1967- The Six Day War
Overlooking the Old City
As the Arabs massed to attack, Israel successfully preempted their strikes. During six miraculous days in June of 1967, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the eastern segment of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
In October and November 1966, terrorist activity originating in Syria and Jordan began to rise. There were also constant Syrian artillery attacks on kibbutzim (collective settlements) located below the Golan Heights. In April 1967, Israel decided to respond aerially by attacking Syrian emplacements on the Golan Heights. On April 7, there was an air-battle during which Israel downed six Syrian aircraft. Following the April attack, the Israeli government warned that it would be forced to take further action unless terrorism from Syria was ended. The Soviets then passed false intelligence information to the Egyptians, claiming that Israel was massing troops to strike at Syria. Israel denied these claims, and U.N. ground observers confirmed Israeli claims.
On May 18, Egypt requested that U.N. forces stationed on the Egyptian-Israeli border since the 1956 Sinai Campaign, be withdrawn from the area. U.N. secretary U Thant complied immediately. The Egyptians then blockaded the Straits of Tiran, thus cutting off Israeli shipping access to the Port of Eilat.
On May 30, mutual defense agreements were signed between Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, designed to facilitate their combined attack on Israel. Israel and Jews worldwide prepared for the worst. Many feared a second Holocaust. Israel first attempted to allow international diplomacy to diffuse the problem. After the United Nations was unable to accomplish anything, and the United States could not assemble a multinational force to reopen shipping in the Strait of Tiran, it became clear that Israel would be forced to take matters into her own hands.
On the morning of June 5, the Israeli airforce launched a pre-emptive strike against the Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi airfields, wiping out each of their air forces. Three hundred and nine Egyptian planes were destroyed. Sixty Syrian, 29 Jordanian, 17 Iraqi and one Lebanese plane combined for a total of 416 lost Arab aircraft. Israeli lost 26 aircraft. On the ground, Israel attacked in three main forces, surrounding Egyptian troops, and reaching the Suez Canal. In 48 hours, Israel captured all of the Sinai Peninsula.
Israel warned King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the war, but this warning failed to stop him from attempting to penetrate west Jerusalem. Jordanian troops opened a heavy-artillery barrage on West Jerusalem, as well as targeting the center of the country. In addition, Jordanian forces seized government houses and the headquarters of the U.N. in Jerusalem.
Israel counter-attacked, surrounding the Old City. Finally, on June 7, Israeli troops entered and secured the Old City, reunifying Jerusalem.
In the final stage of the war, beginning on Friday, June 9, Israeli troops stormed the Golan Heights, defeating the Syrian army. In only six days, Israel vanquished its three main Arab adversaries.