The Six-Day War: The Transition From Fear Of Second Holocaust To The Dramatic Victory

In 1967, More than fifty years down the line, war broke out between Israel and its neighboring countries. The historical moment of the six-day war is also quite famously known as various other names such as the June War or Third Arab-Israeli War or Naksah. The brief war began on June 5 and lasted till June 10, 1967. It is considered as the third ward that took place among Arab and Israel countries.

The war event lasted for nearly six-day; however, its after-effects are lingering till the current day. The war broke out majorly between Israel and its neighboring countries, such as the Arab states of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

Since then, a kind of diplomatic friction and skirmishes has followed among Israel and its neighbors. Israel’s defense forces drove preemptive airstrikes on Egypt’s surface and its allies and maimed their air. Following the airstrike, Israel then staged a successful offensive terrain. It captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and Golan Heights from Syria.

The war ended when the U.N. intervened with a ceasefire. The U.N. intervention did stop the battle; however, it significantly changed the Mideast map and gave ascent to immense geopolitical friction.

who started the six day war
Egyptian Air Force Airport following the Israeli Air Force's launching attack

Why did the six-day war happen?

Eleven years have passed between the Sinai War in 1956 (Suez crisis) and the Six-Day War. Still, as in the period between the War of Independence and the Sinai War, the Arab states have taken advantage of continuing war preparations or war actions on Israel to destroy it.

Some of the measures were carried out over the years, and some were carried out close to the Six-Days war and were the grounds for the outbreak of the war:

  1. In contravention of international law, Syria began work to divert Jordan’s waters that flattened it to prevent water from entering Israel.
  2. Establishment of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) terrorist organization whose entire purpose is the indiscriminate murder of Jews within the State of Israel, to lead the country’s demise. Later, the terrorist organization led by the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat will claim that the whole purpose is to establish a Palestinian Arab state in Judea and Samaria. In those days, Judea and Samaria were held by Jordan, and no request or demand was made for the establishment of a state in Judea and Samaria. The reason was simple; the Palestinian Arabs saw Jordan as their state and saw no need to ask for another state.
  3. Establish a joint command for the Arab states to strengthen their military force.
  4. The entry of Western Saudi and Iraqi military forces into Jordan to increase its military force against Israel. Since Jordan ruled Judea and Samaria and had geographical control all over the center of the country, there was a concern that Jordan was planning to invade the coastal plain, in an area where Israel is no more than 15 kilometers wide, and cut the State of Israel in half.
  5. Repeated bombings, from the Golan Heights, by the Syrian army on villages and kibbutzim in northern Israel.
  6. Blocking the Straits of Tiran (maritime access to Israel from the south) and imposing a siege on Israel. The same move Nasser made before the Sinai war in 1956.
  7. The concentration of large military forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the deportation of UN forces there. Two actions that clearly indicated Egypt’s offensive intentions. This act forced Israel to mobilize many reserve forces, which led to the Israeli economy paralyzing.
An Israeli gun boat passes through the Straits of Tiran near Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Who started the six-day war?

The last two events (6 and 7) in May 1967 put Israel’s State into a period called the “waiting period.” A military choking ring that is tightening around the State of Israel with a clear desire to eliminate it.

The diplomats’ attempts to open the Straits of Tiran failed. The State of Israel was less than twenty years old, and many of its inhabitants were Holocaust survivors who survived the German inferno.

The Jewish public’s feeling was very harsh, and many feared that the end of the State of Israel was approaching. 

On June 5, 1967, with no choice, the Israel Defense Forces initially commenced their focussed operation of coordinating an aerial attack on Egypt, to remove the blockade and extermination threats.

Somewhere around 200 aircraft were fled from Israel and swooped in the west direction over the Mediterranean before converging on Egypt from the north. After capturing the Egyptians in astonishment, afterward, they assaulted eighteen several airfields and reduced somewhat 90 percent of Egypt’s air force as it hit rock bottom. 

Moreover, once the air force of Egypt was eliminated, then Israel continued to increase the extent of its attack and decimated Jordan’s air force, Syria’s air force, and Iraq’s air force. At last, by the last hour of the day on June 5, Israeli pilots had absolute control over the Middle East’s skies.

Israel announced the victory of securing the air superiority; however, the bloody battle and its horrifying events continued for a few more days. The initial war in the territory of Egypt commenced on June 5. In concord with the airstrikes, Israel’s assets and infantry attacked over the border and into the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.

Though the Egyptian forces tried their best to put up an active and strong resistance, however, at last, they fell into disorder and chaos once Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer announced the retreat.

In the next few days, Israeli forces were devotional to pursue the routed Egyptians over the Sinai, striking several casualties. The second round of the six-day war battle began on June 5, when Jordan started shelling Israel’s posted army in Jerusalem after reacting to an Egyptian victory’s fake statement.

Israeli’s gave a response with a horrifying attack on East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. On the last day of this bloody battle, June 7, 1967, The troops of Israel captured the City of Jerusalem, announced their victory, and celebrated by praying at the Western Wall.

Six Days war - the battle in Jerusalem
An Israeli airstrike near the Augusta-Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem

Where did the six-day war take place?

The war took place on three different fronts. On the southern front, Israel fought with Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. On the Eastern Front, Israel fought in Jordan, Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem. On the northern front, Israel fought Syria in the Golan Heights.

Six-day war combatants

Israel - Egypt

The battles of the Six-Day War were divided into air battles and ground battles. As described earlier, the air battles took place on the first day of the war and gave Israel complete air control throughout the war. The ground battles also began on the first day of the war. On Monday morning, the day the war began, three IDF divisions invaded the Sinai Peninsula. Within four days, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip located between Israel and Egypt were captured.

Israel - Jordan

In the weeks leading up to the Six-Day War, Israel tried to convince King Hussein of Jordan that it was not interested in a war with Jordan. The messages were conveyed to Hussein as part of secret meetings held between official Israeli representatives and Hussein.
In the first phase of the war, against Egypt only, Hussein received messages from the Egyptian army command about the successes they were having in the battles against Israel.

The Jordanian army opened fire with machine guns, mortars, and artillery inside Jerusalem, divided into half, the new western half by Israel, and the ancient eastern half (where the most sacred places for Jews were and all access was forbidden) by Jordan. Fifteen Israeli civilians were killed, and another 500 were injured. Besides, the Jordanians launched an airstrike on a city in the country’s center, killing four other Israelis.

Israel has no choice but to return to war against Jordan. Five brigades attacked Jordanian forces from different directions within Judea and Samaria. The most difficult battles took place in East Jerusalem. The Israeli Air Force prevented Jordanian armored forces from entering Jerusalem and assisting the Jordanian ground forces that fought there. Within three days, the IDF took control of the Old City of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

Israel - Syria

Following the agreement between Syria and Egypt, Syria launched a war against Israel on the afternoon of the first day of the war (Monday) with a series of aerial bombardments in northern Israel. Israel responded with an airstrike. On the second day of the war, the Syrians launched artillery shelling of northern settlements that bordered the Golan Heights and were spread out at its foot. Israel responded by bombing Syrian military targets in the Golan Heights.

Only three days after the start of the war, on June 9, the IDF was ordered to occupy the Golan Heights to remove the Syrian threat from the establishment of the State of Israel. The IDF completed the liberation of the Golan Heights from the Syrians.

The US involvement in the Six-Day war

The Six-Day War took place at the Cold War height between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviets wanted to strike a balance with the American naval force in the Mediterranean. They forged alliances with Syria and Egypt to allow them to place forces in ports in the Mediterranean.

A month before the war, the Soviets escalated the atmosphere through a propaganda attack against Israel. They stated support of “Arab states’ struggle against Western imperialism’s aggressive intrigues and the restoration of legal rights to Palestinian Arabs.”

Relations between Israel and the United States warmed up significantly several years before the war and the then President of the United States, Kennedy, said in an official speech that the United States would intervene in favor of Israel in the event of aggression and a few months later declared that the United States had special relations with Israel.

In 1967, Lyndon Johnson served as President of the United States. Before the war, the United States tried to bring about the opening of the Straits of Tiran (which were closed by the Egyptians and created a siege on Israel from the south) but failed and therefore had difficulty significantly resisting Israel’s right to military action to free it from Egyptian suffocation.

During the war, the United States did not intervene, but after the war, to reduce Soviet influence in the Middle East, it tried to get closer to the Arabs countries and supported UN Resolution 242. The resolution called on Israel to return territories in exchange for peace agreements. For Israel, its part is reflected in the United States becoming the main arms supplier of Israel’s State.

The Six Days war in Sinai Peninsula
The battles in Sinai Peninsula

Who won the six-day war?

There was no doubt about the absolute victory of the State of Israel in the Six-Day War, but it was not an ordinary victory. In the months before the outbreak of the war, the Jewish public’s feeling was very harsh, and many feared that the end of the State of Israel was approaching.

It was only 22 years after World War II when most of the Holocaust survivors live in Israel. The feeling of destruction and annihilation that hovered in the air was unbearable. The Jewish public numbered less than three million people in a tiny state. It was faced by Arab states, with inexhaustible human resources, vast territory, and massive support from the Soviet empire.

On June 5, with no choice, the State of Israel went to war to remove the blockade and extermination threats. The taste of victory began in the first hours of the war with the destruction of the Egyptian Air Force and Syria and Jordan’s air forces. Sinai peninsula occupation opened up vast desert territories.

Six Days war - near the Western wall
Rabbi Shlomo Goren, surrounded by IDF soldiers, blows the shofar in front of the western wall in Jerusalem

The Golan Heights occupation removed the incessant threat of Syrian terrorism, which lasted for years through the shelling of settlements in the valley under the Golan Heights and Israeli civilians’ abduction in the Sea of ​​Galilee.

Judea and Samaria’s conquest returned the Jewish people to its historic quarry, where the Jewish people were born and formed, an area saturated with biblical Jewish history.

But the highlight of the Six-Day War was undoubtedly the liberation of the Old City from the Jordanians. The core of the Jews in the whole world. Jerusalem was the pinnacle of the aspirations of the Jewish people during 2000 years of exile.

It was in the dreams, studies, art, and prayers of the Jewish people. The sight of Jewish soldiers standing on the Temple Mount and the Western Wall created a tremendous spiritual transcendence and a sense of visible divine miracle that once again helped Jews move from a state of fear of extermination to a state of elation following an amazing victory.

The Jewish community’s tangible fear from termination was replaced by a sense of euphoria and immense relief. Little Israel has expanded to the south, north, and east. The country’s narrow waistline expanded, removing the threat of state slipping in two. Still a tiny country but significantly bigger than before.

Six-day war map before and after

The map of the State of Israel changed dramatically after the Six-Day War.

The area of the State of Israel before the Six-Day War was 20,770 square kilometers.

The Six-Day War increased the area of the country 4.4 times, to 90,250 square kilometers.
– Sinai Peninsula Area: 60,000 km²
– Golan Heights area: 1,800 km²
– Judea and Samaria Area: 5,878 km²
– Gaza Strip: 365 km²

After the State of Israel returned Sinai to Egypt in 1982, its area was reduced to 28,190 square kilometers as part of the peace agreements.

Before the war, Israel had a “narrow waist” of only 15 (!) Kilometers wide in the country’s center. An illogical breadth for a country that is under threat of invasion and destruction by Arab armies. 

Six-days war map before and after

The country’s smallness also created an almost uncontrollable temptation to split it in two and destroy it. Israel’s control of the Samaria Mountains changed this reality, created a significant strategic obstacle, and made this threat inapplicable.

The results of the Six-Day war:

  1. The Arab world was shocked by the intensity of defeat, but nothing changed in the strategic will to bring the State of Israel to an end.
  2. At the summit of the Khartoum Conference in Sudan, the Arab states were determined about the following three months after the war: neither for negotiations with Israel nor for recognition of Israel nor peace with Israel.
  3. Israel began to control a large Arab population in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria.
  4. The military threat was removed from the northern villages and Kibbutzim following the occupation of the Golan Heights.
  5. The start of recognition in the Arab world that they will not be able to defeat Israel’s State militarily.
  6. Only nine days after the war, Israel agreed to reclaim most of the territory occupied during the war in exchange for the peace treaties. Still, the Egyptians and Syrians responded, through the Americans, that they rejected the proposal—one more rejection out of many rejections that were before and continue after.
  7. Increasing political controversy in Israel. It was not an immediate result, but it is one of the Six-Day War’s significant results.
  8. The beginning of Jewish settlement throughout Judea and Samaria in the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. The first settlement was established in 1967 near Jerusalem, instead of another Jewish settlement that was destroyed in the War of Independence. In the years that followed, many more settlements were added, and the Jewish population increased significantly.
Six Days war - end of the war
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Chief of staff Yitzhak Rabin, Gen. Rehavam Zeevi And Gen. Narkis in the old city of Jerusalem

Between the Six Days war snd Yom Kipur war

Only days passed between Israel’s crushing military victory in the Six-Day War until the Egyptians re-launched a new war, but this time it was a war of a different nature.

The Egyptians called it a War of Attrition, and so it was called in Israel. The purpose of the war that lasted until the late 1970s was to exhaust the State of Israel by the incessant bombardment of IDF posts on the Suez Canal’s eastern bank.

The shelling took the lives of IDF soldiers, and Israel retaliated in Egyptian military action, which led Egypt to pay a heavy price without significant results. Another front also opened in Jordan on the Palestinian Arab terrorist organization PLO.

For a long time, the Arabic-Palestinian terrorist organization, with Jordan’s approval, shelled civilian settlements within Israel’s territory. As in Egypt, Israel responded with the shelling of terrorist bases and operations within Jordan.

The war of attrition between Israel and Egypt ended without any achievement on either side. The war between Jordan and Israel ended with an event known as “Black September,” during which the King of Jordan, Hussein, massacred the Palestinian Arabs, killed thousands of them and expelled tens of thousands outside Jordan.

“Black September” was the end of the efforts of the Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Arabs, to make a coup in Jordan.

During the armed conflict, hundreds of Syrian tanks invaded Jordan’s territory and threatened to intervene in favor of Arafat. However, with US intervention, Israel provided military protection to Jordan’s rule and saved it from a military collapse.

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