routledge, 1992, p. 127. ISBN 0415078229
    • "In 1967 Israel was aware of an impending attack by Egypt, to be assisted by Jordan, Iraq and Syria, and won a brilliant and total victory in only six days (consequently the fighting is known as the 'Six-Day War'), largely because they launched a pre-emptive attack on the Arab air forces..." David Roberston. The Routledge Dictionary of Politics, Routledge, 2003, p. 22. ISBN 0415323770
    • "On 30 May 1967 Jordan joined the Syrian-Egyptian military pact. Despite US attempts to mediate, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike just days later which destroyed the unprepared Egyptian air force..." Martin S. Alexander. Knowing Your Friends: Intelligence Inside Alliances and Coalitions from 1914 to the Cold War, Routledge, 1998, p. 246. ISBN 0714648795
    • "On 5 June 1967 Israel attacked Egyptian positions in a pre-emptive strike." Sören Zibrandt von Dosenrode-Lynge, Soren Von Dosenrode, Anders Stubkjaer. The European Union and the Middle East, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, p. 56. ISBN 0826460887
    • "In the end Israel launched a preemptive aerial attack, in which most of the Egyptian airforce was destroyed on the ground within the first three hours of the war, and in six days the war was over." Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, Columbia University Press, 1999, p. 276. ISBN 0231104839
    • "In a pre-emptive attack on Egypt..." "Israel and the Palestinians in depth, 1967: Six Day War", BBC website. URL accessed May 14, 2006.
    • "a massive pre-emptive strike on Egypt." "BBC on this day", BBC website. URL accessed May 14, 2006.
    • "Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on June 5" "Mideast 101: The Six Day War", CNN website. URL accessed May 14, 2006.
    • "Most historians now agree that although Israel struck first, this pre-emptive strike was defensive in nature." "The Mideast: A Century of Conflict Part 4: The 1967 Six Day War", NPR morning edition, October 3, 2002. URL accessed May 14, 2006.
    • "a massive preemptive strike by Israel that crippled the Arabs’ air capacity." SIX-DAY WAR, Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. © 2006 World Almanac Education Group via The History Channel website, 2006, URL accessed February 17, 2007.
    • "In a pre-emptive strike, Israel smashed its enemies’ forces in just six days..." Country Briefings: Israel, The Economist website, July 28, 2005. URL accessed March 15, 2007.
    • "Yet pre-emptive strikes can often be justified even if they don't meet the letter of the law. At the start of the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel, fearing that Egypt was aiming to destroy the Jewish state, devastated Egypt's air force before its pilots had scrambled their jets." "Strike First, Explain Yourself Later," Michael Elliott, Time, July 1, 2002. URL accessed March 15, 2007.
    • "the situation was similar to the crisis that preceded the 1967 Six Day war, when Israel took preemptive military action." "Delay with Diplomacy", Marguerite Johnson, Time, May 18, 1981. URL accessed March 15, 2007.
    • "Israel made a preemptive attack against a threatened Arab invasion..." "Six-Day War", Encarta Answers, URL accessed April 10, 2007.
    • "Israel preempted the invasion with its own attack on June 5, 1967." "Six-Day War", Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007. URL accessed April 10, 2007.
    • "Following the Israeli conventional pre-emptive operations in June 1967,..." Aronson, Shlomo. "Israel's Nuclear Programme, the Six Day War and Its Ramifications", in Karsh, Efraim. Israel: The First Hundred Years, Routledge, 1999, p. 83. ISBN 0714649627
    • "Israel, seeing war as inevitable, decided on a pre-emptive strike, launching its attack on 5 June 1967." Goldstein, Erik. Wars and Peace Treaties, Routledge, 1992, p. 127. ISBN 0415078229
    • "Thus provoked, the Israelis attacked preemptively and, in what came to be known as the Six-Day War, routed Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian troops..." Cohen, Warren I. The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations Volume IV, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 193. ISBN 0521483816
    • "As Egypt, Syria and Jordan mobilized their forces in spring 1967 for an evident impending attack, Israel launched a preemptive strike." CNN In-Depth Specials: Mid-East, Land of Conflict, Six-Day War, CNN, Website. Accessed January 7, 2007.
    • "Are there good examples of preemptive or preventive war—that is, ones that were proper to fight? Taking the most promising of the two categories—preemption—only one actual case seems clearly right: the Israeli attack on Egypt and Syria in June 1967." Betts, Richard K. "Striking First: A History of Thankfully Lost Opportunities", Ethics and International Affairs, Volume 17, No. 1 (Spring 2003).
    • "While he and I agree that World War I and the Six Day War are preemptive, we code six cases differently." Reiter, Dan. "Exploding the Powder Keg Myth: Preemptive Wars Almost Never Happen", International Security, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 5–34.
    • "Ironically, when the timing, character and success of Israel's pre-emptive strike surprised the Soviets and obviated their planned intervention, it also put a damper on the festive occasion..." Ginor, Isabella. "The Cold War's Longest Cover-up: How and Why the USSR Instigated the 1967 War", Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal, Volume 7, No. 3 (September 2003).
    • "It was also the primacy of Security interests over moral rectitude that prompted Israel, in the opening blow of the 1967 Six-Day War, to preemptively attack Egypt's warplanes on their bases." Brown, Seyom. International Relations in a Changing Global System, Westview Press, 1996, p. 138, footnote 6. ISBN 0813323533
    • "Israel attacked preemptively, destroying the Egyptian and Syrian air forces on the ground, and went to win a decisive victory in six days." Dershowitz, Alan M. Preemtion: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. p. 81.
  23. ^ De Gaulle, Memoirs of Hope, Renewal and Endeavor, p. 266., "Don’t make war. You will be considered the aggressor by the world and by me." .
    • "After the discovery of the true facts about Israel's aggression, Israel invoked two arguments to justify its launching the war. Its first argument was that it acted by way of a preventative strike which, in its view, is equivalent to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. Such argument has no basis in fact or in law. In fact, Israel, as we have seen, created the crisis and attacked its neighbours. In law, the Charter recognizes the right of self-defence against an armed attack, but not a pre-emptive strike in advance of any attack. None of the Arab States had attacked or threatened to attack Israel and as D.P. O'Connell observes, the invasion of a neighbouring country's territory is not an exercise of the right of self-defence. Henry Cattan, The Palestine Question, p. 106 Pre-emptive strike by Israel:
    • "I, as an international lawyer, would rather defend before the International Court of Justice the legality of the UAR's action in closing the Strait of Tiran than to argue the other side of the case, and I would certainly rather do so than to defend the legality of the preventive war which Israel launched this week." (Roger Fisher, The New York Times, June 11, 1967
    • "Even if Israel had expected Egypt to attack, it is not clear a preemptive strike is lawful. The UN Charter, Article 51, characterizes armed force as defensive only if it is used in response to an "armed attack." Most states consider this language to mean that a preemptive strike is unlawful. India, for one, asserted in General Assembly discussion of the June 1967 hostilities that preemptive self-defense is not permitted under international law. Most authorities agree with that view, though some say force may be used in anticipation of an attack that has not yet occurred but is reasonably expected to occur imminently. Israel did not face such a situation." (John B. Quigley The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective)
    • Israel's then-Prime Minister, Moshe Sharett, wrote in his memoirs that the Israeli leadership's military strategy aimed at preventing the emergence of any genuine Arab military force capable of confronting Zionist schemes, noting that for this to succeed Israel would have to fight at least one war every decade against the Arabs. In other words, the Israelis were preparing for the 1967 War a decade in advance, putting together the military apparatus and rallying the political support they needed, while the Arabs -- both leaders and nations -- were busy searching for a project, an identity, and a place under the sun. Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 21 - 27 June 2007, Galal Nassar
    • "Nasser had no intention of striking first and the Israeli generals were confident of victory... For the Israeli hawks, the crisis was less a threat than an opportunity - to smash Nasserish Egypt and the Pan-Arab movement while Israel still had military superiority." Hinnebusch, Raymond. The International Politics of the Middle East. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003. p. 169.
    • “Johnson told Eban that it was the unanimous view of his military experts that there was no sign that the Egyptians were planning to attack Israel…” (Shlaim, Avi. Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. London: Penguin Books, 2000. p. 239)
    • “[When meeting with Eban,] Johnson asked Robert McNamara to summarize the findings of US intelligence agencies. McNamara said that the best judgment in Washington was that an Egyptian attack was not imminent: if this assessment was wrong and Egypt did attack, the view in Washington was that Israel would easily prevail” (Bailey, Sydney. Four Arab-Israeli Wars and the Peace Process. London: Macmillan, 1990. p. 211)
    • “Although Dershowitz puts forth Israel's attack on Egypt in June 1967 as the paradigm of pre-emptive use of force, as a matter of both fact and theory this claim is patently untenable. The scholarly consensus is that an Egyptian armed attack was not imminent...” Finkelstein, Norman Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History California: University of California Press, 2008. Preface p. lvi
  24. ^ a b "On June 5, Israel sent a message to Hussein urging him not to open fire. Despite shelling into western Jerusalem, Netanya, and the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel did nothing." The Six Day War and Its Enduring Legacy, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, July 2, 2002.
  25. ^ "Israel promised Jordan that if they did not attack Israel first, Israel would not touch Jordanian positions. After asking for 24 hours to think about it, Jordanian troops opened a heavy-artillery barrage on western Jerusalem, as well as targeting the center of the country. In addition, Jordanian troops seized government houses and the headquarters of the U.N. in Jerusalem." 1967-Six Day War, URL accessed May 14, 2006.
  26. ^ a b c "In May-June 1967 Eshkol's government did everything in its power to confine the confrontation to the Egyptian front. Eshkol and his colleagues took into account the possibility of some fighting on the Syrian front. But they wanted to avoid having a clash with Jordan and the inevitable complications of having to deal with the predominantly Palestinian population of the West Bank. The fighting on the eastern front was initiated by Jordan, not by Israel. King Hussein got carried along by a powerful current of Arab nationalism. On 30 May he flew to Cairo and signed a defense pact with Nasser. On 5 June, Jordan started shelling the Israeli side in Jerusalem. This could have been interpreted either as a salvo to uphold Jordanian honor or as a declaration of war. Eshkol decided to give King Hussein the benefit of the doubt. Through General Odd Bull, the Norwegian commander of UNTSO, he sent the following message the morning of 5 June: 'We shall not initiate any action whatsoever against Jordan. However, should Jordan open hostilities, we shall react with all our might, and the king will have to bear the full responsibility of the consequences.' King Hussein told General Bull that it was too late; the die was cast." Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0393048160, pp. 243–244.
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    Israel clearly did not want the US government to know too much about its dispositions for attacking Syria, initially planned for June 8, but postponed for 24 hours. It should be pointed out that the attack on the Liberty occurred on June 8, whereas on June 9 at 3 AM, Syria announced its acceptance of the cease-fire. Despite this, at 7 AM, that is, four hours later, Israel’s minister of defense, Moshe Dayan, “gave the order to go into action against Syria.”

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Further reading

  • Aloni, Shlomo (2001). Arab-Israeli Air Wars 1947–1982. Osprey Aviation. ISBN 1-84176-294-6
  • Bar-On, Mordechai, Morris, Benny and Golani, Motti (2002). Reassessing Israel's Road to Sinai/Suez, 1956: A "Trialogue". In Gary A. Olson (Ed.). Traditions and Transitions in Israel Studies: Books on Israel, Volume VI (pp. 3–42). SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-5585-8
  • Bar-On, Mordechai, Never-Ending Conflict: Israeli Military History, ISBN 0275981584
  • Barzilai, Gad (1996). Wars, Internal Conflicts, and Political Order: A Jewish Democracy in the Middle East. New York University Press. ISBN 0-7914-2943
  • Bard, Mitchell G. (2002). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict. Alpha books. ISBN 0028644107
  • Black, Ian (1992). Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3286-3
  • Boczek, Boleslaw Adam (2005). International Law: A Dictionary. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810850788
  • Bowen, Jeremy (2003). Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped the Middle East. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-3095-7
  • Bregman, Ahron (2002). Israel's Wars: A History Since 1947. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28716-2
  • Christie, Hazel (1999). Law of the Sea. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-4382-4
  • Cristol, A Jay (2002). Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship. Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-536-7
  • Eban, Abba (1977). Abba Eban: An Autobiography. Random House. ISBN 0-394-49302-8
  • Ehteshami, Anoushiravan and Hinnebusch, Raymond A. (1997). Syria & Iran: Middle Powers in a Penetrated Regional System. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-15675-0
  • Gat, Moshe (2003). Britain and the Conflict in the Middle East, 1964–1967: The Coming of the Six-Day War. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-97514-2
  • Gelpi, Christopher (2002). Power of Legitimacy: Assessing the Role of Norms in Crisis Bargaining. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09248-6
  • Hammel, Eric (October 2002). "Sinai air strike:June 5, 1967". Military Heritage 4 (2): 68–73. 
  • Hammel, Eric (1992). Six Days in June: How Israel Won the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7434-7535-6
  • Herzog, Chaim (1982). The Arab-Israeli Wars; Arms & Armour Press.
  • Hussein of Jordan (1969). My "War" with Israel. London: Peter Owen. ISBN 0-7206-0310-2
  • Hopwood, Derek (1991). Egypt: Politics and Society. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-09432-1
  • Katz, Samuel M. (1991) Israel's Air Force; The Power Series. Motorbooks International Publishers & Wholesalers, Osceola, WI.
  • Koboril, Iwao and Glantz, Michael H. (1998). Central Eurasian Water Crisis. United Nations University Press. ISBN 92-808-0925-3
  • Makiya, Kanan (1998). Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21439-0
  • Morris, Benny (1997). Israel's Border Wars, 1949–1956. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-829262-7
  • Morris, Benny (2001) Righteous Victims New York, Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-679-74475-7
  • Mutawi, Samir (2002). Jordan in the 1967 War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52858-5
  • Oren, Michael (2002). Six Days of War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515174-7
  • Phythian, Mark (2001). The Politics of British Arms Sales Since 1964. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-5907-0
  • Podeh, Elie (Winter, 2004). "The Lie That Won't Die: Collusion, 1967". Middle East Quarterly 11 (1). 
  • Pollack, Kenneth (2004). Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948–1991. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-8783-6
  • Pollack, Kenneth (2005). Air Power in the Six-Day War. The Journal of Strategic Studies. 28(3), 471-503.
  • Prior, Michael (1999). Zionism and the State of Israel: A Moral Inquiry. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-20462-3
  • Quigley, John B. (2005). Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3539-5
  • Quigley, John B. (1990). Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-1023-6
  • Rabil, Robert G. (2003). Embattled Neighbors: Syria, Israel, and Lebanon. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN 1-58826-149-2
  • Rezun, Miron (1990). Iran and Afghanistan. In A. Kapur (Ed.). Diplomatic Ideas and Practices of Asian States (pp. 9–25). Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-09289-7
  • Rikhye, Indar Jit (1980). The Sinai Blunder. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-3136-1
  • Rubenberg, Cheryl A. (1989). Israel and the American National Interest. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06074-1
  • Seale, Patrick (1988). Asad: The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06976-5
  • Segev, Tom (2005). Israel in 1967. Keter. ISBN 965-07-1370-0. 
  • Sela, Avraham (1997). The Decline of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Middle East Politics and the Quest for Regional Order. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-3537-7
  • Shlaim, Avi (2001). The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-32112-6. 
  • Smith, Grant (2006). Deadly Dogma. Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. ISBN 0-9764437-4-0
  • Stephens, Robert H. (1971). Nasser: A Political Biography. London: Allen Lane/The Penguin Press. ISBN 0-7139-0181-0
  • Stone, David (2004). Wars of the Cold War. Brassey's. ISBN 1-85753-342-9
  • van Creveld, Martin (2004). Defending Israel: A Controversial Plan Toward Peace. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-32866-4

External links

Simple English

The Six-Day War was a war that started on June 5, 1967 and ended June 10, 1967. The fight was between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, but many other countries helped out the different sides.


The war began because Egypt planned to capture Israel, seen by the Arab world as an illegitimate state, and because they dreamed of liberating a Palestinian state led to the following war, and because of fear of an attack from Israel as suggested by soviet intelligence, and from internal pressure. Egypt, Syria and Jordan gathered troops and prepared for battle, while Arab authorities made clear their intentions for the destruction of Israel. Israel began the mounting precautionary troops against their borders with Syria,Gay women Egypt and Jordan as their prime reason. This was described as a preemptive, or first, strike against the Egyptians. This attack was against the Egyptian airfields. The Egyptians had 50 runways and about 960 attack craft, but Israelis had 300 attack craft, so Israel attacked while Egypt's planes were still on the ground. In three hours nearly the entire Egyptian air force was wiped out. This surprised the Egyptians, and Israel went on to attack on the ground and claim victory. Israel was then attacked by Syria and Jordan and defeated them quickly. The entire war took only six days from beginning to end, which is how it got its name. As a result Israel claimed lands which that had great strategical and historical importance for Israel. Eventually Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt, but kept the lands acquired from Jordan under military control and started building settlements. The UN has requested Israel retreat to the pre-1967 borders and to help form an Arab-Palestinian state and negotiations have been taken place for the planning of a future Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, although constant fighting has punctuated peace talks in that region.


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