1967 Year in Review

Six Day War

Published: 1967
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Israeli soldiers hang a flag at a new position at the Kissifum junction after Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip, September 12, 2005, completing Israel's disengagement from Gaza and ending 38 years of military rule that started during the Six Day War in 1967. (UPI Photo/Debbie Hill)

Announcer: Since the birth of Israel in 1948, the Middle East has plotted its way into the second half of the 20th century with the sound of war. Three times in 20 years, the land of the Bible became a battleground. In comparison to the other two wars in the area, the war in 1967 was shorter, but no less spectacular, no less significant.

It was on June 5th that war broke out between Israel and the Arab nations of Jordan, Syria, and the United Arab Republic.

Robert Musil : "War came to the Middle East today with stunning suddenness. Israel charged Egypt, who launched the supplies, blitzkrieg with troops, tanks, and planes in the South near Gaza, and its own forces were counteracting. Air raid alarm sounded in both Egypt and Israel, and Arab radios were reported to be hailing the start of a long-awaited Holy War against this country. This is Robert Musil in Tel Aviv."

Announcer: The war in the Middle East did come with startling suddenness, but its inevitability was evident at the start of June. President Nasser of the UAR had seen to it that the United Nations Emergency Force no longer patrolled the Israeli-Arab border.

United Nations Secretary-General U Thant made a futile trip Cairo, trying desperately to avert war. The situation was aggravated by Nasser’s announcement to close the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli Shipping. Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, contended this was enough to start the war.

Abba Eban: "From May the 24th onward, the question who started the war or who fired the first shot became momentously irrelevant. There is no difference in civil law between murdering a man by slow strangulation or killing him by a shot in the head.

"From the moment at which the blockade was posed, active hostilities had commenced, and Israel owed Egypt nothing of her charger rights. If a foreign power sought to close Odessa or Copenhagen or Marseilles or Montreal or New York Harbor by the use of force, what would happen? Would there by any discussion about whether a shot had been fired? Would anyone ask whether aggression had begun?"

Announcer: If you can say there was anything good about the war, maybe it was the fact that it lasted only six days. Israel’s swift victory on all fronts and the acceptance of the United Nations ceasefire by the Arabs and Jews were responsible.

For the Jews the victory meant many things, but most of all it meant a return to the City of Jerusalem, the city of great religious significance to them. By the thousands they went to Holy City to touch The Wailing Wall. The shofars wail and the whisper of a thousand Jews and prayer were heard once more at the sacred spot. Israelis touched and hugged the wall, hoping that in some way more meaning would be added to their religious creeds.

There in a moment of steering patriotism, the HaTikvah, the Israeli national anthem was sung.

Announcer: Though the battlefields were quiet, the war was far from settled. Debate in the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly continued throughout the year, with no important gains being made.

A summit meeting in the tiny college town of Glassboro, New Jersey, between President Johnson and Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin, had little affect on the situation. But almost before the dust and smoke had settled in the desert battlefield, the big powers started to rearm the countries of the Middle East. The question left unanswered in 1967, will peace ever come to the Middle East?

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