1967 War (5-10 June 1967)


Historical Facts from Electronic Intifada

17 March 2008

In the early hours of 5 June 1967, Israel attacked Egypt and destroyed nearly its entire air force on the ground. On the Syrian- Israeli border, Israel attempted to evict its inhabitants and provoked a Syrian response. Already preluding the war, on 7 April 1967 the Israeli air force attacked Syria, shooting down six planes, hitting thirty fortified positions and killing about 100 people. By 10 June, Israeli forces captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, along with the Sinai and the Golan Heights. At the end of the war Israel had succeeded in almost doubling the amount of territory it controlled.

While one third of Egypt's army was in Yemen and therefore unlikely to start a war, Israel claimed to a believing world that the Arabs attacked Israel and that Israel was in danger of annihilation. Both claims were false. Israeli Air Force General Ezer Weizman declared that "there was never any danger of extermination". [1]

Almost a year after the war, Israeli General Matityahu Peled said: "To pretend that the Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the existence of Israel constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of anyone capable of analysing this sort of situation, but above all an insult to the Zahal [Israeli army]." [2]

On the Syrian-Israeli border, Israel was engaging in threats and provocations. One such incident on 7 April 1967 in a major aerial engagement between Israeli and Syrian planes. Six Syrian planes were shot down. In an interview in May 1967, Yitzhak Rabin threatened to overthrow the Syrian regime. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol reportedly said that Israel "may have to teach Syria a sharper lesson than that of 7 April." [3] On May 14, Soviet and Egyptian intelligence reported a massing of Israeli troops on the Syrian borders. [4]

A similar provocation against Jordan took place in November 1966, when 4,000 Israeli soldiers attacked Samu in the West Bank, and killing 18 Jordanian soldiers. The public justification for this action was to prevent Palestinian infiltration," though at the time "the Jordanian authorities did all they possibly could to stop infiltration," according to Odd Bull, chief of staff of UN forces at the time. [5]

In the course of the war more than 300,000 Palestinians were displaced, half for a second time. [6] A smaller number of Palestinians were internally displaced during the war, including Palestinians expelled from the Old City of Jerusalem. Subsequent displacement and expulsion of refugees has continued in 1967 occupied Palestine and in various countries of exile. Most of them found refuge on the east bank of the Jordan River along with the more than 400,000 who had fled there in 1948. More than 100,000 people, including 17,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA, moved from the Golan Heights into Syria. [7] In Jordan the refugee population increased by almost half. A small number fled further northern into the part of Syria not occupied by Israeli military forces, to Lebanon and Egypt. [8]

On the side of Egypt, Jordan and Syria the loss was 4,296 killed soldiers and 6,121 wounded. On the Israeli side the loss was 983 soldiers killed and 4,517 wounded. [9]

About one million Palestinians remained in those parts of Palestine occupied by Israel in 1967. As in 1948 in conquered areas with large Palestinian populations, Israel established a military government in West Bank and Gaza. The military government prevented the return of refugees who had been displaced during the war and also enabled Israel to take control of large amounts of land without granting citizenship and civil and political rights to the Palestinians living in these areas.

In the immediate wake of the June 1967 war, the Israel destroyed more than half a dozen Arab villages in the West Bank. Villages such as Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba in the Latrun area were destroyed and their inhabitants expelled. The area of these villages was subsequently turned into a nature reserve, Park Canada, which remains to this day a favorite Israeli picnic spot.[10] In the old city of Jerusalem, Israel depopulated and demolished the Mughrabi quarter adjacent to the Western Wall to make room for a square. Israel also depopulated the villages of Beit Marsam, Beit Awa, Jiftlik, and al-Burj as well as half the city of Qalqilya. [11] Only those Palestinians (and their offspring) registered in Israel�s September 1967 census of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip were considered legal residents of the 1967 OPTs. The administrative measure effectively prevented most Palestinian refugees displaced in 1967 from returning to their homes.

In occupied eastern Jerusalem, Israel disbanded the local municipal council and extended Israeli law and jurisdiction. The military government in West Bank and Gaza and the municipal order imposed on eastern Jerusalem controlled the Palestinian population by policies of separation and isolation.

A year after Israel occupied the remaining part of Palestine it began to establish settlements in these areas. In 1979 the UN Security Council determined in Resolution 446 that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.




[1] Ma'ariv, 19 April 1972.

[2] Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972.

[3] Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Norman G. Finkelstein, 2003, pp. 125-126.

[4] Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services, Ian Black, 1992, p. 210.

[5] Finkelstein, 2003, p. 125.

[6] Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, 1 July 1966 - 30 June 1967, A/6713 (30 June 1967)


[8] See note 6.

[9] The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, Avi Shlaim, 2000, p. 250.

[10] The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian refugee problem, Nur Masalha, 2004.

[11] FMO Research Guide: Palestinian Refugees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Terry M. Rempel, (August 2006)





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