The Six-Day War of June 1967 in the Middle East


The Six-Day war of June 1967 was fought between Israel and the Arab nations of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel and the Arab nations have been engaged in conflicts since the time Israel came into being because Arab nations never accepted Israel’s existence on the global map. The six day war of June 1967 was a sequence to these conflicts were Arab nations got united and got involved in a war with Israel. This war continued for six days in which the Arab nations lost the Gaza Strip, Sinai, West Bank, Jerusalem, and Golan Heights to Israel. Israel made very effective and well planned attacks on the Arab nations, especially on the Egyptian Air Base that lead to the failure of air control of Arab nations over Israel. The six day war of 1967 was a great success for Israel, but it lead to an unstoppable conflict and fight for future. Several global peacemaking communities have made a great attempt to resolve these peace issues and land clashes created by Israel’s military since that time.


The following research paper is all about the war fought between Israel and the Arab states of Syria, Egypt, and Jordan for six days due to some conflicts that would be discussed in detail as under. There are several conflicts and tensions between the Arab states and Israel since the year 1948 when Israel came into being, and the main reason behind this tension is that the land occupied by the Israeli nation is claimed by Palestinian Arabs as their homeland. Both the nations have been engaged into fierce discussions, fights and wars since that time and the six day war of June 1967 was another part of the conflict when Arab nations and Israel affianced into a six day war, resulting into a major change; not only in the history, but on the global map as well. It is because of the reason that Israel seized the regions of Egypt, Jordan and Syria that compromises of: Sinai, West Bank, Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip; which later, were known as the Occupied Territories/Regions. The six day war last for six days, that is, from June 5th 1967 till 10t June 1967; which was declared to be a preventive military measure to deal with the attacking forces of Arab nations by the Israeli government; and a rightful military effort to take hold of the Occupied Arab Territories of Palestinian Arabs (Ro’I & Morozov 3).

The Six Day War of June 1967

The Six-Day was of June 1967 is also known as the June War 1967 and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. This war was fought between the Israel army and the Arab nations of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. Other Arab states that contributed to some extent in this war in the form of aid and army troops were Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Tunisia (Cashman & Robinson 155).


It all started from the 1956 Suez War which resulted in a political victory of Egypt and political defeat of Israel due to the pressure forced by the United Nations on the Israeli government to withdraw its military form the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. For this, Egypt made an agreement in exchange that it would quit sending guerillas into the Israeli territory. By that time, no Arab nation accepted Israel’s existence on the global world map. The Suez War of 1956 led the region into a perturbed and deranged state that was mainly maintained by the antagonism among Egypt, Syria, and Jordan; rather than any genuine resolution of the region’s complicatedness. Syria and Egypt kept sending guerillas to the Israeli civilian territories from the East side, whereas Jordan kept doing the same from the West side of Israel. In this situation, Israeli military forces benefited from immense air pre-eminence (Djerejian & Martin 82).

In 1956, Israel attacked Egypt with the coordination of two former Middle Eastern colonial powers which was collapsed with immense world condemnation. At this point, the USSR threatened to use its nuclear power against Paris or London in case of any misconduct. Israel took full advantage of the situation and acquired stationing of the United Nations peacekeeping force UNEF (United Nations Emergency Force) in order to keep the border area demilitarized.

Later, in the year 1964, Syria tried to demolish Israel’s National Water Carrier by laying out the plan to divert the waters of Dan/Baniyas stream from Israel to Syria and Jordan into the Jordan River. Apart from that, Syria started shelling of Israeli civilian communities in north-eastern Galilee. However, none of the plans worked out and the water-diversion plans of Syria acted as an addition to the Arab-Israeli conflicts (LeBor 213).

On 7th April 1967, a minor accident over the Golan Heights resulted into a loss of a flight of Israeli Air Force (SIA) and seven Syrian MiG-21s. This led to a fierce reaction from the military and political parties who got united on the motive of demolition of Israel. Egypt played the central role under Nasser, and convoyed these pronouncements with intensions to re-militarize Sinai. Syria actively shared the thoughts but did not agree on an immediate invasion. Apart from Arab nations, the Soviet Union played a vital role by supporting the Arab nations’ views and supplying them with whatever aid they needed at that time. However, it was later revealed that the USSR sent false negative messages to the Arab nations to exaggerate the scenario in the Middle East that the Israeli forces were attacking at the Syrian border.

On 17th May 1967, Nasser of Egypt stipulated that the military forces of the UNEF should abandon the Sinai borders. This request was conformed and since that time, Israel declined to permit the United Nations peacekeepers to set out in its region. On 23rd May 1967, the entire region of Arab world and Israel came into the state of regional war overnight when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran for Israeli shipping by barricading the Israeli port of Eilat at the northern end of Gulf of Aqaba. This was regarded as the casus belli by Israel. Nasser had several supporters in Jordan so his act was supported by the Jordanians; however, it was against the rule of Jordan’s king Hussein. That is the reason; Egypt and Jordan signed a mutual defense agreement on 30th May 1967. Israel informed Jordan several times to stay away from this scenario. This led the Jordan’s king to face an infuriating dilemma, that is, either to participate in the war actively and face the vicious and ferocious consequences; or, to act unbiased and risk full-scale civil disobedience among Jordanians. Jordan was being used as a staging ground for war against Israel. By this time, some Arab states that does not border with Israel also participated in the military mobilization. These Arab nations includes of Iraq, Kuwait, Sudan, and Algeria (Shemesh 290).

On the other hand, Israel observed these developments being alert and tried to resolve the Tiran straits situation with table talks and diplomatic convincing, but its peacemaking talks were unanswered that made the entire situation worse than before. On 3rd June 1967, plans for war were approved and on 5th June 1967, Israel attacked Egypt that was later known as the initial attack of Six-Day War of June 1967.

Combat – The Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula

The first attack was initiated from Israel and the main objective to destroy was the base of Egyptian Air Force because of the reason that it is the largest and highly modernized air base for the air forces of all Arab nations. The Egyptian is said to operate about 385 aircrafts that were all built-in by the Soviet Union. The most meticulous were the Badger medium sized jet bombers, capable of causing severe damage to the militant forces of Israel and civilian grounds. On 5th June 1967, Israeli Air Jets attacked the airfields of Egypt. The defensive infrastructure of Egypt was not prepared and extremely poor for protection of Egyptian warplanes in case of an air attack. The plan went very successful, leaving immense destruction of the Egyptian Air Force, few Israeli casualties, and guaranteed Israeli air superiority for the rest of the war period (Lassner & Troen 111).

The Israel forces primarily focused on the 3 divisions of Egyptian border, which compromised of three reserve brigades and five armored brigades. On the other hand, the military forces of Egypt compromised of two armored and five infantry divisions. The major four infantry partitions were near the borders of Egypt and Israel in the Sinai region, one infantry and one armed division in the region of central Sinai, and a second armored dissection in the west area. Apart from that, a resistant brigade of 200 tanks was positioned in the southern Sinai with orders of assail at will in case of emergency or attack. In total, Egyptian forces had 100,000 troops and 1000 tanks ready for the war, which were supported by apposite weaponry.

The northernmost Israeli troop gradually moved forward towards the Gaza strip and El-Arish because these regions were not well protected. The central and southern division entered into the most prior Abu-Ageila-Kusseima region with well-planned and well-disciplined forces of armor, infantry, paratroopers, weaponry and engineers from the front lines and behind, eradicating the enemy off. The entire region remained a battlefield in the sandy areas and minefields for around three and a half days until Abu Ageila fell. When the Egyptian Minister of Defense heard this news, he got nervous and mistakenly ordered all the forces to retreat, which in return, resulted as an effective defeat of the Egyptian forces. The Israeli forces continued moving ahead and bypassing the areas; and within two days, all three divisions rushed and reached the westwards passes (Scharfstein 160).

On 8th June 1967, Israel managed to capture the Sinai region completely and it was all due to the strategic management of the Israeli forces and destruction of the Egyptian Air base.

Combat – The West Bank

It is viewed that Jordan was not interested in starting the war and was refraining from it, but the Jordanian King Hussein faced immense pressure from the population and President of Egypt Nasser, because he knew that Jordanian military ground is finely equipped and well trained that could help in winning the war. On 5th June 1967, Jordanian forces occupied the Government House in Jerusalem and shelled the entire city. They also attacked Israeli airfields and caused minor damages. But, the Israeli forces revert back and destroyed the Royal Jordanian Air Force and occupied some area of Jerusalem (Rosen 111).

On 6th June 1967, Israeli forces continued attacking and captured large portion of Jerusalem by the end of the day and entered into Ramallah. On 7th June, the war became worse as both parties fought intensely. The Israeli forces penetrated the Old City of Jerusalem and continued to move towards south, and detained the areas of Hebron, Gush Etzion, and Judea. Israeli forces managed to capture so many regions of Egypt because Egyptian air forces were unable to operate due to the destruction brought to the Egyptian Air Base. The destruction of Egyptian Air Base played one major role in the failure of Egyptian forces in this war (Rubenberg 17).

Combat – Golan Heights

On the evening of 5th June 1967, Israeli Air Force attacked the Syrian Air Force and forcibly made them retreat from their base. The Syrian forces tried to resist but the Israeli forces were very effectively trained and managed. This warfare continued till 7th and 8th June 1967. The Syrian forces consisted of around 50,000 troopers with well trained weaponry and armor, situated in the northern and central regions of Syria. The Israeli forces attacked Syrian forces with full strength and tried to capture the region till 10th June 1967, but they stopped after obtaining contrived and planned room from Syrian forces. However, this situation was later known as the cease-fire line or the Purple Line (Martin 195).

Warfare – In the Air & At Sea

During the entire war period, the Israeli forces proved their air superiority after the massive destruction of Egyptian Air Base. It harassed the Arab forces and enjoyed its air superiority over all fronts and divisions. The main motive of Israel was to destroy the armed troops of Jordan and the Iraqi forces that were sent to attack Israel from Jordan.

On the contrary, the Arab forces were not successive enough to launch successive and effective attacks against Israel during the entire war and, rather led to the massive destruction of the most modernized aircrafts of Jordan and several other jet bombers of Egypt during the first two days.

The war at sea from both sides was very inadequate and limited. Both Egyptian and Israeli forces moved ahead to overawe the other side but neither of them was succeeded to involve the other at sea.


Till the end of 10th June 1967, Israeli made effective attacks against the Arab forces; whereas the Arab forces were unable to make the vise versa movements since their air superiority was seized and destroyed in the Egyptian Air Base devastation. On the following day, both ends signed a seize fire agreement that led an end to this six day war. The war lasted for 132 hours and 30 minutes in total and resulted in the favor of Israel as a whole since Israelis were successful in increasing their territory by a factor of 4. But the overall duration of war was different all three fronts, that is, 4 days on the Egyptian side, 3 days on the Jordanian side, and 6 days on the Syrian side. The war could have been lasted for more days than the actual time period and could be more different and destructive for the Arab nations, but the Arab nations accepted to gave in for two main reasons: The capitals of all three Arab nations (Damascus, Cairo, and Amman) were threatened severely; and the lost regions either had been occupied completely or had very few inhabitants left (Oren 378).

The war left wide grounds for the Israeli nation and several problems for the Arab nations, such as change mentalities, change thinking infrastructure, and conflicts between the Arab nations and the Western world. The entire era of this war was very dramatic as it lasted for a very short period but left many divergences and different orientations among people behind it. The destruction of the Egyptian Air Base played as the vital factor of success for the Israeli forces. Israel succeeded in gaining huge part of land from all the three countries, that compromise of Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights

Works Cited

Authors Yaacov Ro’i, Boris Morozov; 2008, The Soviet Union and the June 1967 Six Day War – Cold War International History Project series, Stanford University Press, p. 3.

Authors Greg Cashman, Leonard C. Robinson; 2007, An introduction to the causes of war: patterns of interstate conflict from World War I to Iraq; Publisher Rowman & Littlefield, p. 155.

Edward Djerejian, William Martin; 2008, Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East; Publisher Simon & Schuster, p. 82.

Adam LeBor, 2007, City of oranges: an intimate history of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa; Publisher W.W. Norton, p. 213.

Moshe Shemesh, 2008, Arab politics, Palestinian nationalism and the Six Day War: the crystallization of Arab strategy and Nasir’s descent to war, 1957-1967; Publisher Sussex Academic Press, p. 290.

Jacob Lassner, Selwyn Ilan Troen; 2007, Jews and Muslims in the Arab world: haunted by pasts real and imagined; Publisher Rowman & Littlefield, p. 111.

Sol Scharfstein, 2004, Jewish History and You, Publisher KTAV Publishing House, Inc., p. 160.

David M. Rosen, 2005, Armies of the young: child soldiers in war and terrorism – The Rutgers series in childhood studies, Publisher Rutgers University Press, p. 111.

Cheryl Rubenberg, 2003, The Palestinians: in search of a just peace; Publisher Lynne Rienner Publishers, p. 17.

Lenore G. Martin, 2001, New Frontiers in Middle East Security, Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, p. 195.

Michael B. Oren, 2003, Six days of war: June 1967 and the making of the modern Middle East; Publisher Ballantine Books, p. 378.

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