Today, Israel went to war. In the fifth video of our 12-part mini-series, find out how big of a danger Israel really faced. With 200,000 Arab troops massing near its borders, Israel realized war was coming. What Israel did next has become one of the most talked-about actions in the history of warfare.
In the early morning hours of June 5th, 1967, Israel launched a surprise preemptive aerial strike on Egyptian air force bases. Using almost every one of Israel’s military jets, the Israeli Defense Forces set out to fight for Israel’s survival.
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Israel, acting in response to Egypt’s ongoing provocations, all but 12 of Israel’s military jets took off, flying low to avoid radar detection and observing complete radio silence. They bombed and incapacitated the runways of 11 Egyptian air force bases, as well as the aircraft on the ground.
In just four hours, Israel demolished two thirds of the entire Egyptian air force, the largest in the Arab world.
Israel then issued a final offer to Jordan: if you stay out of the war, Israel will not retaliate – even though that meant that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and other Jewish holy sites would remain under Jordanian control.
But Jordan had received disinformation from Egypt, claiming massive, successful attacks inside Israel, and Jordan joined the war against Israel.
Thousands of mortar shells rained down on Jewish areas in Jerusalem, hitting civilian locations including Hadassah Hospital and Mount Zion church. Controlling the highlands of the West Bank, Jordan easily shelled civilian targets all the way to Tel Aviv and carried out airstrikes against the coastal cities of Netanya and Kfar Saba.
Syria and Iraq also joined the war, targeting Haifa’s oil refineries and Jewish communities beneath the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights.
Israel retaliated and attacked Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi air bases. Stretched thin in a war on three fronts – Egypt in the south, Jordan in the east, and Syria in the north – it would soon be clear whether Israel’s military would hold, or break.
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This video was produced by Jerusalem U in partnership with The Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish National Fund, the Israel Action Network, the European Jewish Congress and the Center for Israel Education. For more on the dramatic events and impact of the Six Day War, visit sixdaywarproject.org.