The Six Day War

Sub Title : Israel’s offensive action deep into Sinai and across the Suez as it felt threatened

Issues Details : Vol 17 Issue 5 Nov – Dec 2023

Author : Ashwani Sharma , Editor-in-Chief

Page No. : 19

Category : Geostrategy

: November 27, 2023

The Six-Day War was fought from June 5 to June 10, 1967, between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

Background. The roots of the Six-Day War lie in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and the build-up of Arab military forces around Israel’s borders. In the weeks before the war, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser ramped up his rhetoric against Israel, expelled UN peacekeeping forces from the Sinai Peninsula, and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, which Israel had declared would be considered an act of war.

Outbreak of War. Israel, feeling threatened by the Arab mobilization and the possibility of a multi-front war, launched a pre-emptive air strike on June 5, 1967, which aimed to disable the Egyptian Air Force. This surprise attack was highly successful and gave Israel air superiority. Following the air strike, ground forces were also deployed.

Course of War. Over the next six days, Israel’s military conducted a rapid and decisive campaign:

  • Egyptian Front: Israel’s forces quickly overran the Sinai Peninsula, pushing Egyptian forces back across the Suez Canal.
  • Jordanian Front: Jordan, despite Israeli pleas to stay out of the fight, began shelling West Jerusalem, which led to a forceful Israeli response. Within two days, Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
  • Syrian Front: The Golan Heights, from which Syrian forces had been shelling Israeli communities below, were captured by Israel in two days of intense fighting.
  • Outcome. The Six-Day War ended with a United Nations-brokered ceasefire. The results of the war were transformative for the Middle East:
  • Israel gained control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
  • The war significantly expanded Israeli territory and brought large populations of Palestinians under Israeli control.
  • It had a profound effect on the regional politics, leading to the displacement of a large number of Arabs and creating a new set of geopolitical and humanitarian challenges.
  • The war also significantly altered the balance of power in the Middle East, setting the stage for further conflicts, including the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

The Six-Day War is remembered as a dramatic and defining moment in Israeli history, one that had significant implications for the Israeli state, its relationship with its neighbours, and the broader Middle East conflict.