SIX-DAY WAR

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SIX-DAY WAR

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The Six-Day War or June War (Hebrew: מלחמת ששת הימים, transliterated:Milhemet Sheshet Ha YamimArabic: النكسة transliteratedan-Naksah (The Setback), or حرب 1967, Ḥarb 1967 (War of 1967)), also known as the 1967 Arab-Israeli War or the Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and June 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt [known then as the United Arab Republic (UAR)], Jordan, and Syria. The war began with a large-scale surprise air strike by Israel on Egypt. The outcome was a swift and decisive Israeli victory. Israel took effective control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Opinions are divided on whether Israel’s attack was an act of aggression or a preemptive strike of a defensive nature.

The status of the territories captured by Israel during the war and the concurrentrefugee problem are central concerns in the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, raising issues in international law, and having far-reaching consequences in global affairs

Six-Day War
Part of the Arab–Israeli conflict
Six Day War Terrritories 2.png
Territory held by Israel before and after the Six Day War. The Straits of Tiran are circled, between the Gulf of Aqaba to the north and the Red Sea to the south.
Date June 5, 1967 – 10 June 1967
Location Middle East
Result Decisive Israeli victory
Territorial
changes
Israel captured the Gaza Strip and theSinai Peninsulafrom Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Belligerents
 Israel  Egypt
 Syria
 Jordan
Arab Expeditionary Forces:[1]
 Iraq
Saudi Arabia Flag Variant (1938).svg Saudi Arabia
 Morocco
 Algeria
Libya Libya
 Tunisia
 Sudan
Palestinian territories PLO
Commanders and leaders
Israel Yitzhak Rabin
Israel Moshe Dayan
Israel Uzi Narkiss
Israel Motta Gur
Israel Israel Tal
IsraelMordechai Hod
IsraelYeshayahu Gavish
Israel Ariel Sharon
Israel Ezer Weizman
Egypt Abdel Hakim Amer
Egypt Abdul Munim Riad
Jordan Zaid ibn Shaker
Jordan Asad Ghanma
Iraq Hafez al-Assad
Iraq Abdul Rahman Arif
Strength
50,000 troops
214,000 reserves
300 combat aircraft
800 tanksTotal troops: 264,000
100,000 deployed
Egypt: 240,000
Syria, Jordan, and Iraq: 307,000
957 combat aircraft
2,504 tanksTotal troops: 547,000
240,000 deployed
Casualties and losses
776–983killed:
4,517 wounded
15 captured,
46 aircraft destroyed
Egypt – 10,000–15,000 killed or missing. 4,338 captured
Jordan – 700–6,000 killed or missing. 533 captured.
Syria – 2,500 killed, 591 captured.
Iraq – 10 killed, 30 wounded
Total – between 13,200-23,500 killed 5,500+ captured, hundreds of tanks destroyed and 452+ aircraft destroyed.

Background and summary of events leading to war

Main article: Origins of the Six-Day War

After the 1956 Suez Crisis, Egypt agreed to the stationing of a United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Sinai to ensure all parties would comply with the1949 Armistice Agreements. In the following years there were numerous minor border clashes between Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly Syria. In early November, 1966, Syria signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt. Soon thereafter, in response to PLO guerilla activity,including a mine attack that left three dead the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacked the city of as-Samu in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank. Jordanian units that engaged the Israelis were quickly beaten back. King Hussein of Jordan criticized Egyptian PresidentGamal Abdel Nasser for failing to come to Jordan’s aid, and “hiding behind UNEF skirts”.

In May 1967, Nasser received false reports from the Soviet Union that Israel was massing on the Syrian border. Nasser began massing his troops in the Sinai Peninsula on Israel’s border (May 16), expelled the UNEF force from Gaza and Sinai (May 19) and took up UNEF positions at Sharm el-Sheikh, overlooking the Straits of Tiran. Israel reiterated declarations made in 1957 that any closure of the Straits would be considered an act of war, or justification for war.Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli shipping on May 22–23. On May 30, Jordan and Egypt signed a defense pact. The following day, at Jordan’s invitation, the Iraqi army began deploying troops and armored units in Jordan. They were later reinforced by an Egyptian contingent. On June 1, Israel formed a National Unity Government by widening its cabinet, and on June 4 the decision was made to go to war. The next morning, Israel launched Operation Focus, a large-scale surprise air strike that was the opening of the Six-Day War.

Military preparations

Arab preparations

Egypt Crowd

Egyptian troops with banners calling for the defeat of Israel and death to the Jews

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 theYemen Civil War and another third were reservists. These forces had 950 tanks, 1,100 APCs and more than 1,000 artillery pieces. At the same time some Egyptian troops (15,000 – 20,000) were still fighting in Yemen. 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.[27] 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 and amassed them along the Syrian border. Jordan’s army had 55,000 troops, including 300 tanks along the Jordanian border, 250 of which were US M48 Patton, sizable amounts of M113APCs, 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.

column of armoured half-tracks manned by reservists in the South

A column of armoured half-tracks manned by reservists in the South

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 andRamle. 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”.

Israeli Gunboat passing through the Straits of Tiran near Sharm el Shaikh

Israeli Gunboat passing through the Straits of Tiran near Sharm el Shaikh.

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

On June 2, 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”.

The Arab air forces themselves were aided by volunteer pilots from the Pakistan Air Force acting in independent capacity, as well as some aircraft from LibyaAlgeria,MoroccoKuwait, and Saudi Arabia to make up for the massive losses suffered on the first day of the war.

Reservists in the field

Reservists in the field

Israeli preparations

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and Jerusalem Commander Uzinarkis enter through Lion’s gate into the Old City. -GPO 06/07/1967

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, and also allowed it to knock out other Arab air forces on the same day. This also has contributed to the Arab belief that the IAF was helped by foreign air forces (seebelow). Pilots were also extensively schooled about their targets, and were forced to memorize every single detail. They also rehearsed the attack numerous times on dummy runways.

Six Day War: Israeli Mirage figher jets returning from Egypt

Israel Mirage Jets returning from Egyptt

The Egyptians had constructed fortified defenses in the Sinai. These designs were based on the assumption that an attack would come from the few roads leading through the desert, rather than the difficult desert terrain. The Israelis chose not to risk attacking the Egyptian defenses head-on, and instead to surprise them from an unexpected direction.

Tanks in the Negev Desert

Tanks in the Negev Desert

They had practiced driving vehicles through soft dunes in the Negev, and discovered that vehicles would get greater maneuverability in desert terrain if tires were partially deflated. As a result, they could choose their angle of attack, and advance through areas the Egyptians least expected. In order to keep the performance of Israeli soldiers high in the heat of the Sinai desert, the Israeli army ordered that soldiers be supplied with one liter of water every hour, rather than the previous one liter per day. As a result, soldiers were able to perform better than their Egyptian counterparts.

Egyptian Aircraft destroyed on the runway - Six Day War

Egyptian Aircraft destroyed 
on the runway – Six Day War

In order to strike the Golan Heights, the Mossad (Israeli secret service) had sent agent Eli Cohen to infiltrate the Syrian government, where he exploited his high-ranking position to provide crucial intelligence. Feigning sympathy for Syrian soldiers, he ordered trees planted by every Syrian emplacement to shade them. These trees were later used as targeting markers by the Israelis. Intelligence had also revealed where the most difficult terrain was, so a route of attack was chosen that would both avoid natural tank traps and surprise the Syrians.

Tank unit waiting for orders in the south

Tank unit waiting for orders in the south

In order to successfully storm the Syrian bunkers, the Israelis utilized the Uzi submachine gun, which was more suitable for close combat than the AK-47, the standard weapon of the Syrian Army.

Six Day war 1967 - Heliborne landing of IDF troops at Suez

Heliborne troops at the Suez Canal,

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. James Reston, writing in the New York Times on May 23, 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.

On the evening of June 1, Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Dayancalled 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.

Israeli armored troops in central Sinai, 7.6.1967

The fighting fronts

Preliminary air attack

Main article: Operation Focus

Israel’s first and most critical move was a surprise 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 420 combat aircraft, all of them Soviet-built and with a heavy quota of top-of-the line MiG-21capable of attaining Mach 2 speed. Initially, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and Minister Menahem Begin with soldiers in the Sinai, 14.6.1967

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. On June 5 at 7:45 Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launchedOperation Focus (Moked). All but 12 of its nearly 200 operational jets left the skies of Israel in a mass attack against Egypt’s airfields.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, flying low to avoid radar detection, before turning toward Egypt. Others flew over the Red Sea. 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 Abdel Hakim 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-2surface-to-air missile batteries could bring down an aircraft.

Gen Moshe Dayan (L) , Gen Haim Bar Lev & PM Levi Eshkol (R)

Gen Moshe Dayan (L) , Gen Haim Bar Lev & PM Levi Eshkol (R)

Although the powerful Jordanian radar facility at Ajlun detected waves of aircraft approaching Egypt and reported the code word for “war” up the Egyptian command chain, Egyptian command and communications problems prevented the warning from reaching the targeted airfields. The Israelis employed a mixed attack strategy: bombing and strafing runs against planes parked on the ground, themselves, and bombing the runways with special tarmac-shredding penetration bombs developed jointly with France to disable them and leave surviving aircraft unable to take off. The runway at the El Arish airfield was spared, as the Israelis expected to turn it into a military airport for their transports after the war. The surviving aircraft were later taken out by several more attack waves. The operation 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 losses. A total of 338 Egyptian aircraft were destroyed and 100 pilots were killed,although the number of aircraft actually lost by the Egyptians is disputed.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, including two destroyed in air-to-air combat and 13 downed by anti-aircraft artillery. The attack guaranteed Israeli air superiority for the rest of the war.

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 Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi fields destroyed most of their air forces. By the evening of the first day, the Jordanian air force was wiped out, losing over 20 Hawker Hunterfighters, as well as six transport aircraft and two helicopters. The Syrian Air Force lost some 32 MiG 21s, and 23 MiG-15 and MiG-17fighters, and two Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, two-thirds of its fighting strength. Ten 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 had, was shot down over the Lebanon/Israel border by an Israeli Mirage IIICJ piloted by Uri Even-Nir.

By nightfall, Israel said it destroyed 416 Arab aircraft, while losing 26 of its 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. Twelve Israeli pilots were killed, five wounded, and four captured. The numbers 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 downed on the first day of fighting.

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 APCsand 1,000 artillery pieces. This arrangement was thought to be based on the Soviet doctrine, where mobile armor units at strategic depthprovide 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, giving a total of around 70,000 men and 700 tanks, 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).

Israeli Armoured troop unit entering Gaza during six war, June 6, 1967

The northernmost Israeli division, consisting of three brigades and commanded by Major GeneralIsrael Tal, one of Israel’s most prominent armor commanders, advanced slowly through the Gaza Strip and El-Arish. Egyptian forces in Gaza fiercely resisted the Israeli advance, with some of the fiercest resistance coming from the 20th Palestinian Division, commanded by Gaza’s Egyptian military governor. The Israelis gradually dislodged the Egyptians from their positions, and an airstrike wiped out their high command. The Israelis captured the territory after two days of difficult breakthrough battles, having suffered heavy casualties and vehicle losses. Egyptian casualties totalled 2,000 dead. The Israelis then penetrated into the Sinai towards El-Arish, which was captured only after a fierce battle took place along the approaches to the city, in which all Egyptian forces were either destroyed, dispersed, or captured.

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 battalionof tank destroyers and a tank regiment, formed of Soviet WW2 armor, which included 90 T-34-85tanks (with 85 mm guns), 22 SU-100 tank destroyers (with 100 mm guns), and about 16,000 men,[49] 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 M50 Super Shermans (modified M-4 Shermantanks).

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 airlifted by helicopter to the rear of the defensive positions and attacked the Egyptian artillery. Although the paratroopers’ plans quickly fell apart, the confusion sown among the artillery crews helped to slow but not quite stop artillery fire. Combined forces of armor, paratroopers, infantry, artillery, and combat engineers then attacked the Egyptian positions 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. About 4,000 Egyptian soldiers were killed, and losses in military hardware were heavy, including 40 tanks. The Israelis lost a total of 33 men and 19 tanks.

At the same time, Israeli forces attacked El ArishUm-Katef, and Jebel Libni, and Bir Gafgafa areas, capturing the cities as well as a number of fortified towns. They met fierce resistance and took losses, but inflicted heavy material losses and casualties on the Egyptians. As well as numerous armored battles which saw Israeli armor defeat numerically superior Egyptian armor, many Egyptian tanks were also knocked out by Israeli infantry carrying anti-tank weapons. An independent Israeli armored brigade also captured an Egyptian outpost at Kunitla.

During the ground fighting, remnants of the Egyptian Air Forceattacked Israeli ground forces, but took losses from the Israeli Air Force and from Israeli anti-aircraft units. Throughout the last four days, Egyptian aircraft flew 150 sorties against Israeli units in the Sinai.

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 ofAbu-Ageila, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt.

As Egyptian columns retreated, Israeli aircraft attacked them, using napalm bombs. The attacks destroyed hundreds of vehicles and caused heavy casualties. 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 with air support. It was joined there by parts of Yoffe’s division, while its other units blocked the Gidi Pass. These passes became killing grounds for the Egyptians, who ran right into waiting Israeli positions and suffered heavy losses. Tal’s units stopped at various points to the length of the Suez Canal.

The Israeli Navy landed six combat divers to infiltrate Alexandriaharbor. The divers sank an Egyptian minesweeper before being taken prisoner.

Israel’s blocking action was 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. Due to the haste of the Egyptian retreat, soldiers often abandoned weapons or military equipment, as well as hundreds of vehicles. Many Egyptian soldiers were cut off from their units had to walk about 200 kilometers through by foot before reaching the Suez Canal with limited supplies of food and water and were exposed to intense heat. Thousands of soldiers died as a result. Many Egyptian soldiers chose instead to surrender to the Israelis.

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 when light boats of the Israeli Navy landed paratroopers.

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

See also: Jordanian campaign (1967)
The Jordan salient. June 5–7
King Hussein
Jordan’s King Hussein

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. 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.

Israeli Troops in front of the Lion Gate

Israeli troops in front of the Lion Gate

The Jordanian Armed Forces included 11 brigades totalling 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 two in the Jordan Valley. The Jordanian Army, then known as 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.

Israeli armored car at the Lion Gate

Israeli armored car at the Lion Gate

The small Royal Jordanian Air Force consisted of only 24 British-made Hawker Hunterfighters, six transports, and two helicopters. According to the Israelis, the Hawker Hunter was essentially on par with the French-built Dassault Mirage III – the IAF’s best plane.

Six day war: Israeli troops overlooking Jerusalem in 1967

Israeli troops overlooking Jerusalem, 19677

Against Jordan’s forces on the West Bank, Israel deployed about 40,000 troops and 200 tanks (8 brigades). 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 paratrooperbrigade 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.

Troops arriving at Temple Mount

Troops arriving at Temple Mount

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 June 5, the Jordanian Army began shelling targets in West Jerusalem, NetanyaKfar Saba, and the outskirts ofTel Aviv. The Royal Jordanian Air Force and Iraqi Air Forcebombed Israeli airfields and civilian targets. Several Jordanian planes and an Iraqi Tupolev Tu-16 bomber were shot down. The attacks killed one person and wounded seven, and destroyed a transport plane. Israel sent a message promising not to initiate any action against Jordan if it stayed out of the war. King Hussein replied that it was too late, “the die was cast“. 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. 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.

Six Day War. IDF soldier aiming his rifle at an Arab legion sniper position in Jerusalem. -GPO 06/05/1967

Jordanian troops seized the Government House compound, used as the headquarters for the UN observers in a Demilitarized zone since the1949 Armistice Agreements. In addition, the Jordanians opened a heavy artillery barrage on western Jerusalem, as well as targeting the center of the country, Israeli civilian casualties reached a total of 20 killed and 1,000 wounded, and over 900 buildings were damaged.

Six Day War. Israeli paratrooper unit advances through a deserted lane in the Old City of Jerusalem. -GPO 06/07/1967

At the UN Security Council meeting of June 5, 1967 Secretary-General U Thant reported that:

“at 1330 hours local time today approximately one company of Jordanian soldiers occupied the garden of the Government House.

“General Bull later informed me by an emergency message that Jordanian troops had not with-drawn and were demanding to enter Government House itself and had demanded that no telephone calls be made from Government House. Firing was continuing and mortar shells were now landing within the Government House compound.

Six Day War. Israeli paratroopers putting up the Israeli flag above the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  -GPO 06/07/1967

United Nations Headquarters lost radio contact with UNTSO headquarters in Jerusalem at 0852 hours New York time, at which time Jordanian troops occupied Government House1/. This also means that United Nations Headquarters has lost direct contact with headquarters UNEF, whose messages are routed through UNTSO.”

1/ it is to be noted that the report that Jordanian troops had “occupied” Government House was originally based on incomplete information owing to a communicaitons [sic] breakdown caused by the events in the Government House area. On the basis of a review of events and a checking with the Chief of Staff of UNTSO, it was later determined that the actual facts as regards the reported entry of Jordanian troops into Government House on 5 June 1967 were as follows: at approximately 1445 hours local time, three Jordanian soldiers entered Government House over the protest of UNTSO, but were persuaded by UNTSO staff to leave the building after about ten minutes.

Aerial view of Jerusalem in 1967.  -GPO 06/09/1967

On June 6, Israeli units were scrambled to attack Jordanian forces in the West Bank. In the afternoon of that same day, the Israeli Air Force(IAF) attacked Jordan’s two airfields as planes were refueling. Jordan’s remaining Hawker Hunter fighters, as well as its six transports and two helicopters, were destroyed, while the Israelis lost a Mystere to anti-aircraft fire. By the evening of that day, Jordanian forces had been pushed back by Israeli armored and infantry assaults and airstrikes after hours of heavy fighting.

Israeli soldier near the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. -GPO 06/26/1967

The Jerusalem Brigade moved south of Jerusalem, while the mechanized Harel Brigade and Mordechai Gur’s paratroopers encircled it from the north. The reserve paratroop brigade completed the Jerusalem encirclement in the Battle of Ammunition Hill, in which 71 Jordanian and 37 Israeli soldiers were killed, and the strategic hill was captured. To the north of the city, Israeli searchlights located Jordanian artillery and mortar positions, which were hit one by one.[61] Fearing damage to holy places and having to fight in built-up areas, Dayan ordered his troops not to enter the city itself.

Six Day War. IDF soldiers advancing over high ground in the Old City of Jerusalem. -GPO 06/05/1967

On June 7, heavy fighting ensued. The Israeli infantry brigade attacked the fortress at Latrun, capturing it at daybreak, and advanced throughBeit 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. Radar Hill was captured by the Harel Brigade in a fierce battle which left eight Jordanians and one Israeli dead. By the evening, the brigade arrived in Ramallah. Israeli Air Force Fouga Magister jets destroyed the 60th Jordanian Brigade, en route from Jericho to reinforce Jerusalem.

Chief of Staff Rabin and Aluf Ezer Weizman talking to soldiers in Jerusalem. -GPO 06/03/1967

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 after fierce fighting which saw heavy losses for both sides, and the third (equipped with light French AMX-13s) engaged and defeated Jordanian M48 Patton main battle tanks to the east.

 

IDF Paratroopers at Jerusalem‘s Western Wallshortly after its capture.

Dayan had ordered his troops not to enter East Jerusalem; however, upon hearing that the UN was about to declare a ceasefire, he changed his mind, and without cabinet clearance, decided to capture it.[56] 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 fought the Jordanian defenders street-by-street. 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.

Group of young Israelis dancing the Hora in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem after the unification of the Jerusalem . -GPO 07/02/1967

After the city fell, the Jerusalem Brigade reinforced the paratroopers, and continued to the south, capturing JudeaGush Etzion and Hebron. The Harel brigade proceeded eastward, descending to the Jordan River.

Israeli forces also attacked Bethlehem, with infantry moving behind tanks. The city was captured after a brief battle which left some 40 Jordanian soldiers dead, with the remainder fleeing. Israel took care to preserve all Holy sites in the city.

One of the paratroopers who took part in the battle for the Old City in Jerusalem celebrating his wedding in front of the Western Wall.  -GPO 06/09/19

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 10th crossed the Jordan river onto the East Bank to provide cover for Israeli combat engineers while they blew the Abdullah and Hussein bridges, but quickly pulled back due to 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. 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.

Golan Heights

 

The Battle of Golan Heights, June 9–10
Syrian-Israeli Front

False Egyptian reports of a crushing victory against the Israeli armyRetrieved 28 December 2008. and forecasts that Egyptian forces would soon be attacking Tel Aviv influenced Syria’s willingness to enter the war.

One of the Syrian tanks in its fortified position at “Tawfik”, dominating Kibbutz Tel Katzir and the settlements on the Sea of Galilee . -GPO 08/05/1967

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.

The Syrian “Amrat Az Adin” fortified position overlooking Kibbutz Ha’on on the Sea of Galilee. -GPO 08/05/1967

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.

Syrian tank in fortified position at “Hirbet Batin” above Ha’on on the Sea of Galilee. -GPO 08/05/1967

But a broader Syrian offensive quickly failed. Units of Syrian reserves were broken up by Israeli air attacks, and several Syrian tanks were 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.

View of Kibbutz Daphna and Dan (in background) seen from the “Tel Azaziat” fortifications on the Syrian Heights.  -GPO 08/01/1967

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. The Syrian command abandoned hopes of a ground attack and began a massive shelling of Israeli towns in the Hula Valley instead.

 

Israeli children in a bomb shelter atKibbutz Dan during the Six Day War.

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.

View of Kibbutz Daphna and Moshav Shear Yashuv seen from the “Tel Azaziat” position on the Syrian Heights . -GPO 08/03/1967

Despite this, four hours later at 7 AM, Israel’s minister of defense, Moshe Dayan, “gave the order to go into action against Syria.” Syria 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.

View of the fish ponds of Kibbutz Daphna seen from the “Tel Azaziat” position on the Syrian Heights. -GPO 08/03/1967

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 Galileeand theJordan River, and then flattens to a more gently sloping plateau.

House at Kibbutz Gadot damaged by Syrian shell fire.  -GPO 04/01/1967

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.

Six Day War. A child’s stroller among the debris of a house at Kibbutz Tel Katzir demolished by Syrian shelling. -GPO 06/11/1967

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.

Toddlers with their nurses outside the entrance to underground shelter at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. -GPO 5/29/1967

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, comparable to theMaginot Line.

Children in one of the shelters at Kibbutz Gadot during an attack by Syrian shell fire on the kibbutz. -GPO 4/1/1967

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.

Children in one of the shelters at Kibbutz Gadot during an attack by Syrian shell fire on the Kibbutz. -GPO 4/1/1967

The Israelis also had the upper hand during close combat which took place in the numerous Syrian bunkers along the Golan Heights, as they were armed with the Uzi, a light submachine gun, designed for close combat, while Syrian soldiers were armed with the heavier AK-47assault rifle, designed for combat in more open areas. By the evening of 9 June, the four Israeli brigades had broken through to the plateau, where they could be reinforced and replaced.

Concrete wall facing direction of Syrian border protecting dining hall of Kibbutz Shamir  -GPO 1/1/1967

However, a battalion of the Israeli 8th Armored Brigade was ambushed after taking a wrong turn. It lost 24 out of its 26 tanks, and casualties amounted to 13 killed and 33 wounded.

Israeli tanks in the Golan Heights . 1967

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.

Israeli army detachment stopping by the water pool at Banias Village on the Golan Heights. -GPO 06/11/1967

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.

P.M. Levy Eshkol (Center) with senior staff officers during a visit to northern command headquarter.  -GPO 6/10/1967

Richard Nixon (Center) visiting Kibbutz Gadot which was under Syrian shell fire until the outbreak of the Six Day War. -GPO 6/24/1967

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.[citation needed] 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[69]), 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-16bombers 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.

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 supportbelow).

War at sea

War at sea was 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. Six Israeli combat divers sunk an Egyptian minesweeper in Alexandria harbor before being captured. Israeli light boat crews also captured the abandoned town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula on June 7.

On June 8, 1967 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 jets and torpedo boats, nearly sinking the ship, killing 34 sailors and wounding 171. Israel said the attack was a case of mistaken identity, and that the ship had been misidentified as the Egyptian vessel El Quseir. Israel apologized for the mistake, and paid compensation to the victims or their families, and to the United States for damage to the ship. 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).

Weapons

With the exception of Jordan, the Arabs relied principally on Soviet weaponry. Israeli weapons were mainly of Western origin. Its air force was composed principally of French aircraft while its armored units were mostly of British and American design and manufacture. Some infantry weapons, including the ubiquitous UZI, were of Israeli origin.

Type Arab armies IDF
AFVs Egypt, Syria and Iraq used T-34/85T-54T-55and PT-76, as well as SU-100/152 WWII vintage self propelled guns. Jordan used M-47 , M-48 and M-48A1 Patton tanks. Panzer IV (used by Syria)[72][73] M50 and M51 ShermansM48A3 PattonCenturion , AMX-13. The Centurion was upgraded with the British105 mm L7 gun, prior to the war. The Sherman also underwent extensive modifications including a larger 105mm medium velocity, French gun, redesigned turret, wider tracks, more armor and upgraded engine and suspension.
APCs/IFVs BTR-40BTR-152BTR-50BTR-60 APC’s M2/M3 Half-track
Artillery M1937 HowitzerBM-21D-30 (2A18) HowitzerM1954 field gun, M-52 105mm self-propelled howitzer (used by Jordan) M50 self-propelled howitzerand Makmat 160 mm self-propelled mortarObusier de 155 mm Modèle 50 , AMX 105mm Self-Propelled Howitzer
Aircraft MiG-21MiG-19MiG-17Su-7B, Tu-16Il-28Il-18Il-14An-12Hawker Hunterused by Jordan and Iraq Dassault Mirage IIIDassault Super MystèreSud Aviation VautourMystere IVDassault OuraganFouga Magister trainer outfitted for attack missions, Nord 2501IS military cargo plane
Helicopters Mi-6Mi-4 Super FrelonSikorsky S-58
AAW SA-2 GuidelineZSU-57-2 Twin 57mm mobile anti-aircraft cannon MIM-23 HawkBofors 40 mm
Infantry weapons Port Said submachinegunAK-47RPKRPDDShK HMG,B-10 and B-11 recoilless rifles UziFN FALFN MAGAK-47M2 BrowningNord SS.10,RL-83 Blindicide anti-tank infantry weapon, Jeep mounted 106mm recoilless rifle

Conclusion of conflict and post-war situation

By June 10, Israel had completed its final offensive in the Golan Heights, and a ceasefire was signed the day after. Israel had seized theGaza 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 Yom Kippur 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 unsuccessful attempt to reclaim their lost territory.

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 but…an 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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

In September, the Khartoum Arab Summit resolved that there would be “no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel.” However, asAvraham 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.

The June 19 Israeli cabinet decision did not include the Gaza Strip, and left open the possibility of Israel permanently acquiring parts of theWest Bank. On June 25–27, Israel incorporated East Jerusalemtogether 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) fled to Jordan, where they contributed to the growing unrest. The other 600,000 remained. In the Golan Heights, an estimated 80,000 Syrians fled. 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 conflictand 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 Accordsof 1978). 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 and “the termination of all claims or states of belligerency.”

Resolution 242 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 demanded Israeli Jewish access to the Western Wall).[83]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 MuslimWaqf, and Jews are barred from conducting services there.

Casualties

Main article: Israeli casualties of war

Between 776 and 983 Israelis were killed and 4,517 were wounded. 15 Israeli soldiers were captured. Arab casualties were far greater. Between 9,800and 15,000 Egyptian soldiers were listed as killed, wounded or missing in action. An additional 4,338 Egyptian soldiers were captured. Jordanian losses were estimated to be as high as 6,000 though Gawrych cites a number of some 700 killed in action with another 2,500 wounded. An additional 533 Jordanians were captured. The Syrians were estimated to have sustained some 1,000 killed in action. 367 Syrians were captured.

Controversies

Main article: Controversies relating to the Six-Day War

Preemptive strike v. unjustified attack

At the commencement of hostilities, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country. Once it was established that Israel had struck first, the Israeli government claimed that it was a pre-emptive strike in the face of a planned invasion by the Arab countries. On the other hand, the Arab view was that it was an unjustified attack.Sources support both positions.

Allegations of atrocities against Egyptian soldiers

It has been alleged that Nasser did not want Egypt to learn of the true extent of his defeat and so ordered the killing of Egyptian army stragglers making their way back to the Suez canal zone. There have also been allegations from both Israeli and Egyptian sources that Israeli troops killed unarmed Egyptian prisoners.

Allegations of military support from the U.S, U.K. and U.S.S.R.

There have been a number of allegations of direct military support of Israel during the war by the U.S and the U.K., including the supply of equipment (despite an embargo) and the participation of U.S forces in the co Many of these allegations have been disputed and it has been claimed that some were given currency in the Arab world to explain the Arab defeat. It has also been claimed that the U.S.S.R., in support of its Arab allies, used its naval strength in the Mediterranean to act as a major restraint on the U.S. Navy.

Displaced populations

Arab

As a result of the war, a wave of Palestinians was displaced. An estimated 300,000 Palestinians left the West Bank and Gaza, most of whom settled in Jordan.

In his book Righteous Victims, Israeli “New Historian“ Benny Morriswrites:

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, of which about 20,000 were from the city of Quneitra.According to recent research by an Israeli daily Haaretz, much of the Syrian population was expelled from the territory by the Israeli army.

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, YemenLebanonTunisia, 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 Cairoand Alexandria, and their property sequestered by the government. The ancient communities of Damascusand Baghdad were placed under house arrest, their leaders imprisoned and fined. A total of 7,000 Jews were expelled, many with merely a satchel.

Six Day War

 

Six Day War
Former Israeli defence minister Moshe Dayan (centre) and General Rechavam Zeevi (second left) in conversation with the Palestinian keeper of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on June 8 1967
Six Day War
Israeli tanks in action in the Golan Heights in June 1967
Six Day War
Israeli tanks patrol East Jerusalem
Six Day War
Palestinians surrender to Israeli soldiers in June 1967 in the occupied territory of the West Bank
Six Day War
Israeli soldiers guard an unidentified prisoner
Six Day War
An Israeli soldier arrests Palestinians on suspicion of being members of Fatah
Six Day War
A Palestinian child plays in a refugee camp in Jordan
Six Day War
Egyptian prisoners in Sinai, Israel
Six Day War
A group of Israeli soldiers during the six-day war
Six Day War
Israeli tanks encounter Syrian soldiers giving themselves up as prisoners of war in the Golan Heights
Six Day War
An Egyptian prisoner in the Sinai desert, Egypt
Six Day War
Israeli soldiers celebrate the capture of Old Jerusalem from the Jordanians in front of the Dome of the Rock on June 11

 

 

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