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.
The Egyptians were falsely told that Israel was planning to attack Syria. In a reaction, they moved their forces into the Sinai. Once in Sinai, they asked the UN to remove its forces and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, thus cutting off the port of Eilat. Israel was forced to mobilize its reserve forces that made up the majority of its armed forces. The United States tried to muster an international flotilla to break the blockade. When it became clear that The United States would be unable to break the Egyptian blockade, the Israeli government voted to launch a surprise attack on the Egyptians before they could attack
The Israeli Air Force had been preparing for an attack on Egyptian bases for several years. First thing in the morning of June 5th, almost all of Israel's Air Force was airborne 250 planes. The slower Oregon bombers and Mystere's fighters left first, with the faster Mirages going last. .All were heading to Egyptians Airbases and scheduled to arrive at the same time. At 7:30 am while Egyptian pilots were having breakfast, the Israeli planes arrived at their targets. The aircraft first dropped large bombs on both ends, and the middle of the runways of the Egyptian Israeli planes began attacking Egyptian airfields. They started by disabling the runways by creating craters at both ends in the middle of each runway. Then with the planes all trapped, they strafed. By 8:00 am, it was clear that the attack had succeeded beyond the hopes of its planners. The pilots returned to their bases, and in a matter of minutes, the planes were refueled and rearmed for a second strike. After the second wave of attacks, 286 Egyptian planes were destroyed, and all of the Egyptian airfields were out of Commission. It was the most successful air attack in history. When word reached the army headquarters of success, the orders were given to the ground troops to begin the attack.
An Israeli armored brigade in the North smashed through the Egyptian lines in the North of Sinia. After a day of heavy fighting, Israeli troops, By evening, had reached all of their goals well ahead of time. In the South division led by Ariel, Sharon had similar success penetrating Egyptian defenses and thrusting deep into Sinai.
Israel had hoped that Jordan would stay out of the fight. The Jordanians, unaware of Israel's success in the air let they had no choice but to support the Egyptians. They began heavily shelling the outskirts of Tel Aviv, the Israeli Air Force Base at Ramat Aviv in the North. They also began all-out shelling of West Jerusalem, where 6,000 shells landed. Over 1,000 civilians were wounded, and 20 died. The Jordanian Air Force also attacked targets in Israel. Israel had refrained from attacking Jordanian Air Force bases but responded to the Jordanian attack by wiping out the Jordanian Air Force. Israel also attacked the Iraqi and Syrian Air Force. The Jordanians then captured Government House, which commanded the high ground over Jerusalem. This and Jordanian threat to capture Mount Scopus convinced the Israelis that there was no choice but to begin an offensive against The Jordanian Army. By nightfall of June 5th, Israeli troops had advanced to cut off Jerusalem from Ramallah, just foiling an attack on Mt Scopus while other troops were advancing on Jenin.
While the Israeli Army had been very successful during the first day of the war in eliminating the first line of Egyptian defenses, the Egyptians still had a large army largely intact in the Sinai. The Israeli Army had anticipated a challenging day of fighting. However, for reasons that are disputed to this day, the order went out to Egyptian forces to retreat toward the canal. That retreat turned the day into a total route as Israeli forces swiftly advanced with limited opposition.
ON the Jordanian front, Israel made one last plea to Hussein to stop shelling, which he ignored. The order then went out to capture Jenin on the West Bank and surround the Old City. A paratroop brigade who was slated to join the fight against the Egyptians moved to Jerusalem overnight. At 2 am the assault began: the goal to reach Mt Scopus. A battle took place first to capture the Police Academy and then Ammunition Hill. The battle for Ammunition Hill went on for three hours and was the bloodiest battle of the war. 71 Jordanians and 35 Israelis died.
By the end of the day, the Old City was almost surrounded.
In the early hours of the morning of June 7th, the Israeli government debated whether to capture the Old City. The Army first completed the surrounding to the Old City by capturing the Mt of Olives. When the Jordanians could not guarantee a complete ceasefire, the order was given to capture the Old City. At 9:45, Israeli tanks fired at the Lions Gate, opening the way for troops to move in. They quickly fanned out, capturing the Temple Mount. The commander of the Israeli Paratrooper Motta Gur radioed the commander of the central Front General Uzi Narkiss- Har Habayit Beydaeni- The Temple Mount is in our hands. Shortly after, the first Israeli troops led by the chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren reached the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, where Jews had not been able to access for 19 years.
In the Sinai, Israeli troops continued to advance. In the North, they came close to the Suez Canal, and in the South reached the Mital Pass and reached the Sharm el Sheik and thus opened up the Straits of Tiran.
On June 8th, Israeli forces completed their conquest of the West Bank, reaching the Jordan River and blowing up the bridges over it. In Sinai, the Egyptian Army continued its retreat, but the Israeli forces were waiting for them, blocking the Passes. In several hours they killed thousands of Egyptians and destroyed hundreds of vehicles. They captured so many prisoners that eventually, the word was given only to hold officers and let everyone else go. Although not planned, Israeli forces reached the Suez Canal on the fourth day of the war.
June 9 and 10th
Throughout the war, the Syrians had shelled Israeli settlements, and arguments had ensued about what to do about the Syrians. Defense Minister Dayan had opposed an attack, but on the morning of June 9th, he changed his mind and ordered an assault on the Golan Heights. The assault began immediately and was completed by mid-day on June 10th when a ceasefire went into effect.
In Six-Day, the Israeli Army had defeated enemies on three fronts and more than tripled the size of the country. 679 Israel lost their lives, and 2563 were wounded, some who would later die of their wounds