Six-Day War

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Six-Day War
Soldiers Western Wall 1967.jpg
Part of Arab-Israeli conflict
Date June 5, 1967-June 10, 1967
Location Middle East
Flag of Israel.png Israel Egypt
Levi Eshkol
Yitzhak Rabin
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Abdel Hakim Amer
Abdul Munim Riad
Zaid ibn Shaker
Asad Ghanma
Salah Jadid
264,000 547,000
776 killed Egypt: 15,000 killed
Jordan: 696 killed
Syria: 2,500 killed

The June 1967 Six-Day War resulted when the Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser closed off the Gulf of Aqaba, which was the only access Israel had to the Red Sea. Israel responded with massive preemptive air strikes against several Arab nations, including Egypt, killing many Arabs and destroying their military capabilities. Israel conquered Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. In a political move to retain his popularity, Egyptian President Abdel Nasser announced his resignation, but later agreed to continue to lead Egypt.


In the previous Israel was forced to deal with several threats from Arab leaders. Already in 1965 Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser announced: “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood”. On May 22, 1967 Syrian leader Nureddin al-Attasi told his troops “We want a full scale, popular war of liberation to destroy the Zionist enemy”. In the same month Nasser forced the UN Emergency Force to leave the Sinai Peninsula, where they were stationed since 1957.[1][2]

The threat was real: The actions and rhetoric.[3]

Ahmad Shukeiri expressed his genocidal aims, including predicting that no one will survive.[4]

Saad Jumaa, who was Prime Minister of Jordan at the time uttered: "After the war, we came to know that these chatter terrified the peoples of Europe and the American people, and caused everyone to identify with Israel, which Shukeiri intended to destroy and murder her wives and children."[5]

Shukeiri incited the Arabs into a frenzy Jihad. He fired up his followers with injunctions for a "sacred war," like the Koran's: "Kill them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you."[6]


The dark warnings of Arab leaders about what would happen to Israel if their forces were to triumph had been all too explicit. Only a week before the outbreak of fighting, Egypt's president, Gamal Abdul Nasser, had threatened that "this will be a total war. Our basic aim is the destruction of Israel." And the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Ahmed Shukairy, had added to the sense of looming tragedy, "Those native-born Israelis who survive can remain in Palestine. But I estimate that none of them will survive."


Again, Arab leaders began to vie with each other on promising genocide for the Jews of the Holy Land. It was to be a war of extermination in which not a man, woman, or child should be spared, announced Ahmed Shukeiri, the bloodthirsty organizer of commando units in the Arab refugee camps. Nasser promised to place Shukeiri's men in the front ranks when he invaded.
Summarizing in The Chicago Tribune:[9]

For three weeks before the fighting erupted, the tiny Jewish state was caught in the stranglehold of an Egyptian naval blockade that cut off Israel's vital Red Sea port of Elat. Encouraged by Western apathy and indecision, Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser then ousted United Nations buffer troops from the Gaza Strip and moved his forces up to the 1949 armistice line with Israel.

Sensing Israel`s vulnerability, the Arab world rallied to Nasser`s side. Jordan, Syria and Iraq signed mutual defense pacts with Egypt and began moving troops and tanks toward Israel`s eastern and northern borders. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco and Tunisia announced that their soldiers and facilities stood at Egypt's disposal.

By the end of May, daylong broadcasts throughout the Middle East exhorted Arabs to join the jihad (holy war) against Israel. On May 25, Nasser declared publicly, The problem now before the Arab countries is not whether the port of Elat should be blockaded--but how to totally exterminate the state of Israel for all time.

Palestinian leader Ahmed Shukeiry, asked about the fate of the Jews in Israel after the war, replied, I estimate none of them will survive.

The War

Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol cited principles of self-defense for his approval of air-strikes on Egypt and battles with Jordanian and Syrian forces. Eshkol told a British newspaper, "The threat of destruction that hung over Israel since its establishment and which was about to be implemented has been removed. For the first time in 19 years, Jews are again free to pray at the Wailing Wall and at other shrines sacred to Judaism in Jerusalem and Hebron."[10]

This war reportedly displaced 500,000 Palestinians, and Israel offered the Palestinians in Jerusalem the opportunity to become Israeli citizens, but most declined, of the 120,000 who tried to sign up to return to Israel (after fleeing) only 14,000 were allowed back in.

To explain their humiliating defeat, Nasser and King Hussein of Jordan together concocted a lie that US and British forces aided Israel by joining in the war. Once they issued this claim to the Arab world, it caused immense hostility against the West. Their lie is one of the main reasons the US and British are hated by Arabs today.[11]

Since this war Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations to enter into peace agreements with Israel.

Further reading

  • Oren, Michael B. Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2003) excerpt and text search
  • Tucker, Spencer C., ed. The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict A Political, Social, and Military History (4 vol. 2008)


  1. The Six Day War Remembered. A reflection on the "what-might-have-beens." FPM, Jun 7, 2016. Joseph Puder.
  2. "Arab Design for Israel's Annihilation, 1958-1967." Embassy of Israel, 1967.
  3. Ruppin, R. (1971). Us, Them and the Land of Israel /‏‬‎. Israel: Sherut ha-pirsumim. p.36. Arab propagandists, led by Ahmad Shukeiri - chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization - have even explicitly declared the extermination of Israelis (Genocide). Nasser re-blocked the Straits of Tiran for Israeli sailing, provoking a wave of hysterical lust for war among millions of Arabs, in all their countries. Some of these actions were enough to make the war inevitable. When Israel went to war defending against Egypt, Jordan attacked Israel, even though Hussein was promised to honor the ceasefire agreement if he refrained from intervening. The aggression of Syria, whose army launched an attack on upper Galilee settlements, it was visible to all.
  4. Iyunim biTkumat Israel, 11, 2001, pp. 141-132 [1] [Merkaz le-moreshet Ben-Guryon]. Moshe Shemesh - Did Shuqayri call for 'throwing the Jews into the sea'?
    The fact that in that statement he explicitly spoke of the extermination of Jews strengthened the credibility of the claim. That he called for throwing the Jews into the sea...
  5. Ahmad Shukeiri and the failure of Palestinian nationalism Dr. Yohai Sela, The Mideat Magazine, Aug 30, 2008. Shukeiri in the eyes of the Jordanians. Shortly after the Six Day War, two Western journalists - Vic Vance and Pierre Lauer - met with King Hussein to hear his version of wartime events. The king's words, which were visible, were translated into Hebrew and published in a book published in 1974. The book also includes a chapter by the Prime Minister of Jordan in 1967, Saad Juma... Juma continued to describe Shukeiri the day after they arrived in Jordan:

    "The next day Shukeiri visited my office. During his visit the king suddenly appeared, and Shukeiri began to spill as usual and utter his long, routine, corny and inflated words. Most of all, and what good would it be if the army from Syria entered Jordan, and he, namely Shukeiri himself, would command him in the liberation system. I told him willingly: 'In time of calamity you will be at the forefront of talks. The Syrian: The effort, the sacrifice and the fierceness do not depend on certain circumstances or a certain front. If the war breaks out, it will be general and comprehensive, and will not separate a Palestinian from a Jordanian, and between a Syrian and an Egyptian. I find in my diary that I told him briefly; 'Shukeiri, I'm asking you not to make speeches these days. The days are recruiting days. I'm afraid that you will provoke the emotions of the masses, which are tense anyway, and in preparation for war. 'Shukeiri smiled, unsatisfied a will, and promised not to travel, since if he traveled he would no doubt speak. Eventually he broke his promise, drove off and spoke.

    The demonstrators, who left the mosque that day, almost turned to destroy the foreign consulates in Jerusalem - if the wise men did not cooperate with the security personnel in dispersing non-violent demonstrations. Shukeiri was not content with that, and on the same day (June 2), as he was leaving the mosque, held a press conference. On this occasion he uttered his famous words..:'We will destroy Israel and its inhabitants, and those who remain - if anyone remains - the ships are ready for their exile.' He told me ... a lecturer from the University of Jordan, that he saw Shukeiri on the television screen in London when he uttered these nonsense. After the war, we came to know that these chatter terrified the peoples of Europe and the American people, and caused everyone to identify with Israel, which Shukeiri intended to destroy and murder her wives and children. "When the fighting started, on the morning of June 5, Shukeiri fled from Jerusalem to Amman, and from there - I do not know where."

    Saad Juma'a, of course, forgot to mention the contribution of Amman Radio to Arab enthusiasm on June 5, 1967, when he exclaimed, "Oh Arabs, strike everywhere. Beat until the end. The end of Israel is in your hands." On June 7, 1967, King Hussein delivered a speech calling on his subjects "Kill the Jews with whatever you can get your hands on. Kill them with your arms and your hand, and your nails and your teeth." Shukieri's statement on June 2 was similar to his statement given to the Arab media on May 28, when he said that "the natives of Israel, who will survive, can stay in Palestine. However, in my best estimation, none of them will survive." As Shukieri said these words, dozens of mass graves were prepared in Israel, as there was no doubt that the Israeli victims would be enormous. Rabbis went from site to site and consecrated them as burial places. Israelis who watched Egyptian television in those days were attacked with real existential anxiety in the face of the scenes seen from the screen, since Arab ecstasy was at its peak. For example, Algeria Radio put it this way on June 4, 1967: Brethren, this is the battle of the Arab homeland, of the Arab nation. Battle of Fate, we must look at the battle from this point of view. "The true freedom of the entire Arab homeland must be achieved through the elimination of the Zionist state."

  6. The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California, December 31, 1967, p. 28:

    Shukairy Steps Down It Might Be Said that Terror is his middle name.

    "We will wipe Israel off the face of the map and no Jew will survive," warned Ahmed Shukairy last June. As head of the clandestine Palestine Liberation Organization for the past four years, Shukairy has been responsible for the murders of dozens of Israeli men, women and children in bloody midnight raids across the borders of Jordan and Syria.

    A Jowly heavy-lidded Haifa lawyer, he fired up his followers with injunctions for a "sacred war," like the Koran's: "Kill them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you." Israel and the Jews have by no means been Shukairy's only targets. - He hates the United States nearly as much and isn't terribly fond of Jordan either. With characteristic temperance he once said that anyone "who ever dares to speak in public of Arab friendship-with the United States in any Arab village or town would be torn to pieces." He once described Jordan's moderate king as the "tyrant of Amman, Hussein; who betrayed Allah, the "Prophet"...
  7. Steven Heydemann, ‎Joint Committee on the Near and Middle East: 'War, Institutions, and Social Change in the Middle East.' University of California Press, 2000, p. 174 Israel and the 1967 War. Joel S. Migdal. From Doom To Boom.
  8. Meyer Levin: 'The Story of Israel,' (Putnam), 1966 (1967), pp. 221-222.
  9. "20 Years after six day war triumph, Israel still grappling with." Jonathan Broder, Chicago Tribune. June 7, 1987.
  10. BBC, 1967 - Israel ends six-day war