The Six Day War

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The Six Day War

The Six Day War (5-10 June 1967) is considered to be one of the shortest wars in the world history. The formal occasion of the war was the overlap of Straits of Tiran by Egypt. However, the causes of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors were much deeper. The conflict between Egypt and Israel has been arising long before the events of June 1967. This period of time was a turning point in Israel’s history.

According to The Six Day War: “The main cause of the Six Day War was a dramatic increase in tension between Israel and its Arab neighbors during the mid-1960s”. In the late 60’s confrontation in the East – West, after the relative stability in Europe, spread to the Middle East. USSR strengthened political and military support of radical “anti-imperialist” regimes of Arab countries. The USA bet on Israel and the so-called moderate Arab regimes. Both superpowers were interested in a guaranteed and stable channel for sales of weapons, and the Middle East took the role of such channel.

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One of the perpetrators of war in the Middle East was Israel, which declared the goal of creating of “Greater Israel” that had to include the territory of several Arab countries. Israel has received modern weapons from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, and since 1962 created its own military industry with the United States.

The Arab countries were against the existence of Israel and, that is why, they were in an uncompromising position. USSR urged Arab countries to create a common front against Israel. Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Algeria had to become the core of the front.

Arab countries have taken appropriate action. Earlier, in November 1966, Syria signed a pact with Egypt about mutual defense. In late May and early June 1967, a similar agreement was signed with Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. The governments of Algeria, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya and Sudan were ready to help in case of Israeli aggression.

Within five days, troops of UN left Egypt, and their positions were occupied by Egyptian armed forces. May 22, the closure of the Gulf of Aqaba for Israeli and other vehicles that delivered strategic goods to Israel was announced by the President of Egypt – Gamal Abdel Nasser. This action seriously impressed the interests of Israel, taking into consideration the fact that Israel received 80 % of its oil imports and other vital products by sea.

Withdrawal of UN troops from Sinai and the temporary closure of the Gulf of Aqaba, and the chain of hostile action of the Arab countries were the basis of the beginning of the war.

The Israeli Government did not wait for direct military actions by the Arabs and were the first who attacked the enemy. June 5, 1967, the Israeli air forces caused serious damage to the aircraft. They destroyed all military aircraft of Egypt and Syria. At the application of the Prime Minister of Israel, representatives of the United Nations appealed to the king of Jordan requesting not to enter the war and were refused.

The full-scale hostilities began. Loss of the air forces dealt Nasser a big blow to self-esteem. Israeli intelligence services failed to record a conversation between Nasser and King Hussein, in which they discussed what to tell the public about the fact that, in hostilities, despite the Israeli aircrafts involved, American and British aircrafts were participants of the war, as well. After this statement, all the Arab countries broke off diplomatic relations with the United States. A week later, King Hussein apologized for lying. This was probably due to the fact that the record of conversation was published.

Israeli troops acted swiftly. Israeli fighter bombed air bases of Egypt and Syria, having eliminated almost all the military aircrafts in these countries. Then the Israeli army attacked and occupied the key strategic areas – the Sinai Peninsula in the south, the Golan Heights in the north, and the West Bank of the Jordan River in the east. Despite the adoption of resolutions by UN Security Council on 6-7 June about immediate cease-fire, the Israeli army continued fighting. The Soviet Union demanded that Israel immediately cease hostilities and withdraw the forces behind the line of truce. June 10, the Soviet Government informed the Israeli Government that, in case of continued fighting, the Soviet Union together with other peace-loving countries will take the necessary measures to stop aggression.

June 10, the Soviet Union broke off diplomatic relations with Israel, having lost the channel of cooperation with one of the parties of the conflict. In the evening of June 10, the fighting was stopped.

The Six-Day War took the lives of 679 Jews. The losses were enormous for a small country. However, the whole Jewish world rejoiced.

In quantitative terms, Arab Union troops greatly outnumbered Israeli forces. Arab armies also did not concede the Israeli troops in terms of equipment. Syrian and Egyptian naval forces largely outnumbered the Israeli Navy, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.

However, the general level of combat training of the Israeli armed forces seriously outnumbered the Arab forces. Combat capability of all major armed forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and especially the Air Force and Air Defense, was low. In addition, it should be noted the psychological aspect of the Arab armies – their low combat stability, carelessness, lack of initiative.

There were marked new boundaries that have increased Israeli territory. According to The Six-Day War: Background & Overview: “By the end of the war, Israel had conquered enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem”. Despite the tremendous victory, Israel’s main task was to establish peace. Country was ready to recover some conquered territories in exchange for signing a peace agreement that would end the war quickly.

However, the Arab countries did not agree with it and the relationship between the two countries only worsened. A few months later the heads of the Arab countries met and declared a categorical “no” to Jewish World. The refusal to recognize their state was declared, as well.

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The Six-Day War has affected not only the lives of the Jewish state, but also the representatives of the people living in other countries. The heroism and courage of the soldiers manifested during the war filled the hearts of all Jewish people with pride and joy. American Jews sent huge amounts of money before, during and after the war to support the army and civilians. The citizens of different countries began to join the ranks of members of the Jewish organization “United Jewish Appeal”. There was, especially, increased number of young members. The descendants of Jews, who have already forgotten their roots, are increasingly coming to Israel.

The Six Day War was determined by the contours of the modern Middle East. Syria lost the Golan Heights, Jerusalem was declared as the undivided and united capital of Israel. The Palestinian territories were under the jurisdiction of Egypt and Jordan by June 1967. Accession of these lands to Israel subsequently led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority in its current form.

Despite all the attempts of the community, the Arab-Israeli conflict is one of the main conflicts of the Middle East, which continues to threaten peace and stability in the region.