In early June 1967, the Israelis captured Jordanian intelligence that indicated an invasion was imminent, and at 08h10 on June 5, 1967, the Israel Broadcasting Authority aired an Israeli Defense Force communique. "Since the early hours of this morning", it read, "heavy fighting has been taking place on the southern front between Egyptian armored and aerial forces, which moved against Israel, and our forces, which went into action to check them." This was followed up a little over two hours later by a publicly aired message to the armed forces of Israel, released by Israeli Minister of Defense Moshi Dayan in his first day in office. "We have no aims of conquest", was Dayan's simple message. "Our only aim is to frustrate the attempt of the Arab armies to conquer our country, and to sever and crush the ring of blockade and aggression which has been created around us."
By then, the Israeli Air Force had been in action over the skies of Egypt since 07h45 that morning, and as a consequence, almost the entire Egyptian Air Force lay smoldering on the tarmacs of various forward Egyptian airbases. Having neutralized Egypt’s air strike potential in a matter of hours, the IAF then began to turn its attention to Jordan, Iraq, and Syria, as IDF ground forces, back in the Sinai, moved in to take care of the more punishing business of destroying Egyptian ground forces.
Over the next six days, the Israelis overwhelmed the Egyptians in the west, destroying thousands of tanks and capturing the Gaza Strip and the entire Sinai Peninsula. At the same time, Israel drove the Jordanians out of Jerusalem and the West Bank, and it captured the Golan Heights from Syria near the border of Lebanon. In the span of a week, Israel had tripled the size of the lands it controlled. Israel had gone from less than 10 miles wide in some spots to over 200 miles wide from the Sinai Peninsula to the West Bank. Israel also unified Jerusalem.
The results of the Six Day War created several issues that have still not been resolved in the Middle East. Israel now found itself in possession of territories that were the home of over a million Arabs. Of these territories, Israel officially annexed only East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, leaving the inhabitants of the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, and Gaza Strip in limbo regarding citizenship status.
Despite attempts to create peace, the Arab nations refused to recognize Israel, and Israel refused to withdraw from any of the land it captured in 1967. After conquering the territories, Israel began encouraging Jewish settlement in the new territories. In the 1970s, more than 10,000 Jews moved into the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Sinai Peninsula, a figure that grew to over 100,000 by the early ‘80s and is now over 500,000 today.
The Six Day War looks at one of the most important turning points in the region.
©2017 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors