Six Day War

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shadow > World History > Middle East > 1967- Six Day War

1967- Six Day War

In October and November of 1966, there was a rise in terrorist activity against Israel. These attacks originated in Syria and Jordan. There were also continued Syrian artillery attacks on kibbutzim (collective settlements) in the area below the Golan Heights. In April 1967, Israel decided to respond by attacking, via air, the Syrian emplacements on the Golan Heights. On April 7, there was an air-battle in which Israel shot down six Syrian aircraft. Following the April attack, the Israeli government warned its neighbors that it would be forced to take further action unless terrorism from Syria was terminated. 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 the Israeli assertions.

On May 18, Egypt requested that U.N. forces stationed on the Egyptian-Israeli border since the 1956 Sinai Campaign, be withdrawn from the area.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 General U Thant complied immediately. The Egyptians then blockaded the Straits of Tiran, effectively 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 a combined attack on Israel. Israel and World Jewry prepared for the worst. Many feared a second Holocaust. Israel first attempted to allow international diplomacy to diffuse the crisis. After the United Nations was unable to accomplish anything, and the United States was unable to create a multinational force to reopen shipping in the Straits of Tiran, it became clear that Israel would be forced to take matters into its own hands.

On the morning of June 5, the Israeli Air Force launched a pre-emptive strike against Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi airfields, wiping out each of these 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, surrounded Egyptian forces, and reached the Suez Canal. In 48 hours, Israel captured all of the Sinai penninsula.

Israel warned King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the war. But the king attempted 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 troops seized Government House and the headquarters of the U.N. in Jerusalem.

Israel counter-attacked, surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem. On June 7th, Israeli troops entered and secured the Old City, re-unifying Jerusalem for the first time since 1948.

In the final stage of the war (beginning on June 9th), Israeli troops stormed the Golan Heights, defeating the Syrian army. In only six days, Israel vanquished its three main Arab adversaries.