Six Day War

February 11, 2014

Six Day War – News from the Middle East during May, 1967 was very frightening. Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt, had moved 100,000 troops and 1,000 tanks into the Sinai Peninsula, right on the southern border of Israel. On May 17, he closed the Tehran Straits, an act of war, effectively cutting Israel off from the Red Sea, and from its access to oil. The United Nations Emergency Force was evicted by Egypt, and Egyptians and the entire Arab world were delirious with joy at the prospect of driving Israel, G-d Forbid, into the Sea. I remember the morning of June 5, 1967, when the terrifying sound of gunfire in Jerusalem was carried on radio and television.

Little did we know at that time, but the war was, in a sense, already over, though Israel still had much blood to shed. The Egyptian Air Force was already nearly destroyed on the ground, by an Israeli pre-emptive attack launched at 8:45 on the morning of June 5. Israel had asked Jordan to stay out of the War, but Hussein sent in the Arab Legion anyway. It was his forces that were shelling Jerusalem. In fierce combat with the Jordanian Army, the Israel Defense Force captured the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Egyptian forces panicked and fled before the Israeli forces who destroyed their tanks nearly at will, in particular at a gigantic battle at the Mitla Pass, and drove all the way to the Suez Canal. Syria also entered the War, and put up fierce resistance on the Golan Heights, which they had used as a shelling position to fire upon Jewish settlements in northern Israel. But by the end of the War, Israeli forces had conquered the Golan Heights and were on their way to Damascus, before they were stopped by UN and US pressure.

The War, which many said was miraculous, was over, and the map of the Middle East had been re-written, with many implications for the years to come.