SIX-DAY WAR , the war between Israel and *Egypt, *Jordan, *Syria, and *Iraq that lasted from June 5 to June 10, 1967, and in the course of which Israel routed the threatening Arab armies and occupied the Sinai Peninsula, the "West Bank" (Judea and Samaria), and the Golan Heights.
Background to the Conflict
The diplomatic negotiations following Israel's occupation of the *Sinai Peninsula in Operation "Kadesh" in October–November 1956 (see *Sinai Campaign) and, in particular, joint United States and Soviet pressure on Israel brought about a withdrawal of Israel forces from the Sinai Peninsula and the *Gaza Strip early in 1957. They handed over their positions to the newly formed United Nations Emergency Force (unef), which took up positions on the Straits of *Tiran and along the Israel border with Sinai and with the Gaza Strip. Israel's action followed the receipt of assurances from the great powers, particularly concerning the freedom of passage for shipping to and from Israel passing through the Straits of Tiran.
The Arab world was racked by upheavals. On July 14, 1958, King Feisal of Iraq was deposed and killed, and the regime, headed many times by General Nuri Saʿid, was overthrown by General Kassem. His unstable regime enabled the Soviet Union to achieve its first foothold in oil-rich Iraq and make its first moves in establishing a position in the Persian Gulf. A general reaction of unrest fomented by Nasserist elements throughout the area developed in Lebanon and Jordan. Civil war broke out in Lebanon, and at the urgent invitation of President Chamoun the United States Sixth Fleet landed a force of Marines to stabilize the situation, while the British Army flew forces to Amman to bolster King *Hussein's regime.
In February of the same year, following the rise to power of the Ba'ath party in Syria, Egypt and Syria had combined to establish the shortlived United Arab Republic. Syria became the northern center for the development of *Nasser's activities against Israel, hampered as he was in this respect along the Israel-Egyptian frontier by the presence of un troops. From Syria he also developed his efforts to bring about the downfall of King Hussein. In September 1960 his agents succeeded in killing the Jordanian prime minister, Majali, who had taken a strong stand against Nasser's attempts to undermine the Hashemite regime in Jordan. King Hussein concentrated his forces along the Syrian border with the intention of invading, but was dissuaded at the last moment by British and U.S. pressure. In October 1961 Syria revolted against what had in fact become an Egyptian occupation and regained her independence.
While Israel's border with Egypt remained comparatively quiet, due partly to the presence of the un forces, the center of Arab activity against Israel developed along the Syrian, and later along the Jordanian, border. The Syrians shelled Israel settlements from their advantageous positions on the *Golan Heights, laid mines, and developed a minor war of attrition along the frontier. On Feb. 1, 1960, after a long pause since 1956, the Israel Defense Forces carried out a reprisal raid against Syrian posts in Khirbat Tawfīq, on Lake *Kinneret. But the Syrians continued to attack fishing boats on the lake, shell villages in the *Ḥuleh Valley, and fire on agricultural workers in the demilitarized zones along the frontier.
In 1964 an Arab Summit Conference in Cairo, attended by the heads of state, decided to proceed actively with the diversion of the waters of the *Jordan River and to recognize a Palestinian entity. At this conference and at the Casablanca Conference which followed it, some £400 million were allocated for the purpose of implementing these decisions. In recognizing the Palestinian entity the Arab states gave official standing to Ahmed Shukeiri, head of the *Palestine Liberation Organization, and following the decisions of the conference he proceeded with the establishment of a Palestinian army.
The work on the diversion of the Jordan waters proceeded apace both in Lebanon and in Syria, where a canal was dug to divert the waters of the Ḥaẓbani in Lebanon and the *Banias in Syria into the *Yarmuk River in Jordan and thus deprive Israel of most of the Jordan waters. Israel had on many occasions declared that either the closing of the Straits of Tiran or the diversion of the Jordan waters would be considered a casus belli. Israel reacted to the diversion operations in a controlled but very firm manner, and in a series of engagements, involving artillery and tank fire, obstructed the diversion operations from time to time. In November 1964 Israeli planes were in action against parts of the diversion works out of artillery range. The Arab states were unwilling to be drawn into an all-out war as a result of this Syrian initiative. Indeed, Israel's activities brought the work to an end, for it became clear to the Arab leadership that pursuit of the diversion meant war with Israel.
The internal upheavals in Syria brought to the fore extreme segments of the Ba'ath party and the Syrians continued to send saboteurs to Israel through Jordan and Lebanon. King Hussein was at times unable or unwilling to control his own borders and prevent the incursions against Israel. In November 1966 the Israel Defense Forces struck at the village of al-Samʿu in the Hebron hills, a center of terrorist attacks; this was their first reprisal raid carried out in daylight together with armored and air elements. Following this attack King Hussein's
regime appeared to be tottering and was bolstered by additional military aid from the United States.
Meanwhile Syrian provocations along the northern frontier continued, and infiltration into Israel from Syrian-based camps, via Jordan and Lebanon, continued. In April 1967 their interference with farming operations in the demilitarized zones on Lake Kinneret were stepped up, with increased shelling of Israeli border villages. On April 7, 1967, unusually heavy fire was directed by long-range guns against Israeli villages, and Israeli aircraft were sent into action against them. An air battle developed in which Syria lost six planes. Fearful of Israel's reaction to their provocations, the Syrians tried to impress on the Egyptians their apprehension of an impending Israel attack.
The Arab Threat
Early in May 1967 Nasser was at one of the lowest ebbs in his career. For five years his forces had been involved in the civil war in the Yemen without success against ill-armed tribesmen. He was in conflict with King Hussein, whom he described on May 1 as an "agent and slave of the imperialists." His relations with Saudi Arabia were near breaking point, and he could make no headway in the struggle against Israel. Against this background came the urgent request for assistance from Syria, strengthened by the appearance in Cairo on May 13 of a Soviet parliamentary delegation, which informed the Egyptians that Israel had massed some 11 brigades along the Syrian frontier. The Soviets, with an embassy in Tel Aviv, were obviously aware that this information was untrue, but they were interested in pressing Syria's case for political reasons of their own. The U.S.S.R. was particularly interested in strengthening the regime in Syria, which had afforded the Soviet Union her first major foothold in the Middle East, and, by influencing Egypt to threaten Israel from the south, gambled on strengthening Syria's security and hence the regime in Damascus.
In a well-publicized mass demonstration, Nasser proceeded to move large forces through Cairo en route to Sinai. Within a few days, by May 20, some 100,000 troops, organized in seven divisions of which two were armored (with over 1,000 tanks), had been concentrated in Sinai along Israel's border. A mass hysteria enveloped the Arab world. Nasser was again at the peak of his popularity, as one Arab government after the other volunteered support and was caught up in the enthusiasm of the impending strike against Israel. On May 17 Nasser had demanded the withdrawal of the un Emergency Force, and the secretary-general of the United Nations, U Thant, acceded to the request without demur.
Once again, after ten years, Israel directly faced Egyptian forces along the frontier, and on May 22 Nasser declared the Straits of Tiran closed to Israeli shipping and to shipping bound to and from Israel. That such an act would be a declaration of war had been made clear by Israel. The major powers attempted to establish a naval force in order to implement the assurances made to Israel in 1957, but no force or action emerged. On May 26 Nasser told the Arab Trade Unions Congress that this time it was their intention to destroy Israel. On May 30 King Hussein flew to Cairo and signed a pact with Egypt placing his forces under the command of General Riad of Egypt; Iraq followed suit and signed a similar agreement. Contingents arrived from other Arab countries, such as Kuwait and Algeria. Israel was ringed by an Arab force of some 250,000 troops, over 2,000 tanks, and some 700 frontline fighter planes and bombers. The world looked on at what was believed by many to be the impending destruction of Israel, but no action was taken, and every effort was made by the Soviet and Arab delegates to the un to minimize the seriousness of the situation and to permit developments to take their course. The Israeli government, headed by Levi *Eshkol, made urgent efforts to solve the crisis by diplomatic means, dispatching Foreign Minister Abba Eban to the heads of government of the Western great powers. The mission was in vain. A sudden change in French policy emerged and the traditional sympathy of the French government for Israel disappeared, against the background of a new French bid for Arab support.
The Israeli government was enlarged by the cooption of representatives of the opposition factions Gaḥal (M. Begin and Y. Sapir as ministers without portfolio) and Rafi (M. Dayan as minister of defense) and constituted an emergency government of national unity. World Jewry rallied behind Israel, and a total identification with Israel, such as had never been known before, was evinced by the Jews. Massive financial support was mobilized, and thousands of volunteers besieged Israel's embassies and consulates.
Israel Strikes Back: the Southern Front
The morning of June 5, 1967, found the Israeli armed forces, which under the command of Major General Yiẓḥak *Rabin had been mobilized since May 20, facing the massed Arab armies around Israel's frontiers. Israel's citizen army had been quietly and efficiently mobilized to defend the country against the impending Arab attack, which every Arab medium of mass communication announced was imminent. That morning the Israel Air Force commanded by Brigadier General Mordekhai Hod undertook a preemptive attack designed to destroy the Arab air forces and their airfields. Flying in low, under the Arab radar screens, Israeli planes destroyed the air forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and planes of the Iraqi air force. In less than three hours 391 planes were destroyed on the ground and an additional 60 Arab planes were destroyed in air combat, compared to Israel's loss of 19 planes, some of whose pilots were taken prisoner. This brilliant air operation accorded Israel complete superiority in the air, and thereafter the Israel Air Force was free to give close combat support in the ground operations which ensued.
At 8 a.m. on June 5, while the Israel Air Force was pounding Arab strength, Israel's Southern Command, under Brigadier General Yeshayahu Gavish, moved its forces against the massed Egyptian armies in Sinai. (See Map: Six-Day War: Egyptian Front). The command, facing seven Egyptian brigades including some 1,000 tanks, was composed of three divisional task forces commanded by Brigadier General Israel Tal on the northern sector of the front, Brigadier General Abraham Yoffe in the central sector, and Brigadier General Ariel Sharon in the southern sector.
The breakthrough was achieved in the general area of Khan Yunis-Rafa by Tal's forces. The brunt of the fighting was borne by S brigade, which exploited the breakthrough by overcoming very heavily defended positions at Sheikh Zuwayd and al-Jiradi and reaching El-Arish on the evening of June 5. The other main breach of the Egyptian front was effected jointly by the divisional task forces of Yoffe and Sharon. Yoffe's group moved across a trackless desert area and introduced itself in depth into a position north of the line Niẓẓanah-Abu Aweigila in the rear of the Egyptian defensive positions. The morning of June 6 found this force firmly positioned in the area of Biʾr Laḥfān and straddling the Abu Aweigila-Biʾr Laḥfān road, in the rear of the main Egyptian positions. Meanwhile Sharon's division carried out a perfectly executed night attack on the main Egyptian positions at Umm-Qataf covering the crossroads at Abu Aweigila. An infantry brigade marched across the dunes and attacked the positions from the north, while at the same time a parachute brigade landed by helicopter in the gun lines of the Egyptian force concentrated at Umm-Qataf and Abu Aweigila and destroyed them. By morning an armored brigade had passed through these positions, destroyed the armored elements in the area, and proceeded to break through in the direction of Jebel Libni. Meanwhile Israeli forces, following through the breakthrough at Khan Yūnis, fanned northward and were engaged in bitter fighting with the Egyptian and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip. Following the capture of Deir al-Balaḥ, parachute and infantry forces, after a fierce struggle, finally captured the Ali Muntar Hill dominating the town of Gaza.
Jerusalem and the Jordanian Front – the First Day
On the morning of June 5 a message was sent by the government of Israel through General Odd Bull of the un Truce Supervision Organization advising King Hussein that Israel had no designs on Jordan and that, granted quiet on the Israel-Jordanian border, no harm would befall his country. On the same morning, however, King Hussein decided to honor his pact with Nasser, and his forces opened up a heavy barrage along the armistice lines, shelling Israeli villages and towns, including the outskirts of Tel Aviv, and bombing a number of inhabited areas sporadically. (See Map: Six-Day War: Jordanian Front).
The major brunt of the Jordanian shelling was felt in Jerusalem. Heavy indiscriminate shelling caused many casualties in the city. At approximately 11 a.m. the Jordanian forces moved against Government House in a demilitarized area on the Hill of Evil Counsel in Jerusalem, used as un Headquarters. Israel's Jerusalem Brigade counterattacked and drove the Arab Legion out of this position. The Israeli forces maintained
the impetus of their attack, taking a number of positions, including the village of Ṣūr Bāhir on the road to Bethlehem. In the meantime a reserve armored brigade broke into the Jordanian positions on the north of the Jerusalem Corridor, the heavily fortified "radar" positions near Ma'aleh ha-Ḥamishah and positions of Sheikh ʿAbdal-ʿAzīz. A further breakthrough was effected at Beit Iksāʿ. These forces fanned out on the high ground north of the Jerusalem Corridor, taking the Jordanian positions at Biddū and Nabī Samwīl, and reaching the main road from the north to Jerusalem at Tell al-Fūl south of Ramallah.
On the night of June 5–6 an infantry brigade attacked the *Latrun enclave, captured the village and the police post, and advanced into the Judean Hills eastward along the Beit Horon road in order to join forces with the armored brigade at the gates of Ramallah. The Central Command, under Brigadier General Uzi Narkiss, was thus committed in Jerusalem, developing its counterattack toward the south of the city and an armored brigade followed by an infantry brigade from the coast taking the commanding features to the north of the corridor and moving eastward to cut the link of the Jordanian forces in Jerusalem with the north.
At this stage a reserve paratroop brigade under Colonel Mordekhai Gur, rushed to Central Command, was thrown into the battle on the night of June 5–6 without time for adequate preparation against the most heavily fortified Jordanian positions, which covered the northeast of Jerusalem and were manned by some two brigades. The fiercest fighting took place at the Police School and Ammunition Hill. The brigade suffered very heavy casualties before a breakthrough was achieved. It enabled the paratroopers to take the district of Sheikh Jarrāḥ, the American Colony, and the Rockefeller Museum area, and to reestablish a direct link with the Israeli enclave of Mount Scopus, which had been isolated from Israel by Jordanian forces for the past 20 years.
Meanwhile Israel's Northern Command, under Brigadier General David Elazar, attacked from the north with an armored brigade supported by infantry and broke into Jordanian-held territory on the West Bank along two axes of advance in the general area of Jenin. A heavy armored battle took place in this area, with the Jordanians reinforcing their armored forces from the Jordan Valley area. An Israeli counterattack finally smashed the Jordanian opposition. Israel's forces of the Northern and Central Command were, after 24 hours of fighting, converging from the south, the east, and the north of the West Bank triangle in the face of very obstinate Jordanian opposition. In the meantime Israel's naval forces under the overall command of Rear Admiral Shlomo Erel were operating on the approaches to Alexandria and a number of frogmen, who were later taken prisoner, succeeded in penetrating the defenses of that port and attacking a number of ships.
The Second Day's Fighting
The second day saw the forces of Tal in the northern sector of the Sinai front fanning out from El-Arish, one force continuing along the coastal road westward toward the Suez Canal and another force, which moved southward after a tank battle to take the El-Arish air field, attacking the heavily fortified Egyptian positions at Biʾr Laḥfān, already outflanked by Yoffe's intrusion across the desert. From this point the forces under Tal and Yoffe continued with a coordinated attack, Tal's task force advancing westward along the central road to the Suez and Yoffe's moving southward. Sharon's force continued to mop up in the general area of Umm-Qataf-Abu Aweigila and southward toward Quseima. At the same time a reserve infantry brigade, strengthened by armored forces and paratroopers, launched an attack on the city of Gaza, which was taken after very heavy fighting. The Gaza Strip was now in Israel's hands. Brigadier General Moshe Goren was appointed military governor of the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile the historic battle for Jerusalem was being waged with all its ferocity. To the north of Jerusalem the reserve armored brigade continued the battle to clear the area between Jerusalem and Ramallah, a vital crossroads for the development of operations in the West Bank of the Jordan Kingdom. Tell-al-Fūl was captured after an armored battle. Part of the brigade moved southward, taking Shuaʿfāṭ to the north of Jerusalem and the general area of Givat ha-Mivtar, which fell after a second attack was launched against it. The hilly ground north of the Jerusalem Corridor was now safely in the hands of the Israel Defense Forces, thus enabling them to develop their push northward. The town of Ramallah surrendered. Meanwhile the forces of the Northern Command maintained their pressure southward toward the center of the West Bank. An infantry force attacked from the west, taking Qalqīlya and reaching al-ʿAzzūn. Jenin was finally taken by an armored force at noontime on June 6, and the armored brigade which captured the city proceeded southward, engaging in a major armored battle at the Qabāṭiyya crossroads. An additional Israeli armored force reached the Ṭūbās-Nablus road and was engaged by Jordanian armor. At midnight the Israeli forces renewed their attack, taking Ṭūbās and moving toward the Dāmiya bridge on the Jordan River, thus sealing off the northern part of the West Bank from possible reinforcement from eastern Jordan. The Israel Air Force was by now free to give close ground support to the forces on all fronts, which it proceeded to do with considerable effect.
The Third Day – the Capture of the Old City
June 7 was to be one of the most historic days in the history of Jewish arms. That morning Gur issued his orders for the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem, which had by now been completely surrounded by Israeli forces occupying all the heights around the historic city. The Lions' Gate, otherwise known as St. Stephen's Gate, was chosen as the break-in point. A sharp battle took place there, the paratroopers, supported by a small armored force, breaking in at the gate. Despite the fact that Israeli forces had avoided attacking the holy places, the Arabs used the al-Aqṣā Mosque as a sniping post and the entire area of the Temple Mount as an ammunition dump – despite pleas to the contrary from the Jordanian governor of Jerusalem and the Muslim religious authorities. The area was rapidly cleared with a minimum of damage to the holy places; at 10:15 a.m. the Israeli flag was raised over the Temple Mount and Jewry's holiest site, the *Western ("Wailing") Wall, was once again in Jewish hands.
Meanwhile the armored forces which had taken Ramallah continued toward Jericho, while the unit advancing from the direction of Nablus met with those coming from Ramallah and fanned down toward the Jordan River. At the same time the Jerusalem Brigade continued southward, taking Bethlehem and Hebron, which surrendered without a shot being fired, and also retaking the area of the Eẓyon Bloc, a group of Jewish settlements which had fallen to the Arab Legion in 1948. The entire West Bank was in Israel hands. Brigadier General Chaim Herzog was appointed military governor of the West Bank.
In the south Israeli naval forces sailing in the Gulf of Akaba took *Sharm el-Sheikh and opened the Straits of Tiran. Once again shipping was free to move through the straits to and from Israel. Meanwhile the race across the sands of Sinai was coming to its close as the three Israel divisional task forces pushed forward in an attempt to seal off Egyptian armored forces in the center of Sinai and prevent their withdrawal to the Suez Canal. Tal's forces captured the Egyptian military base of Bi'r Gifgafa and there withstood the last heavy armored counterattack on the part of the Egyptians. Yoffe's forces captured Bi'r Hassneh and rushed for the Mitla Pass in order to seal it off in the face of the retreating Egyptian armored forces. A huge trap for Egyptian armor was now being created. The Egyptian defenses in the area of Quseima, Abu Aweigila, and Kuntilla collapsed before the advance toward Nakhl of Sharon's forces, which proceeded systematically to destroy the Egyptian forces attempting to withdraw.
The Fourth Day – Israel's Forces Reach the Suez
On the fourth day of fighting, Tal's forces reached Qantara in the north and Ismailiya in the center and linked up along the bank of the Suez Canal, Yoffe's forces advanced in a two-pronged attack toward the city of Suez and in the direction of the Bitter Lake, while another section of his forces moved south toward Res Sudar on the Gulf of Suez. Israeli forces fanned southward along the Gulf of Suez toward Abu Zenima where they linked up with parachute forces that had landed at Sharm el-Sheikh and were moving northward. Desperate Egyptian attempts to break out were broken by the armored forces and above all by the Israel Air Force, and the Mitla Pass was converted into one huge Egyptian military graveyard. In this area one of the largest battles in the history of armored warfare, with approximately 1,000 tanks participating, had resulted in a decisive Israeli victory. The Israeli flag was raised along the Suez Canal, the Straits of Tiran were open, and the Egyptian forces, which only four days before had been poised to destroy Israel, were in disarrayed retreat, having lost most of their air force and leaving behind vast quantities of equipment, including some 800 tanks. Meanwhile in the north the Syrian forces had been continuously shelling the Israel villages along the border and a number of infantry and armored attacks against Israel villages were beaten off.
The Fifth and Sixth Days – the Golan Heights Taken
The Syrian attacks increased in intensity and covered a large number of Israeli towns and villages. The Israel Air Force, now freed from other fronts and having already destroyed the Syrian air force, brought the gun positions under attack. On Friday June 9 at noon, the Israel Defense Forces attacked the Syrian army on the Golan Heights. (See Map: Six-Day War: Syrian Front). The main break-in point was chosen in the northern sector of the Syrian front in the area of Tell ʿAzāziyāt. An infantry brigade and a reserve armored brigade bore the brunt of the attack against heavily fortified positions sited in tactically advantageous places, and the infantry forces dealt with one position after another in close hand-to-hand fighting, particularly fierce fighting taking place at Tell Fakhr. Losses were heavy on both sides. The armored force finally broke
through the first line of defense, reaching the objective with two tanks in operation out of an entire battalion.
An additional armored force advanced and captured Banias, and while the breakthrough force now advanced rapidly toward Mansura and Kuneitra, a force under Brigadier General Elad Peled, which had previously been in operation on the West Bank, attacked in the area of Tawfīq; paratroopers were landed from helicopters in depth behind the enemy lines; an additional armored force moved up through Darbashiyya; and at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, 24 hours after the commencement of hostilities, the town of Kuneitra was in the hands of the Israel Defense Forces, which were now firmly established on the Golan Heights. The danger of Syrian shelling had been removed from the Israeli villages. General Elazar's Northern Command forces ceased operation, following a un-sponsored cease-fire, and established themselves along the lines reached by the advancing forces. The Israel Defense Forces were now established on the main highway leading to Damascus.
In six days the military force of the Arabs had been destroyed, their air forces were in ruins, hundreds of tanks were destroyed or captured, over 15,000 casualties had been inflicted on them, and almost 6,000 prisoners were in Israeli hands. Israel's military losses were 777 killed, 2,586 wounded, and a handful of prisoners, primarily pilots, all of whom were subsequently exchanged in return for the thousands of Arab prisoners. The Egyptian and the Syrian governments accepted a cease-fire agreement and un observers were posted along the Suez Canal front and on the Golan Heights. Sporadic shooting took place, particularly along the neck leading from Qantara northward to Port Said, but by and large a period of comparative military quiet descended on the area. Nasser announced his resignation in a broadcast to the Egyptian people on June 9, but withdrew in the face of mass demonstrations calling for his return. In his resignation speech he made clear the part played by the Soviets in bringing on the war.
After the Six-Day War
Israel proceeded rapidly with the administration of the occupied areas and in a very short time had gained full control and had reestablished all essential services for the population. During the fighting approximately 100,000 Arabs fled from the West Bank to the East Bank, and following the occupation tens of thousands left voluntarily in order to join their families. The Israeli military policy was to allow the Arabs to govern themselves up to and including the municipal level as far as possible. The city of Jerusalem was reunited and the barriers of wire, mines, and hate fell as the people of two nations which had been divided for 19 years mingled once again, meeting and trading with each other. Gradually the governments's open-bridges policy, as enunciated by the minister of defense, General Moshe Dayan, evolved, Arabs from the West Bank moving freely to and fro across the Jordan River and trade developing between the occupied territories and the Arab world, particularly in the field of agricultural supplies. A liberal military administration ruled in the areas. The scene was set for some form of accommodation between the Arab world and Israel: King Hussein visited the capitals of the world, and it appeared that there was a preparedness to discuss some form of peace or coexistence with Israel; but all decisions were postponed pending the convening of the Arab Summit Conference at Khartoum in August 1967.
Before this conference, however, President Podgorny of the Soviet Union and Marshal Zakharov, the Soviet chief of staff, visited Cairo and committed themselves to the resuscitation of the Egyptian armed forces. President Podgorny later visited Damascus and made similar commitments, and a vast Soviet airlift began to replace almost two billion dollars' worth of equipment lost to the Israelis. Against this background, and doubtless influenced by it, the Khartoum Conference took place and the Arab policy of the "three noes" – no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and no peace with Israel – was enunciated. Following this the prospects for a peaceful settlement waned in the face of Arab intransigence. The Palestine Liberation Organization was reorganized and Yaḥya Ḥammuda was named acting chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization in place of Ahmed Shukeiri. All the Palestine terrorists and guerrilla organizations joined this new federation, apart from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an extreme left-wing organization that engaged in terrorist activities against civilian aircraft and Israeli institutions abroad.
A concentrated attempt was made to mount terrorist and resistance operations in the occupied areas and in Israel. These took two forms: indiscriminate terrorist activity, such as bombs in the Tel Aviv bus station, the Hebrew University cafeteria, or on the grounds of the American consulate in Jerusalem, in which innocent civilians and passersby were killed and wounded; and a guerrilla war to be mounted from bases mainly on the east bank of the Jordan River. Gradually the Israeli security services developed a counteroffensive and, although terrorist activities were perpetrated from time to time, the situation was kept well in hand, and after three years most of the terrorist rings involved, both in the occupied areas and in Israel, had been rounded up.
The Israel Defense Forces took special action against the terrorists based in Jordan and in March 1968 destroyed their main base in Karama, near the east bank of the Jordan, in a major attack. Following this attack the Palestinian guerrillas withdrew their main bases from the area near the border and adapted their training and mode of operation accordingly. From time to time the Israel Air Force attacked their bases and concentrations, but the main battles took place in the darkness of the nights along the Jordan River, very heavy casualties being inflicted on the infiltrators. By mid-1969 Yasser Arafat admitted to over 700 killed, in addition to over 3,000 guerrillas held as prisoners by Israel. By the introduction of improved operational methods and new technological devices, the Jordan River was closed off to the guerrillas, and once again the Israel Defense Forces scored a resounding victory. The guerrillas, thwarted in their attempts to penetrate into Israel-held territory, devoted more and more energy to inter-Arab affairs and gradually became a source of considerable danger to the established regimes, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon. Their activity led to a number of serious clashes between the authorities and their forces in both Jordan and Lebanon, resulting in an unstable political situation.
The main military effort against Israel after the war was mounted by Egypt. From time to time Egyptian forces violated the cease-fire arrangement along the Suez Canal. In October 1967, an Israel destroyer, the "Eilat," was sunk while on patrol off the coast of Sinai by missiles fired by an Egyptian missile boat from the shelter of Port Said harbor. In retaliation Israel shelled the Egyptian oil refineries at Suez. Nasser announced a policy based on three phases: defensive, retaliatory, and offensive. In September–October 1968 he declared the opening of the retaliatory phase with heavy artillery bombardments along the canal, inflicting heavy casualties on the Israeli forces. Israel retaliated both along the canal and by deep commando penetrations into Egypt, in the Nile Valley and along the coasts. At the same time Israeli forces developed the construction of "the Bar-Lev Line," a series of fortifications along the length of the entire canal.
In March 1969 Nasser announced the opening of the offensive phase, declaring that the cease-fire no longer existed. The war of attrition that he waged against Israel escalated, and Israel's casualties along the canal rose, reaching a peak of 30 killed and over 70 wounded in July 1969. Israel's forces under the command of Lieutenant General Chaim Bar-Lev went over to the counterattack, choosing air power as its means of counteracting Egyptian superiority in artillery along the canal. Heavy air battles took place in the summer and autumn of 1969, when heavy casualties were inflicted on the Egyptian air force and control of the air was firmly established by the Israel Air Force. Between the end of the Six-Day War and the end of March 1970, 85 Egyptian planes had been shot down by Israel, and Egyptian losses were averaging eight planes to every one of Israel's. In September 1969 an armored Israeli force crossed the Gulf of Suez and sojourned over 20 hours on the Egyptian side, clearing a stretch of Egyptian military installations, including radar posts, some 31 mi. (50 km.) long. Following this action the Israel Air Force proceeded systematically to destroy Egypt's radar-warning system and anti-aircraft defenses, including sa-2 missiles supplied by the Soviets. This battle continued until, in November 1969, Egyptian missile bases along the canal had been destroyed for the third time, and Israel continued to counterattack the Egyptian forces along the canal. In January 1970 Israeli planes began to attack similar missile sites and other military installations deep in Egypt, including the Cairo area. At the same time commando raids designed to keep the Egyptian forces off balance, such as that involving the temporary occupation of Shadwan Island in the Red Sea, took place. Israeli planes continued to attack positions in Egypt and particularly along the canal with comparative freedom, and Israel gained the upper hand in the war of attrition.
At this stage, in March 1970, it was announced that Egypt had been supplied with sa-3 ground-to-air missiles manned by Soviet personnel. The Soviet penetration, which had been going on for years in Egypt and in Syria and which had brought thousands of advisers and technicians to these two countries, now intensified. This policy was part of a general build-up of a Soviet presence in the Mediterranean that had been going on for a number of years and in which the Soviet fleet played a major part, attaining a strength of over 60 vessels, including two helicopter carriers, the Moskva and the Leningrad. Israel's defense of the cease-fire lines and of her borders continued to be maintained. The administration of the occupied territories developed, and the first moves were made by Israel toward solving the Arab-refugee problem. Trade from the occupied territories to the Arab world reached il 70,000,000 in exports in 1969, and imports from the Arab world to them topped il 25,000,000. The Arab guerrilla forces had been fought to a standstill by Israel but had become an increasingly serious internal factor in the Arab countries. The Arab world was racked by revolution and unrest. Since the Six-Day War there have been revolutions or attempts at revolution in the Middle East in Iraq, South Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. Arab has fought Arab on the South Yemen-Saudi border, in Jordan, and in Lebanon, and Arab intransigence has continued to postpone any approach of peace.
In June 1970 the U.S. secretary of state William Rogers proposed that discussions be held between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan under the auspices of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring (as un representative). On August 4 Israel accepted the Rogers proposal in order to achieve "an agreed and binding contractual peace agreement." This agreement also initated a cease-fire with Egypt, from August 7, for a period of three months, even though Israel regarded the original Security Council cease-fire resolution as still binding. Israel charged that Egypt with Soviet connivance had violated the cease-fire agreement by moving up missile sites into the Canal zone. The cease-fire was renewed by Egypt for a further period of three months on Nov. 5, 1970, and again for one month on Feb. 5, 1971. On March 7, 1971, President Sadat announced Egypt's refusal formally to extend the cease-fire but did not resume fighting.
R.S. and W.S. Churchill, The Six Day War (1967); D. Kimche and D. Bawly, The Sandstorm: The Arab-Israeli War of 1967 (1968); W.Z. Laqueur, The Road to Jerusalem: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1967 (1968); A. Lall, The un and the Middle East Crisis (1968); R. Bondy et al. (eds.), Mission Survival… (1968); R.J. Donovan, Israel's Fight for Survival (1967); T. Draper, Israel and War Politics: Roots of the Third Arab-Israel War (1968), incl. bibl.; P. Young, The Israeli Campaign (1967); J. Chance, Conflict in the Middle East (1965); M.M. Barnet, The Time of the Burning Sun (1968); Associated Press, Lightning Out of Israel (1967); Life, Israel's Swift Victory (1967); S.L.A. Marshall, Swift Sword (1967); S. Teveth, The Tanks of Tammuz (1969); The Seventh Day: Soldiers Talk About the Six-Day War (1970; Middle East Record 1967 (1971). add. bibliography: C. Herzog, The Arab-Israel Wars (1982); M. Oren, Six Days of War (2002); J. Bowen, Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped the Middle East (2003).
Six-Day War: see Arab-Israeli Wars.