The ORIGINS OF THE SIX-DAY WAR, which was fought between June 5 and
June 10, 1967 by
Israel and the neighboring states of
then as the
United Arab Republic , UAR),
Jordan , and
Syria , include
both longstanding and immediate issues. At the time of the Six-Day War
, the earlier foundation of Israel, the resulting Palestinian refugee
issue , and Israel's participation in the invasion of
Egypt during the
Suez crisis of 1956 continued to be significant grievances for the
Arab world. Arab nationalists, led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel
Nasser , continued to be hostile to Israel's existence and made grave
threats against its Jewish population. By the mid-1960s, relations
Israel and its Arab neighbors had deteriorated to the extent
that a number of border clashes had taken place.
In April 1967,
Syria shot at an Israeli tractor ploughing in the
demilitarized zone, which escalated to a prewar aerial clash. In May
1967, following misinformation about Israeli intentions provided by
Soviet Union ,
Egypt expelled UN peacekeepers who had been
stationed in the
Sinai Peninsula since the
Suez conflict , and
announced a blockade of Israel's access to the Red Sea (international
waters) via the
Straits of Tiran , which
Israel considered an act of
war. Tension escalated, with both sides' armies mobilising. Less than
a month later,
Israel launched a surprise strike which began the
Six-Day War .
The conventional view and memoirs of key Israelis indicate that
Israel's actions leading into the war were prudent and the blame for
the war rested on Egypt. According to political scientist
Zeev Maoz ,
most scholarly studies attribute the crisis to a complicated process
of unwanted escalation, which all sides wanted to prevent, but for
which all were ultimately responsible. Nasser knew that his blockade
Straits of Tiran from Israeli vessel passage, on 23 May 1967,
might very likely provide
Israel with reason to launch war. His
decisions to ask for the removal of the UN peacekeepers from Sinai and
especially to block the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping via the
Straits of Tiran, are commonly accepted as the point where war became
inevitable. Some commentators consider the war as the classic case
of anticipatory attack in self-defense, while in the 21st century
the view that
Israel acted in self-defense has become increasingly
* 1 Summary of events leading to war
* 2 Territorial, water ways and water resources disputes
* 2.1 Territorial disputes
Straits of Tiran
* 2.3 Water dispute
* 3 Events during the years before the war
Israel and the Arab states
Israel and Egypt:
Suez Crisis aftermath
Israel and Egypt:
* 4 Events during the months before the war
Israel and Jordan: Samu incident
* 4.1.1 Samu incident consequences
* 4.2.1 April 7, 1967 cross-border battle
* 4.2.2 Later developments
* 5 Events during the weeks before the war
* 5.1 Misinformation from the
* 5.2 Egyptian Troop Build-up in Sinai
* 5.3 Removal of U.N. peacekeepers from
* 5.3.1 The Egyptian right to remove the U.N. peacekeepers
* 5.3.2 International reactions
* 5.4 The
Straits of Tiran closure
* 5.4.1 For the Egyptian right to close the Straits
* 5.4.2 Against the Egyptian right to close the Straits
* 5.5 Egypt\'s plan to attack
Israel on 27 May
* 5.6 The crisis and diplomacy
* 5.8 Arab states preparations
* 5.9 Developments in
* 6 Who would win the war
* 7 Retrospective
* 7.1 Israel: was the war imminent?
* 7.2 Did
Israel plan a war?
* 7.2.1 For
* 7.2.2 Against
* 7.3 Did
Egypt plan a war?
* 7.3.1 For
* 7.3.2 Against
* 8 The war consequences
* 9 See also
* 10 Notes
* 11 Footnotes
* 12 References
* 13 Further reading
* 14 External links
SUMMARY OF EVENTS LEADING TO WAR
After the 1956
Suez Crisis ,
Egypt agreed to the stationing of a
United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Sinai to ensure all
parties would comply with the
1949 Armistice Agreements . Despite
the overwhelming support for Resolution 1000 in the UN General
Israel refused to allow UNEF forces onto its territory. In
the following years, there were numerous minor border clashes between
Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly Syria. In early November,
Syria signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt. On November
13, 1966, in response to PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization)
guerrilla activity, including a mine attack that left three dead,
the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacked the village of as-Samu in the
Jordanian-occupied West Bank. Jordanian units that engaged the
Israelis were quickly beaten back. King Hussein of
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser for failing to come to Jordan's
aid, and "hiding behind UNEF skirts".
Israel was censured for this
United Nations Security Council Resolution 228 , being
reproached by the US, the UK,
France and the USSR. On April 7, 1967
Israel invaded Syria. The USSR urged that the collective defense
Egypt had been triggered. In May 1967, Nasser received
false reports from the
Soviet Union that
Israel was massing on the
Nasser began massing his troops in the
Sinai Peninsula on Israel's
border (May 16), expelled the UNEF force from Gaza and Sinai (May 19)
and took up UNEF positions at
Sharm el-Sheikh , overlooking the
Straits of Tiran .
Israel reiterated declarations made in 1957 that
any closure of the Straits would be considered an act of war, or
justification for war. Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli
shipping on May 22–23. On May 30,
Egypt signed a defense
pact. The following day, at Jordan's invitation, the Iraqi army began
deploying troops and armored units in Jordan. They were later
reinforced by an Egyptian contingent. On June 1,
Israel formed a
National Unity Government by widening its cabinet, and on June 4 the
decision was made to go to war. The next morning,
Operation Focus , a large-scale surprise air strike that launched the
TERRITORIAL, WATER WAYS AND WATER RESOURCES DISPUTES
The peace accord at the end of the 1948 war had established
demilitarized zones (DMZs) between
Syria However, as
recalled by UN military forces officers such as
Odd Bull and Carl von
Horn , Israelis gradually took over portions of the zone, evicting
Arab villagers and demolishing their homes; these actions incurring
protests from the UN Security Council.
Moshe Dayan , the Israeli
defense minister at the time of the Six Day War, recounted in a 1976
interview that Israeli policy in the Demilitarized Zone between 1949
and 1967 was "to seize some territory and hold it until the enemy
despairs and gives it to us", thus changing "the lines of the
ceasefire accord with military actions that were less than a war".
Dayan related further that in the process
Israel had provoked more
than 80% of the border clashes with
Syria in the lead-up to its April
7, 1967 invasion of Syria. In defense of the Israeli actions
Michael Oren said that "here is an element of truth to
Dayan's claim", but that Israeli actions were justified, as "Israel
regarded the de-militarized zones in the north as part of their
sovereign territory". Gluska qualified this view by pointing out that
such Israeli sovereignty over all of the DMZ "was not sanctioned by
the UN". In fact the Israeli view had been rejected in 1951 by both
Britain and the UN Security council (in Resolution 93). In January
Israel reverted to claiming sovereignty over the DMZ.
Syria claimed that the escalating conflict was the result
Israel attempting to increase tension in order to justify a
large-scale military operation against Syria, and to expand its
occupation of the Demilitarized Zone by dispossessing the remaining
According to Moshe Shemesh, a historian and former senior
intelligence officer in the IDF, Jordan's military and civilian
leaders estimated that Israel's main objective was conquest of the
West Bank. They felt that
Israel was striving to drag all of the Arab
countries into a war. After the Samu raid, these apprehensions became
the deciding factor in Jordan's decision to participate in the war.
King Hussein was convinced
Israel would try to occupy the West Bank
Jordan went to war, or not.
STRAITS OF TIRAN
After the 1956 war,
Egypt agreed to reopen the
Straits of Tiran to
Israeli shipping, whose closure had been a significant catalyst in
precipitating the Suez Crisis.
Main article: War over Water
The Johnston Plan was a plan for the unified water resource
development of the
Jordan Valley , sponsored by UNRWA and accepted by
the main Arab leader, Nasser, and by
Israel . In 1964,
Israel began drawing water from the
Jordan River for its National
Water Carrier ,in accordance with the Johnston Plan , reducing the
flow that reached
Hashemite territory to the Johnston Plan allocation.
In January 1964 an
Arab League summit meeting convened in Cairo,
claimed that the diversion of the
Jordan waters by
the dangers to Arab existence and decided to deprive
Israel of 35% of
National Water Carrier capacity, by a diversion of the Jordan
River headwaters (both the
Hasbani and the
Banias tributaries) to the
Yarmouk River , although the scheme was only marginally feasible, it
was technically difficult and expensive. The following year, the
Arab states began construction of the
Headwater Diversion Plan ,
which, once completed, would divert the waters of the
before the water entered
Israel and the
Sea of Galilee , to flow
instead into a dam at Mukhaiba for use by
Jordan and Syria, and divert
the waters of the
Hasbani into the
Litani River in
Lebanon . The
diversion works would have reduced the installed capacity of Israel's
carrier by about 35%, and Israel's overall water supply by about 11%.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the diversion works in Syria
in March, May, and August 1965, perpetuating a prolonged chain of
border violence that linked directly to the events leading to war.
EVENTS DURING THE YEARS BEFORE THE WAR
ISRAEL AND THE ARAB STATES
At the time, no Arab state had recognized Israel. Syria, aligned with
Soviet bloc , began sponsoring guerrilla raids on
Israel in the
early 1960s as part of its "people's war of liberation", designed to
deflect domestic opposition to the Ba\'ath Party .
Speaking to the UN General Assembly in September 1960, Nasser had
stated that "The only solution to Palestine is that matters should
return to the condition prevailing before the error was committed —
i.e., the annulment of Israel's existence." In 1964 he said, "We swear
to God that we shall not rest until we restore the Arab nation to
Palestine and Palestine to the Arab nation. There is no room for
imperialism and there is no room for Britain in our country, just as
there is no room for
Israel within the Arab nation." In 1965 he
asserted, "We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand,
we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood."
Even after nearly two decades of its existence, no neighboring Arab
Israel was willing to negotiate a peace agreement with
Israel or accept its existence. Tunisian President Habib Bourgiba
suggested in a speech in
Jericho in 1965 that the Arab world should
face reality and negotiate with Israel, but this was rejected by the
other Arab countries.
ISRAEL AND EGYPT: SUEZ CRISIS AFTERMATH
Suez Crisis of 1956 represented a military defeat but a political
victory for Egypt, and set the stage leading to the Six-Day War. In a
speech delivered to the
David Ben-Gurion said that the 1949
armistice agreement with
Egypt was dead and buried, and that the
armistice lines were no longer valid and could not be restored. Under
no circumstances would
Israel agree to the stationing of UN forces on
its territory or in any area it occupied. Heavy diplomatic pressure
from both the
United States and the
Soviet Union forced
Israel into a
conditional withdrawal of its military from the
Sinai Peninsula ,
only after satisfactory arrangements had been made with the
international force that was about to enter the canal zone.
After the 1956 war,
Egypt agreed to the stationing of a UN
peacekeeping force in the Sinai, the
United Nations Emergency Force ,
to keep that border region demilitarized, and prevent Palestinian
fedayeen guerrillas from crossing the border into Israel.
As a result, the border between
Israel remained quiet for
the vast majority of the period up to 1967.
After the 1956 war, the region returned to an uneasy balance without
resolution of any of the underlying issues.
ISRAEL AND EGYPT: ROTEM CRISIS
In February 1960, tensions along the Israeli–Syrian border prompted
Nasser to deploy Egyptian armed forces in northern Sinai. Only six
days after troop movements had begun, did
Israel learn of the presence
of an Egyptian force, numbering around 500 tanks, on its undefended
southern border. Caught off-guard,
Israel scrambled to deploy its own
forces, while Ben-Gurion adopted a policy of pacification to ease
tensions and prevent the outbreak of hostilities.
Both sides eventually stood down, yet each drew different conclusions
from the affair. Israeli national defence policy came to see any mass
deployment of Egyptian forces on its border as unacceptable, and
believed new rules had been set in place. Egypt, however, viewed the
crisis as a great success.
Egypt believed the deployment had prevented
an Israeli attack on Syria, and it was thus possible to deter Israel
with the mere deployment of forces, without the danger of going to
war. The crisis was to have a direct effect on both sides during the
events of May 1967, which eventually led to the Six-Day War. Both
Egypt applied the lessons they had learned in the earlier
affair. Indeed, these were at first perceived to be a repeat of the
Rotem affair, and were expected to follow the same course. Major
differences however gave the new crisis its own momentum and
eventually led to war.
EVENTS DURING THE MONTHS BEFORE THE WAR
ISRAEL AND JORDAN: SAMU INCIDENT
The long armistice line between
Israel was tense since the
Fatah 's guerrilla operations in January 1965. While
Syria supported such operations,
Jordan refused to let PLO
guerrillas operate from their territory. After 1965 the majority of
Israel originated from the Syrian border.
Israel viewed the
state from which the raids were perpetrated as responsible. King
Hussein , the
Hashemite ruler, was in a bind: he did not want to
appear as cooperating with
Israel in light of the delicate
relationship of his government with the majority Palestinian
population in his kingdom, and his success in preventing such raids
was only partial. In the summer and autumn of 1966 the PLO carried out
several guerrilla attacks that caused death and injury to Israeli
civilians and military personnel. This culminated on November 11,
1966, when an Israeli border patrol hit a land mine , killing three
soldiers and injuring six others.
Israel believed the mine had been
planted by militants from Es Samu , a village in the southern West
Bank , close to where the incident took place, which was a Fatah
stronghold. This led the Israeli cabinet to approve a large scale
operation called 'Shredder'. On Friday, November 12, King Hussein of
Jordan penned a letter of personal condolence to
Israel which he
cabled to U.S. ambassador to Israel,
Walworth Barbour , through the
U.S. embassy in Amman which passed it to Barbour in Tel Aviv. Barbour,
believing there was no urgency to delivering the letter, left it on
his desk over the weekend, thus failing to deliver it in a timely
The next day, on the morning of November 13, the
Forces invaded Jordan, crossing the border into the
West Bank and
attacked Es Samu. The attacking force consisted of 3,000-4,000
soldiers backed by tanks and aircraft. They were divided into a
reserve force, which remained on the Israeli side of the border, and
two raiding parties, which crossed into the West Bank.
The larger force of eight Centurion Tanks , followed by 400
paratroopers mounted in 40 open-topped half-tracks and 60 engineers in
10 more half-tracks, headed for Samu; while a smaller force of three
tanks and 100 paratroopers and engineers in 10 half-tracks headed
towards two smaller villages: Kirbet El-Markas and Kirbet Jimba.
According to Terrence Prittie's Eshkol: The Man and the Nation, 50
houses were destroyed, but the inhabitants had been evacuated hours
To Israel's surprise, the Jordanian military intervened. The 48th
Infantry Battalion of the Jordanian Army ran into the Israeli forces
northwest of Samu; and two companies approaching from the northeast
were intercepted by the Israelis, while a platoon of Jordanians armed
with two 106 mm recoilless guns entered Samu. The Jordanian Air Force
intervened as well and a Jordanian Hunter fighter was shot down in the
action. In the ensuing battles, three Jordanian civilians and 16
soldiers were killed; 54 other soldiers and 96 civilians were wounded.
The commander of the Israeli paratroop battalion, Colonel Yoav Shaham,
was killed and 10 other Israeli soldiers were wounded.
According to the Israeli government, 50 Jordanians were killed, but
the true number was never disclosed by the Jordanians, in order to
keep up morale and confidence in King Hussein's regime. The whole
battle was short: the Israeli forces crossed the ceasefire line at
6:00 A.M. and returned by 10:00 A.M.
Samu Incident Consequences
Hussein felt betrayed by the operation which shattered the fragile
Israel and Jordan. He had been having secret meetings
with Israeli foreign ministers
Abba Eban and
Golda Meir for three
years. According to him he was doing everything he could to stop
guerrilla attacks from the
West Bank and Jordan. "I told them I could
not absorb a serious retaliatory raid, and they accepted the logic of
this and promised there would never be one".
Two days later, in a memo to U.S. President
Lyndon B. Johnson , his
Special Assistant Walt Rostow wrote: "retaliation is not the point in
this case. This 3000-man raid with tanks and planes was out of all
proportion to the provocation and was aimed at the wrong target," and
went on to describe the damage done to US and Israeli interests:
They've wrecked a good system of tacit cooperation between Hussein
and the Israelis... They've undercut Hussein. We've spent $500 million
to shore him up as a stabilizing factor on Israel's longest border and
Syria and Iraq. Israel's attack increases the pressure on
him to counterattack not only from the more radical Arab governments
and from the Palestinians in
Jordan but also from the Army, which is
his main source of support and may now press for a chance to recoup
its Sunday losses... They've set back progress toward a long term
accommodation with the Arabs... They may have persuaded the Syrians
Israel didn't dare attack Soviet-protected
Syria but could attack
Jordan with impunity.
United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 228
unanimously deploring "the loss of life and heavy damage to property
resulting from the action of the Government of
Israel on 13 November
1966", censuring "
Israel for conducting "a large-scale and carefully
planned military action against Jordanian territory" in violation of
United Nations Charter and of the General Armistice Agreement
Israel and Jordan" and emphasizing "to
Israel that actions of
military reprisal cannot be tolerated and that, if they are repeated,
Security Council will have to consider further and more effective
steps as envisaged in the Charter to ensure against the repetition of
Facing a storm of criticism from Jordanians, Palestinians, and his
Arab neighbors for failing to protect Samu, Hussein ordered a
nationwide mobilization on November 20. Hussein complained that
Syria had failed to protect the West Bank, while "hiding
behind UNEF skirts"; this accusation may have been a factor in
Nasser's decision to rid his country of the UNEF force on the eve of
the Six-Day War.
This was the largest scale operation that
Israel had been involved
with since the Suez Crisis. While the diplomatic and political
developments were not as
Israel expected, following the operation
Hussein worked hard to avoid any further clashes by preventing
guerrilla operations from being launched from within Jordan.
Some view the Samu attack as the beginning of the escalation in
tensions that led to the war, with others going further to describe
it as the first step in the prelude to war.
ISRAEL AND SYRIA
Overall, Oren's account of the period portrays
Israel as the innocent
victim of Syrian provocation and aggression. From the Golan Heights,
Syrians had shelled Israeli settlements and other targets, such as
fishermen in the
Sea of Galilee , drawing punitive responsive strikes
from Israel. In addition, following the 1966 Syrian coup d\'état ,
attacks and acts of sabotage by Syrian-based Palestinian guerrillas
(Fatah) had increased, although
Jordan was still the main source.
For two and a half years from the start of the attacks up until the
Israeli invasion of
Syria on April 7, 1967, the
launched from Syrian territory had resulted in three Israeli deaths,
all of them soldiers. In September 1966 the Israeli Chief of Staff
Yitzhak Rabin gave an interview in which he stated that Israeli
actions "should be aimed at those who carry out the attacks and at the
regime that supports them". These 'unfortunate' words were interpreted
as a 'plot' to bring down the Syrian government.
Syria also claimed that Syrian shelling had always occurred in
response to Israeli firing on peaceful Arab farmers or Syrian posts.
This point, also raised by Dayan in his interview, is further
supported by the eye-witness accounts of Dutch UN Observer force
Colonel Jan Mühren who attested to the Israeli practice of using
armoured tractors to farm in the DMZ in areas prohibited by the 1949
Armistice agreement. These activities would draw Syrian fire, to which
Israel would respond with its own forces. However, the vague 1949
Armistice agreement had not prohibited civil activity in the DMZ.
In November 1966,
Syria signed a defense pact whereby each
country would support the other if it were attacked. According to
Indar Jit Rikhye , Egyptian
Mahmoud Riad told him
Soviet Union had persuaded
Egypt to enter the pact with two
ideas in mind: to reduce the chances of a punitive attack on
Israel, and to bring the Syrians under Egyptian President Gamal Abdel
Nasser 's moderating influence. In January 1967 the Israeli Minister
of Health, Yisrael Barzilai, warned that Egypt’s commitment to Syria
under their mutual defense pact "could escalate the situation and
nobody foresee how it will end".
During a visit to London in February 1967, Israeli Foreign Minister
Abba Eban briefed journalists on Israel's "hopes and anxieties"
explaining to those present that, although the governments of Lebanon
Jordan and the
United Arab Republic (Egypt's official name until
1971) seemed to have decided against active confrontation with Israel,
it remained to be seen whether
Syria could maintain a minimal level of
restraint at which hostility was confined to rhetoric. At the same
Israel was planning, approving and executing the provocations of
Syria along the DMZ referred to by Dayan. The provocations were
sending a tractor to plow in the demilitarized areas. The Syrians
would fire on these tractors and would frequently shell Israeli
settlements. This reached a critical point when armored tractor work
on land in the southern demilitarized zone close to Kibbutz Ha-On was
scheduled. It was anticipated that the Syrians would react. The
Israeli Air Force was placed on alert. Prime Minister Eshkol approved
April 7, 1967 Cross-border Battle
Earlier in the week,
Syria had twice attacked an Israeli tractor
working in the DMZ area. When the tractor returned on the morning of
April 7, 1967, as predicted in the plan, the Syrians opened fire again
initially with light weapons. The Israelis responded by sending in
armor-plated tractors to continue ploughing, resulting in further
exchanges of fire. The resulting tit-for-tat escalated, leading to
tanks, heavy mortars, machine guns, and artillery being used in
various sections along the 47 mile (76 km) border in what was
described as "a dispute over cultivation rights in the demilitarized
zone south-east of
Lake Tiberias ." At this point the critical
departure from previous incidents occurred. Without advance planning
nor having been submitted for prior approval to the Ministerial
Committee on Security, Israeli aircraft dive-bombed Syrian positions
with 250 and 500 kg bombs. For the first time the IAF was employed
before an Israeli settlement had actually been shelled (with the
exception of stray shells which fell in Tel Katzir) and Israeli planes
penetrated as far as Damascus. The Syrians then responded by shelling
Israeli border settlements heavily, and Israeli jets retaliated by
bombing the village of Sqoufiye, destroying around 40 houses in the
process. At 15:19 Syrian shells started falling on Kibbutz
over 300 landed within the kibbutz compound in 40 minutes. The
"incident" had escalated into a full-scale aerial battle over the
Golan Heights after
Israel scrambled jets, resulting in the loss of
Syrian Air Force MiG-21s to
Israeli Air Force Dassault Mirage IIIs
, and the latter's flight over
Damascus . The
United Nations Truce
Supervision Organization (UNTSO) attempted to arrange a ceasefire, but
Syria declined to co-operate unless Israeli agricultural work was
halted. The Israeli newspaper Maariv wrote "This was not an
'incident' but a real war." Under these circumstances, the Soviet
Union intervened to halt the downward course of events and to deter
Israel by activating the Egyptian–Syrian defense pact signed in
November 1966 under Soviet pressure for this precise purpose.
Although the April 7 cross-border battle is often called an
'incident', various reactions to the event belie this description. The
Israeli press called it a war.
Moshe Dayan was reported by Ezer
Weismann to have responded "Have you lost your minds? You are leading
the country to war!". Brigadier-General
Israel Lior agreed: "From my
point of view, the
Six-Day War had begun." On April 21, 1967 as in
May 1966. the Soviet deputy foreign minister, Yaakov Malik, relayed an
oral message to the Israeli ambassador in Moscow: "The government of
Soviet Union sees the need to warn again the government of Israel
that the hazardous policy it has been waging for several years is
fraught with danger, and will be held solely responsible.
Speaking to a
Mapai party meeting in
Jerusalem on May 11 Prime
Levi Eshkol warned that
Israel would not hesitate
to use air power on the scale of 7 April in response to continued
border terrorism, and on the same day Israeli envoy Gideon Rafael
presented a letter to the president of the
Security Council warning
Israel would "act in self-defense as circumstances warrant".
Writing from Tel Aviv on May 12, James Feron reported that some
Israeli leaders had decided to use force against
considerable strength but of short duration and limited in area" and
quoted "one qualified observer" who "said it was highly unlikely that
Egypt (then officially called
United Arab Republic ), Syria's closest
ally in the Arab world, would enter the hostilities unless the Israeli
attack were extensive". In early May the Israeli cabinet authorized a
limited strike against Syria, but Rabin's renewed demand for a
large-scale strike to discredit or topple the Ba'ath regime was
opposed by Eshkol.
BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen reports:
The toughest threat was reported by the news agency United Press
International (UPI) on 12 May: 'A high Israeli source said today that
Israel would take limited military action designed to topple the
Damascus army regime if Syrian terrorists continue sabotage raids
inside Israel. Military observers said such an offensive would fall
short of all-out war but would be mounted to deliver a telling blow
against the Syrian government.' In the West as well as the Arab world
the immediate assumption was that the unnamed source was Rabin and
that he was serious. In fact, it was Brigadier-General
Aharon Yariv ,
the head of military intelligence, and the story was overwritten.
Yariv mentioned 'an all-out invasion of
Syria and conquest of
Damascus' but only as the most extreme of a range of possibilities.
But the damage had been done. Tension was so high that most people,
and not just the Arabs, assumed that something much bigger than usual
was being planned against Syria.
Border incidents multiplied and numerous Arab leaders, both political
and military, called for an end to Israeli attacks. Egypt, then
already trying to seize a central position in the Arab world under
Nasser, accompanied these declarations with plans to re-militarize the
Syria shared these views, although it did not prepare for an
immediate invasion. The
Soviet Union actively backed the military
needs of the Arab states .
ISRAEL AND EGYPT
In April 1967, after meeting with Nasser,
Lucius D. Battle , The U.S
Egypt reported to Washington that Nasser plans to
deflect mounting internal pressure against his regime by creating a
foreign policy crisis which could be to heat up the Israeli situation.
EVENTS DURING THE WEEKS BEFORE THE WAR
MISINFORMATION FROM THE SOVIET UNION
In 1967, Israeli leaders repeatedly threatened to invade
overthrow the Syrian government if Palestinian guerrilla actions
across the border did not cease. In that context, the Soviet Union
fed the Syrian government false information in the Spring of 1967 that
Israel was planning to invade Syria.
On May 13, a Soviet intelligence report given by Soviet President
Nikolai Podgorny to Egyptian Vice President
Anwar Sadat likewise
claimed falsely that Israeli troops were massing along the Syrian
border. On May 14, Nasser sent his chief of staff, General Fawzi ,
Syria in order to verify the Soviet warning.
EGYPTIAN TROOP BUILD-UP IN SINAI
Egyptian President Nasser was in a difficult position. He had
received humiliating rebukes for Egypt's lack of action after the
recent Israeli attacks on
Syria in April 1967. This,
combined with Israeli threats to topple the Syrian regime and the
Soviet urging that the Syrian-Egyptian defence agreement had thereby
been triggered, left Nasser feeling as though he had no option other
than to display solidarity with Syria. On 14 May, Nasser began the
re-militarization of the Sinai, and concentrated tanks and troops
there. This move was reminiscent of what he had done in the Rotem
Crisis , although this time it was done openly. Fawzi reported to
Nasser that the Soviet alarm about an Israeli plot to attack
baseless, but Nasser continued to pour his divisions into Sinai.
Egyptian Field Marshal
Abdel Hakim Amer explained to (Soviet
Ambassador) Pozhidaev that the influx of troops into Sinai was for
Israel will not risk starting major military actions
against Syria, because if it does Egyptian military units, having
occupied forward initial positions on this border will immediately
move out on the basis of the mutual defense agreement with Syria." On
May 16, Ahmed el-Feki, Egypt's Under Secretary of State, assured David
Nes, US chargé d'affaires in Cairo that
Egypt would not "take the
initiative in attacking Israel." But in case of a large-scale Israeli
attack against its neighbors, el-Feki said,
Egypt would come to their
aid. Nes came away from the conversation "certain" that
Egypt had "no
The reasons for Nasser's decisions to expel the UN peacekeepers
(UNEF) and the move to reinforce Egyptian forces in the Sinai were
reported to the Israeli government by Prime Minister Eshkol on May 16,
1967 as follows:
"It is estimated that, in light of Syrian reports and appeals to
Egypt regarding Israel’s intention to take major action against
Syria; in light of declarations and warnings issued by
Israel in the
past few days; and Egypt’s predicament since April.
Egypt has come
to the decision that in the present circumstances it cannot sit by
idly. It has therefore decided, in the face of the Israeli threat, to
demonstrate readiness to come to Syria’s aid within the framework of
the mutual defence pact. At the same time, it may be assumed that the
Egyptians hope that their actions and demonstration will achieve the
practical effect of deterring
Israel from implementing its threat."
REMOVAL OF U.N. PEACEKEEPERS FROM EGYPT
At 10:00 p.m. on May 16, the commander of
United Nations Emergency
Force , General
Indar Jit Rikhye , was handed a letter from General
Mohammed Fawzy, Chief of Staff of the
United Arab Republic , reading:
"To your information, I gave my instructions to all UAR armed forces
to be ready for action against Israel, the moment it might carry out
any aggressive action against any Arab country. Due to these
instructions our troops are already concentrated in Sinai on our
eastern border. For the sake of complete security of all UN troops
which install OPs along our borders, I request that you issue your
orders to withdraw all these troops immediately." The emissary who
delivered the letter requested immediate withdrawal of United Nations
Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh as well. Rikhye said he would report
to the Secretary-General for instructions.
The UNEF was established following the
Suez crisis in 1956 by various
resolutions of the
Security Council culminating in resolution 1001.
Egypt agreed to the presence of the unit on her territory. Israel
Initially, Nasser's letter had not demanded a full withdrawal of
UNEF, but that they vacate the Sinai and concentrate in Gaza. Detailed
archival studies revealed that the original letter had not included a
request to withdraw troops from Sharm el-Sheik, overlooking the
Straits of Tiran . The
UN Secretary-General ,
U Thant , demanded an
all-or-nothing clarification from Nasser, leaving the Egyptians with
little choice but to ask for their total withdrawal.
U Thant then
attempted to negotiate with the Egyptian government, but on May 18 the
Foreign Minister informed nations with troops in UNEF that
the UNEF mission in
Egypt and the Gaza Strip had been terminated and
that they must leave immediately. Egyptian forces then prevented UNEF
troops from entering their posts. The Governments of
Yugoslavia decided to withdraw their troops from UNEF, regardless of
the decision of U Thant. While this was taking place, U Thant
suggested that UNEF be redeployed to the Israeli side of the border,
Israel refused, arguing that UNEF contingents from countries
Israel would be more likely to impede an Israeli response
to Egyptian aggression than to stop that aggression in the first
Permanent Representative of
Egypt then informed U Thant
that the Egyptian government had decided to terminate UNEF's presence
in the Sinai and the Gaza Strip, and requested steps that would
withdraw the force as soon as possible. The UNEF commander was given
the order to begin withdrawal on May 19.
The withdrawal of UNEF was to be spaced over a period of some weeks.
The troops were to be withdrawn by air and by sea from Port Said. The
withdrawal plan envisaged that the last personnel of UNEF would leave
the area on June 30, 1967. On the morning of May 27,
that the Canadian contingent be evacuated within 48 hours "on grounds
of the attitude adopted by the Government of
Canada in connection with
UNEF and the
United Arab Republic Government's request for its
withdrawal, and ‘to prevent any probable reaction from the people of
United Arab Republic against the Canadian Forces in UNEF.’" The
withdrawal of the Canadian contingent was accelerated and completed on
May 31, with the effect that UNEF was left without its logistics and
air support components. In the war itself 15 members of the remaining
force were killed and the rest evacuated through Israel.
The Egyptian Right To Remove The U.N. Peacekeepers
Before UNEF could be deployed negotiations were necessary with the
compliant host country, Egypt.
A key principle governing the stationing and functioning of UNEF, and
later of all other peacekeeping forces, was the consent of the host
Government. Since it was not an enforcement action under Chapter VII
of the Charter, UNEF could enter and operate in
Egypt only with the
consent of the Egyptian Government. This principle was clearly stated
by the General Assembly in adopting resolution 1001 (ES-I) of 7
November 1956 concerning the establishment of UNEF. ... The
Secretary-General impressed upon those authorities that the Force
provided a guarantee for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Egypt
and that, since it would come only with Egypt's consent, it could not
stay or operate in
Egypt if that consent were withdrawn. ... Moreover,
Israel refused to accept UNEF on its territory, the Force had
to be deployed only on the Egyptian side of the border, and thus its
functioning was entirely contingent upon the consent of
Egypt as the
host country. Once that consent was withdrawn, its operation could no
longer be maintained.
Rostow is of the contrary opinion that "Egyptian commitments of the
period were broken one by one, the last being the request for the
removal of U.N.E.F." In another publication Rostow adds detail: "One
of the most important terms of the agreement was set out in an aide
memoire by Secretary-General
Dag Hammarskjöld : if
Egypt ever tried
unilaterally to remove the
United Nations peacekeeping forces in the
Sinai, or to close the Straits of Tiran, the Secretary-General would
Security Council into session immediately and block such
initiatives until a peaceful resolution of the conflict could be
reached." Oren, however, confirms Egypt's right as follows: "That
(UNEF) presence, however, hung on a legal fiction. The "good-faith
agreement" forged by
Dag Hammarskjöld in 1957, according to which
Egypt would consult with the General Assembly and the UNEF Advisory
Council before altering the force’s mandate, was in no way binding.
The Egyptians could, in fact, dismiss UNEF whenever they chose.
Bunche (UN expert on Middle East diplomacy) fully adhered to the
secretary-general’s position that
Egypt had a sovereign right to
dismiss UNEF’, however imprudent that decision might be."
United States did not find a UNEF withdrawal overly worrying.
Walworth Barbour, US ambassador in Tel Aviv, told Israeli officials
that the withdrawal did not affect the "fundamental military
situation," and that there was "every reason for Nasser" not to attack
Egypt volunteered that if
Israel were concerned about an
Egyptian invasion, it could accept UNEF on its own side of the
armistice line. "If
Israel wants them to stay," Field Marshal Amer
told Soviet Ambassador Pozhidaev, "it can make its own territory
U Thant was thinking along the same lines. On May 18, he
posed that option to Israel's UN ambassador, Gideon Rafael, as a
protection against a possible invasion. Rafael replied that this
option was "entirely unacceptable to his Government."
Jacques Roux, France's ambassador in Cairo, gave Maurice Couve de
Murville, the French foreign minister, an assessment that
making its moves in reaction to accusations that
Egypt was not living
up to its obligations to other Arab states. The request for a UNEF
withdrawal did not, in Roux's view, mean that the Egyptian leadership
was embarking on "an adventure."
Israel was not particularly troubled by the evacuation of the UNEF in
itself. There were some who even thought that it would be to
THE STRAITS OF TIRAN CLOSURE
Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol repeated declarations that
made in 1957, saying that closure of the
Straits of Tiran would be an
act of war. Then, on May 22,
Egypt responded by announcing, in
addition to the UN withdrawal, that the
Straits of Tiran would be
closed to "all ships flying Israeli flags or carrying strategic
materials ", with effect from May 23. In order to enforce the
Egypt falsely announced that the Tiran straits had been
mined. 90% of Israeli oil passed through the Straits of Tiran. Oil
tankers that were due to pass through the straits were delayed.
According to Sami Sharaf, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs,
Nasser knew that the decision to block the Tiran straits made the war
"inevitable". Nasser stated, "Under no circumstances can we permit
the Israeli flag to pass through the Gulf of Aqaba." The closure of
the Tiran Straits was closely linked to the previous withdrawal of the
UN peacekeepers, because having the peacekeepers (rather than the
Egyptian military) at
Sharm el Sheik was important for keeping that
In his speech to Arab trade unionists on May 26, Nasser announced:
Israel embarks on an aggression against
Syria or Egypt, the battle
Israel will be a general one and not confined to one spot on
the Syrian or Egyptian borders. The battle will be a general one and
our basic objective will be to destroy Israel."
Nasser publicly denied that
Egypt would strike first and spoke of a
negotiated peace if
Israel allowed all Palestinian refugees the right
of return , and of a possible compromise over the Straits of Tiran.
For The Egyptian Right To Close The Straits
Egypt stated that the Gulf of Aqaba had always been a national inland
waterway subject to the sovereignty of the only three legitimate
littoral States — Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and
Egypt — who had the
right to bar enemy vessels. The representative of the United Arab
Republic further stated that "Israel's claim to have a port on the
Gulf was considered invalid, as
Israel was alleged to have occupied
several miles of coastline on the Gulfline, including Umm Rashrash, in
Security Council resolutions of 1948 and the
Israel General Armistice Agreement."
The Arab states disputed Israel's right of passage through the
Straits, noting they had not signed the Convention on the Territorial
Sea and Contiguous Zone specifically because of article 16(4) which
Israel with that right.
United Nations General Assembly debates after the war, the
Arab states and their supporters argued that even if international law
Israel the right of passage,
Israel was not entitled to attack
Egypt to assert that right, because the closure was not an "armed
attack" as defined by Article 51 of the
United Nations Charter .
Supporting this view in a letter written to the
New York Times in June
1967, lawyer Roger Fisher argued that
United Arab Republic had a good legal case for restricting
traffic through the Strait of Tiran. First it is debatable whether
international law confers any right of innocent passage through such a
waterway.... ... a right of innocent passage is not a right of free
passage for any cargo at any time. In the words of the Convention on
the Territorial Sea: 'Passage is innocent so long as it is not
prejudicial to the peace, good order, or security of the coastal
state... taking the facts as they were I, as an international lawyer,
would rather defend before the
International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice the
legality of the U.A.R's action in closing the Strait of Tiran than to
argue the other side of the case...
Against The Egyptian Right To Close The Straits
After the 1956 campaign in which
Sharm el-Sheikh and
opened the blocked Straits, it was forced to withdraw and return the
territory to Egypt. At the time, members of the international
community pledged that
Israel would never again be denied use of the
Straits of Tiran . The French representative to the UN, for example,
announced that an attempt to interfere with free shipping in the
Straits would be against international law, and American President
Dwight Eisenhower went so far as publicly to recognize that reimposing
a blockade in the
Straits of Tiran would be seen as an aggressive act
which would oblige
Israel to protect its maritime rights in accordance
with Article 51 of the UN Charter.
The rights of
Egypt regarding the
Straits of Tiran had been debated
at the General Assembly pursuant to Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai
Suez Crisis . A number of states, including
Denmark , the
New Zealand , the United Kingdom
United States argued that the Straits were international
waters , and, as such, all vessels had the right of "free and innocent
passage" through them.
India , however, argued that
Egypt was entitled
to require foreign ships to obtain its consent before seeking access
to the gulf because its territorial sea covered the Straits of Tiran.
It too recognized the right of innocent passage through such waters,
but argued it was up to the coastal State to decide which passage was
Israel’s political ‘anchor’ in its efforts to prevent any
disruption of freedom of shipping through the Straits was a statement
Golda Meir at the UN Assembly on 1 March
1957, while announcing her government’s decision to respond to the
demand for withdrawal from Sinai and the Gaza Strip, to the effect
Israel would view disruption of free shipping through the Tiran
Straits as an act of aggression and would reserve the right to react
in accordance with Clause 51 of the UN Charter.
International law professor John Quigley argues that under the
doctrine of proportionality,
Israel would only be entitled to use such
force as would be necessary to secure its right of passage.
State practice and customary international law is that ships of all
states have a right of innocent passage through territorial seas.
Egypt had consistently granted passage as a matter of state
practice until then suggests that its opinio juris in that regard was
consistent with practice. Moreover, during the Egyptian occupation of
the Saudi islands of
Sanafir and Tiran in 1950, it provided assurances
to the US that the military occupation would not be used to prevent
free passage, and that
Egypt recognizes that such free passage is "in
conformity with the international practice and the recognized
principles of international law.". In 1949 the International Court of
Justice held in the Corfu Channel Case (
United Kingdom v. Albania)
that where a strait was overlapped by a territorial sea foreign ships,
including warships, had unsuspendable right of innocent passage
through such straits used for international navigation between parts
of the high seas, but express provision for innocent passage through
straits within the territorial sea of a foreign state was not codified
until the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous
EGYPT\'S PLAN TO ATTACK ISRAEL ON 27 MAY
Caught up in Arab enthusiasm for military action and encouraged by
the lack of response to the closure of the Straits, Egyptian Field
Marshal Amer planned for initiating an attack on
Israel in late May.
He told one of his generals that "This time we will be the ones to
start the war." This was counter to Nasser's strategy of pushing
Israel to start the war. Historian
Michael Oren states that Egyptian
sources are divided over why Nasser did not veto Amer's plan. Oren
suggests that "Nasser was apprised of but lacked the political
strength to override Amer's order. Also, the preparation of an
Egyptian invasion of
Israel had certain advantages for Nasser..." The
Egyptian attack plan was code-named Operation Dawn , and was planned
Abdel Hakim Amer . It called for the strategic bombing of
Israeli airfields, ports, cities, and the
Negev Nuclear Research
Center . Arab armies would then invade Israel, and cut it in half with
an armored thrust through the
On May 25, 1967, Israeli
Abba Eban landed in
Washington "with instructions to discuss American plans to re-open the
Straits of Tiran". As soon as he arrived, he was given new
instructions in a cable from the Israeli government. The cable said
Israel had learned of an imminent Egyptian attack, which
overshadowed the blockade. No longer was he to emphasize the Straits
issue; he was instructed to ‘inform the highest authorities of this
new threat and to request an official statement from the United States
that an attack on
Israel would be viewed as an attack on the United
Michael Oren explains Eban's reaction to the new
instructions: "Eban was livid. Unconvinced that Nasser was either
determined or even able to attack, he now saw Israelis inflating the
Egyptian threat — and flaunting their weakness — in order to
extract a pledge that the President, Congress-bound, could never
make." He described the cable as an "...act of momentous
irresponsibility... eccentric..." which "lacked wisdom, veracity and
tactical understanding," and later came to the conclusion that the
genesis of the cable was Rabin's indecisive state of mind. According
Tom Segev , the instructions sent to Eban in Washington
were an attempt to mislead him, and through him president Johnson, to
Despite his own skepticism, Eban followed his instructions during his
first meeting with Secretary Rusk, Under Secretary Rostow, and
Lucius Battle . American intelligence experts
spent the night analyzing each of the Israeli claims. On May 26, Eban
United States Secretary of State
Dean Rusk , Defense
Robert McNamara , and finally with President Lyndon B.
Johnson . In a memo to the President, Rusk rejected the claim of an
Egyptian and Syrian attack being imminent, plainly stating "our
intelligence does not confirm Israeli estimate". According to
declassified documents from the Johnson Presidential Library ,
President Johnson and other top officials in the administration did
not believe war between
Israel and its neighbors was necessary or
inevitable. "All of our intelligence people are unanimous that if the
UAR attacks, you will whip hell out of them", Johnson told Eban during
a visit to the
White House on May 26. Consequently, Johnson
declined to airlift special military supplies to
Israel or even to
publicly support it. Eban left the
White House distraught.
In a lecture given in 2002, Oren said, "Johnson sat around with his
advisors and said, ‘What if their intelligence sources are better
than ours?’ Johnson decided to fire off a Hotline message to his
counterpart in the Kremlin,
Alexei Kosygin , in which he said,
‘We've heard from the Israelis, but we can't corroborate it, that
your proxies in the Middle East, the Egyptians, plan to launch an
Israel in the next 48 hours. If you don't want to start
a global crisis, prevent them from doing that.’ At 2:30 a.m. on May
27, Soviet Ambassador to
Dimitri Pojidaev knocked on Nasser's
door and read him a personal letter from Kosygin in which he said,
‘We don't want
Egypt to be blamed for starting a war in the Middle
East. If you launch that attack, we cannot support you.’
According to Oren, Nasser knew that operation Dawn was already set to
be launched in only few hours time, at sunrise. His mood soured since
he realized that
Israel had accessed Egyptian secrets and compromised
them. Nasser hurried to an emergency meeting at the headquarters, and
told Amer about the exposure of Dawn and asked him to cancel the
planned attack. Amer consulted his sources in the Kremlin, and they
corroborated the substance of Kosygin's message. Despondent, Amer told
the commander of Egypt's air force, Major General Mahmud Sidqi , that
the operation was cancelled." The cancellation orders arrived to the
pilots when they were already in their planes, awaiting the final go
According to then Egyptian Vice-President
Hussein el-Shafei , as soon
as Nasser knew what Amer planned, he cancelled the operation.
According to John Quigley , there is thin evidence that there was any
Egyptian plan to attack
Israel that would actually have been carried
Abdel Magid Farid, suggests that Nasser did actually consider the
first strike option until early on 27 May, when he was hauled out of
bed at mid night by the
Soviet Union ambassador (his only source of
arms and spare parts) and warned not to precipitate a confrontation.
Other evidence, however, suggests he never intended to strike first.
Nasser rejected the first strike option as politically impossible as
he felt it would provide a pretext for
Israel and the U.S, and
alienate the Soviets. All of Nasser's plans were based on an
assumption the Israelis would strike first.
THE CRISIS AND DIPLOMACY
The Israeli government asked the U.S. and UK to open the Straits of
Tiran, as they had guaranteed they would in 1957.
Harold Wilson 's
proposal of an international maritime force to quell the crisis was
adopted by President Johnson, but received little support, with only
Britain and the
Netherlands offering to contribute ships. The British
cabinet later stated that there was a new balance of power in the
Middle East, led by the United Arab Republic, that was A) to the
Israel and the Western powers and B) something
going to have to learn to live with.
United Nations Secretary-General
U Thant also went to Cairo to help
negotiate an agreement to avoid conflict. UN Secretary General, U
Thant , visited Cairo for mediation and a renewed diplomatic effort to
solve the crisis. Talks failed as President Nasser kept the straits
Israel refused to accept the UN troops on its side of the
Most American diplomats who worked in the Middle East were
sympathetic to Nasser's views on the Straits, with several of them
arguing that the US should ignore both its on-the-record promises to
Israel regarding the Straits being open and international law; a few
diplomats who were not as impressed by threats from Arab nations
advised the Johnson Administration to back the flotilla option as a
"show of force" that would forestall war from breaking out.
The US also tried to mediate, and Nasser agreed to send his
vice-president to Washington to explore a diplomatic settlement. The
meeting did not happen because
Israel launched its offensive.
On May 30, Nasser responded to Johnson's request of 11 days earlier
and agreed to send his Vice President,
Zakkariya Muhieddin , to
Washington on June 7 to explore a diplomatic settlement in "precisely
the opening the
White House had sought".
JORDAN JOINS EGYPT
During May and June the Israeli government had worked hard to keep
Jordan out of any war; it was concerned about being attacked on
multiple fronts, and did not want to have to deal with the Jordanian
Israel called upon
Jordan numerous times to refrain from
hostilities. Israel's own sense of concern regarding Jordan's future
role originated in the Jordanian control of the
West Bank . This put
Arab forces just 17 kilometers from Israel's coast, a jump-off point
from which a well-coordinated tank assault would likely cut
two within half an hour. Hussein had doubled the size of Jordan's
army in the last decade and had US training and arms delivered as
recently as early 1967, and it was feared that it could be used by
other Arab states as staging grounds for operations against Israel;
thus, attack from the
West Bank was always viewed by the Israeli
leadership as a threat to Israel's existence.
However, Jordan's King Hussein got caught up in the wave of pan-Arab
nationalism preceding the war; . According to Mutawi, Hussein was
caught on the horns of a galling dilemma: allow
Jordan to be dragged
into war and face the brunt of the Israeli response, or remain neutral
and risk full-scale insurrection among his own people. Army
Sharif Zaid Ben Shaker warned in a press
conference that "If
Jordan does not join the war a civil war will
erupt in Jordan". However, according to
Avi Shlaim , Hussein's
actions were prompted by his feelings of Arab nationalism.
An extremely important change took place on May 30, when Jordan
signed a mutual defense treaty with Egypt, thereby joining the
military alliance already in place between
Egypt and Syria. The move
surprised both Egyptians and foreign observers, because President
Nasser had generally been at odds with Hussein, calling him an
"imperialist lackey" just days earlier. Nasser said that any
differences between him and Hussein were erased "in one moment" and
declared: "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The
Arab people want to fight."
At the end of May 1967, Jordanian forces were given to the command of
an Egyptian general,
Abdul Munim Riad . On the same day, Nasser
proclaimed: "The armies of Egypt,
Syria are poised on the
Israel ... to face the challenge, while standing behind us
are the armies of
Sudan and the whole Arab
nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the
Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have
reached the stage of serious action and not of more declarations."
The U.S president envoy reported from Cairo on 30 May that Nasser
"cannot and will not retreat" and "he would probably welcome, but not
seek, military showdown with Israel".
On June 3, days before the war,
Egypt flew to Amman two battalions of
commandos tasked with infiltrating Israel's borders and engaging in
attacks and bombings so as to draw IDF into a Jordanian front and ease
the pressure on the Egyptians. Soviet-made artillery and Egyptian
military supplies and crews were also flown to Jordan.
ARAB STATES PREPARATIONS
At the same time several other Arab states not bordering Israel,
including Iraq, Sudan,
Kuwait and Algeria, began mobilizing their
Egypt on June 4, 1967,
New York Times journalist James
Reston observed: "Cairo does not want war and it is certainly not
ready for war. But it has already accepted the possibility, even the
likelihood, of war, as if it had lost control of the situation."
Abdul Rahman Arif of
Iraq said that "the existence of
Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is an opportunity to
wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948". The Iraqi
Prime Minister predicted that "there will be practically no Jewish
In May 1967,
Hafez al-Assad , then Syria's Defense Minister declared:
"Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression,
but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the
Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The
Syrian Army , with its
finger on the trigger, is united... I, as a military man, believe that
the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation."
DEVELOPMENTS IN ISRAEL
Waiting period (Six-Day War)
Spurred by the virulent Arab rhetoric, mounting concern and pressure
from the media, public bellicose statements by their military, the
unexpected major battle over
Syria in April, the consequences thereof
for the Egyptian-Syrian defense agreement, the expulsion of UNEF, and
the mobilization of Egyptian troops into Sinai, the Israeli public
sense was of heightened fear and of an approaching holocaust.
Yitzhak Rabin reported that the cabinet was deadlocked over the issue
of the blockade. Interior Minister
Haim-Moshe Shapira in particular
had pointed out that the Straits had been closed from 1951 to 1956
without the situation endangering Israel's security.
Nonetheless, on May 22 General Rabin reported to Israel's cabinet
that the Egyptian forces were in a defensive posture, that they were
not being deployed to attack. The IDF concluded that Nasser meant to
intervene in case of an Israeli attack against Syria. On 23 May, Rabin
realized that by blocking the Tiran straits, Nasser probably
understood that he was going to war.
The Israeli cabinet met on May 23 and decided to launch an attack if
Straits of Tiran were not re-opened by May 25. Following an
United States Under Secretary of State for Political
Eugene Rostow to allow time for the negotiation of a
Israel agreed to a delay of ten days to two
On May 24 Prime Minister Eshkol told his generals: "Nobody ever said
we were an army for preventive war ... I do not accept the mere fact
that the Egyptian army is deployed in Sinai makes war inevitable. ...
You did not receive all these weapons in order for you to say that now
we are ready and well-equipped to destroy the Egyptian army, so we
must do it".
U. S. intelligence likewise did not expect
Egypt to attack in the
absence of an Israeli invasion of Syria. On May 26 the United States
communicated that assessment to Israel.
On 30 May
Israel felt threatened also by the
Jordan to Iraqi and other Arab troops and an Israeli
preemptive attack became more likely.
While the generals were more troubled by the tanks and fighter
airplanes that Nasser kept pouring into Sinai, the Israeli government
were preoccupied with the Tiran Straits closure. Within Israel's
political leadership, it was decided that if the US would not act, and
if the UN could not act, then
Israel would have to act. On 1 June,
Moshe Dayan was made Israeli Defense Minister, and on June 3 the
Johnson administration gave an ambiguous statement;
to prepare for war. Israel's attack against
Egypt on June 5 began what
would later be dubbed the Six-Day War.
CIA Analysis of the 1967
Arab-Israeli War. The first page of the draft of the "special
estimate" that predicted the outcome of the war
WHO WOULD WIN THE WAR
CIA assessed that
Israel could "defend successfully against
simultaneous Arab attacks on all fronts... or hold on any three fronts
while mounting successfully a major offensive on the fourth."
Days before the war, the C.I.A assessed that
Israel failed to take
the instant military counteraction to Nasser's steps which might have
been most effective. An attack would still be able to drive the
Egyptians away from the entrance to the Strait of Tiran, but it would
Israel heavy losses of men and materiel, and doubted if
Israel had sufficient war supply for a few weeks war.
The Soviet leadership considered the armed forces of Egypt, Syria,
Iraq as superior to the IDF in number of troops, tanks,
planes, ships and amount of armaments. They had been equipped with the
most modern weapons, and had received high-level training from the
Soviets. They estimated mistakenly, that
Israel was militarily weak,
and operated under the illusion that Arab armies could easily repel
any Israeli attack and defeat the IDF on the battlefield.
ISRAEL: WAS THE WAR IMMINENT?
Israel viewed the
Straits of Tiran as a vital interest, through which
Israel received vital imports, mainly oil from Iran, and a blockade
threatened Israel's ability to develop the Negev.
Former Chief of Staff of the armed forces,
Haim Bar-Lev (a deputy
chief during the war) stated: "the entrance of the Egyptians into
Sinai was not a casus belli ," but argued instead that the Egyptian
blockade of the
Straits of Tiran ultimately caused the war.
After the closing of the Straits of Tiran, Israeli Foreign Minister,
Abba Eban, contended that this was enough to start the war. Eban said,
"From May the 24th onward, the question who started the war or who
fired the first shot became momentously irrelevant. There is no
difference in civil law between murdering a man by slow strangulation
or killing him by a shot in the head... From the moment at which the
blockade was posed, active hostilities had commenced, and
Egypt nothing of her Charter rights."
While not viewed by the Israeli military as an imminent threat, the
presence of a long-term direct and 'immediate' threat on the border
would require the IDF to mobilize its reserves and stand ready, thus
severely disrupting normal life in
Israel at intolerable economic
Writing in 2002, American
National Public Radio journalist Mike
Shuster expressed a view that was prevalent in
Israel before the war
that the country "was surrounded by Arab states dedicated to its
Egypt was ruled by Gamal Abdel Nasser, a firebrand
nationalist whose army was the strongest in the Arab Middle East.
Syria was governed by the radical Baathist Party , constantly issuing
threats to push
Israel into the sea." With what
Israel saw as
provocative acts by Nasser, including the blockade of the Straits and
the mobilization of forces in the Sinai, creating military and
economic pressure, and the
United States temporizing because of its
entanglement in the
Vietnam War , Israel's political and military
elite came to feel that preemption was not merely militarily
preferable, but transformative.
Mattityahu Peled , the Chief of Logistics for the Armed
Forces during the war, said the survival argument was "a bluff which
was born and developed only after the war ... When we spoke of the war
in the General Staff, we talked of the political ramifications if we
didn't go to war — what would happen to
Israel in the next 25 years.
Never of survival today." Peled also stated that "To pretend that the
Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten
the existence of
Israel constitutes an insult not only to the
intelligence of anyone capable of analyzing this sort of situation,
but above all an insult to Zahal (Israeli military)."
In a 30 March 1968 Ma’ariv interview Defense Minister Moshe Dayan
explained: "What do you mean, unavoidable? It was, of course,
possible to avoid the war if the Straits had stayed closed to Israeli
Menachem Begin also stated that "The Egyptian army concentrations in
the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to
attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack
Martin van Creveld , the IDF pressed for war: "...the
concept of 'defensible borders' was not even part of the IDFs own
vocabulary. Anyone who will look for it in the military literature of
the time will do so in vain. Instead, Israel's commanders based their
thought on the 1948 war and, especially, their 1956 triumph over the
Egyptians in which, from then Chief of Staff Dayan down, they had
gained their spurs. When the 1967 crisis broke they felt certain of
their ability to win a 'decisive, quick and elegant' victory, as one
of their number, General
Haim Bar Lev , put it, and pressed the
government to start the war as soon as possible".
That the announcement of the blockade of the Strait of Tiran paved
the way for war is disputed by Major General
Indar Jit Rikhye ,
military adviser to the
United Nations Secretary General , who called
the accusation of a blockade "questionable," pointing out that an
Israeli-flagged ship had not passed through the straits in two years,
and that "The U.A.R. navy had searched a couple of ships after the
establishment of the blockade and thereafter relaxed its
DID ISRAEL PLAN A WAR?
According to the U.S. assessment,
Egypt had no intention of attacking
Israel, and the Americans desperately tried to dissuade
invading Egypt. The U.S. further views that
entered the war as a response to Israel's invasion of Egypt.
The USSR had come to similar conclusions: "... it is clear that the
Soviet assessment from mid-May 1967 that
Israel was about to strike at
Syria was correct and well founded, and was not merely based on the
public threats issued by Eshkol, Rabin and Yariv.".
Some of Israel's political leaders, however, hoped for a diplomatic
solution. The U.S. President at the time,
Lyndon Johnson , said that
Egypt was the leading cause of the war:
If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than
any other, it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that
Straits of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent, maritime
passage must be preserved for all nations.
According to Szabo, many commentators consider the war as the classic
case of anticipatory attack in self-defense. According to Ferris,
Nasser's decisions to ask for the removal of UNEF from Sinai and to
block the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, are commonly accepted as
the point where war became inevitable.
DID EGYPT PLAN A WAR?
According to Shlaim he wanted victory without war".
Some analysts suggest that Nasser took actions aimed at reaping
political gains, which he knew carried a high risk of precipitating
military hostilities. On this view, Nasser's willingness to take such
risks was based on his fundamental underestimation of Israel's
capacity for independent and effective military action.
THE WAR CONSEQUENCES
Six-Day War See also: Controversies relating to the
On June 1,
Israel formed a National Unity Government, and on June 4
the decision was made to go to war. The next morning,
Operation Focus , a large-scale surprise air strike that was the
opening of the Six-Day War.
Controversy remains as to whether Israel's attack was a preemptive
strike or an unjustified attack. Many commentators consider the war as
the classic case of anticipatory attack in self-defense.
Michael Oren writes that Rusk was "mad as hell" and that
Johnson later wrote "I have never concealed my regret that Israel
decided to move when it did".
1949 Armistice Agreements
* ^ Sources on the expulsion of UN forces:
* "In 1967,
Egypt ordered the UN troops out and blocked Israeli
shipping routes — adding to already high levels of tension between
Israel and its neighbours." "
Israel and the Palestinians in depth,
1967: Six Day War",
BBC . Accessed July 17, 2010.
* "Buoyed by the almost universal Arab acclaim he received for his
actions, Nasser expelled the UNEF forces and announced the closing of
Straits of Tiran " Robert Owen Freedman. World Politics and the
Arab-Israeli Conflict, Pergamon Press, 1979, p. 79.
* "The Israeli attack ended a nerve-wracking three weeks of
waiting... begun when Egyptian President
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled
United Nations peacekeepers from the Gaza Strip and the southern
tip of the Sinai Peninsula, blockaded the nearby
Straits of Tiran to
Israeli ships, and deployed his massive army along the Israeli
border." Dan Perry, Alfred Ironside.
Israel and the Quest for
Permanence, McFarland, 1999, p. 18.
* "Soon after Nasser expelled UN forces from the Sinai, Secretary of
Dean Rusk directed State Department officials in Washington, New
York, and Moscow to urge the Soviets to restrain their Arab friends."
Nigel John Ashton.
Cold War in the Middle East: Regional Conflict and
the Superpowers 1967–73, Routledge, 2007, p. 18.
* "Nasser... closed the Gulf of Aqaba to shipping, cutting off
Israel from its primary oil supplies. He told UN peacekeepers in the
Sinai Peninsula to leave. He then sent scores of tanks and hundreds of
troops into the Sinai closer to Israel. The Arab world was delirious
with support," "The Mideast: A Century of Conflict Part 4: The 1967
Six Day War",
NPR morning edition, October 3, 2002. Accessed December
* "...a Middle East crisis erupted on May 16, 1967, when Nasser
expelled the UN troops that had policed the Sinai since the end of the
Suez-Sinai War in 1957." Peter L Hahn. Crisis and Crossfire: The
United States and the Middle East Since 1945, Potomac Books, 2005, p.
* "In May, 1967 President Nasser expelled UNEF from
Egypt and set in
train the events that precipitated Israel's blitzkrieg invasion and
conquest of the Sinai." JL Granatstein. Canadian Foreign Policy:
Historical Readings, Copp Clark Pitman, 1986, p. 236.
United Nations General Assembly
Special Reportand Add.1/3
Report of the Secretary-General on the withdrawal of the United
Nations Emergency Force A/6730 AND ADD.1/3 26 June 1967. Retrieved 2
* ^ Maoz, Zeev. Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of
Israel's Security & Foreign Policy, p. 111 (University of Michigan
Press, 2009): "It is most important to reiterate the conclusion of
most scholarly accounts of the crisis: this was a process of unwanted
escalation, which everybody wanted to prevent, but all were
responsible for making this escalation unavoidable."
* ^ A B Ian J. Bickerton (15 September 2009). The Arab-Israeli
Conflict: A History. Reaktion Books. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-86189-527-1 .
(P. 111) It is generally assumed that the June war was fought because
Egypt closed the
Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. (P. 113)
on 23 May 1967, knowing that it might very likely provide
the trigger it needed to launch a war, Nasser made the fateful step of
closing the Straits of Tiran.
* ^ A B Jesse Ferris (23 December 2012). Nasser\'s Gamble: How
Yemen Caused the
Six-Day War and the Decline of
Egyptian Power. Princeton University Press. p. 286. ISBN 1-4008-4523-8
. Both the decision to demand the removal of UNEF from Sinai and the
decision to close the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping- commonly
accepted as the point where war became inevitable-
* ^ A B C Kinga Tibori Szabó (22 August 2011). Anticipatory Action
in Self-Defence: Essence and Limits under International Law. Springer
Science & Business Media. pp. 147, 148. ISBN 978-90-6704-796-8 . (p.
147) The sequence of events that led to the Israeli pre-emptive strike
did indeed create a situation where an armed attack seemed
unavoidable. (p. 148 ) Many commentators treat it (the six day war) as
the locus classicus of anticipatory action in self defence
* ^ A B John Quigley (17 December 2012). The
Six-Day War and
Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War.
Cambridge University Press. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-1-139-62049-9 .
Terence Taylor…wrote in 2004…that "many scholars" considered
Israel to have "conducted the (1967) action in anticipatory of
* ^ John Quigley (17 December 2012). The
Six-Day War and Israeli
Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War.
Cambridge University Press. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-1-139-62049-9 .
Analysts in fields other than law began to question the original
Israeli view of the 1967 war as declassified documentation from the
major powers began to be released. (...) Mary Ellen O'Connell (...)
said, "we now know that
Israel acted on less than convincing evidence.
Thus, the 1967 war does not provide an actual example of lawful
anticipatory self-defence" (...) Richard Falk asserted in 2012 that
Israel acted in self-defence was by then "increasingly
contested by diplomatic historians"
* ^ Rauschning; Wiesbrock; Lailach (1997), p. 30 Missing or empty
title= (help ).
* ^ Sachar 2007, pp. 504, 507–8.
* ^ First
United Nations Emergency Force (Unef I) — Background
(Full text), UN
* ^ Some sources date the agreement to November 4, others to
November 7. Most sources simply say "November". Gawrych (2000) p. 5.
* ^ Schiff, Zeev, History of the Israeli Army, Straight Arrow Books
(1974) p. 145.
* ^ Churchill & Churchill, The Six Day War, Houghton Mifflin
Company (1967) p. 21.
* ^ Pollack, Kenneth, Arabs at war: military effectiveness
1948-1991, University of Nebraska Press (2002), p. 290.
* ^ Segev, 2007, pp. 149–52.
* ^ Hart, 1989 p. 226.
* ^ Oren 2002/2003, p. 312.
* ^ Burrowes & Douglas 1972, pp. 224–25.
* ^ Gluska, Ami. "The Israeli Military and the 1967 War",
Routledge, 2007, pp. 98–99.
* ^ Govrin, Yosef. Israeli-Soviet relations, 1953-67 : from
confrontation to disruption /. 1st ed. Portland: Frank Cass,
1998.Pages 3-58, 221-324
* ^ Shlaim (2007) p. 238.
* ^ Mutawi (2007) p. 93.
* ^ Cohen, Raymond. (1988), p. 12.
* ^ Meir, Golda (1 March 1957), Statement to the General Assembly
Foreign Minister Meir, The State of Israel:
Israel Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, Interference, by armed force, with ships of Israeli
flag exercising free and innocent passage in the Gulf of Aqaba and
Straits of Tiran will be regarded by
Israel as an attack
entitling it to exercise its inherent right of self-defence under
Article 51 of the Charter and to take all such measures as are
necessary to ensure the free and innocent passage of its ships in the
Gulf and in the Straits
* ^ Churchill pp. 52, 77.
* ^ A B C Schmemann, Serge (11 May 1997). "General\'s Words Shed a
New Light on the Golan". The
New York Times See also Shlaim 2001, pp.
235-236; Eyal Zisser, June 1967: Israel's capture of the Golan
Israel Studies, Vol 7, 168-194. .
* ^ A B Elie Podeh; Asher Kaufman; Moshe Maoz (2006). Arab-Jewish
Relations: From Conflict to Resolution (Hardcover ed.). Sussex
Academic Press. pp. 118–119. ISBN 978-1-903900-68-0 .
* ^ Finkelstein 2003 , pp. 131–2
* ^ Finkelstein 2003 , pp. 131
* ^ "Q&A with Michael Oren". The
Jerusalem Post. 5 June 2007.
* ^ Gluska, Ami. "The Israeli Military and the 1967 War",
Routledge, 2007, p. 40
* ^ Sitta, The Line of 1967-1949, Part 3 - "The mysterious line of
June 4, 1967", October 1999
* ^ Gluska, Ami. "The Israeli Military and the 1967 War",
Routledge, 2007, p. 95
* ^ Shemesh 2008, p. 117
* ^ Moshe Gat (2003). Britain and the Conflict in the Middle East,
1964-1967: The Coming of the Six-Day War. Greenwood Publishing Group.
p. 101. ISBN 978-0-275-97514-2 . Retrieved 7 September 2013. Nasser
too, assured the American under Secretary of state, Philip Talbot,
that the Arabs would not exceed the water quotas prescribed by the
* ^ Sosland, Jeffrey (2007) Cooperating Rivals: The Riparian
Politics of the
Jordan River Basin, SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-7201-9 p
Avi Shlaim (2000). The Iron Wall:
Israel and the Arab World.
Penguin Books. pp. 229, 230. ISBN 978-0-14-028870-4 . In January 1964
Arab League summit meeting convened in Cairo. The main item on the
agenda was the threat posed by Israel's diversion of water … The
preamble to its decision stated: "The establishment of
Israel is the
basic threat that the Arab nation in its entirety has agreed to
forestall. And Since the existence of
Israel is a danger that
threatens the Arab nation, the diversion of the
Jordan waters by it
multiplies the dangers to Arab existence. Accordingly, the Arab states
have to prepare the plans necessary for dealing with the political,
economic and social aspects, so that if necessary results are not
achieved, collective Arab military preparations, when they are not
completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final
* ^ Greg Shapland (1997). Rivers of Discord: International Water
Disputes in the Middle East. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. pp. 13–17.
ISBN 978-1-85065-214-4 . Retrieved 15 July 2013.
* ^ Masahiro Murakami (1995). Managing Water for Peace in the
Middle East; Alternative Strategies.
United Nations University Press.
pp. 287–297. ISBN 978-92-808-0858-2 . Retrieved 15 July 2013. The
book appears in:
http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80858e/80858E0m.htm . The
initial diversion capacity of the
National Water Carrier without
supplementary booster pumps was 320 million m3, well within the limits
of the Johnston Plan. ......Shortly before completion of the Israeli
Water Carrier in 1964, an Arab summit conference decided to try to
thwart it. Discarding direct military attack, the Arab states chose to
Jordan headwater......he Arab states chose to divert the
Jordan headwaters.......diversion of both the
Hasbani and the Banias
to the Yarmouk.....According to neutral assessments, the scheme was
only marginally feasible; it was technically difficult and
expensive......Political considerations cited by the Arabs in
rejecting the 1955 Johnston Plan were revived to justify the diversion
scheme. Particular emphasis was placed on the Carrier's capability to
enhance Israel's capacity to absorb immigrants to the detriment of
Palestinian refugees. In response,
Israel stressed that the National
Water Carrier was within the limits of the Johnston Plan......the
Arabs started work on the Headwater Diversion project in 1965. Israel
declared that it would regard such diversion as an infringement of its
sovereign rights. According to estimates, completion of the project
would have deprived
Israel of 35% of its contemplated withdrawal from
the upper Jordan, constituting one-ninth of Israel's annual water
budget.......In a series of military strikes,
Israel hit the diversion
works. The attacks culminated in April 1967 in air strikes deep inside
Syria. The increase in water-related Arab-Israeli hostility was a
major factor leading to the June 1967 war.
* ^ A B Oren 2006, p. 135.
* ^ "Appendix C: Historical review of the political riparian issues
in the development of the
Jordan River and basin management".
* ^ Koboril and Glantz 1998, pp. 129–131.
* ^ Rabil 2003, pp. 17–18.
* ^ Sachar, 2007. pp. 615–16.
* ^ Parker 1996, p. 1
* ^ Borowiec 1998, p. 33.
* ^ Alteras 1993, p. 246
* ^ Brecher 1996.
* ^ Sachar 2007, pp. 503-505.
* ^ Brecher 1996 p. 106
* ^ Sachar 2007, p. 504.
* ^ Colaresi, 2005, p. 129.
* ^ A B Gluska, Ami (2007). The Israeli Military and the Origins of
the 1967 War: Government, armed forces and defence policy 1963-1967.
Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-16377-9 .
* ^ A B Bar-Joseph, Uri (July 1996). "Rotem: The Forgotten Crisis
on Road to the 1967 War". Journal of Contemporary History. Sage
Publications. 31 (3): 547–566. doi :10.1177/002200949603100306 .
* ^ Maoz, Zeev (2009). Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis
of Israel\'s Security and Foreign Policy. The University of Michigan
Press. p. 84. ISBN 0472033417 .
Egypt refused to let
guerrillas from the newly formed Palestinian Liberation Organization
(PLO) operate from their territory. In contrast, the Ba'ath regime in
Syria provided both logistical and practical support to the PLO.
* ^ Maoz, Zeev (2009). Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis
of Israel\'s Security and Foreign Policy. The University of Michigan
Press. p. 84. ISBN 0472033417 .
* ^ Oren 2005
* ^ Oren 2002, pp. 31-32.
* ^ Bowen 2003, pp. 23–30.
* ^ Oren 2002, pp. 33–36.
* ^ Prittie 1969, pp. 245.
* ^ Gluska, Ami (2007). The Israeli Military and the Origins of the
1967 War. Routledge. p. 85. ISBN 0-415-39245-4 .
* ^ Bowen 2003, p. 26 (citing Amman Cables 1456, 1457, 11 December
1966, National Security Files (Country File: Middle East), LBJ Library
(Austin, Texas), Box 146).
* ^ "Memorandum From the President\'s
Special Assistant (Rostow) to
President Johnson". Washington. 15 November 1966. Retrieved 22 October
United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council Resolution 228
* ^ 'King Husain orders nation-wide military service', The Times,
Monday, 21 November 1966; pg. 8; Issue 56794; col D.
* ^ 'Unified Arab command criticizes Jordan's actions', The Times
Saturday, November 26, 1966; pg. 6; Issue 56799; col D.
* ^ Oren 2002, page 127
* ^ Parker 1996, p. 6
* ^ Ben-Yehûdā and Sandler, 2002, State University of New York
Press, p. 34.
* ^ Finkelstein 2003 , pp. 186–87
* ^ Gilbert 2008.
* ^ A B Finkelstein 2003 , pp. 132
* ^ Hajjar 1999
* ^ Finkelstein 2003 , pp. 132–3, 187
* ^ Gluska, Ami. "The Israeli Military and the 1967 War",
Routledge, 2007, Table 4, p. 48.
* ^ Segev, Tom, 2007, op.cit., p. 237
* ^ A B "OpenDocument Yearbook of the
United Nations 1967".
* ^ Gluska, Ami. "The Israeli Military and the 1967 War",
Routledge, 2007, p. 43.
* ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hrjTvWZkgY
* ^ 1949 Israeli-Syrian Armistice agreement
* ^ Rikhye 1980, p. 143 (author interview).
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., p. 93
* ^ 'Intentions of
Syria Crucial: Mr. Eban surveys Israel's hopes
and anxieties', The Times, Thursday, 23 February 1967; pg. 4; Issue
56873; col A.
* ^ Embattled neighbors: Syria, Israel, and Lebanon, By Robert G
Rabil, p.15-16., They followed to a great extent a pattern of action
Israel would move tractors and equipment, often guarded
by police, into disputed areas of the DMZ. From its high ground
Syria would fire at those advancing, and would frequently
shell Israeli settlements in the Huleh Valley.
Israel would retaliate
with excessive raids on Syrian positions, including the use of air
* ^ The defense policies of nations: a comparative study, by
Douglas Murray, Paul R. Viotti, p. 500
* ^ A B Gluska, op. cit., p. 100
* ^ Gluska, op. cit., p. 101
* ^ Bowen (11 April 1967). "Report of ground/air action on
Israeli/Syrian border on 7 April 1967, from Defence and Military
Attaché\'s office". Tel Aviv. pp. 30–31. (subscription required);
also "Syria/Israel, account of incident from Eastern Department;
attack on Sqoufiye reported by UNTSO PRO/FCO 17/473". 10 April 1967.
* ^ Aloni 2001, p. 31.
* ^ 'Jets and tanks in fierce clash by
Israel and Syria', The
Times, Saturday, 8 April 1967; pg. 1; Issue 56910; col A.
* ^ Segev, Tom, op. cit., p. 253
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., p. 99
* ^ Segev, 2007, op. cit., p. 256
* ^ Moshe Shemesh (2008). Arab Politics, Palestinian Nationalism,
and the Six Day War. Sussex Academic Press. p. 169.
* ^ 'Warning by Israelis Stresses Air Power', New York Times, 12
May 1967, p. 38.
* ^ Feron, 13 May 1967, p. 1.
* ^ Oren 2002, p. 51.
* ^ Bowen 2003, pp. 32–33.
* ^ Herbert 1967, p. 1 col E.
* ^ Greg Cashman; Leonard C. Robinson (1 March 2007). An
Introduction to the Causes of War: Patterns of Interstate Conflict
from World War I to Iraq. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 181.
ISBN 978-1-4616-3654-0 . In April 1967, after meeting with Nasser,...
Lucius Battle, reported back to Washington... that the Egyptian leader
was anxious to create a forein policy crisis in order to deflect
mounting internal pressure against his regime
* ^ Dayton Mak (July 10, 1991). "Foreign Affairs Oral History
Project, ASSISTANT SECRETARY LUCIUS D. BATTLE Interview". The
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. Nasser was in real
trouble, economically and politically. ...I predicted that Nasser was
about to do something dramatic....(optionally) to heat up the Israeli
situation, ... The Egyptians soon thereafter began to make unfortunate
comments about the Israeli situation. The rest is history. The war
came and Nasser never recovered from his decline which started before
the war and accelerated after it.
* ^ A B Egypt: A Country Study, U.S. Library of Congress
* ^ A B C D "Part 4: The 1967 Six Day War",
NPR : "In the spring of
that year , the
Soviet Union had led the radical government in
Damascus to believe that
Israel was planning to invade Syria. Syria
shared this misinformation with Nasser. The Egyptian leader closed the
Gulf of Aqaba to shipping, cutting off Israel's primary oil supplies.
He also ordered
United Nations peacekeepers to leave the Sinai
Peninsula. And he sent scores of tanks and hundreds of troops into the
Sinai toward Israel."
* ^ Bregman 2002, pp. 68–69.
* ^ Black 1992, p. 210.
Benny Morris Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab
Conflict, 1881-2001. Pg 304
* ^ A B Michael B. Oren (2002). Six Days of War: June 1967 and the
Making of the Modern Middle East. Oxford University Press. p. 64. ISBN
* ^ Segev, 2007, op. cit., p. 275.
* ^ Lorch, Netanel (2003-09-02). "The Arab-Israeli Wars". Israeli
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2007-03-04.
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., pp. 118 & 123
* ^ Quigley, John, 2012, op. cit., Kindle Locations 447-450.
* ^ Quigley, John, 2012, op. cit., Kindle Locations 431-436.
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., p. 124.
* ^ "The
Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense", John Quigley, p. 16
* ^ U Thant, The
United Nations Secretary-General (26 June 1967).
"Report of the Secretary-General on the withdrawal of the United
Nations Emergency Force, General Assembly A/6730 & Add.1-3 &
A/6730/Add.3/Corr.1". Brigadier Mokhtar, who handed General Fawzy's
letter to the Commander of UNEF, told General Rikhye at the time that
he must order the immediate withdrawal of
United Nations troops from
El Sabha and
Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh on the night of 16 May since United Arab
Republic armed forces must gain control of these two places that very
* ^ Michael K. Carroll (1 January 2010). Pearson\'s Peacekeepers:
Canada and the
United Nations Emergency Force, 1956-67. UBC Press. pp.
164–. ISBN 978-0-7748-5886-1 . it was imperative that UAR forces
occupied the strategic positions of Sharm el Seikh
* ^ Michael B. Oren (2002). Six Days of War: June 1967 and the
Making of the Modern Middle East. Oxford University Press. pp. 69–.
ISBN 978-0-19-515174-9 . to evacuate...
Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh that very night
* ^ Andrzej Sitkowski (1 January 2006). UN Peacekeeping: Myth and
Reality. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 51–. ISBN 978-0-275-99214-9
. Brigadier Mokhtar verbally requested the immediate withdrawal of the
U.N units from El-Sabha and Sharm El Sheikh
* ^ Rikhye 1980, pp. 16–9.
* ^ Quigley, John (December 2012). "The
Six-Day War and Israeli
Self-Defense", Kindle Location 485. Cambridge University Press. Kindle
* ^ Segev, 2007, op. cit., p. 274
* ^ Oren 2002, p. 72.
* ^ United Nations, op. cit.
BBC On this Day, 1967:
Israel launches attack on Egypt.
Retrieved 8 October 2005.
* ^ United Nations, "First
United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF I)
* ^ Rostow, Eugene V., "Legal Aspects for the Search for Peace in
the Middle East", 1970, The American Journal of International Law Vol.
64, No. 4, The United Nations: Appraisal at 25 Years, p. 67
* ^ Rostow, "The Perils of Positivism", 1992, DUKE JOURNAL OF
COMPARATIVE & INTERNATIONAL LAW, Vol 2.2, p. 233
* ^ Oren,Michael B., 2002, "Six-day Storm: The June 1967 War and
the Creation of the Modern Middle East", Oxford University Press, P.
* ^ Oren, 2002, op. cit., p. 70.
* ^ Quigley, op. cit., Kindle Locations 495-497
* ^ Quigley, 2012, op.cit., Kindle location 508
* ^ Quigley, 2012, op.cit., Kindle locations 504-507
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., p. 137.
* ^ Neff, David. Warriors for Jerusalem: the six days that changed
the Middle East, p. 88 (Simon William Roger Louis (13 February 2012).
The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences. Cambridge
University Press. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-107-00236-4 . 90% of Israeli oil
was imported through the
Straits of Tiran
* ^ Avi Shlaim; William Roger Louis (13 February 2012). The 1967
Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences. Cambridge University
Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-107-00236-4 .
* ^ "Daily brief to the U.S president on 27 May 1967" (PDF). 27 May
1967. "diverted as was a sister ship yesterday
* ^ Avi Shlaim; William Roger Louis (13 February 2012). The 1967
Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences. Cambridge University
Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-107-00236-4 . sami sharaf...the decision (the
closure of the Tiran straits) was known (to Nasser) to make war
* ^ Avi Shlaim; William Roger Louis (13 February 2012). The 1967
Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences. Cambridge University
Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-107-00236-4 . the occupation of
Sharm-al-Sheikh would force the closure of the Tiran Straits
* ^ Nasser, Gamal. "Statement to Arab Trade Unionists". Jewish
Virtual Library. Retrieved 13 March 2007. .
* ^ Seale 1988, p. 131 citing Stephens 1971, p. 479.
* ^ 'The Situation in the Middle East: Communications Relating to
the Observance of the Armistice Agreements in the Period January–May
1967', Yearbook of the
United Nations 1967, Office of Public
Information, United Nations, New York.
* ^ Christie 1999, p. 104.
* ^ Fisher, Roger letter to the New York Times, 9 June 1967 quoted
in Finkelstein, 2003, p. 138.
* ^ Bregman 2000, p 47.
* ^ Jia 1998.
* ^ Ami Gluska (9 January 2007). The Israeli Military and the
Origins of the 1967 War: Government, Armed Forces and Defence Policy
1963–67. Routledge. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-0-203-96596-2 . Retrieved
11 April 2013.
* ^ Quigley 1990, pp. 166–167.
* ^ A B The Corfu Channel Case (Merits), International Court of
Justice, ICJ Reports, 1949, pp. 27–29
* ^ A B O'Brien 2001, International Law, p. 407.
* ^ Sandler, Aldy & Al-Khoshman 1993, p. 65.
* ^ Aide-memoire from
Egypt to the
United States regarding Passage
Straits of Tiran , 28 January 1950.
* ^ Boczek 2005, p. 311.
* ^ Oren (2002), "Amer's Dawn", (electronic ed.) Missing or empty
title= (help ).
* ^ Oren 2002, pp. 102–3.
* ^ Tom Segev, "1967", loc 4986 in the Kindle edition. "Eshkol knew
that no such danger had suddenly emerged over the past two days. He
was obviously trying to mislead Eban, and through him President
Johnson, in order to ensure U.S. support"
* ^ Quandt 2005, p. 31-2
* ^ "Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson".
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* ^ A B C "
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* ^ Baylis Thomas, How
Israel was won: a concise history of the
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* ^ A B Michael B. Oren (2002). Six Days of War: June 1967 and the
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Michael Oren (2002, 24 June). 1967: The unwanted war that made
the Middle East. Transcript of speech to The Commonwealth Club of
California. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
* ^ Bowen 2003, p. 57 (author interview, Cairo, 15 December 2002).
* ^ "The
Six-Day War and
Israel Self-Defense", John Quigley, p. 34
(Cambridge University Press)
* ^ Farid was the secretary-general of the Presidency, a cabinet
level post, from 1959 to until Nasser's death
* ^ Shlaim, Louis, 2012, p68-69
* ^ "History of the UNEF".
* ^ Oren 2002, p. 145.
* ^ A B C Segev 1967, pp. 82, 175-191.
* ^ quoted in Mutawi 2002, p. 102.
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* ^ Mutawi 2002, p. 16.
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* ^ Reston, James 'The Issue in Cairo:
Israel a US "Base"', New
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* ^ 67 War, Jewish Virtual Library .
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* ^ Segev, 2007, op. cit., pp. 106 & 108.
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., pp. 103 & 216.
* ^ Rabin 1996, p. 91
* ^ Rabin 1996, p. 80
* ^ Shlaim, Rogan, 2012 p. 28
* ^ Gelpi 2002, p. 143.
* ^ Ben-Ami, 2005, op. cit., p. 107.
* ^ Quigley, John, "Palestine and Israel: A challenge to justice",
1990, Duke University Press, p. 161.
* ^ Shlaim, Rogan, 2012 p. 110
* ^ Shlaim, Rogan, 2012 p. 32
* ^ Sherman Kent for the Central Intelligence Agency's Board of
National Estimates (May 26, 1967). "Foreign Relations of the United
States, 1964–1968 Volume XIX, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1967,
Document 79 79. Memorandum From the Central Intelligence Agency\'s
Board of National Estimates to Director of Central Intelligence
Helms". Washington. The most likely course seems to be for Nasser to
hold to his present winnings as long as he can, and in as full measure
as he can. As of the moment he has vastly enhanced his own prestige in
Egypt and throughout the Arab world, diminished the standing of Israel
and, at least for the moment, administered a serious setback to the
US. Moreover, by simply standing where he is he places the Israelis in
an extremely difficult position. He keeps the crisis at high pitch,
and as long as this continues the Israelis must remain mobilized. This
they cannot do for long without adverse effects upon their economy. 5.
The Israelis face dismaying choices. Surprised and shaken by Nasser's
action, they failed to take the instant military counteraction which
might have been most effective. If they attack now they will face far
more formidable opposition than in the rapid campaign of 1956. We
believe that they would still be able to drive the Egyptians away from
the entrance to the Strait of Tiran, but it would certainly cost them
heavy losses of men and materiel. We are not sure that they have
sufficient stockpiles of ammunition and equipment for a war lasting
more than three or four weeks, and it is possible that they would not
embark upon a major campaign without prior assurances from the US of
* ^ Yaacov Ro'i; Boris Morozov (2008). The
Soviet Union and the
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978-0-8047-5880-2 . According to the KGB's deputy resident in
Washington at that time, no one in Moscow had any doubt that Israel
would be quickly defeated
* ^ Talal Nizameddin (January 1999).
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Towards a New Foreign Policy. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. pp. 26–.
ISBN 978-1-85065-380-6 . Moscow's assumption that
Israel was too weak
to launch a pre emptive strike was proven wrong"
* ^ Galia Golan (22 November 1990). Soviet Policies in the Middle
East: From World War Two to Gorbachev. CUP Archive. p. 66. ISBN
978-0-521-35859-0 . there reportedly were Soviet estimates that the
Arab armies could pursue a protracted war
* ^ Uri Bar-Noi. "The
Soviet Union And The Six-Day War: Revelations
From The Polish Archives". Wilson Center. The Kremlin estimated
mistakenly, as if turned out – that
Israel was militarily weak...
Moscow did its utmost to tone down the belligerent rhetoric of
Egyptian and Syrian leaders...Prior to the outbreak of hostilities,
Soviet leadership operated under the illusion that Arab armed forces
could easily repel any Israeli offensive and defeat the IDF on the
battlefield. In retrospect, Brezhnev assured his audience that the
armed forces of Egypt, Syria,
Iraq were superior to the
IDF in number of troops and amount of tanks, planes, ships and
armaments. They had been equipped with the most modern weapons, and
had received high-level training from Soviet ...the Soviet leader held
Nasser solely responsible for this catastrophe. He claimed that the
reckless closing of the Tiran Straits to the passage of Israeli ships
Israel to conduct a wider military campaign against its Arab
* ^ "Year In Review 1967, UPI.com".
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., p. 130.
* ^ Middle East: Was the War Necessary? (1972, 19 June). Time
* ^ Gerteiny & Ziegler 2007, p. 142
* ^ Bober 1972, p. 81
* ^ Begin, Menachen. "Foreign Relations since 1947: 1982–1984".
IL: MFA. Archived from the original on January 12, 2011.
* ^ van Creveld 2004, p. 21.
* ^ Rikhye, Indar Jit (1980). The Sinai Blunder: Withdrawal of the
United Nations Emergency Force Leading to the
Six-Day War of June
1967. London: Rutledge. ISBN 0-7146-3136-1 .
* ^ John Quigley, "The
Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense", p.
192 (Cambridge University Press)
* ^ Gluska, 2007, op. cit., p. 118
* ^ "LBJ Pledges U.S. to Peace Effort", Eugene Register-Guard (June
19, 1967). See also Johnson, Lyndon. "Address at the State
Department\'s Foreign Policy Conference for Educators" (June 19,
* ^ Shlaim; Louis (2012) p. 63
* ^ "General Abdal Muhsin Murtaji book review" (PDF). FAO
Journal,VOLUME VIII, NUMBER 3. September 2004. p. 14. In 1976, General
Abdal Muhsin Murtaji, an officer since 1937 and the commander of the
Sinai front in 1967, wrote a bold, scathing indictment of the Egyptian
military in his book Al-Fariq Murtaji Yarwi Al-Haqiqa (General Murtaji
Narrates the Truth)... The failed union with
Syria and the debacle in
Yemen forced Nasser to find an outlet for his failures, which he found
through the 1967 war
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