The battle is known as the Six-day war; a short but mortally intense battle in which the nation of Israel defeated 3 predominantly Sunni Muslim countries (Egypt, Syria and Jordan) in a space of 6 days. With the ratio of the Muslim countries to Israel (3:1), it would have been very unlike for Israel to win the war. How did they do it? This will be unravelled in this interesting article as you read on.
Pre-existing Conflict Between The Arab World and Israel
The Six-Day War wasn't just triggered overnight per say. For several decades prior to the war, there have been the strong presence of military conflicts and political tensions between the Arab Nations and Israel. One of such disputes was in 1948 when a coalition of some Arab Nations tried to invade the nascent Jewish state, but had their plans failed. This was part of the first Arab-Israeli war.
Also recalling the 1956 Suez Crisis , which was a second major Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel with the collaborative efforts of France and the UK launched an attack on Egypt. This attack was said to be a response to the nationalization of the Suez Canal by the then Egyptian President ; Gamal Nasser.
The Arab leaders were however disappointed by the losses they had in their military and also the thousands of Palestinian refugees created by Israel’s victory in the 1948 war.
ORIGIN OF THE SIX-DAY WAR
Numerous border disputes were the majority trigger of the war. As of the middle of the 1960's, attacks were launched across the borders of Israel by the Syrian-backed Palestinian guerillas . This however provoked a reprisal raid from the Israeli Defense Forces. As of the month of April 1967 , the fight became worse after an intense air battle between Israel and Syria occurred. In this engagement, about 6 Syrian fighter jets were destroyed.
The Soviet Union provided Egypt with information that the Israeli troops were advancing towards its northern border and that Syria was at the verge of Invasion. According to several sources, the information was inaccurate. However, President Gamal Nasser of Egypt sprouted into action . As a way of showing support for his Syrian allies, he gave orders to the Egyptian forces to advance towards the Sinai peninsula, where they expelled a UN peacekeeping Force that guarded the Israeli border for over a decade.
As days went on, the Egyptian President continued ; as he banned the Israeli shipping from the Straits of Tiran on May 22. After a week he sealed a defense act with the king of Jordan - King Hussein.
While the tension increased, the then American President L.B Johnson, warned both parties against firing the first shot and attempted to garner support for an international maritime operation to reopen the Straits of Tiran.
The plan never saw the light of the day. Nonetheless, by June 1967, the leaders of Israel voted to counter the Arab military buildup by launching a preemptive strike.
SIX-DAY WAR BEGINS
On June 5, 1967, the Israeli Defense Forces launched Operation Focus; which was a well planned aerial attack on Egypt. About 200 aircraft from Israel took off that morning and swooped over the Mediterranean Sea before they came together on Egypt from the North.
After successfully taking Egypt by surprise, they proceeded to assault 18 airfields and eliminated about 90 percent of the Egyptian air force. Iraq later on joined the war and Israel went further to expand the range of its attack and destroyed the Jordan, Syrian and Iraqi air forces . Towards the end of the day on June 5, the Israeli pilots had earned full control of the middle eastern air space.
Despite Israel having Superiority over the skies, ground battles continue in the following days. The ground war in Egypt began. Israeli tanks majestically channelled their rage across the border and into the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.
The forces of Egypt were however initially very resistant, but later fell into disarray after Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer ordered a general retreat. In the next several days, the forces of Israel pursued the routed Egyptians across the Sinai, inflicting many severe casualties.
A second wave of the War began. This time, Jordan reacted to some false reports of an Egyptian victory by shelling Israeli positions in Jerusalem. Israel however sent a more devastating response with a brutal counterattack on East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Old City of Jerusalem was captured and this victory was celebrated by praying at the Western Wall.
770 - 980 people killed.
46 Aircrafts Destroyed .
Egypt , Jordan, Iraq and Syria
10,000 - 18,000 people killed or missing.
Hundreds of Tanks and 450 aircrafts destroyed.
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