Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Summer 2017 of Part 2

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The Six Day War (After 50 Years)

It has been over 50 years since the Six Day War. That war has significance in our time with the wars and tensions in the Middle East going on today. To Israelis, the Six Day War is called מלחמת ששת הימים or Milhemet Sheshet Ha Yamim. Some people call the war in Arabic النكسة, or an-Naksah, (which means The Setback). History in the Middle East has been very controversial and the most debated history that I have ever seen in my life. There are many different perspectives and interpretations about one event in dealing with Middle Eastern history. In essence, the June Six Day War was fought between June 5 and June 10, 1967. It was between Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt (or the United Arab Republic back then), Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Since 1948, Israel and the surrounding nations were in tension and conflict with each other. There was the mobilization of Egyptian forces along the Israeli border in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel then launched a series of preemptive airstrikes against Egyptian airfields. The Egyptians were caught by surprise. Nearly all of the Egyptian air force was destroyed with a few Israeli losses. Israel has very powerful air power. At the same time, Israelis went into the Gaza Strip and the Sinai. The Egyptians were surprised again.  Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser evacuated the Sinai. Israeli forces still were in pursuit of the Egyptians causing many heavy losses. Israel conquered the Sinai. Egypt called on Syria and Jordan to attack Israel. Israeli counterattacked. Israeli conquered East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel's retaliation against Syria resulted in its occupation of the Golan Heights.

One June 11, 1967, a ceasefire was signed. Arabic causalities were far heavier than Israeli casualties. Fewer than 1, 000 Israelis were killed and over 20,000 Arabic people died. Israel's military success was attributed to the element of surprise, an innovative and well-executed battle plan, and the poor quality and leadership of the Arabic forces. Israel seized control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Israel controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Israeli morale and international prestige was greatly increased by the outcome of the war and the area under Israeli control tripled. However, the speed and ease of Israel's victory would lead to a dangerous overconfidence within the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), contributing to initial Arabic successes in the subsequent 1973 Yom Kippur War.  Many people were displaced in the war. As many as 300,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank. About 100,000 Syrians left the Golan Heights to become refugees. In the Arabic world, Jewish minority communities were expelled. Many of them went into Israel and Europe as refugees. So, the Six Day War was complex and it outlined a new chapter of Middle Eastern history. It is very important to show the components of the war.

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The Prelude

After the Suez Crisis in 1956, Egypt agreed to the stationing of a United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Sinai to ensure all parties would comply with the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Years later, numerous border clashes would exist between Israel and its Arabic neighbors, especially Syria. By early November 1966, Syria signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt. There was the growth of the PLO or the Palestine Liberation Organization during the 1960’s. They executed guerrilla activity. There was a mine attack that caused 3 people to die.  The IDF or the Israeli Defence Force attacked the village of as-Samu in the Jordanian occupied West Bank. Jordanian units were beaten back quickly when they engaged the Israelis. King Hussein of Jordan criticized Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser for failing to come to Jordan’s aid. By May of 1967, Nasser received false reports from the Soviet Union that Israel was massing on the Syrian border. Nasser started to mass troops in two defensive lines. They met in the Sinai Peninsula on Israel’s border (on May 16). They expelled the UNEF force from Gaza and Sinai (on May 10) and took up UNEF positions at Sham el-Sheikh, overlooking the Straits of Tiran. Israel said that declarations made in 1957 mentioned that any closure of the Straits would be considered an actor of war, or justification of war. Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli shipping on May 22-23, 1967. The U.S. President at the time, Lyndon Johnson, later had this to say about closure of these straits being a cause of the war. He said that: “…If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other, it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Straits of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent, maritime passage must be preserved for all nations…”

There was massive military preparation before the war came about. For example, Israeli pilots and ground crew trained in rapid refitting returning from sorties before the war. A single aircraft had to sortie up 4 times a day. This caused the Israeli Air Force to send several attack waves against Egyptian airfields on the first day of the war. This overwhelmed the Egyptian Air Force and allowed it knock out other Arabic air forces on the same day. Pilots were trained. The Egyptian fortified defenses in the Sinai. The Israelis didn’t attack the Egyptian defenses head on, so they surprised them with an unexpected direction. James Reston, writing in The New York Times on May 23, 1967, noted,

"In discipline, training, morale, equipment and general competence his [Nasser's] army and the other Arab forces, without the direct assistance of the Soviet Union, are no match for the Israelis. ... Even with 50,000 troops and the best of his generals and air force in Yemen, he has not been able to work his way in that small and primitive country, and even his effort to help the Congo rebels was a flop." On May 26, 1967, The CIA estimated:" The Israelis … If they attack now they … would still be able to drive the Egyptians away from the entrance to the Strait of Tiran, but it would certainly cost them heavy losses of men and materiel."

On the eve of the war, Israel believed it could win a war in 3–4 days. The United States estimated Israel would need 7–10 days to win, with British estimates supporting the U.S. view.

On May 30, Jordan and Egypt signed a defense pact. The next say (at Jordan’s invitation), the Iraq army began deploying troops and armored units in Jordan. They later reintroduced by an Egyptian contingent. On June 1, Israel formed a National Unity government. It widened its cabinet. On June 4, the decision was made to go to war on Israel’s part. The next morning, Israel launched Operation Focus, a large-scale surprise air strike that was the opening of the Six-Day War.

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The Start

So, the beginning of the war started with Israel’s preemptive, surprise attack on the Egyptian Air Force. On June 5, 1967 (on 7:45 Israeli time), civil defense sirens sounded throughout Israel. The IAF (or the Israeli Airforce) was used to execute Operation Focus (Moked). It involved all, but nearly 200 operational jets executed a mass attack against Egyptian airfields. The Egyptian defensive infrastructure was poor back then. There had no airfields. They were equipped with aircraft shelters. They tried to protect Egypt’s warplanes. Most of the Israeli warplanes headed out over the Mediterranean Sea. They flew low in order for them to avoid radar detection, before going into Egypt. Others flew over the Red Sea. Meanwhile, the Egyptians hindered their own defense by shutting down their entire air defense system. They were worried that rebel Egyptian forces would shoot down the plane carrying Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer and Lt. General Sidqui Mahmoud, who were en route from al Maza to Bir Tamada in the Sinai (to meet the commanders of the troops stationed there). It didn’t make a difference since the Israeli pilots came in below Egyptian radar cover well below the lowest point at which its SA-2 surface to air missile batteries could bring down an aircraft. Although, the powerful Jordanian radar facility in Ajloun detected waves of aircraft approaching Egypt and reported the code war for “war” up the Egyptian command chain, Egyptian command and communication problems prevented the warning from teaching the targeted airfields. The Israelis used a mixed attack strategy. They used bombing and strafing runs against planes parked on the ground. They bombed to disable runways with special tarmac shredding penetration bombs developed jointly with France. They used this action to leave surviving aircraft to be unable to take off. The runway at the Arish airfield was spared.

The Israelis expected to turn into a military airport for their transports after the war. Surviving aircraft was taken out by later attack waves. The operation was more successful than expected, catching the Egyptian Air Force on the ground, with few Israeli losses. Only 4 unarmed Egyptian training flights were in the air when the strike began. A total of 338 Egyptian aircraft were destroyed and 100 pilots were killed. Although, the number of aircraft lost by the Egyptians is disputed. Many of the Egyptian planes who were lost were all 30 Tu-16 bombers, 27 out of 40 II-28 bombers, 12 Su-17 fighter bombers, over 90 MiG-21s, 20 MiG-19s, 25 MiG-17 fighters, and around 32 assorted transport planes and helicopters. In addition, Egyptian radars and SAM missiles were also attacked and destroyed. The Israelis lost 19 planes, including two destroyed in air-to-air combat and 13 downed by anti-aircraft artillery. One Israeli plane, which was damaged and unable to break radio silence, was shot down by Israeli Hawk missiles after it strayed over the Negev Nuclear Research Center.

Another was destroyed by an exploding Egyptian bomber. The attack made Israelis to have better air fire power in the war. Attacks on other Arabic air forces by Israel took place later in the day. Hostilities broke out on other fronts. The large number of Arabic aircraft destroyed by Israel at first was called “greatly exaggerated” by the Western press. Yet, the Egyptian Air Force along with other Arabic air forces attacked by Israel made practically no appearance for the remaining days of the conflict. This proved that the numbers were authentic. All over the war, Israeli aircraft continued to strafed Arabic airfield runways to prevent their return to usability. Meanwhile, Egyptian state run radio had reported an Egyptian victory. This was false and it was false to claim that 70 Israeli planes had been downed on the first day of fighting.

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 Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula

The War existed in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula too. The Egyptian forces were made up of 7 divisions. They had 4 armored two infantry and one mechanized infantry. In total, Egypt had about 1000 troops. They had 900-950 tanks in the Sinai. They were backed by APCs and 1,000 artillery pieces. This arrangement was thought to be based on the Soviet doctrine. This doctrine was about mobile armor units at strategic depth provide a dynamic defense while infantry units engaged in defensive battles. Israeli forces concentrated on the border with Egypt which included six armored brigades, one infantry brigade, one mechanized infantry brigade, three paratrooper brigades, etc. This is about 70,000 men and 700 tanks. They were organized in 3 armored divisions. The Israelis were massed on the border on the night before the war. They camouflaged themselves and observed radio silence before being ordered to advance. The Israelis wanted to surprise the Egyptian forces in timing (the attack exactly coinciding with the IAF strike on Egyptian airfields). They wanted to use location in their attacks in attacks via northern and central Sinai route. They didn’t want a repeat of the 1956 war. They didn’t use IDF to attack using central and southern routes. The Israelis used a combined force flanking approach instead of direct tank assaults.

Major General Israel Tal commanded the northernmost Israeli division. They were made up of 3 brigades. Major General Tal was one of the famous armor commanders. He crossed the border at two points. They were opposite Nahal Oz and south of Khan Yunis. They were quick. They held fire to prolong the element of surprise. Tal’s forces assaulted the “Rafah Gap.” That was a 7 mile stretch containing the shortest of 3 main routes through the Sinai towards El-Qantarah el-Sharqiyya and the Suez Canal. Tal’s advance was led by the 7th Armored Brigade under Colonel Shmuel Gonen. The Israelis wanted to use the 7th Brigade to outflank Khan Ynis in the north and the 60th Armored Brigade under Colonel Menachem Aviram would advance from the south. The two brigades would link up and surround Khan Yunis, while the paratroopers would take Rafah. Gonen entrusted the breakthrough to a single battalion of his brigade. Initially, the advance was met with light resistance, as Egyptian intelligence had concluded that it was a diversion for the main attack. However, as Gonen's lead battalion advanced, it suddenly came under intense fire and took heavy losses. A second battalion was brought up, but was also pinned down. Meanwhile, the 60th Brigade became bogged down in the sand, while the paratroopers had trouble navigating through the dunes. The Israelis continued to press their attack, and despite heavy losses, cleared the Egyptian positions and reached the Khan Yunis railway junction in little over four hours. Gonen’s brigade later advanced nine miles to Rafah in twin columns. Rafah was circumvented. Israelis attacked Sheikh Zuweid, which was eight miles to the southwest. That place was defended by 2 brigades. The Egyptians were smaller in number. Yet, they were deeply entrenched and camouflaged. The Israelis were pinned down by fierce Egyptian resistance, and called in air and artillery support to enable their lead elements to advance. Many Egyptians abandoned their positions after their commander and several of his staff was killed. The Israelis broke through with tank-led assaults. However, Aviram's forces misjudged the Egyptians' flank, and were pinned between strongholds before they were extracted after several hours. By nightfall, the Israelis had finished mopping up resistance. Israeli forces had taken significant losses, with Colonel Gonen later telling reporters that "we left many of our dead soldiers in Rafah, and many burnt-out tanks." The Egyptians suffered some 2,000 casualties and lost 40 tanks.

Israeli forces soon advanced to Arish. During the late afternoon, elements of the 79th Armored Battalion charged through the 7 mile long Jiradi defile. That was a narrow pass. It was well defended by Egyptian troops of the 112th Infantry Brigade. There was fierce fighting. The pass charged changed hands many times. The Israelis soon charged through the position. The Egyptians suffered heavy casualties and tank losses, while Israeli losses stood at 66 dead, 93 wounded and 28 tanks. Emerging at the western end, Israeli forces advanced to the outskirts of Arish.  As it reached the outskirts of Arish, Tal's division also consolidated its hold on Rafah and Khan Yunis. The following day, the Israeli forces on the outskirts of Arish were reinforced by the 7th Brigade, which fought its way through the Jiradi pass. After receiving supplies via an airdrop, the Israelis entered the city and captured the airport at 7:50 am. The Israelis entered the city at 8:00 am. Company commander Yossi Peled recounted that "Al-Arish was totally quiet, desolate. Suddenly, the city turned into a madhouse. Shots came at us from every alley, every corner, every window and house." An IDF record stated that "clearing the city was hard fighting. The Egyptians fired from the rooftops, from balconies and windows. They dropped grenades into our half-tracks and blocked the streets with trucks. Our men threw the grenades back and crushed the trucks with their tanks." Gonen sent additional units to Arish, and the city was eventually taken.

Yoffe's attack  allowed Tal to complete the capture of the Jiradi defile, Khan Yunis. All of them were taken after fierce fighting. Gonen subsequently dispatched a force of tanks, infantry and engineers under Colonel Yisrael Granit to continue down the Mediterranean coast towards the Suez Canal, while a second force led by Gonen himself turned south and captured Bir Lahfan and Jabal Libni.

The Mid front (Abu Ageila) Israeli division was further south. The Israeli 38th Armored Division under major General Ariel Sharon assaulted Um-Katef. This was a heavily fortified area. It was defended by the Egyptian 2nd Infantry Division under Major-General Sa’adi Nagib. It had about 16,000 troops. The Egyptians also had a battalion of tank destroyers and a tank regiment. It was created of Soviet World War II armor (which had 90 T-34-85 tanks, 22 SU-100 tank destroyers, and about 16,000 men). The Israelis had about 14,000 men and 150 post-World War II tanks including the AMX-13, Centurions, and M50 Super Shermans (modified M-4 Sherman tanks). Avraham Yoffe used his forces to territories. Sharon’s tanks from the west fougth Egyptians. Israeli infantry would clear the three trenches, while heliborne paratroopers would land behind Egyptian lines and silent their artillery. Sharon’s division came into the Sinai. Egyptians delayed actions at Tarat Umm, Umm Tarfa, and Hill 181. One Israeli jet was downed. Sharon’s forces came under heavy shelling as they advanced from the north and west. Israelis took great causalities because of wines. Israeli tanks fought the northernmost Egyptian defenses. Yoffe led an attack and allow Sharon to capture the Um-Katef after fierce fighting. Avraham Yoffe had 100 tanks to penetrate the Sinai south of Tal’s division. They captured many areas. The Egyptians counterattacked. Israeli forces at first didn’t enter the Gaza Strip. . After Palestinian positions in Gaza opened fire on the Negev settlements of Nirim and Kissufim, IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin overrode Dayan's instructions and ordered the 11th Mechanized Brigade under Colonel Yehuda Reshef to enter the Strip.

The force was immediately met with heavy artillery fire and fierce resistance from Palestinian forces and remnants of the Egyptian forces from Rafah. The Israeli tried to get Gaza City, but were beaten back. Many people died. The Egyptian Air Force attacked Israeli ground forces, but they suffered defeats.  However, when the Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer heard about the fall of Abu-Ageila, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt. President Nasser pulled troops from the Sinai within 24 hours. Egyptian troops retreated from the Sinai. Israeli continued to destroy vehicles. Therefore, in the following two days (June 6 and 7), all three Israeli divisions (Sharon and Tal were reinforced by an armored brigade each) rushed westwards and reached the passes. Sharon's division first went southward then westward, via An-Nakhl, to Mitla Pass with air support. It was joined there by parts of Yoffe's division, while its other units blocked the Gidi Pass. The Israeli Navy launched warfare too. On June 7, Israel started to conquest Sharm el-Sheikh. Israelis defeated Egyptians by having a better airforce, a better plan, and the implementation of an innovative battle plan.

The West Bank

There was war in the West Bank too. King Hussein of Jordan thought that Egypt was victorious. That wasn’t true. So, Hussein sent his forces to link with Egyptians in order to fight Israel. The IDF wanted to be on the defensive, so they can lead a campaign against Egypt. In Jerusalem, machine gun fire was exchanged. The Jordanian Army shelled Israel on June 5. Warfare existed in Tel Aviv too. Eshkol early on sent a message via Odd Bull to King Hussein to promise not to initiate any action against Jordan if it stayed out of the war. King Hussein refused to compromise. So, Jordanian military forces fired in Israeli Jerusalem. They targeted kibbutz Ramat Rachel in the South and Mount Scopus in the north. The Knesset was targeted too. At 11:50 am, sixteen Jordanian Hawker Hunters attacked Netanya, Kfar Sirkin and Kfar Saba, killing one civilian, wounding seven and destroying a transport plane. Three Iraqi Hawker Hunters strafed civilian settlements in the Jezreel Valley, and an Iraqi Tu-16 attacked Afula, and was shot down near the Megiddo airfield. The attack caused minimal material damage, hitting only a senior citizens' home and several chicken coops, but sixteen Israeli soldiers were killed, most of them when the Tupolev crashed. The Israeli cabinet debated on what to do. There were debates among YIgal Allon, Menahem Begin, etc. They decided to attack Jordan’s two airbases via the Israeli Air Force. Jordan’s military forces were destroyed. One Israeli jet was shot down by grown fire. Israeli aircraft attacked a base in western Iraq. Jordanian troops fought in the Battle of Ammunition Hill. It was in East Jerusalem. The Israelis fought and broke in the western’s gate. They took Antenna Hill. The Jordanians fell back after some used hand to hand combat. Jordanians retreated to Bethlehem and suffered 100 causalities.

On June 5, Israelis invaded and enriched Jerusalem. Fighting continued in June 7. Dayan ordered his troops to not enter the Old City. He later decided to capture it since the UN was about to declare a ceasefire. Jordanians resisted. Artillery and air support allowed the Israelis to continue onward. Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat, and Haim Oshri(who are Israeli IDF troops) stood at the Jerusalem Western Wall shortly after its capture was recorded by David Rubinger’s famed photograph. The Jordanians were surrounded in Jenin. They used tanks to fight back. Yet, Israeli aircraft jets and artillery bombarded the Jordanians. After the Old City fell, the Jerusalem Brigade reinforced the paratroopers, and continued to the south, capturing Judea and Gush Etzion. Hebron was taken without any resistance. Fearful that Israeli soldiers would exact retribution for the 1929 massacre of the city's Jewish community, Hebron's residents flew white sheets from their windows and rooftops, and voluntarily gave up their weapons. The Harel Brigade proceeded eastward, descending to the Jordan River. On June 7, Israeli forces seized Bethlehem after a short battle. When reports came in that Hussein withdrawn his forces from across the Jordan River, Dayan ordered his Israeli troops to capture the West Bank.

The Golan Heights

There was a military conflict in the Golan Heights during the Six Day War too. Israel wanted to keep the conflict to the Egyptian front. Eshkol and his allies did know that it was a great possibility that the fighting could extend to the Syrian front. At first, Egypt has shown false reports that they defeated the Israeli army. These reports also said that they would be attacking Tel Aviv too in order to make Syria join the war. So, Syria started to use artillery to shell northern Israel. 12 Syrian jets attacked Israeli settlements in Galilee. Then, Israeli fighter jets intercepted the Syrian aircraft. Israel shot down 3 and drove off the rest. Two Lebanese Hawker Hunter jets (2 of the 12 Lebanon had) crossed into Israeli airspace and began strafing Israeli positions in the Galilee. They were intercepted by Israeli fighter jets and one was shot down. Syrians tried to get the water plants at Tel Dan, Dan, and She’ar Yashuv. They were stopped by the Israelis. The Syrians lost 20 soldiers and 7 tanks. One Israeli officer was killed. Another Syrian offensive failed quickly. Air attacks from Israeli broken up Syrian reserve units. Many tanks from Syrians reportedly sunk in the Jordan River. Many tanks were too wide for bridges. Syrians had a lack of radio communications between tanks and infantry. Units ignored orders to advance. Therefore, the Syrians stopped their ground attack. They used a massive bombardment of Israeli communities in the Hula Valley instead. The Israeli Air Force on June 5, 1967 (in the evening) attacked Syrian airfields. The Syrian Air Force lost some 32 MiG 21s, 23 MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters, and two Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, two-thirds of its fighting strength. The Syrian aircraft that survived the attack retreated to distant bases and played no further role in the war. Following the attack, Syria realized that the news it had received from Egypt of the near-total destruction of the Israeli military could not have been true.

There was a debate in Israel on whether to attack the Golan Heights or not. This happened on June 7 and 8. Syria executed pre-war raids. This caused tensions. Many Israelis wanted Syria to be punished. Some military leaders believed that an attack would be too costly since the opposition would be heavily fortified. The western side of the Golan Heights included a rock escarpment that is about 1,700 high. It rises from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River and then flattens into a gently sloping plateau. Dayan opposed the operation at first. He believed that wit would cost 30,000 lives and might cause a Soviet intervention. Prime Minister Eshkol was more open to the attack in the Golan Heights. The head of the Northern Command, David Elazar, supported the attack too. Later, Israeli intelligence said that Soviet intervention declined. Reconnaissance showed that some Syrian defenses in the Golan region collapsing and intercepted cable revealed that Nasser was urging the President of Syria to immediately accept a cease-fire. On June 9, 1967 on 3 am., Syria said that it accepted a cease-fire. Despite this announcement, Dayan was more enthusiastic on attacking the Golan Heights. Dayan wanted to attack without consultation or government authorization. About 75,000 men in nine brigades were part of the Syrian army. They had an adequate amount of artillery and armor. Israel used 2 brigades in combat. They were the 8th Armored Brigade and the Golani Brigade. They were in the northern front at Givat HaEm. There were another two in the center. Their names are the infantry and one of Peled’s brigades (from Jenin). The Golan Heights' unique terrain (mountainous slopes crossed by parallel streams every several kilometers running east to west), and the general lack of roads in the area channeled both forces along east-west axes of movement and restricted the ability of units to support those on either flank.

Thus the Syrians could move north-south on the plateau itself, and the Israelis could move north-south at the base of the Golan escarpment. An advantage Israel possessed was the excellent intelligence collected by Mossad operative Eli Cohen (who was captured and executed in Syria in 1965) regarding the Syrian battle positions. Syria had built extensive defensive fortifications in depths up to 15 kilometers, comparable to the Maginot Line. This was different than the other campaign. The IAF was only partially effective in the Golan. The reason was that the fortifications were powerful. The Syrian forces still weren’t able to put up an effective defense. The reason was that the officers were poor leaders. They treated their soldiers bad. Officers who retreated from danger left their men confused and ineffective. The Israelis had the upper hand during close combat that took place in many Syrian bunkers along the Golan Heights. The Israelis had Uzis, or a submachine gun use for close combat. Syrian soldiers had AK-47 assault rifles, which was bigger than Uzis. AK-47s were used in combat in more open areas.

On the morning of June 9, Israeli jets carried out dozens of sorties against Syrian positions from Mount Hermon to Tawfiq. They used rockets salvaged from captured Egyptian stocks. The airstrikes knocked out artillery batteries and storehouses and forced transport columns off the roads. The Syrians heavily were killed. Many senior officers and troops deserted. The Israelis used this time to clear paths through Syrian minefields. Yet, the airstrikes never seriously damaged the Syrian bunkers and trench system. The bulk of the Syrian forces on the Golan remained on their positions. After 2 hours after the airstrikes started, the 8th Armored Brigade advanced into the Golan Heights from Givat HaEm. This brigade was headed by Colonel Albert Mandler. The Engineering Corps sappers and eight bulldozers cleared away barbed wire and mines. The force came under fire when they advanced. The Israeli tanks had maneuverability. So, they moved slowly. They were under fire when they came near the fortified village of Sir al-Dib. They wanted to go to the fortress of Qala. Israeli deaths increased. The attacking force lost its way. They were at opposite Za’uara. They faced Syrian reservists. Colonel Mandler ordered simultaneous assaults on Za’ura and Qala. Heavy fighting continued. Israeli and Syrian tanks struggled around obstacles. They fired at very short range.  Mandler recalled that "the Syrians fought well and bloodied us. We beat them only by crushing them under our treads and by blasting them with our cannons at very short range, from 100 to 500 meters." The first three Israeli tanks to enter Qala were stopped by a Syrian bazooka team, and a relief column of seven Syrian tanks arrived to repel the attackers. The Israelis took heavy fire from the houses, but could not turn back, as other forces were advancing behind them, and they were on a narrow path with mines on either side. The Israelis continued pressing forward, and called for air support. A pair of Israeli jets destroyed two of the Syrian tanks, and the remainder withdrew. The surviving defenders of Qala retreated after their commander was killed. Meanwhile, Za'ura fell in an Israeli assault, and the Israelis also captured the 'Ein Fit fortress.

In the central sector, the Israeli 181st Battalion captured the strongholds of Dardara and Tel Hillal after fierce fighting. There were very desperate fighting in the northern axis. Golani Brigade from Israel attacked 13 Syrian positions. They attacked also the formidable Tel Fakhr position. Israelis were under the Syrian guns because of navigational errors. Both sides took heavy casualties. Israel lost all 19 of their tanks and half-tracks. So, the Israeli battalion commander ordered his 25 remaining men to dismount. He told them to divide into 2 groups and charge the northern and southern flanks of Tel Fakhr. The first Israelis to reach the perimeter of the southern approach laid bodily down on the barbed wire. This allowed their comrades to vault over them. From there, they attacked the fortified Syrian positions. The fighting was waged at extremely close quarters, often hand to hand combat. Israelis broke through the northern flank. In minutes, they cleared out the trenches and bunkers. This battle lasted for 7 hours. Israel lost 31 people and 82 were wounded. Syrians lost 62 people and 20 people were captured.

Among the dead was the Israeli battalion commander. The Golani Brigade's 51st Battalion took Tel 'Azzaziat, and Darbashiya also fell to Israeli forces. On the evening of June 9, the four Israeli brigades had all broken through the plateau. They were reinforced and replaced. Thousands of reinforcements started to reach the front. Tanks and halftracks had survived the previous day’s fighting were refueled and replenished with ammunition. The wounded were evacuated. Israel had eight brigades in the sector by dawn. Syria had damaged its line of defense. Many of its defenses were still intact. Syria controlled Mount Hermon and Banias in the north. They also controlled the area between Tawfiq and Customs House Road in the south. June 9 was when Syrian leaders decided to reinforce those positions soon. They wanted to maintain a steady barrage on Israeli civilian settlements. Israel continued to advance in the night. Fierce resistance slowed them down. Yet, a Syrian counterattack never materialized. Jalabina was fortified. It had many Syrian reservists in that village. They use their anti-aircraft guns to hold off the Israel 65th Paratroop Battalion for 4 hours. Then, a small detachment managed to penetrate the village and knock out the heavy guns. The 8th Brigade moved south from Qala.

They advanced 6 miles to Wasit. There, they faced heavy artillery and tank bombardment. At the Banias in the north, Syrian mortar batteries opened fire on advancing Israeli forces only after Golani Brigade sappers cleared a path through a minefield, killing sixteen Israeli soldiers and wounding four.  On the next day, June 10, the central and northern groups joined in a pincer movement on the plateau, but that fell mainly on empty territory as the Syrian forces retreated. At 8:30 am, the Syrians began blowing up their own bunkers, burning documents and retreating. Several units joined by Elad Peled's troops climbed to the Golan from the south, only to find the positions mostly empty. When the 8th Brigade reached Mansura, five miles from Wasit, the Israelis met no opposition and found abandoned equipment, including tanks, in perfect working condition. In the fortified Banias village, Golani Brigade troops found only several Syrian soldiers chained to their positions. During the day, Israeli units stopped after getting room. Some Israeli troops advanced after an agreed upon cease fire. They wanted to occupy strategically strong position. In the east, the ground terrain was an openly gently sloping plain. This position or the cease fire line is known as the “Purple Line.” Time magazine reported: "In an effort to pressure the United Nations into enforcing a ceasefire, Damascus Radio undercut its own army by broadcasting the fall of the city of Quneitra three hours before it actually capitulated. That premature report of the surrender of their headquarters destroyed the morale of the Syrian troops left in the Golan area."

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The End

The historic Six Day War ended on June 10, 1967. Israel finished its final offensive into Golan Heights. A ceasefire was created. Israel by this time has gotten the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the West Bank of the Jordan River (plus East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights). So, about 1 million Arabic people were placed under Israel’s control. It grew into more territories. Yitzhak Rabin said that airpower and unique strategies caused the Israeli victory in the Hebrew University three weeks later (when he received an honorary degree).  Rabin was praised by Israelis because of his actions. Dayan also has his final report on the war to the Israeli general staff. It listed strengthens and weaknesses of the Israeli execution of the war. In Egypt, Nasser admitted his responsibility for the military defeat in June 1967.  According to historian Abd al-Azim Ramadan, Nasser's mistaken decisions to expel the international peacekeeping force from the Sinai Peninsula and close the Straits of Tiran in 1967 led to a state of war with Israel, despite Egypt's lack of military preparedness. Ultimately, Egyptian military leaders didn’t give Nasser truly accurate information and Egyptian’s military mistakes contributed to their defeat. In the conflict, almost 1, 000 Israelis were killed and 4,517 were wounded. 15 Israeli soldiers were captured. Almost 15,000 Arabic people were killed. 4,338 Egyptian soldiers were captured. Many Syrians and Jordanians were killed and captured too. The war started by a strike by Israel against Egypt for a perceived threat in Israel’s mind. Both Israelis and Egyptians accused each other of atrocities against each other. Both sides accuse America of aiding Israel militarily and the Soviets aiding Egypt militarily.

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Political Significance (including the USS Liberty attack)

On June 8, 1967, the USS Liberty (which was an American Navy electronic intelligence vessel) sailed 13 nautical miles off Arish. This was outside of Egypt’s territorial waters. It was attacked by Israeli jets and torpedo boats. It nearly sank the ship. It killed 34 sailors and wounded 171 human beings. Israel claimed that it was an attack of mistaken identity. They claim that the ship was misidentified as the Egyptian vessel El Quesir. Israel apologized for this. They paid compensation to the victims of their families and to the United States for damage to the ships. The American government accepted this explanation. There was an investigation. Other people completely disagree with this view. Many people believe that Israel intentionally attacked the ship for the purpose of keeping America out of the Six Day War. The people who believed that the attack was an intentional strike against an American ship were  the then United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Chief of Naval Operations at the time, Admiral Thomas Moorer, some survivors of the attack and intelligence officials familiar with transcripts of intercepted signals on the day. The Six Day War changed Middle Eastern history forever. It showed the vast military power of Israel. It gave Egypt and Syria more time to learn military strategy after their defeats. Mauritania remained in a declared state of war with Israel until 1999. The United States imposed an embargo on new arms agreements to all Middle East countries, including Israel. The embargo remained in force until the end of the year of 1967, despite urgent Israeli requests to lift it. Tourism grew in Israel. More people were sympathetic with Zionism. Many Jewish people were expelled from Jerusalem by the Jordanians. Many cemeteries were desecrated. Many of the Jewish diaspora traveled into Israel. Jewish people from the Soviet Union came into Israel. In the Arab nations, populations of minority Jews faced persecution and expulsion following the Israeli victory. Jewish people were attacked in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco with synagogues being burned too according to historian and Ambassador Michael B. Oren.

Image result for peace in the middle eastImage result for map of israel and palestine today

Future Events

Israel wanted to return some of the territories that they conquer back to Egypt. On November 22, 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, the "land for peace" formula, which called for Israeli withdrawal "from territories occupied" in 1967 and "the termination of all claims or states of belligerency." Resolution 242 recognized the right of "every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1978, after the Camp David Accords, and disengaged from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005. Its army frequently re-enters Gaza for military operations and still retains control of the seaports, airports and most of the border crossings. About one million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were displaced from their lands. Many fled to Jordan. Many Syrians fled from the Golan Heights. Israel allowed only the inhabitants of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to receive full Israeli citizenship, applying its law, administration and jurisdiction to these territories in 1967 and 1981, respectively. The vast majority of the populations in both territories declined to take citizenship. Many Arabic people suffered massive displacement as a product of the Six Day War. Israel made peace with Egypt following the Camp David Accords of 1978 and completed a staged withdrawal from the Sinai in 1982. However, the position of the other occupied territories has been a long-standing and bitter cause of conflict for decades between Israel and the Palestinians, and the Arabic world in general. Jordan and Egypt withdrew their claims over the West Bank and Gaza. The questions of settlements remain. Palestinians still are fighting for their own human rights. They desire Palestinian nationhood. The Six Day War represented the beginning of the modern era of Middle Eastern history.

By Timothy

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