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The 1967 Six-Day War
American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise ^ | unknown | Mitchell Bard

Posted on 06/06/2003 9:30:26 PM PDT by Sparta

Edited on 06/07/2003 5:57:44 AM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]

The 1967 Six-Day War

by Mitchell Bard

Israel consistently expressed a desire to negotiate with its neighbors. In an address to the UN General Assembly on October 10, 1960, Foreign Minister Golda Meir challenged Arab leaders to meet with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to negotiate a peace settlement. Nasser answered on October 15, saying that Israel was trying to deceive world opinion, and reiterating that his country would never recognize the Jewish State.(1)

The Arabs were equally adamant in their refusal to negotiate a separate settlement for the refugees. As Nasser told the United Arab Republic National Assembly March 26, 1964:

Israel and the imperialism around us, which confront us, are two separate things. There have been attempts to separate them, in order to break up the problems and present them in an imaginary light as if the problem of Israel is the problem of the refugees, by the solution of which the problem of Palestine will also be solved and no residue of the problem will remain. The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel as it is in the present and in what she represents.(2)

Meanwhile, Syria used the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above the Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. Syria's attacks grew more frequent in 1965 and 1966, while Nasser's rhetoric became increasingly bellicose: "We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand," he said on March 8, 1965. "We shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood."(3)

Again, a few months later, Nasser expressed the Arabs' aspiration: "...the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel."(4)


While Nasser continued to make speeches threatening war, Arab terrorist attacks grew more frequent. In 1965, 35 raids were conducted against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41. In just the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched.(5)

Meanwhile, Syria's attacks on Israeli kibbutzim from the Golan Heights provoked a retaliatory strike on April 7, 1967, during which Israeli planes shot down six Syrian MiGs. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union-which had been providing military and economic aid to both Syria and Egypt-gave Damascus information alleging a massive Israeli military buildup in preparation for an attack. Despite Israeli denials, Syria decided to invoke its defense treaty with Egypt.

On May 15, Israel's Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai and massing near the Israeli border. By May 18, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights.

Nasser ordered the UN Emergency Force, stationed in the Sinai since 1956, to withdraw on May 16. Without bringing the matter to the attention of the General Assembly, as his predecessor had promised, Secretary-General U Thant complied with the demand. After the withdrawal of the UNEF, the Voice of the Arabs proclaimed (May 18, 1967):

As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.(6)

An enthusiastic echo was heard May 20 from Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad:

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.(7)

The Blockade

On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel's only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran.

In 1956, the United States gave Israel assurances that it recognized the Jewish State's right of access to the Straits of Tiran. In 1957, at the UN, 17 maritime powers declared that Israel had a right to transit the Strait. Moreover, the blockade violated the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which was adopted by the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea on April 27, 1958.(8)

President Johnson expressed the belief that the blockade was illegal and unsuccessfully tried to organize an international flotilla to test it. After the war, he acknowledged the closure of the Strait of Tiran was the casus belli (June 19, 1967):

If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Strait of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent maritime passage must be preserved for all nations.(9)


Nasser was fully aware of the pressure he was exerting to force Israel's hand. The day after the blockade was set up, he said defiantly: "The Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war."(10)

Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight," he said on May 27.(11) The following day, he added: "We will not accept any...coexistence with Israel...Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel....The war with Israel is in effect since 1948."(12)

King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30. Nasser then announced:

The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of 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 declarations.(13)

President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined in the war of words: "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map."(14) On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of Arab forces. Approximately 250,000 troops (nearly half in Sinai), more than 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft ringed Israel.(15)

By this time, Israeli forces had been on alert for three weeks. The country could not remain fully mobilized indefinitely, nor could it allow its sea lane through the Gulf of Aqaba to be interdicted. Israel had no choice but preemptive action. To do this successfully, Israel needed the element of surprise. Had it waited for an Arab invasion, Israel would have been at a potentially catastrophic disadvantage. On June 5, the order was given to attack Egypt.

The U.S. Position

The United States tried to prevent the war through negotiations, but it was not able to persuade Nasser or the other Arab states to cease their belligerent statements and actions. Still, right before the war, Johnson warned: "Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone."(16) Then, when the war began, the State Department announced: "Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed."(17)

Moreover, while the Arabs were falsely accusing the United States of airlifting supplies to Israel, Johnson imposed an arms embargo on the region (France, Israel's other main arms supplier also embargoed arms to Israel).

By contrast, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs. Simultaneously, the armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts.(18)


Jerusalem Is Attacked

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent a message to King Hussein saying Israel would not attack Jordan unless he initiated hostilities. When Jordanian radar picked up a cluster of planes flying from Egypt to Israel, and the Egyptians convinced Hussein the planes were theirs, he then ordered the shelling of West Jerusalem. It turned out the planes were Israel's, and were returning from destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground.

After Jordan launched its attack on June 5, approximately 325,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank fled.(19) These were Jordanian citizens who moved from one part of what they considered their country to another, primarily to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a war.

A Palestinian refugee who was an administrator in a UNRWA camp in Jericho said Arab politicians had spread rumors in the camp. "They said all the young people would be killed. People heard on the radio that this is not the end, only the beginning, so they think maybe it will be a long war and they want to be in Jordan."(20)

Some Palestinians who left preferred to live in an Arab state rather than under Israeli military rule. Members of various PLO factions fled to avoid capture by the Israelis. Nils-Göran Gussing, the person appointed by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the situation, found that many Arabs also feared they would no longer be able to receive money from family members working abroad.(21)

Israeli forces ordered a handful of Palestinians to move for "strategic and security reasons." In some cases, they were allowed to return in a few days, in others; Israel offered to help them resettle elsewhere.(22)

The Stunning Victory

After just six days of fighting, Israeli forces broke through the enemy lines and were in a position to march on Cairo, Damascus and Amman. A cease­fire was invoked on June 10.

The victory came at a very high cost. In storming the Golan Heights, Israel suffered 115 dead-roughly the number of Americans killed during Operation Desert Storm. Altogether, Israel lost twice as many men — 777 dead and 2,586 wounded-in proportion to her total population as the U.S. lost in eight years of fighting in Vietnam.(23) Also, despite the incredible success of the air campaign, the Israeli Air Force lost 46 of its 200 fighters.(24)

By the end of the war, Israel had conquered enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem. Israeli forces had also captured the Sinai, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Israel now ruled more than three-quarters of a million Palestinians — most of whom were hostile to the government. Nevertheless, more than 9,000 Palestinian families were reunited in 1967. Ultimately, more than 60,000 Palestinians were allowed to return.(25)

In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, which established a formula for Arab-Israeli peace whereby Israel would withdraw from territories occupied in the war in exchange for peace with its neighbors. This resolution has served as the basis for peace negotiations from that time on.

Israel's leaders fully expected to negotiate a peace agreement with their neighbors that would involve some territorial compromise. Therefore, instead of annexing the West Bank, a military administration was created. No occupation is pleasant for the inhabitants, but the Israeli authorities did try to minimize the impact on the population. Don Peretz, a frequent writer on the situation of Arabs in Israel and a sharp critic of the Israeli government, visited the West Bank shortly after the Israeli troops had taken over. He found they were trying to restore normal life and prevent any incidents that might encourage the Arabs to leave their homes.(26)

Except for the requirement that school texts in the territories be purged of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic language, the authorities tried not to interfere with the inhabitants. They did provide economic assistance; for example, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were moved from camps to new homes. This stimulated protests from Egypt, which had done nothing for the refugees when it controlled the area.

Arabs were given freedom of movement. They were allowed to travel to and from Jordan. In 1972, elections were held in the West Bank. Women and non-landowners, unable to participate under Jordanian rule, were now permitted to vote.

East Jerusalem Arabs were given the option of retaining Jordanian citizenship or acquiring Israeli citizenship. They were recognized as residents of united Jerusalem and given the right to vote and run for the city council. Also, Islamic holy places were put in the care of a Muslim Council. Despite the Temple Mount's significance in Jewish history, Jews were barred from conducting prayers there.


(1)Encyclopedia Americana Annual 1961, (NY: Americana Corporation, 1961), p. 387.

(2)Yehoshafat Harkabi, Arab Attitudes To Israel, (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972), p. 27.

(3)Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 616.

(4)Samuel Katz, Battleground-Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, (NY: Bantam Books, 1985), pp. 10-11, 185.

(5)Netanel Lorch, One Long War, (Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), p. 110.

(6) Isi Leibler, The Case For Israel, (Australia: The Globe Press, 1972), p. 60.


(8)United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, (Geneva: UN Publications 1958), pp. 132-134.

(9)Yehuda Lukacs, Documents on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 1967-1983, (NY: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 17-18; Abba Eban, Abba Eban, (NY: Random House, 1977), p. 358

(10)Eban, p. 330.

(11)Leibler, p. 60.

(12)Leibler, p. 18.

(13)Leibler, p. 60.

(14)Leibler, p. 18.

(15)Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars, (NY: Random House, 1982), p. 149.

(16)Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, (NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p. 293.

(17)AP, (June 5, 1967).

(18)Sachar, p. 629.

(19)Encyclopedia American Annual 1968, p. 366.

(20)George Gruen, "The Refugees of Arab-Israeli Conflict," (NY: American Jewish Committee, March 1969), p. 5.

(21)Gruen, p. 5.

(22)Gruen, p. 4.

(23)Katz, p. 3.

(24)Jerusalem Post, (4/23/99).

(25)Encyclopedia American Annual 1968, p. 366.

(26)Don Peretz, "Israel's New Dilemma," Middle East Journal, (Winter 1968), pp. 45-46..

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Israel
KEYWORDS: militaryhistory; sixdaywar

1 posted on 06/06/2003 9:30:26 PM PDT by Sparta
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To: sphinx; Toirdhealbheach Beucail; curmudgeonII; roderick; Notforprophet; river rat; csvset; ...
Six-Day war ping!!!

Be sure to go to original site for maps.

If you want on or off the Western Civilization Military History ping list, let me know.

2 posted on 06/06/2003 9:32:22 PM PDT by Sparta (Tagline removed by moderator)
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To: Sparta
This lays out the facts and the history, which has been distorted and ignored by the leftists and the world community, regarding the acquisition of the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golen Heights by the Israelis.

The entire Arab world was arrayed against Israel and they beat them fair and square, with their hand tied behind their back because of the arms embargo.

I doubt that few campus "progressives" know this history.

3 posted on 06/07/2003 12:39:43 AM PDT by happygrl
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To: Sparta
Six day war btt
4 posted on 06/07/2003 1:02:52 AM PDT by jwh_Denver (All you need there is a little more duct tape.)
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To: Sparta
For a somewhat different version of events, see:
5 posted on 06/07/2003 3:01:07 AM PDT by Seti 1
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To: Sparta
Here's a better link to the original site, for those who want the maps.
6 posted on 06/07/2003 4:05:38 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
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To: Seti 1
Sparta's posted article identifies the blockade of the Straits of Tiran as the fundamental causus belli, gives a strong geopolitical reason why this blockade was totally unacceptable to Israel, and provides backup with several international agreements showing why this was unacceptable and a reasonable cause for war.

The article you posted doesn't address this issue at all, and basically we must take it on faith, from Noam Chomsky no less, that all those Egyptians massing in the Siani, combined with the blockade they conveniently fail to mention, meant no harm. Interesting. And revealing all at once.
7 posted on 06/07/2003 4:33:29 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
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To: FreedomPoster
I fixed the image tags.
8 posted on 06/07/2003 6:11:23 AM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: Admin Moderator
Cool, thanks.
9 posted on 06/07/2003 6:27:04 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
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To: FreedomPoster
Sparta's posted article identifies the blockade of the Straits of Tiran as the fundamental causus belli...

Yup, causus belli, as in act of war. And the world powers who guaranteed that wouldn't happen, in the cause of returning the Sinai to Egypt the first time, took a pass.

10 posted on 06/07/2003 8:07:39 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: FreedomPoster; Seti 1
Seti 1 is a complete and total Israel hater in sheeps clothing, his posting history and my interactions with him have confirmed it.

You can always count on him to show up with discredited left wing sources with no evidence, then to abandon the thread after he's been bested.

Seti 1 is the lowest form of Freeplife.
11 posted on 06/08/2003 8:24:33 AM PDT by adam_az
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To: adam_az
That was pretty much my initial impression after the post in this thread, and a short perusing of some his posts from his profile page "find in forum".
12 posted on 06/08/2003 12:33:55 PM PDT by FreedomPoster
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To: happygrl
"Moreover, while the Arabs were falsely accusing the United States of airlifting supplies to Israel"

"Johnson imposed an arms embargo on the region"
(France, Israel's other main arms supplier also embargoed arms to Israel).
(Pooh, a Dim Prez & the French...go figure...)

"By contrast, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs."

"Simultaneously, the armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts."

That many countries took on ONE other country, and basically got their collective as_'s handed to them...says a LOT about why the anti-Israeli 'war' today is being waged as it is...huh?
13 posted on 06/08/2003 1:05:26 PM PDT by 45semi
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