The background of the War
In May 1967, the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser proposed the Arab countries to destroy the Jews as a nation (Dunstan, 2009). He was supported by the Syrian Defense Minister Hafez al-Assad, who would not object starting a war of extermination. Ahmad Shukeiri as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization promised that the Jews will be allowed to return to their country of birth, if some of them survive.
Syria, Egypt, and Jordan started a general mobilization. Partial mobilization was announced by Kuwait and Sudan. Saudi Arabia also proclaimed the desire to take part in the war with Israel. Algeria has sent troops to Egypt, Iraq to Jordan. The total strength of the Arab armies was over a half million of soldiers, about a thousand of combat aircraft and thousands of tanks. The Israeli army was twice less numerous in means soldiers and three times less in amount of military equipment.
Documents indicate that both sides of the conflict were ready to start the battle. The Battle plan of Israel included two main actions: the sudden air strike on the Egyptian airfields and the attack of four armored brigades. The purpose of mobile groups was to defeat the enemy force of the Sinai as The Sinai and the Suez Canal Zone had the most powerful group of Egyptian troops. It included 4 motorized infantry and 2 armored divisions, as well as 5 separate infantry and mechanized infantry brigades of the 1st Field Army. According to Oren, the number of soldiers in it has reached the 90 thousand, and the army had 900 tanks and self-propelled units, together with 284 aircraft (Oren, 2002).
The Syrian army consisted of 340 tanks and self-propelled guns, 360 artillery pieces, 106 combat aircraft (Oren, 2002). Jordan provided the anti-Israeli coalition with 55 thousand people, 290 tanks and self-propelled guns, 450 artillery pieces and 30 combat aircraft (Oren, 2002). Oren argues that Israel has created the following percussion group of forces: the Sinai area (Southern Front) - 8 teams, 600 tanks and 220 combat aircraft; Damascus direction (North Front) - 5 brigades, about 100 tanks, 330 artillery pieces, up to 70 combat aircraft; Amman direction (Central Front) - 7 teams, 220 tanks and self-propelled guns, 400 artillery pieces, 25 combat aircraft (Oren, 2002).
The actual fighting of the War
On 5 June, in the early morning, the first attack of the Israeli Air Force on the Egyptian military targets was made. Hundreds of Israeli military aircraft have managed to sneak deep into the enemy territory. They managed to slip under the enemy radar, to enter the Sinai from the Cairo side, while keeping the actions under the complete radio silence. Another problem was that just at the same time the plane with the high rank Egyptian generals was arriving to the air base Bir Gafgafa. Expecting the plane to land safely, the whole system of the air defense of Egypt was off. According to Broyles, the first Israeli attack was virtually unopposed, and the Israel "Mirages" bombed Egyptian airfields in the Sinai and the Suez Canal area (Broyles, 2004).
The Israeli pilots did not have the information about the high rank passengers aboard, so they didn’t attack the plane. Seeing that, Marshal Qamar Elhakim supposed that the Egyptian army is already defeated. He immediately ordered to withdraw the troops from Sinai, hoping to save at least a part of his army. Retreat quickly grew into a wholesale flight and truly crushing defeat. King Hussein of Jordan decided to attack the Israel troops, providing Israel with the possibility of retaliation, which was culminated by the liberation of Jerusalem and the central regions of Judea and Samaria.
The Israeli army took the ancient capital of Samaria, Shechem even without fighting. Oren notes that on the third day of the war, the battalion of the 37th Tank Brigade entered the city from the east and was enthusiastically received by the residents as they were taken for the Iraqi troops (Oren, 2002). Residents of Nablus could not know that the Iraqi tank column was bombed by Israeli aircraft, while the Jordanian Tank Battalion was surrounded and totally destroyed. The Israeli Air Force used completely new tactical solutions that were not expected by the enemy. Instead of flying straight at a goal, the first wave of Israeli aircraft flew into the open sea and came from the West, not from the direction the Egyptians expected them to attack.
The first strike was a complete surprise for the Arabs as their radar and communications equipment was blinded. Less than two days later, the Israeli Air Force performed about 1,100 sorties, and many pilots made on 8 - 10 flights a day. Oren claims that after destroying 300 of 320 Egyptian aircraft, the Israelis immediately proceeded to defeat the Air Force of other Arab states (Oren, 2002). After crushing blows the Iraq, they destroyed the Jordan and Syria forces. Israeli pilots shot down more than sixty enemy aircraft in aerial combat. On the June 5, Israeli navy ships attacked Alexandria and Port Said. Israeli warships attacks achieved one important objective, as they prevented the shelling of Tel Aviv by the sea missiles with a range of 35 miles. After the capturing the air superiority, the Israel ground troops began their operation.
The Six Day War of 1967 was the real triumph of Israeli armored forces. For the first time, Israeli armored units operated simultaneously on three fronts. They were opposed by the vastly superior forces of the seven Arab states, but it did not save the Arabs from the total defeat. Three armored divisions of generals Tal Sharon and Joffe started their offensive in the southern front. This offensive, called March through Sinai, was conducted by Israeli armored units, interacting with aviation, motorized infantry and paratroopers. That was a lightning march across the desert, destroying the encircled Arab troops.
Airborne brigade stormed the enemy fortifications on Mount Hermon on the northern front. This ensured the capture of the Golan Heights. Meanwhile, the heavy fighting took place over east Jerusalem on the eastern front. Marines, under control of Colonel Mota Gur had to overcome fierce resistance of the enemy, and to fight for every house. The situation was complicated by the ban on the use of heavy machinery not to damage the religious shrines of Jerusalem.
According to Oren, the active phase of the war was over by June 12, 1967 (Oren, 2002). The Israeli forces achieved the complete victory over the forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. They captured the entire Sinai Peninsula (with access to the east coast of the Suez Canal) and the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan sector and the Golan Heights near Syria. The territory of 70 thousand square miles with a population of over 1 million people was now under the Israel’s control.
The historical importance of the War
The Six Day War was not a random impromptu implemented that happened as a response to the external threats to the Jewish state. General Staff of the IDF prepared and planned this grand military operation for years. Such a perfect operation as the Six Day War was planned by the General Yuval Ne'eman. Israel's victory in the Six Day War predetermined the events in the world and in the Middle East. It finally destroyed the hopes of the Arab allies to destroy the Jewish state.
The victory in this war had a historical importance for the Jewish state. The defeat of the United Arab armies ended the hopes of the Arabs and their Soviet allies to destroy Israel by military means. The victory showed the world the magnificent qualities of the Israeli soldiers, and willingness of the Israel nation to resist aggression.
The Israeli people believed that The Six Day War has helped them to ensure the safety of the Jewish state for at least 20-25 years (Broyles, 2004). After all, it was wrong as in less than ten years later the Israel began to retreat. Partly, it was caused by the consequences of The Six Day war. As the Arabs lost their territory, they obtain legal justification for anti-Semitism. Israel captured the West Bank of the Jordan and the absolutely hostile Palestinian population. In addition, the Israeli aggression stimulated the activity of various Muslim terroristic groups.
Broyles, M. The Six-Day War. NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2004. Print.
Dunstan, S. The Six Day War 1967: Sinai. NY: Osprey Publishing, 2009. Print.
Oren, M. B. Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. NY: Oxford UP, 2002. Print.
Quigley, J. The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for preventive war. NY: Cambridge UP, 2013. Print.