By: Maria Trombini, Pedro Ratti and Andrea Sarria

The Six-Day War, 1967

Study Guide

I.                  Timeline

a.      1965

                                                              i.      Fatah carried first raid on Israel

b.      1966

                                                              i.      Egypt and Syrian defense agreement signed

c.       1967

                                                              i.      May 11- USSR warned that Israel was building up forces to attack Syria

                                                            ii.      May 14- Egypt militarization in Sinai

                                                          iii.      May 16- Egypt asked UN commander to remove UNEF

                                                          iv.      May 18- UNEF removed from boarder

                                                            v.      May 23- Strait of Tiran (Gulf of Aqaba) closed

                                                          vi.      May 30- Jordan signed defense treaty with Egypt

                                                        vii.      June 5- WAR BEGINS

                                                      viii.      June 5- Israel bombs Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian air forces

                                                           ix.      June 5- Israel advances into Gaza Strip and Sinai desert

                                                             x.      June 5- Jordan attacks West Jerusalem (Jordan received false information from Egypt)

                                                           xi.      June 6- Israel land attack: Suez Canal, Jerusalem, West Bank

                                                         xii.      June 7- Complete control of Sinai, Suez Canal, Jerusalem,

                                                       xiii.      June 7- Israel accepts cease fire with Egypt and Jordan accepts cease fire with Israel

                                                       xiv.      June 8- Egypt accepts cease fire, Israel control West Bank

                                                         xv.      June 9- Israel attacks Golan Heights

                                                       xvi.      June 10-  Israel takes over Golan Heights

                                                     xvii.      June 10- Syria accepts cease fire

                                                   xviii.      June 10- WAR ENDS


II.               Important:

a.     Events

                                                              i.      Water issues with Syria

1.      1964- Israel activated the National Water Carrier from the Sea of Galilee to the Negev

a.      Syria and other Arab countries opposed and tried to destroy it by diverting the tributaries of the Jordan river located in their territories

b.      Israel bombed the diversion works in response

                                                            ii.      Closing of Strait of Tiran

1.      Gulf of Aqaba- May 23 1967

a.      Closed to Israeli shipping cutting off Israel’s only supply route with Asia

b.      stopping the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran.

                                                          iii.      Defense treaties

1.      Syria- 1966

a.      If one attacked, the other would come to the aid

2.      Jordan- May 30, 1967

a.      Gave control of Jordanian army to Egyptian General

                                                          iv.      Resolution 242- November 1967

1.      UN passed it

2.      Aims:

a.      Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territories occupied in the recent conflict

b.      Respect for the right of every state in the area to lie in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats or acts of force

b.    Places

                                                              i.      Gaza Strip

1.      narrow piece of land on the coast

2.      many raid launched

3.      North eastern boarder of Israel

                                                            ii.      Sinai Desert

1.      large area of Egyptian territory

2.      mostly desert

3.      western side is Suez Canal southern side is Gulf of Aqaba (Straits of Tiran)

                                                          iii.      West Bank

1.      part of Jordan since 1948-49

2.      mostly Palestinians lived there

3.      Northeastern border of Israel

                                                          iv.      Jerusalem

1.      West- Israel

2.      East- Jordan

3.      Israel conquered Eastern part in war

                                                            v.      Golan Heights

1.      area of high ground

2.      Water (!!!)

3.      route to Syrian capital, Damascus

III.            The Road to War (CAUSES)

  • May 14, 1967-Lt. Gen.Yitzhak Rabin, chief of the IDF general staff, took Eshkol (who had succeeded Ben-Gurioin in 1963) aside and reported unusual Egyptian troop movements across the Suez Canal into the Sinai Peninsula.
  • Since 1956, the Israel border and Sharm ash-Sheikh had been patrolled by the UNEF
  • May 1964- the Palestinians established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) with the stated aim of righting the wrong done to their people and the dismantling of the “Zionist entity”
    • Principal component: al-Fatah (group of exiles, guerrilla group)
      • Carried raids between January 1965 and June 1967
  • Most of the incursions were from Jordan and Lebanon, but Fatah, at least after February 1966, was largely armed, trained, and run by the Syrian general staff.
  • June 5, 1966- Israel began pumping water from the Sea of Galilee into its National Water Carrier
    • Syria responded with a plan to divert the Jordan’s sources into its own territory.
  • It was the sputtering Syrian- Israeli border that triggered the process that led to the Six-Day War,
  • There were warnings that Israel was building up its forces along the frontier in preparation for an assault against the Golan Heights
  • Syrian defense minister Hafez Assad requested that the Egyptians act to deter an Israeli attack, his objectives were:
    • Remilitarize Sinai
    • Secure the withdrawal of UNEF
    • Close the Gulf of Eilat to Israeli shipping.
  • So the Egyptian divisions moved into Sinai.
  • May 16-18- Egypt demanded the evacuation of the 3,400 UNEF troops from Sinai and Gaza
  • May 20-21- UNEF withdrew from Sharm ash-Sheikh, and Egyptian troops immediately occupied the site.
  • May 21- Nasser declared a general mobilization of the Egyptian army.
  • American support for Israeli self-defensive action to force open the strait, should this prove necessary.
  • June 1- Moshe Dayan became defense minister
  • May 30- King Hussein (Jordan) flew to Cairo and signed a mutual defense part with President Nasser.
  • June 5, 1967- Six-Day War erupted
    • Egyptian initiative
    • Israeli responses


IV.           The War (EVENTS)

The Line-Up:










56,000 (troops or Iraq, Egypt, Palestinian)

Strengths/ Weaknesses

Air force (IDF most powerful component)

Intelligence services were incompetent



Training soldiers

Long-term professionals

Relatively poorly trained, mechanized, incompetent and inexperienced commanders

Relatively poorly trained, mechanized, incompetent and inexperienced commanders

Relatively poorly trained, mechanized, incompetent and inexperienced commanders

Deployment of troops


Deployed in Sinai and along the Suez Canal




Israeli believed that they were fighting for their life, family, and home

Egyptian, Syrian, or Jordanian soldiers may have been filled with hatred, or at least animosity, toward the uprising Israeli

Egyptian, Syrian, or Jordanian soldiers may have been filled with hatred, or at least animosity, toward the uprising Israeli

Egyptian, Syrian, or Jordanian soldiers may have been filled with hatred, or at least animosity, toward the uprising Israeli


The Plan and its Execution

  • The Six-Day War was in all essentials a clockwork war carried out by the IDF against three relatively passive, ineffective Arab armies
  • Throughout, the initiative lay with the IDF; occasionally the Arabs “responded” to an Israeli move
  • Main objective of Israelis:
    • Destruction of the Egyptian army in Sinai
War Aims

  • During the waiting period and the first days, most people were focused on the here-and-now: the battle against the Arab armies, the efforts to stave off a cease-fire imposed by the Great Powers, and the threat of Soviet intervention.
  • The forces that eventually conquered the northern West Bank had been earmarked purely for defense, not offensive
  • The same type of thinking dominated considerations regarding the Syrian front- no IDF offensive unless provoked by Syria.
The Air Assault

  • The plan was to destroy the Egyptian air force on the ground.
  • IDF plan was based on attaining strategic surprise
  • The first wave was designed to take out the vital runways, leaving the Egyptian planes on the ground sitting targets, and rendering landing by aircraft already in the air extremely hazardous.
  • D-Day: June 5
  • The key to success was comprehensive, detailed, and accurate intelligence on orders of battle, bases, aircraft deployment and capabilities, radar stations, and so on.
  • They first released their large bombs, ripping up the tarmacs, rendering them useless.
      • Then they made additional runs, bombing the Egyptian-Soviet- MiGs
      • The Egyptians were caught almost completely by surprise

  • First attack- IAF destroyed 197 aircraft and demolished or damaged eight radar stations
    • The six Egyptian forward air bases- in Sinai and along the Suez Canal- were rendered completely inoperative.
  • Second attack- 14 air bases hit and 107 aircrafts destroyed
  • Third attack- struck Syria, Iraq, and Jordan, whose warplanes had begun to attack Israeli targets about fifty minutes before.
  • The day’s air offensives gave Israel almost unhindered superiority over the battlefields of Sinai, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights
    • The Israeli planes were to bomb, napalm, and strafe the Arab positions and armored columns almost at will;
  • The main problems were to be fatigue, turnaround times, repairs, maintenance, and friend-or-foe identification of ground forces.
The Ground Assault in Sinai

  • On the ground, IDF panning called for a massive offensive against the Egyptian army in Sinai while leaving relatively sparse defensive forces on the Jordanian and Syrian fronts.
  • The aim was to destroy the Egyptian army and then deal if force to – and if time and the powers permitted – with the Syrians and Jordanians.
  • The plan called for a three-pronged east-west offensive across northern Sinai, initially bypassing the Gaza Strip.
  • The assault began on June 5
    • Three divisional task forces, comprising the IDF´s best conscript units and armors, crossed the border almost simultaneously and rapidly overcame the opposition.
  • June 6-7- some Egyptian units succeeded in reaching the Canal, outdistancing the IDF columns advancing from the northeast, who were poised to cut off their routes of retreat
    • Giant trap for Egyptians
      • General retreat order demoralized and disoriented the troops
      • Their lack of intelligence was total
        • The jamming of their radio communications by the Israelis added to the chaos
  • June 7- high command canceled the general retreat order
  • Israeli control of the skies, besides enabling strafing and rocketing attacks to proceed unhindered, also assured the advancing IDF commanders of good intelligence while denying it to the Egyptians.
  • By June 7- IDF had taken the Gaza Strip
  • June 8- Israeli units were at the Canal
    • The Egyptian army had been defeated without offering real opposition  
Jordan enters the war

  • Israel found itself almost instantaneously engaged against Jordan and, at the same time, so successful against the Egyptians that it was able to switch to the offensive on the offensive on the Jordanian front by the end of Day 1.
  • Israeli government issued a warning and Hussein ignored it.
  • June 5- the Israelis had the all-important advantage of complete mastery of the skies.
    • It was the Arab Legion that initiated the hostilities
  • Jordan’s aggressiveness was apparently prompted by misinformation and deliberate deception.
    • Hussein, it seems, had been persuaded by false Egyptian reports of early victories, Israeli air losses, and Egyptian air raids on Tel Aviv and IAF bases.
  •  The IDF returned fire, but at the same time Israel issued one last appeal to the Jordanians
    • Warnings ignored
  • June 7- IDF were ordered to take the Old City
  • June 7-8- West Bank cities: Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho fell to the IDF
Conquering the Heights

  • Head of the IDF Northern Command, Gen. David Elazar, maintained that the war would inevitably spread to the Syrian front and that it would be necessary to capture the Golan Heights.
  • June 9- Dayan ordered the IDF to storm the slopes
  • June 5- before the destruction of their air fore, Syrian aircraft had carried out small-scale, ineffective attacks against Israeli targets
  • Israel’s decision to attack had to do with the harassment of the border settlements during the previous five years, and a desire for territorial expansion pressed by these self-same settlements, which coveted the lands on the Golan.
  • The Syrian general staff had ordered the withdrawal of all its units, and many had begun to retreat even earlier, without orders.
  • June 10- advance halted as the cease-fire came into effect
  • June 12- conquest of the Golan was completed


V.              The Aftermath (RESULTS)

Israel’s new Territories- the settlement movement

  • All of Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, were in Israel hands
  • The cease-fire found the IDF deployed on the Suez Canal, on the Jordan River, and on the Golan. It had conquered an area three-and-a-half times larger than Israel itself.
  • June 19- the cabinet resolved that the former international boundaries between Israel and Egypt but within days both countries had rejected the overture.
  • June 19- not to return to the prewar frontiers, to base future boundaries on Israel´s “security” needs, and not to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Sharm ash-Sheikh, or a strip of coast linking Eilat and Sharm.
  • The aim of the government was to turn all of Jerusalem into an inalienable part of Israel.
  • The Jewish Quarter was actually inhabited by Arab families
    • 300 hundred families were removed
  • June 25-27- East Jerusalem and West Bank areas immediately to its north and south were officially annexed and declared part of Jerusalem’s expanded municipal area.
  • By one year after the Six-Day War there were six Israeli settlements on the Golan.
    • They were established both for security reason – they “covered” the border, dominated strategic crossroads, and so on – and as part of the settlement drive.
  • On this happened the indigenous population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip lost most of its potential for natural growth and physical expansion.
  • Quite separately hundreds, and then thousands of Jews, driven by ideological motives and economic incentives, began to move to the territories.
  • By the end of 1973 Israel had established seventeen settlements in the West Bank.
The Palestinians Come under Israeli Control

  • Israel’s conquest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip reawakened the Palestinian issue
  • Before June 1967-about half the Palestinians, close to 1.5 million, lived in Jordan, where they received citizenship and were gradually integrated into the sociopolitical fabric.
  • Another 350,000 to 400,000 Palestinians lived in the Gaza Strip, three-quarters of them refugees and another 300,000 lived in Lebanon and Syria, mostly in camps.
  • The Six-Day War made Israel the country with the largest Palestinian population
  • Annexation of Arab East Jerusalem and its “unification” on June 27 with West Jerusalem.
    • Consistently advocated the integration into Israel of the economies and infrastructures of the territories – a policy that gradually turned them into appendages of Israel.
    • The West Bank and Gaza economies were rapidly fused with Israel’s in a binding, colonial relationship.
  • Israeli thinking was that the Arabs of the territories, starved of land and resources (primarily water), and denied the possibility of industrial development, would gradually drift away..
  • The territories´ utility grids – electricity, telephones, transportation, and water – were all linked up to Israel’s.
  • Political freedoms were severely curtailed, all parties and associations being regarded as potential cores of resistance to the occupation.
  • There was civil dissent
International Consequences

  • 1967- brought more than a million Palestinians under Israeli rule
    • Now represented by the PLO and local leaders in the occupied territories, the Palestinians quickly returned to center stage.
      • They became once more the focus of the conflict and of international diplomacy
  • Egypt:
    • Its army destroyed
    • The Suez Canal, a main source of revenue, blocked indefinitely
    • Sinai oil fields, another major financial asset, in Israeli hands
  • The army’s lost equipment was replaced fairly quickly by the Soviet Union, which also afforded Egypt immediate economic relief
    • In exchange, in line with a secret accord of April 1968, the Soviet fleet received “maintenance facilities” in Egyptian harbors.
  • Arab “reactionary” regimes, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya, also came to Egypt’s assistance, agreeing to dole pit $266 million annually.
  •  American support for Israel was exploited to further Soviet penetration of the Arab world
  • June 10- USSR broke off diplomatic relations with Israel.
    • Followed by Eastern bloc
  • November 22, 1967- UN Security Council Resolution 242
    • Israel had to withdraw “from territories occupied” in June 1967
      • But the Arabs had to agree to terminate the state of belligerency and “acknowledge…the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every  state in the area and their right to affirmed the “freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area”

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