Six-Day War

Six-Day War
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 5–10, 1967
Location Middle East
Result Decisive Israeli victory
Israel captures the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
 Israel  Egypt
Arab Expeditionary Forces:[1]
Iraq Iraq
Saudi Arabia Flag Variant (1938).svg Saudi Arabia
Libya Libya
Palestinian territories PLO
Commanders and leaders
Israel Yitzhak Rabin
Israel Moshe Dayan
Israel Uzi Narkiss
Israel Motta Gur
Israel Israel Tal
Israel Mordechai Hod
Israel Yeshayahu Gavish
Israel Ariel Sharon
Israel Ezer Weizman
Egypt Abdel Hakim Amer
Egypt Abdul Munim Riad
Jordan Zaid ibn Shaker
Jordan Asad Ghanma
Syria Nureddin al-Atassi
Iraq Abdul Rahman Arif
50,000 troops
214,000 reserves
300 combat aircraft
800 tanks[2]

Total troops: 264,000
100,000 deployed

Egypt: 240,000
Syria, Jordan, and Iraq: 307,000
957 combat aircraft
2,504 tanks[2]

Total troops: 547,000
240,000 deployed

Casualties and losses
776[3]–983[4] killed
4,517 wounded
15 captured[4]
46 aircraft destroyed
Egypt – 10,000[5]–15,000[6] killed or missing
4,338 captured[7]
Jordan – 700[4]–6,000[8] killed or missing
533 captured[7]
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
452+ aircraft destroyed
Israeli troops examine destroyed Arab aircraft

The Six-Day War (Hebrew: מלחמת ששת הימים, Milhemet Sheshet Ha Yamim; Arabic: النكسة, an-Naksah, "The Setback," or حرب 1967, Ḥarb 1967, "War of 1967"), also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt (known at the time as the United Arab Republic), Jordan, and Syria. After a period of high tension between Israel and its neighbors, the war began on June 5 with Israel launching surprise air strikes against Arab forces. 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.


Background and summary of events leading to 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 the 1949 Armistice Agreements.[9][10][11] 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.[12] Soon thereafter, in response to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerilla activity,[13][14] including a mine attack that left three dead,[15] the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) attacked the city of as-Samu in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank.[16] Jordanian units that engaged the Israelis were quickly beaten back.[17] King Hussein of Jordan criticized Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser for failing to come to Jordan's aid, and "hiding behind UNEF skirts".[18][19]

In May 1967, Nasser received false reports from the Soviet Union that Israel was massing on the Syrian border.[20] 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.[21][22] UN Secretary-General U Thant proposed that the UNEF force be redeployed on the Israeli side of the border, but this was rejected by Israel despite U.S. pressure.[23] Israel reiterated declarations made in 1957 that any closure of the Straits would be considered an act of war, or a justification for war.[24][25] 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.[26] 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

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), four independent infantry brigades and four independent armored brigades. No fewer than a third of them were veterans of Egypt's intervention into the Yemen Civil War and another third were reservists. These forces had 950 tanks, 1,100 APCs and more than 1,000 artillery pieces.[27] At the same time some Egyptian troops (15,000–20,000) were still fighting in Yemen.[28][29][30] 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.[31] 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.[32] Jordan's army had 55,000 troops[33] and 300 tanks along the Jordanian border, 250 of which were U.S. M48 Patton, sizable amounts of M113 APCs, a new battalion of mechanized infantry, and a paratrooper battalion trained in the new U.S.-built school. They also had 12 battalions of artillery and six batteries of 81 mm and 120 mm mortars.[34]

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 and Ramle. The "go" codeword was Sa'ek and end was Nasser. The Jordanians 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".[34]

100 Iraqi tanks and an infantry division were readied near the Jordanian border. Two squadrons of fighter-aircraft, Hawker Hunters and MiG 21, were rebased adjacent to the Jordanian border.[34]

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 three days we'll be in Tel-Aviv".[34]

The Arab air forces were aided by volunteer pilots from the Pakistan Air Force acting in independent capacity, and by some aircraft from Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to make up for the massive losses suffered on the first day of the war.[35]

Israeli preparations

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 Israeli Air Force (IAF) to send several attack waves against Egyptian airfields on the first day of the war, overwhelming the Egyptian Air Force, and allowed it to knock out other Arab air forces on the same day. This has contributed to the Arab belief that the IAF was helped by foreign air forces (see Controversies relating to the Six-Day War). Pilots were extensively schooled about their targets, and were forced to memorize every single detail. They rehearsed the attack numerous times on dummy runways.

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

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 revealed where the most difficult terrain was, so a route of attack was chosen that would avoid natural tank traps and surprise the Syrians. In order to successfully storm the Syrian bunkers, the Israelis used the Uzi submachine gun, which was more suitable for close combat than the AK-47, the standard weapon of the Syrian Army.[36]

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.[37] 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."[38]

On the evening of June 1, Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan called Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and the General Officer Commanding (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.[39]

The fighting fronts

Preliminary air attack

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,[40] all of them Soviet-built and with a heavy quota of top-of-the line MiG-21 capable of attaining Mach 2 speed. Initially, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country.[h]

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.[41] On June 5 at 7:45 Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the IAF launched Operation Focus (Moked). All but 12 of its nearly 200 operational jets[42] left the skies of Israel in a mass attack against Egypt's airfields.[43] 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.[44] 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-2 surface-to-air missile batteries could bring down an aircraft.[45] 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.[44] 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,[46] although the number of aircraft actually lost by the Egyptians is disputed.[47] Among the Egyptian planes lost were all 30 Tu-16 bombers, 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.[48] 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 Hunter fighters, six transport aircraft and two helicopters. The Syrian Air Force lost some 32 MiG 21s, and 23 MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters, 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.[49]

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.[50]

Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula

Conquest of Sinai. June 5 – 6, 1967
Conquest of Sinai. June 7 – 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 APCs and 1,000 artillery pieces.[51] This arrangement was thought to be based on the Soviet doctrine, where mobile armor units at strategic depth provide 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).

The northernmost Israeli division, consisting of three brigades and commanded by Major General Israel 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.[52]

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 battalion of tank destroyers and a tank regiment, formed of Soviet World War II armor, which included 90 T-34-85 tanks (with 85 mm guns), 22 SU-100 tank destroyers (with 100 mm guns), and about 16,000 men,[53] while the Israelis had a man-power of about 14,000, and 150 post-World War II tanks including the AMX-13 with 90 mm guns, Centurions, and M50 Super Shermans (modified M-4 Sherman tanks).

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.[54] 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 Arish, Um-Katef, and Jebel Libni, and Bir Gafgafa areas, capturing the cities and a number of fortified towns. They met fierce resistance and took losses, but inflicted heavy material losses and casualties on the Egyptians. In numerous armored battles, Israeli armor defeated numerically superior Egyptian armor. Many Egyptian tanks were knocked out by Israeli infantry carrying anti-tank weapons. An independent Israeli armored brigade captured an Egyptian outpost at Kunitla.

During the ground fighting, remnants of the Egyptian Air Force attacked 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 of Abu-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 Alexandria harbor. 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, military equipment, and 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

The Jordan salient. June 5–7

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.[55] 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.

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. The small Royal Jordanian Air Force consisted of only 24 British-made Hawker Hunter fighters, 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.[56]

Against Jordan's forces on the West Bank, Israel deployed about 40,000 troops and 200 tanks (8 brigades).[57] 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 paratrooper brigade 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. 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, Netanya, Kfar Saba, and the outskirts of Tel Aviv.[58] The Royal Jordanian Air Force and Iraqi Air Force bombed 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".[59] 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.[60] 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.

Jordanian troops seized the Government House compound, used as the headquarters for the UN observers in a Demilitarized zone since the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Israel promised Jordan that if they did not attack Israel first, Israel would not touch Jordanian positions. After asking for 24 hours to think about it, Jordanian troops opened a heavy-artillery barrage on western Jerusalem, and targeted the center of the country, including the outskirts of Tel Aviv, using American-made Long Tom guns. In addition, Jordanian troops seized government houses and the headquarters of the UN in Jerusalem.[61]

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. 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 June 5, 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.[62]

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, its six transports and its 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.[63] 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.[63] Fearing damage to holy places and having to fight in built-up areas, Dayan ordered his troops not to enter the city itself.[60]

On June 7, heavy fighting ensued. The Israeli infantry brigade attacked the fortress at Latrun, capturing it at daybreak, and advanced through Beit 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.

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 Wall shortly after its capture.[a]

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.[60] 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. After the city fell, the Jerusalem Brigade reinforced the paratroopers, and continued to the south, capturing Judea and Gush Etzion. Hebron was taken without any resistance, and Arab residents, afraid of retaliation for the 1929 Hebron massacre, flew white sheets from the windows and rooftops.[64] 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. Care was exercised so as not to damage holy sites.

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.[61] 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.[65]

Golan Heights

The Battle of Golan Heights, June 9–10

False Egyptian reports of a crushing victory against the Israeli army[50] and forecasts that Egyptian forces would soon be attacking Tel Aviv influenced Syria's willingness to enter the war. 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.[66] 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. 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. 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."[67] 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 at Kibbutz Dan during the Six Day War.

On June 7 and 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 a.m. on June 9, Syria announced its acceptance of the cease-fire. Despite this, four hours later at 7 a.m., Israel’s minister of defense, Moshe Dayan, “gave the order to go into action against Syria.”[i] 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.[68] 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 meters (1700 ft) from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, and then flattens to a more gently sloping plateau. 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.[68]

Syrian families evacuating the Golan Heights in 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. The Golan Heights' unique terrain (mountainous slopes crossed by parallel streams every several kilometers 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,[69] comparable to the Maginot Line.

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. 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-47 assault rifle, designed for combat in more open areas. By the evening of June 9, the four Israeli brigades had broken through to the plateau, where they could be reinforced and replaced. However, a battalion of the Israeli 8th Armored Brigade was ambushed after taking a wrong turn. It lost 24 of its 26 tanks, and casualties amounted to 13 killed and 33 wounded.

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. 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.[70] 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."[71]

War in the air

Due to misleading information supplied by a double agent, the Egyptians left their planes on the runways and the Israeli Air Force was able to destroy them within three hours of the outbreak of the war.[72] In this preliminary air attack the IAF achieved near total tactical surprise (only four unarmed Egyptian training flights were in the air when the strike began[73]).

In contrast, the Arab air forces never managed to mount an effective attack.[citation needed] Attacks of Jordanian fighters and Iraqi Tu-16 bombers into the Israeli rear during the first two days of the war were not successful and led to the destruction of the aircraft.[citation needed] Several Iraqi and Jordanian aircraft were shot down, while Jordan's air arm was crippled in strikes against its air bases.[74]

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.[75]

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 Controversies relating to the Six-Day War).

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 captured the abandoned town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula on June 7.


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-34/85, T-54, T-55, PT-76, and SU-100/152 World War II-vintage self-propelled guns. Jordan used M-47, M-48 and M-48A1 Patton tanks. Panzer IV (used by Syria)[76][77] M50 and M51 Shermans, M48A3 Patton, Centurion, AMX-13. The Centurion was upgraded with the British 105 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-40, BTR-152, BTR-50, BTR-60 APC's M2/M3 Half-track
Artillery M1937 Howitzer, BM-21, D-30 (2A18) Howitzer, M1954 field gun, M-52 105mm self-propelled howitzer (used by Jordan) M50 self-propelled howitzer and Makmat 160 mm self-propelled mortar, Obusier de 155 mm Modèle 50, AMX 105mm Self-Propelled Howitzer
Aircraft MiG-21, MiG-19, MiG-17, Su-7B, Tu-16, Il-28, Il-18, Il-14, An-12, Hawker Hunter used by Jordan and Iraq Dassault Mirage III, Dassault Super Mystère, Sud Aviation Vautour, Mystere IV, Dassault Ouragan, Fouga Magister trainer outfitted for attack missions, Nord 2501IS military cargo plane
Helicopters Mi-6, Mi-4 Super Frelon, Sikorsky S-58
AAW SA-2 Guideline, ZSU-57-2 Twin 57mm mobile anti-aircraft cannon MIM-23 Hawk, Bofors 40 mm
Infantry weapons Port Said submachinegun, AK-47, RPK, RPD, DShK HMG, B-10 and B-11 recoilless rifles Uzi, FN FAL, FN MAG, AK-47, M2 Browning, Nord SS.10, RL-83 Blindicide anti-tank infantry weapon, Jeep mounted 106mm recoilless rifle

Conclusion of conflict and post-war situation

Universal Newsreel about the war

By June 10, Israel had completed its final offensive in the Golan Heights, and a ceasefire was signed the day after. Israel had seized the Gaza 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 able, and 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.[78]

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 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.[79]

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."[80]

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.[80]

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.[80]

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.[81]

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 never have received the offer.[82]

In September, the Khartoum Arab Summit resolved that there would be "no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel." However, as Avraham 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.[83]

The June 19 Israeli cabinet decision did not include the Gaza Strip, and left open the possibility of Israel permanently acquiring parts of the West Bank. On June 25–27, Israel incorporated East Jerusalem together 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)[84] fled to Jordan, where they contributed to the growing unrest. The other 600,000[85] remained. In the Golan Heights, an estimated 80,000 Syrians fled.[86] 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 conflict and Golan Heights.

Both Jordan and Egypt eventually withdrew their claims to the West Bank and Gaza (the Sinai was returned on the basis of the Camp David Accords of 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 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).[87] 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 Muslim Waqf, and Jews are barred from conducting services there.[88]


Between 776[3] and 983 Israelis were killed and 4,517 were wounded. 15 Israeli soldiers were captured. Arab casualties were far greater. Between 9,800[5] and 15,000[6] Egyptian soldiers were listed as killed, wounded or missing in action. An additional 4,338 Egyptian soldiers were captured.[7] Jordanian losses were estimated to be as high as 6,000,[8] though Gawrych cites a number of some 700 killed in action with another 2,500 wounded.[4] An additional 533 Jordanians were captured.[7] The Syrians were estimated to have sustained some 1,000 killed in action.[89] 367 Syrians were captured.[7]


Preemptive strike v. unjustified attack

At the commencement of hostilities, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country.[citation needed] 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.[90] On the other hand, the Arab view was that it was an unjustified attack.[91][92] 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.[93] There have also been allegations from both Israeli and Egyptian sources that Israeli troops killed unarmed Egyptian prisoners.[94][95][96][97][98][99][100]

Allegations of military support from the U.S., UK and Soviet Union

There have been a number of allegations of direct military support of Israel during the war by the U.S. and the UK, including the supply of equipment (despite an embargo) and the participation of U.S. forces in the conflict.[101][102][103][104][105] 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.[106] It has also been claimed that the Soviet Union, in support of its Arab allies, used its naval strength in the Mediterranean to act as a major restraint on the U.S. Navy.[107][108]

The USS Liberty incident

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 U.S. 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).

Displaced populations


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.[109]

In his book Righteous Victims, Israeli "New Historian" Benny Morris writes:

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 13 September. 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,[110] of which about 20,000 were from the city of Quneitra.[111] According to recent research by the Israeli daily Haaretz, much of the Syrian population was expelled from the territory by the Israeli army.[112]

Jews in Arab countries

The minority Jews living across the Arab world had immediately faced persecution and expulsion, following the Israeli victory. According to historian Michael B. Oren:

Mobs attacked Jewish neighborhoods in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, 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 Cairo and Alexandria, and their property sequestered by the government. The ancient communities of Damascus and Baghdad were placed under house arrest, their leaders imprisoned and fined. A total of 7,000 Jews were expelled, many with merely a satchel.[113]

See also

Key people involved


1. ^ Photograph:

It was twenty minutes after the capture of the Western Wall that David Rubinger shot his "signature" photograph of three Israeli paratroopers gazing in wonder up at the wall [Kaniuk, Yoram. "June 10, 1967 - Israeli paratroopers reach the Western Wall". The Digital Journalist. Retrieved December 2, 2008. ]. As part of the terms for his access to the front lines, Rubinger handed the negatives to the Israeli government, who then distributed this image widely. Although he was displeased with the violation of his copyright, the widespread use of his photo made it famous [Silver, Eric (February 16, 2006). "David Rubinger in the picture". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved July 17, 2010. ], and it is now considered a defining image of the conflict and one of the best-known in the history of Israel [Urquhart, Conal (May 6, 2007). "Six days in June". The Observer. Retrieved December 2, 2008. ]

2. ^ a b c "In May–June 1967 Eshkol's government did everything in its power to confine the confrontation to the Egyptian front. Eshkol and his colleagues took into account the possibility of some fighting on the Syrian front. But they wanted to avoid having a clash with Jordan and the inevitable complications of having to deal with the predominantly Palestinian population of the West Bank.

The fighting on the eastern front was initiated by Jordan, not by Israel. King Hussein got carried along by a powerful current of Arab nationalism. On May 30 he flew to Cairo and signed a defense pact with Nasser. On June 5, Jordan started shelling the Israeli side in Jerusalem. This could have been interpreted either as a salvo to uphold Jordanian honor or as a declaration of war. Eshkol decided to give King Hussein the benefit of the doubt. Through General Odd Bull, the Norwegian commander of UNTSO, he sent the following message the morning of June 5: 'We shall not initiate any action whatsoever against Jordan. However, should Jordan open hostilities, we shall react with all our might, and the king will have to bear the full responsibility of the consequences.' King Hussein told General Bull that it was too late; the die was cast." Shlaim, 2000, pp. 243–244. 3.^ Both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country.

  1. “Gideon Rafael [Israeli Ambassador to the UN] received a message from the Israeli foreign office: ‘inform immediately the President of the Sec. Co. that Israel is now engaged in repelling Egyptian land and air forces.” At 3:10 am, Rafael woke ambassador Hans Tabor, the Danish President of the Security Council for June, with the news that Egyptian forces had ‘moved against Israel" . Bailey 1990, p. 225.
  2. [At Security Council meeting of June 5], both Israel and Egypt claimed to be repelling an invasion by the other…". Bailey 1990, p. 225.
  3. "Egyptian sources claimed that Israel had initiated hostilities [...] but Israeli officials – Eban and Evron – swore that Egypt had fired first” Oren 2002, p. 196).
  4. "Gideon Rafael phoned Danish ambassador Hans Tabor, Security Council president for the month of June, and informed him that Israel was responding to a ‘cowardly and treacherous’ attack from Egypt…" Oren, p. 198.

4. ^ Lenczowski 1990, p. 105-115, Citing Moshe Dayan, Story of My Life, and Nadav Safran, From War to War: The Arab-Israeli Confrontation, 1948-1967, p. 375

Israel clearly did not want the US government to know too much about its dispositions for attacking Syria, initially planned for June 8, but postponed for 24 hours. It should be pointed out that the attack on the Liberty occurred on June 8, whereas on June 9 at 3 a.m., Syria announced its acceptance of the cease-fire. Despite this, at 7 a.m., that is, four hours later, Israel’s minister of defense, Moshe Dayan, “gave the order to go into action against Syria.”


  1. ^ Krauthammer 2007.
  2. ^ a b Tucker 2004, p. 176.
  3. ^ a b Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d Gawrych 2000, p. 3
  5. ^ a b El Gamasy 1993 p. 79.
  6. ^ a b Herzog 1982, p. 165.
  7. ^ a b c d e Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004
  8. ^ a b Herzog 1982, p. 183.
  9. ^ Rauschning; Wiesbrock; Lailach (1997). p. 30 .
  10. ^ Sachar 2007, pp. 504, 507–8.
  11. ^ First United Nations Emergency Force (Unef I) — Background (Full text). UN. 
  12. ^ Some sources date the agreement to November 4, others to November 7. Most sources simply say "November". Gawrych (2000) p. 5.
  13. ^ Schiff, Zeev, History of the Israeli Army, Straight Arrow Books (1974) p. 145.
  14. ^ Churchill & Churchill, The Six Day War, Houghton Mifflin Company (1967) p. 21.
  15. ^ Pollack, Kenneth, Arabs at war: military effectiveness 1948–1991, University of Nebraska Press (2002), p. 290.
  16. ^ Segev, 2007, pp. 149–52.
  17. ^ Hart, 1989 p. 226
  18. ^ Oren 2002/2003, p. 312.
  19. ^ Burrowes & Douglas 1972, pp. 224–25
  20. ^ Morris, Benny; Black, Ian (1991). Israel's Secret Wars. New York: Grove Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-8021-3286-3. 
  21. ^ Shlaim (2007) p. 238
  22. ^ Mutawi (2007) p. 93
  23. ^ U Thant, "View from the UN", 1978. p. 223
    Report of the Secretary-General on the Withdrawal of the Emergency Force (June 26, 1967) para 21
  24. ^ Cohen, Raymond (1988), p. 12.
  25. ^ Statement to the General Assembly by Foreign Minister Meir, 1 March 1957. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs — The State of Israel. "Interference, by armed force, with ships of Israeli flag exercising free and innocent passage in the Gulf of Aqaba and through the Straits of Tiran will be regarded by Israel as an attack entitling it to exercise its inherent right of self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter and to take all such measures as are necessary to ensure the free and innocent passage of its ships in the Gulf and in the Straits" .
  26. ^ Churchill pgs 52 and 77
  27. ^ Pollack 2004, p. 59
  28. ^ Pollack 2004, p. 593
  29. ^ Nordeen & Nicole 1996, p. 191
  30. ^ O'Balance, "War in Yemen", p. 182
  31. ^ Pollack 2004, pp. 61, 81.
  32. ^ Ehteshami and Hinnebusch 1997, p. 76.
  33. ^ Mutawi 2002, p. 42.
  34. ^ a b c d Segev 1967, pp. 82, 175–91.
  35. ^ Pakistan Air Force - Pakistan Navy - Pakistan Army
  36. ^ Battlefield Detectives: Six-Day War (History Channel)
  37. ^ Stone 2004, p. 217.
  38. ^ Reston, James 'Washington: Nasser's Reckless Maneuvers', New York Times, May 24, 1967, p. 46.
  39. ^ Hammel 1992, p. 153-152.
  40. ^ Oren, 176; Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, 318.
  41. ^ Pollack 2004, p. 58.
  42. ^ Oren 2002, p.172
  43. ^ Bowen 2003, p. 99 (author interview with Moredechai Hod, May 7, 2002).
  44. ^ a b Oren 2002, electronic edition, Section "The War: Day One, June 5".
  45. ^ Bowen 2003, pp. 114–115 (author interview with General Salahadeen Hadidi who presided over the first court martial of the heads of the air force and the air defense system after the war).
  46. ^ Pollack 2005, p. 474.
  47. ^ Oren, 176, says 282 out of 420. Morris, 318, says 304 out of 419. Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Indiana, 1994), p. 396, says over 350 planes were destroyed.
  48. ^ Long 1984, p. 19, Table 1.
  49. ^ Griffin 2006, p. 336.
  50. ^ a b "Part 4: The 1967 Six Day War". Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  51. ^ Pollack 2004, p. 59.
  52. ^
  53. ^ Oren 2002, p. 181
  54. ^ Hammel 1992, p. 239
  55. ^ Oren 2002, pp. 184-185.
  56. ^ Pollack 2004, pp. 293-294
  57. ^ Pollack 2004, p. 294
  58. ^ "On June 5, Israel sent a message to Hussein urging him not to open fire. Despite shelling into western Jerusalem, Netanya, and the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel did nothing." The Six Day War and Its Enduring Legacy. Summary of remarks by Michael Oren at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 29, 2002.
  59. ^ Shlaim 2001, pp. 243–244.
  60. ^ a b c Shlaim, 2001, p. 244.
  61. ^ a b Shlaim 2001, p. 245.
  62. ^ United Nations June 5, 1967
  63. ^ a b
  64. ^
  65. ^ Shlaim 2001, p. 246.
  66. ^ Sachar 1976. p. 642.
  67. ^ Oren 2002, electronic edition, Section "Damascus and Jerusalem".
  68. ^ a b Oren 2002, electronic edition, Section "The War: Day Five, June 9".
  69. ^ Hammel 1992, p. 387
  70. ^ Oren 2002, electronic edition, Section "Playing for the Brink".
  71. ^ "A Campaign for the Books". Time Magazine. September 1, 1967.,9171,837237,00.html. 
  72. ^ "Haaretz". .
  73. ^ Oren 2002 p. 171
  74. ^ Nordeen & Nicole 1996, p. 217
  75. ^ Weiss, Reuven (May 29, 2007). The Blue Bird legend. Yedioth Internet.
  76. ^ de Mazarrasa, Javier (1994) (in Spanish). Blindados en España 2ª Parte: La Dificil Postguerra 1939-1960. Valladolid, Spain: Quiron Ediciones. p 50. ISBN 8-487-31410-4
  77. ^ Perrett, Bryan (1999). Panzerkampfwagen IV medium tank : 1936 - 1945. Oxford, United Kingdom: Osprey. p. 44. ISBN 9781855328433
  78. ^ Brams & Togman 1998, p. 243; Youngs 2001, p. 12
  79. ^ Sachar 1976. p. 660.
  80. ^ a b c Oren 2002, electronic edition, Section "Aftershocks".
  81. ^ Herzog 1989, p. 253.
  82. ^ Shlaim 2001, p. 254.
  83. ^ Sela 1997, p. 108.
  84. ^ "US State Department". 
  85. ^ "Distribution of the Palestinian Population And Jewish Settlers In the West Bank and Gaza Since 1967". Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  86. ^ "Golan Heights". Retrieved October 8, 2005. 
  87. ^ "Fact Sheet #52, Remembering the Six Day War". May 7, 2007. Retrieved March 28, 2008. 
  88. ^ Bard 2002 (ch. 14 online).
  89. ^ Churchill & Churchill 1967, p. 189
  90. ^ BBC Panorama
  91. ^ Egypt State Information Service.
  92. ^ UN Security Council meeting 1347 (June 5, 1967)
  93. ^ Churchill & Churchill 1967, p. 179.
  94. ^ Bron, Gabby 'Egyptian POWs Ordered to Dig Graves, Then Shot By Israeli Army', Yedioth Ahronoth, August 17, 1995.
  95. ^ Bar-Zohar, Michael 'The Reactions of Journalists to the Army's Murders of POWs', Maariv, August 17, 1995.
  96. ^ Prior 1999, pp. 209–210; Bar-On, Morris and Golani 2002; Fisher, Ronal 'Mass Murder in the 1956 War', Ma'ariv, August 8, 1995.
  97. ^ Laub, Karin 'Historians: Israeli troops killed many Egyptian POWs', Associated Press, August 16, 1995. Retrieved from the Wayback Machine. October 14, 2005.
  98. ^ "Israel Reportedly Killed POWs", August 17, 1995
  99. ^ Segev, T., 2007, p. 374
  100. ^ Ibrahim, Youssef 'Egypt Says Israelis Killed P.O.W.'s in '67 War', New York Times, September 21, 1995.
  101. ^ Mansour 1994, p. 89
  102. ^ Green 1984
  103. ^ Smith, Sep. 15, 1967
  104. ^ Bowen 2003, p. 89.
  105. ^ Phythian 2001, pp. 193–194.
  106. ^ Podeh 2004
  107. ^ Hattendorf 2000
  108. ^ McNamara: Us Near War in '67, 1983.
  109. ^ Right of return: Palestinian dream. UK: BBC. April 15, 2004. .
  110. ^ Morris (2001) p. 327
  111. ^ "Al-Qunayṭirah". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  112. ^ The disinherited" Haaretz, July 30, 2010
  113. ^ Oren 2002, pp. 306–07


Further reading

  • Barzilai, Gad (1996). Wars, Internal Conflicts, and Political Order: A Jewish Democracy in the Middle East. New York University Press. ISBN 0-7914-2943
  • Cristol, A Jay (2002). Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship. Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-536-7
  • Gat, Moshe (2003). Britain and the Conflict in the Middle East, 1964–1967: The Coming of the Six-Day War. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-97514-2
  • Hammel, Eric (October 2002). "Sinai air strike: June 5, 1967". Military Heritage 4 (2): 68–73. 
  • Hopwood, Derek (1991). Egypt: Politics and Society. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-09432-1
  • Hussein of Jordan (1969). My "War" with Israel. London: Peter Owen. ISBN 0-7206-0310-2
  • Katz, Samuel M. (1991) Israel's Air Force; The Power Series. Motorbooks International Publishers & Wholesalers, Osceola, WI.
  • Makiya, Kanan (1998). Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21439-0
  • Morris, Benny (1997). Israel's Border Wars, 1949–1956. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-829262-7
  • Rezun, Miron (1990). Iran and Afghanistan. In A. Kapur (Ed.). Diplomatic Ideas and Practices of Asian States (pp. 9–25). Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-09289-7
  • Smith, Grant (2006). Deadly Dogma. Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. ISBN 0-9764437-4-0

External links

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  • Six-Day War — noun tension between Arabs and Israeli erupted into a brief war in June 1967; Israel emerged as a major power in the Middle East • Syn: ↑Arab Israeli War, ↑Six Day War • Regions: ↑Middle East, ↑Mideast, ↑Near East • Instance Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Six Day War — noun tension between Arabs and Israeli erupted into a brief war in June 1967; Israel emerged as a major power in the Middle East • Syn: ↑Arab Israeli War, ↑Six Day War • Regions: ↑Middle East, ↑Mideast, ↑Near East • Instance Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Six Day War — war on June 1967 which lasted for 6 days between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Six-Day War — /siks day / a war fought in June, 1967, between Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, in which Israel captured large tracts of Arab territory. * * * or Arab Israeli War of 1967 War between Israel and the Arab countries of …   Universalium

  • Six-Day War — /sɪks deɪ ˈwɔ/ (say siks day waw) noun a war fought for six days in June 1967 in which Israel defeated Egypt, Jordan and Syria and occupied the Gaza Strip, the Sinai, Jerusalem, the West Bank of the Jordan and the Golan Heights …   Australian-English dictionary

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  • Controversies relating to the Six-Day War — The Six Day 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… …   Wikipedia

  • Origins of the Six-Day War — The Origins of the Six Day War, which 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, lay in both longer term and immediate issues. The… …   Wikipedia

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