Fifty years ago today, Israel launched preemptive attacks against the Egyptian Air Force. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had previously closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, which Israel considered an Act of War. Additionally, the Israeli government had intelligence indicating that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were planning a war of eradication against Israel. Some historians dispute that and perhaps we’ll never know which side was telling the truth.
What can’t be disputed was that air strikes by Israeli Air Force essentially destroyed the Egyptian Air Force. This was followed by a ground offensive that drove the Egyptians back to the western side of the Suez Canal.
Over the next several day, Jordan and Syria joined in the war and suffered a series of defeats with heavy casualties.
On June 11, 1967 a ceasefire was called. Israel now held the Sinai, Gaza Strip, all of Jerusalem, the west bank of the Jordan River, and the Golan Heights in Syria. With the exception of the Sinai, Israel holds all of that territory to this day.
This was round three of a long running war between Israel and it’s Arab neighbors. The first was when the State of Israel was created in 1948. The second was in 1956 when Israel, Great Britain, and France invaded Egypt with the goal of seizing control of the Suez Canal. Which was probably not the best idea in history.
The Six Day War significantly advanced Israeli security by pushing back it’s three (at the time) closest enemies. Since then, Jordan and Egypt have established at least a detente with Israel, while Syria remains, well Syria.
I’d be remiss in not mentioning the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. IDF planes and torpedo boats attacked the Liberty killing 34 sailors and wounding 171 more. Israel claimed that it was a case of mistaken identity, but to this day there are skeptics who think that it was a deliberate attack on a USN ship. That seems a bit far fetched as America was and still is Israels strongest ally. I don’t know if the truth will ever be known, but I suppose that both sides will staunchly defend their positions on the controversy.
The fourth (and maybe final) round was fought in 1973 in what is known as the Yom Kippur War. That was initiated by a unannounced attack by Syria and Egypt against Israeli targets. But, that’s a story for another day.