Analysis of the Six Day War

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Analysis of the Six-Day War
June 5 1967 Israel delivers a stunning opening blow in the Six-Day war. Within a few hours, the Israeli airstrike devastated the Egyptian air force. Fighting on three different fronts against the combined might of three Arab armies; Israel would win a war within six days. Research on the causes of the Six-Day war, and the military tactics can help one understand how Israel achieved this astonishing victory, and how the results of this war affect Israel today.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was introduced by the Arab League in 1963. Yassar Arafat was the leader of the largest faction of PLO, known as the Fatah. Each faction adhered to a set of principles, which called for Israel’s destruction, given by the Palestine National Charter. In 1965, 35 raids were conducted against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41. In just the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched. The targets were always civilians (Bard). The main objective was to harass the Israelis, but a secondary objective was to undermine King Hussein’s rule in Jordan. King Hussein viewed the PLO as a direct and indirect threat to his power; he feared that they might try to depose him. Because of his fears, Hussein had the PLO offices in Jerusalem closed, arrested members of the PLO, and withdrew recognition of the organization, thereby betraying the Arab cause. A major cause of conflict between Syria and Israel was Syria’s objection to Israel’s decision to take water from the Jordan River to supply the country with the creation of a National Water Carrier. The Syrian army used the Golan Heights to shell Israeli farms and villages, forcing citizens to sleep in bomb shelters. These attacks finally provoked a retaliatory strike on April 7, 1967. During the attack, Israeli planes shot down six Syrian fighter planes. On May 15th, Egyptian soldiers began to move into Sinai Desert near the Israeli border, and on May 18th, the Syrian soldiers stationed along the Golan Heights. Egypt closed Straights of Tiran to all ships bound for Eilat, cutting off Israel’s only supply route with Asia, and stopping the flow of oil from Iran. On May 30th King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt. In early June 1967, tensions in the Middle East were rising. Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser had called on the Arab nations to destroy Israel. War seemed inevitable. Israel faced the grim prospect of a simultaneous invasion from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The combined Arab armies had a massive superiority in numbers of soldiers, tanks, and fighter aircrafts. The general mood in the Arab world was that Israel could be defeated because it was not that strong; yet against most expectations, the opposite happened. Israel decided to preempt the anticipated Arab attack using the element of surprise. On June 5th, Prime Minister Eshkol gave Israel the order to attack Egypt.

In less than a week, Israel had defeated its Arab neighbors. To understand the reasons for Israel’s victory, it is necessary to go back to the early 1960’s. At that time, Yo’ash Tsiddon was chief of planning in the IAF, the Israeli Air Force. A military coalition between Egypt and Syria meant Israel would be facing battles on at least two fronts: It could expect attacks from Egypt through the Sinai and from Syria through the Golan Heights. It also seemed possible that both Jordan and Iraq would add their weight to the Arab force. The best form of defense would be a strong offense, a preemptive strike. The Israelis could not afford to give their all against all the Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians, at the same time; The Israelis’ need to concentrate on one enemy at a time. To fight the war the way it wanted, Israel would need to gain air superiority.

In 1964, Tsiddon’s team came up with the unorthodox plan to strike their enemy’s airstrips. The primary objective was to keep the Arab air forces on the ground by disabling their runways. The only problem...
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