Six Day War

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Six Day War
date June 5-10, 1967
place middle East
Casus Belli Egyptian blockade of the Strait of Tiran
output Israeli victory
consequences Israeli conquest of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank with East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria
Parties to the conflict

IsraelIsrael Israel
Sponsored By: United States
United StatesUnited States 

Egypt 1972Egypt Egypt Jordan Syria Supported by: Iraq Kuwait Algeria Saudi Arabia Soviet Union Palestine Liberation Organization
Syria 1963Syria 

Iraq 1963Iraq 
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia 
Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union 
Plo emblem.png


IsraelIsrael Jitzchak Rabin Moshe Dajan Uzi Narkiss Israel Tal Avraham Joffe Matti Peled Mordechai Hod Ariel Sharon

Egypt 1972Egypt Abd al-Hakim Amer Abdul Munim Riad Zaid ibn Shaker Asad Ghanma Hafiz al-Assad Abd ar-Rahman Arif
Egypt 1972Egypt
Syria 1963Syria
Iraq 1963Iraq

Troop strength
IsraelIsrael Israel :
264,000 * to 275,000 ** soldiers
800 tanks
300 * to 400 ** aircraft
Egypt 1972Egypt Egypt :
240,000 * to 260,000 ** soldiers
1200 tanks
400 ** to 500 * aircraft

JordanJordan Jordan :
50,000 soldiers
200 tanks
28 ** to 50 * aircraft Syria : 50,000 soldiers 400 tanks 100 ** to 120 * aircraft Iraq : 10,000 soldiers (mobilized without intervening) Kuwait : 5,000 soldiers 24 tanks 9 planes (mobilized without intervening) Algeria : some soldiers and planes (mobilized without intervening) Saudi Arabia : 50,000 soldiers 100 tanks 20 planes (troops sent to southern Jordan without intervening in the fighting) Soviet Union : military advisers
Syria 1963Syria 

Iraq 1963Iraq 



Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia 

Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union 


IsraelIsrael679 to 766 ** dead, 2,563 wounded, 34 US soldiers killed and 172 wounded, some seriously
United StatesUnited States

approx. 20,000 ** to 35,000 dead * and wounded, including
approx. 8,000 to 11,500 or 20,000 Egyptians,
6,094 dead and 762 wounded Jordanians,
145 to 1,000 dead and in 1898 wounded Syrians
35 killed Soviet military advisers

* western information (Gilbert)
** eastern information (Engmann, Robbe)

The Six Day War or June War ( Arabic حرب الأيام الستة ḥarb al-ayyām as-sitta , Hebrew מלחמת ששת הימים milchémet schéschet haJamim ) between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt , Jordan and Syria lasted from June 5 to 10, 1967. As part of the Middle East conflict , it was after the Israeli War of Independence (1948 ) and the Suez Crisis (1956) the third Arab-Israeli war .

The immediate triggers of the war were the Egyptian blocking of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping, the withdrawal of UNEF troops from Sinai, forced by Egyptian President Nasser , and an Egyptian deployment of 1,000 tanks and almost 100,000 soldiers on the borders of Israel. The war began on June 5 with a pre-emptive strike by the Israeli air force against Egyptian air bases, which was intended to forestall a feared attack by the Arab states. Jordan, which had signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30, 1967, then attacked West Jerusalem , Ramat Rachel and Netanya . During the course of the war, Israel gained control of the Gaza Strip , the Sinai Peninsula , the Golan Heights , the West Bank and East Jerusalem . The outcome of the war has influenced the geopolitics of the region to this day.

initial situation

Even before the Six Day War, there were military clashes between Israel and its neighboring states. In 1967, however, the last wars were eleven ( Suez crisis ) and 19 years ( independence war ) respectively. The territorial conditions differed from today's, as the Gaza Strip still belonged to Egypt, the Golan Heights to Syria and the West Bank including the Old City of Jerusalem to Jordan. Arab fedayeen operated from Israel's neighboring states and repeatedly attacked targets in Israel until the 1960s. Syria, for example, which was an ally of the Soviet Union, supported incursions by guerrillas as part of the Syrian Baath Party 's People's Liberation War , also to divert attention from domestic political problems. In 1967 no Arab state had recognized Israel and thus the right to exist for the Jewish state; a peace treaty between one of the states and Israel was not yet conceivable.

The crisis around the Suez Canal ended in 1956 with a military defeat, but the political victory of Egypt. That is why Gamal Abdel Nasser succeeded in building a virtually incontestable position as the leader of the Arab world. At the urging of the USA and France , the Israeli troops withdrew from Sinai, in return for which Egypt was to be persuaded to stop sending partisans into Israeli territory and to demilitarize the border region, which was henceforth monitored by UN troops. The stationing of United Nations peacekeeping troops in Gaza and Sinai ( UNEF ) then helped calm the conflict at times. Egypt also agreed to reopen the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping, the closure of which had escalated in the run-up to the Suez crisis.

In 1964, Israel began diverting water from the Jordan for its National Water Carrier . The following year, the Arab states began implementing the Headwater Diversion Plan , according to which the banyas and the Hasbani should have been diverted, with the result that Israel would have been cut off from these two source rivers of the Jordan and thus lost eleven percent of its entire water supply would have. The Israeli army attacked the canal project in March, May and August 1965 and set in motion violent mutual border conflicts which are directly related to the events that led to the Six Day War.

Israel and the attack on Jordan

Relations between Israel and Jordan were also very tense. On November 13, 1966, in response to the killing of three Israeli border police and the wounding of six soldiers by Fatah two days earlier , Israeli paratroopers advanced into the village of Samua in what is now the West Bank and blew up about 40 houses that had previously been evacuated. In the course of the incident there were clashes with the Jordanian army and air battles between the two air forces. There are various reports about the victims on the Jordanian side; one soldier was killed on the Israeli side. The November 1966 attack marked the end of three years of secret negotiations between King Hussein and Israel. Hussein saw his throne in imminent danger as the Palestinians and parts of the military began to refuse allegiance to him. In addition, Israel had assured him a few days beforehand that it was not planning any attack on Jordan. This destroyed Hussein's confidence in Israel's politics. The attack was condemned without consequences by the UN Security Council , as well as by the United States, which attempted a military delivery to support King Hussein's position. This led to protests from some Arab allies to King Hussein because he did not protect Samua and also because of his partially negative attitude towards Fatah. As a result, on November 20, Hussein ordered nationwide mobilization.

An internal working group of the Israeli government formulated the goals of the Israeli government regarding Jordan before the war. Israel sought to keep Hussein in power as he recognized the existence of Israel and defused the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by encouraging the Palestinians to settle in the kingdom. However, the working group came to the conclusion that Israel had to intervene as soon as Jordan allowed foreign Arab troops on its territory or entered into an alliance directed against Israel with other states.

Israel and Egypt

For five years the Egyptian armed forces had been focused on the civil war in South Yemen , which not only tied up parts of the best units, but also resulted in a high level of wear and tear on materials and adversely affected morale. Parts of the army leadership were convinced that the Egyptian army could not carry out any acts of war against the Israeli army as long as its own units were still in Yemen. A corresponding report was ignored by the then Chief of Staff Amer , who had received his post primarily because of his loyalty to Nasser . As the Suez Crisis had shown, Amer was unsuitable for waging war.

The Egyptian army command had also learned nothing from the experiences of the war of 1956 and, above all, had changed nothing about the inadequate training and poor treatment of the soldiers.

Nasser underestimated the effects of an Israeli preemptive strike . According to presumptions, he also assumed a positional war which, in his opinion, the strong Egyptian army would have to win. He was convinced that Israel won the 1956 war only because of the help of Great Britain and France .

In 1966 the Soviet Union drafted the “shield-and-sword plan” for a war between Egypt and Israel, which was supposed to exploit the vastness of the Sinai desert. The Israelis knew about this plan. Although Israel's land forces were stationed along the Anvil line, the Israeli defense plan assumed 48 hours of warning, which could not be known to be sufficient to stop a possible attack by countermeasures. The Israeli population feared the entry of Egypt, whose army outnumbered the Israeli army. The Israeli military, however, was confident that their forces could rival those of the Egyptians.

A disadvantage for Egypt's entry into the war was the fact that its preparations for the shield-and-sword plan were not yet completed in 1967 and some officers who were familiar with the plan were replaced by men from Amers.

Israel and Syria

In the 1960s, the Syrian-Israeli border was a place of ongoing conflict. Within Israel in 1966 calls for crackdown on Syria grew louder. After the conclusion of the defense pact between Egypt and Syria, however, the much weaker Jordan was selected as the target, although the Syrian armed forces, through repeated coup attempts by their leadership, which were more interested in gaining political power than in their actual tasks, in those days anything but were assessed as capable of war.

One of the Israeli-Syrian conflicts involved the strategic water supply. Israel had completed the National Water Carrier in 1964 , a water distribution system that, according to the Johnston Plan of 1955, pumped water from the Sea of ​​Galilee, thereby reducing the flow of water into the Jordan . In response to this construction, Syria worked to divert the Dan and Banyas tributaries to the Jordan so that their waters could no longer reach Israel and the Sea of ​​Galilee. These facilities were destroyed by Israel.

Another source of conflict was the disputed and demilitarized areas between Israel and Syria since the ceasefire in 1949 . These lay between the armistice line and the Palestine border, as they had existed since 1922 during the League of Nations mandate for Palestine (the 1947 UN partition plan assigned the areas to the Jewish state). It was planned to reach an agreement on these areas when the final peace treaty was concluded. However, both sides tried intensified cultivation practices to create a fait accompli, with Israel more successful than Syria.

Together with the Soviet Union, Syria supported the Palestinian irregulars in their fight against Israel. These attacks often came from Lebanese and Jordanian territory, which was not what King Hussein wanted. Syria also shelled civilians in the Israeli towns in northeastern Galilee from its border post on the Golan. In the spring of 1966 it had become clear that Israel's neighboring states were stepping up their anti-Israeli activities. Between June 1965 and the outbreak of war, 16 Israelis were killed and 67 wounded on the border.

These conflicts led to an increase in border incidents. Sometimes these escalated to artillery duels or aerial battles, for example on April 7, 1967, when the Israeli Air Force shot down four Syrian MiG-21s over Jordan and two more over the suburbs of Damascus and demonstratively flew over the city with its Dassault Mirage III .

Soviet influence

The Soviet Union supported the Arab position and was responsible for further escalation due to false intelligence. She claimed that Israel was pulling troops together on the Syrian border. Israel invited the Soviet ambassador to visit the areas themselves to get an idea. The claims of Israeli troop concentrations on the Syrian border were not confirmed by the specially dispatched Egyptian General Muhammad Fawzi, who had toured Syria on May 14. He reported to Nasser:

“There is nothing there. No massive concentration of troops. Nothing."

The head of the Egyptian military intelligence service made a similar statement. Even so, Nasser continued to claim that the Israelis had aggressive plans. Syria, on the other hand, expanded its border fortifications on the Golan Heights with Soviet help.

Arab propaganda

The rhetoric of the Arab leaders in the run-up to the war was marked by anti-Israeli aggressiveness. For example, Syria's President Nureddin al-Atassi declared on May 22, 1966:

"We want an all-out war without restrictions, a war that will destroy the Zionist base."

On May 20, 1967, Hafiz al-Assad , then Syrian defense minister and later head of state, is said to have announced:

“Our armed forces are now fully ready [...] to initiate the act of liberation and to blow up the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. As a military man, I believe the time has come to wage the war of extermination. "

On May 27, 1967, shortly before the outbreak of war, Gamal Abdel Nasser , the President of Egypt announced:

“Our fundamental goal is the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight. Sharm El-Sheikh is a confrontation with Israel. "

Arab propaganda did not fail to have an impact on the Arab - and Israeli - population. Since most of the former could neither read nor write, Nasser expanded his influence with the help of his radio station “Saut al-Arab” ( voice of the Arabs ). The superiority of the Arab armies over Israel propagated by Saut al-Arab was believed by some officers to be a reality. The defeats of 1948/49 and 1956 were generally suppressed.

The road to war (escalation)

Remilitarization of Sinai by Egyptian troops

On May 15, 1967, Israel's Independence Day , traditionally celebrated with a military parade, the Egyptians took their positions according to their plan of conquest. This was an unexpected development as the situation on the Egyptian border (thanks to UN forces) had been relatively calm so far. In addition, the Egyptian army had been involved in a tie-break war in Yemen for the last five years , where it supported a left-wing revolution.

Because of the troop deployment, the troops in the Negev were assigned to the Negev by Yitzchak Rabin , who also wanted to call up one or two brigades of reservists. In his view, Israel found itself in a predicament: if there had been no reaction, the Egyptians could have got the impression that they were not aware of the enemy troop movements or even agreed with them. Rabin later said:

"On the other hand, an overreaction on our part could have fueled Arab fears that we had aggressive intentions, which could have provoked a totally unwanted war."

Israel’s Prime Minister Eshkol agreed to a low alert, but did not want to call up any reserve units at the time.

Various Israeli officials (including Rabin) did not assume in this preliminary phase that Nasser wanted to attack. Nevertheless, they feared that the completed deployment of Arab troops could reduce the deterrent potential and defensive power of Israel until the Arabs saw an opportunity to attack. In 1982, then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin declared that the initiative for the war came from Tel Aviv and that Egyptian measures did not constitute evidence of an imminent attack on Israel.

“It was a war of self-defense in the noblest sense of the word. The government of national unity then decided unanimously: We will take the initiative and attack the enemy, push back and thereby ensure the security of Israel and the future of the nation. We didn't do this because we didn't have an alternative. We could have waited further, we could have sent the army home. Who knows if we would have been attacked? There is no proof of that. There are several arguments for the opposite. While it is indeed true that the closure of the Strait of Tiran was an act of aggression, a casus belli , there is still room for consideration as to whether it is necessary to turn a casus into a bellum. "

In addition to the 30,000 soldiers already stationed in Sinai and the 10,000 soldiers of the Palestinian Liberation Army in the Gaza Strip , the Egyptian 5th Army was relocated to Sinai on the nights of May 15 and 16. It was quickly followed by the 2nd and 7th Infantry Divisions and finally the 6th Panzer Division across the canal. There the 4th Division, under the command of Major General Sidki al Ghul, dug into Bir al-Thamada. Each division consisted of 15,000 men, around 100 T-54 and T-55 tanks, 150 armed troop carriers and a large number of Soviet-made artillery ( howitzers , heavy mortars, Katyusha missiles , SU-100 , anti-tank weapons ). The armament of the MiG-17 and MiG-21 with poison gas bombs that they suspected weighed particularly heavily on the Israelis . The nuclear reactor of Dimona in the Negev was now within reach of Egypt's 4th Division. On May 17, under massive pressure from Rabin, Eschkol reluctantly agreed to the drafting of 18,000 men. According to an article printed in Stern magazine, Yitzchak Rabin , who was Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces during the Six Day War , said after the war when asked whether the Egyptian march at that time really posed a threat to Israel:

“I don't think Nasser wanted a war. The two divisions he sent to Sinai on May 15 would not have been enough to trigger an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it. "

Withdrawal of UNEF troops

Stationing of UNEF troops on Sinai (stationing in Gaza Strip not visible on this map)

All military preparations did not necessarily have to result in a war, because the Egyptian army briefly remilitarized Sinai as early as 1960. On May 17, 1967, however , Nasser demanded the withdrawal of the UNEF ( United Nations Emergency Force , which had been stationed with headquarters in Gaza to maintain peace since March 1957 - after the Suez crisis ) from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. The then UN Secretary-General Sithu U Thant immediately agreed without any objection or consultation with the Israeli government. The withdrawal of UNEF troops began on May 19. Later, U Thant failed to convince Israel to deploy troops on its territory. Israel refused on the grounds that Egypt and not Israel had perpetuated the armed conflict since 1956 by infiltrating guerrillas. In addition, one can hardly describe the soldiers of the UNEF as "Israel-friendly". Israel also feared that the UNEF would not stop the potential Egyptian attack as much as it would limit the Israeli response.

U Thant ruled out a negotiation of the controversial matter before the UN Security Council under Article 88 of the UN Charter , as no agreement could be reached in view of the extremely conflicting positions of the veto powers, the USA and the Soviet Union. A meeting between the UN Secretary General and Nasser was planned for May 22, 1967; shortly before U Thant's arrival in Cairo, however, the Egyptian announced the closure of the Strait of Tiran. In the course of the fighting that followed, 15 UNEF members who were awaiting repatriation were killed. On June 13, all UN units were out of the country, except for the Indian commander Major General Indar J. Rikhye and his staff, who left Egypt on June 17, 1967.

Closure of the Strait of Tiran

Nasser's remilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula was followed on May 22 with the closure of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships and ships with “strategic” cargo for Israel - a move that affected a large part of Israeli oil imports and cut the country off from the Red Sea . According to the Israeli government, the blockade violated international agreements on freedom of the seas, while from the Egyptian point of view, only strategic action was taken against Israeli attacks against its ally Syria. An attempt at mediation by Great Britain got stuck in the beginning. Israel had repeatedly called the closure of the Strait of Tiran a casus belli because, according to Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban , the blockade forced Israel "to breathe with only one lung". According to the UN Secretariat, however, no Israeli-flagged ships had been present in the port of Navai in the two and a half years before, and otherwise only five percent of the trade was carried out through this port.

On May 25, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia were asked and encouraged by Egypt to station their troops on Israel's borders. On May 27, 1967, the Egyptian President Nasser declared the destruction of Israel his goal.

Following the example of the "defense pact" concluded between Egypt and Syria in November 1966, Egypt signed further defense pacts with Jordan and Iraq on May 30 and June 4, thus completing the encirclement of Israel except for Lebanon in the north. About 250,000 soldiers, 2,000 tanks and 700 fighter planes were deployed by the Arab states, which in terms of manpower was about par with the Israeli armed forces in terms of material equipment.

Nevertheless, none of the three great powers USA , France and Great Britain saw Israel in serious danger. The three nations' military analysts only disagreed on whether it would take Israel a week or two to defeat the Arab armies. The reasons for this assessment were the high professionalism of the Israeli armed forces, their equipment with more modern weapons and their higher combat experience. However, there has been a major U-turn in French politics. After France had been the most important arms supplier to the Israeli army in the 1950s and 1960s and had supplied the Israeli air force with Mirage III and Fouga Magister fighter jets, as well as SO-4050 Vautour , which were still in use during the Six Day War, Charles de Gaulle imposed on June 2, 1967, an arms embargo against Israel.

Course of war

June 5th

The Israeli attack on the West Bank

The war began on June 5th with a well-planned and very successful surprise attack by the Israeli Air Force on all Egyptian airfields. The attack took place without a formal declaration of war. The Israeli pilots flew below the Egyptian radar detection and therefore reached the airfields without warning. Most of the 385 modern Soviet-designed aircraft were destroyed on the ground and the runways at the airfields were badly damaged. About 100 Egyptian pilots were killed. Thus the Egyptian troops in Sinai no longer had air support and were basically on the brink of defeat on the first day of the war. The 30 Tupolev Tu-16 medium bombers in particular had previously posed a considerable threat to the Israelis. The modern, but less powerful Syrian and Jordanian air forces were also decimated to a similar extent. This gave Israel complete air superiority for the remainder of the war .

After the air strike, ground forces of the Israeli army advanced against the Egyptian positions. The northernmost Israeli division, consisting of three brigades under Israel Tal , the developer of the Israeli tank war doctrine, advanced through the Gaza Strip . General Avraham Yoffe's division advanced in the center, and Ariel Sharon's in the south . In view of the lack of air support, the Egyptian troops had no chance against them and were also poorly managed.

While in the first few hours the Israeli side gave almost no information about the course of the war, the Egyptian propaganda turned the course of the war into the opposite and reported alleged victories of the Arab troops. In the rest of the world the wrong impression was given that it was not Israel but Egypt that had started the war. On the first day of the fighting, many Arabs believed that a great victory was imminent.

Israel urged King Hussein of Jordan not to enter the war. Hussein, who was a close ally of Nasser and had even placed his troops under Egyptian command, refused and had artillery bombarded West Jerusalem, Ramat Rachel , the area around Tel Aviv and other places along the Green Line . Israel responded with counter attacks. The first orders that Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Dayan issued for Jerusalem were: "We will surround it if necessary, but will not storm it."

At the same time, the Syrian artillery shelled Israeli territory in the Chula Plain and in Galilee , including Rosh Pina .

June 6-8 - Sinai, West Bank, Jerusalem

Conquest of the Sinai Peninsula

On June 6th and 7th, the Israeli troops advanced through the Sinai to the strategically important Mitla and Gidi passes . Through the combined use of paratroopers , air strikes, artillery and tanks, they were able to inflict a crushing defeat on the numerically superior enemy troops - also because the Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Hakim Amer panicked after initial reports of defeats and ordered a retreat behind the Suez Canal . Dajan originally wanted to prevent an advance to the Suez Canal at all costs, as he feared that under these circumstances the Egyptians would not be ready to end the fighting. He also feared greater international pressure on Israel in this case. On June 7th some troops were ordered to withdraw from Major General Tal, but the advance of the Israeli army could not be stopped.

At the same time, the Israelis advanced into East Jerusalem (capture of the Temple Mount on June 7) and the Jordan-occupied West Bank (Judea and Samaria). The Jordanian troops could not offer any decisive resistance either. In the end, the attack on Jerusalem was carried out mainly under pressure from Menachem Begin and Jigal Allon, against the wishes of Dajan and Orthodox cabinet members. Ministers calling for the immediate occupation of Jerusalem feared that the UN Security Council would impose a ceasefire before the area around the Western Wall was captured.

On June 8th, Israeli tanks reached the Suez Canal.

June 9th and 10th - The Golan Heights

The battle for the Golan

At the beginning of the war, a small Syrian force tried to conquer the sources of the Dans , a source river of the Jordan, near Tel Dan , which two years earlier had caused an escalation between the two states. It was reported that several Syrian tanks went down in the Jordan. The Syrian army broke off the advance attempt and switched to firing grenades from the Golan Heights on Israeli settlements in the Hule Plains at the foot of the Golan Heights. 205 houses and orchards were destroyed. Conversely, Israel's artillery and air force fired at the Syrian positions. The Israeli air force had already destroyed two thirds of the Syrian air force on June 5th, the remaining Syrian aircraft were forced to remote bases and no longer played a role in the war.

After conquering Sinai and the West Bank, Israel was able to focus on the Syrian front. There was a heated debate in the cabinet about whether the Golan should be captured. That was risky, because the western flank of the Golan Heights forms a steep step more than 500 meters high. The Syrian troops were posted above and therefore strategically favored; they were also well entrenched. The Israeli army command expected that it would cost many victims to fight their way up the Golan Heights. Moshe Dayan believed that this could cost up to 30,000 soldiers their lives and was her staunch opponent. In contrast, Levi Eshkol was ready to attack the Golan Heights together with the chief of the Northern Command, David Elazar . Elazar, with his sweeping enthusiasm and confidence that he will succeed, may have caused a change of opinion with Dajan. As victory emerged on the southern and central fronts, Dajan changed his mind and agreed to the operation.

On June 9, the Israeli attack began on the Syrian positions in the Golan Heights. The Mossad agent Eli Cohen had provided detailed information on the positioning and armament of the Syrian bunkers and also marked them by donating several thousand eucalyptus trees to the Syrian state to provide shade for the bunkers. The Israeli Air Force and Artillery thus had useful position markings for many Syrian installations.

Most of the Syrian troops fled, so that the mountains fell completely into Israeli hands on June 10th.

After just six days, the Israelis had broken through enemy lines and were on the verge of invading Cairo, Amman and Damascus.

Consequences and aftermath of war

Territories conquered by Israel in the Six Day War

Israel was able to bring large areas under its control: the Sinai Peninsula , the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with the historic old town of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights . The Golan Heights were of particular strategic interest, as the clear terrain is easy to defend. During and after the conquest of the Golan Heights, almost all Arab residents (around 120,000) were driven out of the area, while most of the Druze were allowed to live there. One reason for this was that, since the times of the British Mandate, there had been relatively good and peaceful relations between the Druze and the Jewish population and leadership. In 1979, Israel offered the Druze on the Golan to become Israeli citizens, but only a few Druze accepted this. In 1981/1982 there were massive protests by the Druze against Israel. Among other things, the return of the area to Syria was demanded. The Sinai Peninsula in 1982, after the peace agreement of Camp David returned to Egypt; Negotiations with Syria, however, failed several times. The Israeli occupied Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem remain constant trouble spots to this day. The Israeli army withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 after 38 years of occupation.

The last armistice was signed on June 11, 1967 . As a result, a summit conference of all Arab states took place in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in August 1967 , and with the Khartoum resolution their further policy was defined as three clear “ no ”:

"No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel."

The Israeli economy, which was in crisis before the war, flourished thanks to tourism, donations from abroad and the oil wells in Sinai. Chief of Staff Jitzhak Rabin was allowed to name the war - from an Israeli point of view an honor. From a number of different options (for example the War of Redemption) he chose the least boastful: "Six Day War". On the Arab side it was called the “setback”, the “disaster” or “June war”, Nasser called it the “Bunche war” after the UN diplomat Ralph Bunche .

On November 22, 1967, the issued UN in New York City , the Resolution 242 , in which the right of every state is emphasized in the region, "to live within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force in peace" and Israel to withdraw " from areas occupied during the recent conflict ”. Unlike after the Sinai campaign, Israel did not withdraw behind the armistice lines of 1949, but soon began (in the spirit of the Allon Plan ) with the intensive construction of state-sponsored defensive villages and settlements. Although only East Jerusalem was officially annexed and the Golan Heights de facto annexed (the Golan, in contrast to the West Bank and Gaza, is under Israeli jurisdiction), this indicated the will to control or keep these areas in the long term.

The 1967 armistice lines remained the Israeli borders until 1973. The Egyptian terrorist attacks stopped, the Jordanian and Syrian attacks decreased significantly. The Israeli armed forces were able to prevent many acts of terrorism. The terrorists managed to maintain bases in Jordan and Lebanon; these led to internal conflicts in these two countries.

In 1972, Hussein I sought to unify Jordan with the lost territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a United Arab Kingdom , which was rejected by the PLO and most of the Arab states. In March 1972 Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Jigal Allon (1918–1980) endorsed Jordan's proposal as a solution to the Middle East conflict. This attempt failed because of the resistance of the Palestinians and the Yom Kippur War (October 6-23, 1973).

The PLO gained plenty of support and increased its military pressure, among other things in the form of terrorist attacks against civilians, which led to the Battle of Karame on March 21, 1968 , which brought the contradictions between the PLO and King Hussein of Jordan to extremes. In Black September (September 1970 to July 1971) Jordanian troops drove the PLO out of Jordan.

Starting in 1968, Egypt waged the so-called war of attrition against Israel for three years with Soviet support . It was interrupted on August 7, 1970 by a three-month truce. Within Egypt, the defeat in the war led to a significant loss of prestige for President Gamal Abdel Nasser within the country's political elite, even if he was to head the state until his death in 1970. His successor, Anwar Sadat , oriented his policy towards Israel to Egyptian interests instead of the pan-Arab ideology.

As a direct consequence of the Six Day War, the Suez Canal remained closed to shipping for years and from then on it represented the territorial border between Egypt and Israel. The interruption of the important sea connection between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea associated with the closure led to significant restrictions in maritime trade . The conflict thus had consequences far beyond the region. At the time the canal was closed, 15 ships - the Yellow Fleet - were still on the sea route, and they could not continue their voyage for years. This was only possible eight years later, in 1975. Israel established a line of defense on the east bank of the Suez Canal, the Bar-Lew Line .

Victims and prisoners of war

The number of victims in the Egyptian armed forces is given as 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers and 1,500 officers as well as 100 pilots, thousands were wounded and 5,000 soldiers are missing. About eighty percent of their equipment was also destroyed. 700 Jordanian soldiers died and over 6000 were wounded or missing. The Syrian casualties were 450 dead and about three times as many wounded. Eight Indian blue helmet soldiers died in shelling by the Israeli army. The losses on the Israeli side are given as 777 dead and 2,586 wounded. Of these, 115 Israelis were killed in the conquest of the Golan Heights. The Israeli Air Force lost about 20 percent of its 200 pilots and planes.

Not only members of the armed forces of the participating states, but also countless civilians, mostly women and children, were among the victims. Most of them did not perish as a result of the fighting itself, but rather while fleeing (water shortage, total exhaustion) or in the refugee camps (catastrophic hygiene). Jews in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco were lynched, arrested and their synagogues set on fire . Only the heads of state of Tunisia and Morocco condemned these acts. Between 175,000 (Israeli estimate) and 250,000 (Jordanian estimate) Palestinians fled from the territories conquered by Israel, in particular from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but also from East Jerusalem, partly because of displacement.

5,000 Egyptian soldiers (including 21 generals), 365 Syrian soldiers (including only about 30 officers) and 550 Jordanian soldiers, as well as two Soviet military advisers, were captured by Israel. On the other hand, only 15 Israelis became prisoners of war. However, the exchange of prisoners of war dragged on for months. Israel also hoped to free Egyptian Jews who had been imprisoned for espionage since 1954 , as well as the bodies of executed agents (including Eli Cohen ). The exchange was made more difficult by the refusal of Syria and Egypt to negotiate directly with Israel.

Alleged war crimes

Since then there have been reports of the execution and ill-treatment of prisoners of war by both sides. The reports published in the Washington Post and New York Times in 1995 and 1996 that allegedly systematically murdered 1,000 Egyptian prisoners of war by the Israeli army were subsequently found to be false. No official Egyptian allegations were made against Israel at any time, nor were there any mass graves after the evacuation of Sinai in 1982.

In Mor Loushy's documentary Censored Voices (2015), tape recordings are used to document eyewitness accounts of the arbitrary shooting of unarmed and civilians by Israeli soldiers. Amos Oz - at that time a simple soldier - went with Abraham Shapira to the country's kibbutzim and asked the men about their experiences in the war. The recordings were censored by the Israeli army for almost 50 years.

The attack on the USS Liberty

USS Liberty (GTR-5) after repair

The US reconnaissance ship USS Liberty , which is only lightly armed with four machine guns , was attacked in international waters by the Israeli air force and navy on June 8, 1967, although it had already been identified once and was sailing under the US flag. A few days before the incident, the United States announced that it had not deployed any naval forces within 100 miles of the fighting. Nevertheless, the USS Liberty crossed only 14 miles off the Sinai coast, allegedly "due to a mistake in the chain of command". Israel's military command had given orders to attack any unidentified ship near the coast. 34 US soldiers were killed and 172, some seriously injured, in the attack by the Air Force and Navy on this reconnaissance aircraft. Even the life rafts were targeted.

To date, there is no absolute certainty about the reasons for this attack, despite numerous official investigations into the incident by the American side and three-time checks by Israel. One opinion is aimed at the relative inexperience of the crews of the torpedo boats added after the bombing of the Israeli air force . The other position speaks of a targeted attack on the ship. There is only speculation about the associated goals. The then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence John Stenbit cited the incident several times in 2003 when explaining structural changes in his area as an example of a failure in communication within the ministry. The Israelis had given a 24-hour ultimatum to withdraw Liberty under threat of sinking. This information only reached the competent authority after the deadline, when the ship was already attacked. The motive for the ultimatum and its rigorous implementation remains unclear.

Peace diplomacy after the Six Day War

The orange territories were offered by Israel to Egypt and Syria in exchange for a peace treaty, which the Arab League rejected.

Israel's offer of peace to Egypt and Syria

See also: Israeli Peace Diplomacy

On June 19, 1967, nine days after Israel's victory in the Six Day War, the Israeli cabinet decided to submit an offer of peace to Syria and Egypt. Through American diplomatic channels, Israel offered the return of the Golan Heights to Syria and the return of Sinai to Egypt on the condition that both countries recognize Israel's right to exist and refrain from further attacks. Published manuscripts by the Israeli government show that many Israeli politicians, including Menachem Begin, were in favor of the return of the territories even if Syria and Egypt refused to make peace with Israel, but agreed to demilitarize and recognize the rights of Israeli ships in international waters .

Arab League Decision Against Peace

The Khartoum resolution of September 1, 1967, was passed by the Arab League shortly after Israel's peace offer. It determined the basis of the foreign policy of these states up to the Yom Kippur War in 1973. In its third paragraph, the resolution contains provisions that have come to be known as the "three no's" or "three no's":

  1. NO peace with Israel - No peace with Israel
  2. NO recognition of Israel - No recognition of Israel
  3. NO negotiations with Israel - No negotiations with Israel

After the rejection of the Israeli peace offer and the categorical rejection of all talks and peace efforts by the Arab League, the Israeli government withdrew the peace offer in October 1967.

Over the years, the views of the Arab government regarding peace with Israel have changed in part. In 1979 the Sinai Peninsula, which measures three times the area of ​​Israel, was returned to Egypt in the process of the Israeli-Egyptian peace-finding process . In the course of the Oslo peace process , 40 percent of the West Bank with over 90 percent of the population of the Palestinian Autonomy was given over to self-government, and in 2005 Israel withdrew from all of Gaza with the unilateral disengagement plan .


  • Shlomo Aronson : Israeli nuclear weapons and the Six Day War of 1967. In: VfZ . 52, 2004, pp. 245-279 ( online ; PDF; 7.0 MB).
  • Jeremy Bowen: Six Days - How the 1967 was shaped the middle east. Simon & Schuster, London 2003, ISBN 0743230957 .
  • Randolph S. and Winston S. Churchill : ... and won on the seventh day. Scherz, Bern, Munich 1967 (original title: The Six Day War ).
  • Guy Laron: The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East. Yale University, New Haven 2017, ISBN 978-0-300-22270-8 .
  • Michael Oren : Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East.
  • Tom Segev : 1967 - Israel's Second Birth. Siedler, Munich 2007, ISBN 3-88680-767-3 or Federal Agency for Civic Education, Series Volume 635. (Description and analysis of the domestic political situation in Israel shortly before the war).
  • William Stevenson : Throw them into the sea. The 100 hour war. Israel's struggle for its existence. 3. Edition. Heyne, Munich 1967.
  • Ernst Trost: David and Goliath. The battle for Israel 1967. Molden, Vienna 1967.

Web links

Commons : Six Day War  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Six Day War  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i Martin Gilbert (Ed.): The Arab-Israeli Conflict. Its history in maps. 3. Edition. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1979, ISBN 978-0-297-77592-8 , p. 67.
  2. a b c d Günter Engmann: The Middle East , Page 53. Military Publishing House , Berlin 1981.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j Martin Robbe : Scheidewege in Nahost , pages 223 and 227. Military publishing house, Berlin 1987.
  4. Lothar Rathmann (Ed.): History of the Arabs , Volume 6, page 208f. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1983.
  5. ^ Marion Farouk-Sluglett, Peter Sluglett: Iraq since 1958 - From Revolution to Dictatorship , page 112.Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1991.
  6. ^ Lothar Rathmann (Ed.): History of the Arabs , Volume 7, page 396. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1983.
  7. ^ Lothar Rathmann (Ed.): History of the Arabs , Volume 6, page 255. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1983.
  8. ^ Martin Gilbert (ed.): The Arab-Israeli Conflict. Its history in maps. 3. Edition. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1979, ISBN 978-0-297-77592-8 , p. 70.
  9. a b c d e f Gustav Fochler-Hauke ​​(ed.): Der Fischer Weltalmanach 1968 , page 365. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1967.
  10. William Stevenson : Throw them into the sea. The 100 hour war. Israel's Struggle for Existence 3rd Edition. Heyne, Munich 1967 p. 95.
  11. Isabella Ginor : The Russians Were Coming. The Soviet Military Threat in the 1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. In: Middle East Review of International Affairs . 20/2000, No. 4, 2000, ISSN  1475-3553 , p. 95 ( online ( Memento from April 19, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), PDF; 83 kB ( Memento from November 23, 2011 in the Internet Archive ))
  12. Mutawi, Samir A: Jordan in the 1967 war, Cambridge 1987, p. 77.
  13. Terrence Prittie: Eshkol. The Man and the Nation, New York 1969, pp. 245 ff.
  14. According to Prittie (p. 245), the exact numbers were not published in order not to further undermine morale in Jordan. Prittie speaks of at least 50 Jordanians dead, King Hussein writes in My "War" with Israel (1969), p. 26, of 21 dead, Mutawi, p. 77, of at least 18 dead.
  15. Resolution 228 ( Memento of January 5, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  16. Hussein of Jordan: My "War" with Israel , New York 1969, p. 26 f.
  17. ^ 'King Husain orders nation-wide military service', The Times , Monday November 21, 1966; P. 8; No. 56794.
  18. Tom Segev: 1967 - Israel's second birth , Munich, 2007 p. 188 ff., P. 288 ff.
  19. Article in the "Jüdischen Allgemeine": [1] ; last accessed on July 24, 2018.
  20. Quoted from an article on the BBC website available as html ; last accessed September 25, 2008; Original text in English: "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."
  21. by Prime Minister Begin, August 8, 1982. , website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry (English)
  22. Middle East - UNEF I - Background , Internet presence of the United Nations, (English).
  23. ^ Image and reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict by Norman G. Finkelstein, p. 139 (English).
  24. ^ Pollack, 2005, p. 474.
  25. Peggy Klein: Die Drusen in Israel , Tectum Verlag, Marburg, 2001, pp. 50, 70 and 71.
  26. Approval from Israel for the Hussein Plan ( Memento from July 27, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  27. Chronicle of 1970
  28. Efraim Karsh: Islamic Imperialism - A History , New Haven, 2007, pp. 170-173.
  29. Spiegel Einestages: Trapped in the Suez Canal ( Memento from February 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  30. Description of the film - accessed on August 29, 2017.
  31. ^ ECF Database: Government of Israel Resolution on Withdrawal for Peace (1967). Retrieved June 2, 2018 .
  32. ^ Galia Golan: Israeli Peacemaking Since 1967: Factors Behind the Breakthroughs and Failures . Taylor & Francis, September 15, 2014, ISBN 978-1-317-65979-2 , p. 28.