Who initiated hostilities in the Six Day War?
One of the frequently heard claims against Israel is that she started the Six Day War in1967, that Israel attacked peaceful Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq on June 5, 1967 and seized the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the “West Bank” from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria in an act of aggression.
The background to the Six Day War is quite different from the propagandistic claims of pro-Arab sources. Egypt and Israel’s other neighboring countries — all Arabs — took actions in a series of increasingly provocativeand threatening steps during May and early June of 1967, accompanied with rhetoric stating very clearly the intent to attack and destroy Israel. Attempts by Israel to negotiate, find United Nations support, or other international diplomatic resolution failed. The United Nations Emergency Forces (UNEF) stationed on the Egyptian-Israeli border were withdrawn without any discussion. A US plan to lift the blockcade of Israeli shipping found little support internationally.
Arab mobilization compelled Israel to mobilize its forces, 80 percent of which were reserve civilians. Israel feared slow economic strangulation because of the costs of long-term mobilization and the damage of the shipping blockcade. Israeli leaders feared the consequences of absorbing an Arab first strike against its civilian population, many of whom lived only miles from Arab-controlled territory. Incendiary Arab rhetoric threatening Israel’s annihilation terrified Israeli society and contributed to the pressures to go to war.
Faced with few choices, on June 4, 1967 the Cabinet authorized the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence to decide on appropriate steps to defend the State of Israel.On June 5, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt and captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Despite an Israeli appeal to Jordan to stay out of the conflict, Jordan attacked Israel and thereby lost control of the West Bank and the eastern sector of Jerusalem. Israel went on to capture the Golan Heights from Syria by the time the war ended on June 10. Click here fora more complete article on the Course of the 1967 War.