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A Battle for Survival: The Six-Day War, Part 1

Note: It was this past week, 45 years ago that Israel, about to be attacked and possibly annihilated, sent a preemptive strike against Egypt and Syria, beginning what is known today as the Six Day War. I thought it would be good to do a series on the subject. The history if fascinating.

It was considered one the most impressive, if not the most impressive UN peacekeeping missions in history. I am speaking of the United Nations Emergency Force that was deployed in the Sinai Desert from 1956 until 1967. What happened in 1967 that caused this great and impressive force to leave? A letter was sent to the UNEF from Egypt to scat. And scat, they did. Very impressive indeed!

This was in May of 1967. Gamal Nasser, the President of Egypt sent his troops into Sinai to fill the void. Next he closed the straits of Tiran, announcing that no Israeli ship will ever navigate it’s waters again. They also forbid the shipment of strategic materials to Israel on non-Israeli vessels. And to make himself completely clear he sent two submarines, a destroyer and four missile launchers through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea.

Satellite photo of Straits of Tiran and Red Sea

This move would cripple the Israeli economy, as the port of Eilat would be useless. It was in fact, an act of war.

By noon May 23, Israel was in total mobilization:

  1. Buses ceased,

  2. roads were deserted,

  3. foreign dignitaries went home,

  4. and El AL flights were cancelled.

Israel was bracing for war.

Years before in 1964, then General Yitzak Rabin, the new chief of staff, testified that any future wars in Israel would have to be won in 4 days — implying that a preemptive strike would be necessary because the economy could not handle a prolonged war. The Mossad, under the direction of Izzy Harel, was brilliant in providing Israel information about her enemies.Israel would have to know exactly when the enemy would strike and then beat her to the punch.

Nasser was ready to attack. The day after the UN forces left, he went to the airwaves to rant.

As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.(6)

Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad and soon to be President (father of the current dictator) join in:

Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united…. I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.(7)

There was no question. Israel was about to be attack and their goal was total destruction. Would this be the end of the tiny Jewish nation, born out of the ashes of the Holocaust? Or would somehow, would she miraculously survive the Arab onslaught. Check back soon for part 2… Or subscribed to our email newsletter at the top of the page.

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Shalom from Israel! I am Ron Cantor and this is my blog. I serve as the President of Shelanu TV.

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