Most of the Israeli warplanes headed out over the Mediterranean Sea , flying low to avoid radar detection, before turning toward Egypt. Others flew over the Red Sea. Meanwhile, the Egyptians hindered their own defense by effectively shutting down their entire air defense system: Sidqi Mahmoud, who were en route from al Maza to Bir Tamada in the Sinai to meet the commanders of the troops stationed there. In any event, it did not make a great deal of difference as the Israeli pilots came in below Egyptian radar cover and well below the lowest point at which its SA-2 surface-to-air missile batteries could bring down an aircraft.
Although the powerful Jordanian radar facility at Ajloun detected waves of aircraft approaching Egypt and reported the code word for "war" up the Egyptian command chain, Egyptian command and communications problems prevented the warning from reaching the targeted airfields. The runway at the Arish airfield was spared, as the Israelis expected to turn it into a military airport for their transports after the war. Surviving aircraft were taken out by later attack waves. The operation was more successful than expected, catching the Egyptians by surprise and destroying virtually all of the Egyptian Air Force on the ground, with few Israeli losses.
Only four unarmed Egyptian training flights were in the air when the strike began. Among the Egyptian planes lost were all 30 Tu bombers, 27 out of 40 Il bombers, 12 Su-7 fighter-bombers, over 90 MiGs , 20 MiGs , 25 MiG fighters, and around 32 assorted transport planes and helicopters. In addition, Egyptian radars and SAM missiles were also attacked and destroyed. The Israelis lost 19 planes, including two destroyed in air-to-air combat and 13 downed by anti-aircraft artillery. The attack guaranteed Israeli air supremacy for the rest of the war.
Attacks on other Arab air forces by Israel took place later in the day as hostilities broke out on other fronts. The large numbers of Arab aircraft claimed destroyed by Israel on that day were at first regarded as "greatly exaggerated" by the Western press. However, the fact that the Egyptian Air Force, along with other Arab air forces attacked by Israel, made practically no appearance for the remaining days of the conflict proved that the numbers were most likely authentic.
Throughout the war, Israeli aircraft continued strafing Arab airfield runways to prevent their return to usability. Meanwhile, Egyptian state-run radio had reported an Egyptian victory, falsely claiming that 70 Israeli planes had been downed on the first day of fighting. The Egyptian forces consisted of seven divisions: Overall, Egypt had around , troops and — tanks in the Sinai, backed by 1, APCs and 1, artillery pieces. Israeli forces concentrated on the border with Egypt included six armoured brigades , one infantry brigade, one mechanized infantry brigade, three paratrooper brigades, giving a total of around 70, men and tanks, who were organized in three armoured divisions.
They had massed on the border the night before the war, camouflaging themselves and observing radio silence before being ordered to advance. The Israeli plan was to surprise the Egyptian forces in both timing the attack exactly coinciding with the IAF strike on Egyptian airfields , location attacking via northern and central Sinai routes, as opposed to the Egyptian expectations of a repeat of the war, when the IDF attacked via the central and southern routes and method using a combined-force flanking approach, rather than direct tank assaults. On 5 June, at 7: They advanced swiftly, holding fire to prolong the element of surprise.
Tal's forces assaulted the "Rafah Gap", a seven-mile stretch containing the shortest of three main routes through the Sinai towards El-Qantarah el-Sharqiyya and the Suez Canal. The Egyptians had four divisions in the area, backed by minefields, pillboxes, underground bunkers, hidden gun emplacements and trenches. The terrain on either side of the route was impassable. The Israeli plan was to hit the Egyptians at selected key points with concentrated armour.
The Israeli plan called for the 7th Brigade to outflank Khan Yunis from the north and the 60th Armored Brigade under Colonel Menachem Aviram would advance from the south. The two brigades would link up and surround Khan Yunis, while the paratroopers would take Rafah. Gonen entrusted the breakthrough to a single battalion of his brigade. Initially, the advance was met with light resistance, as Egyptian intelligence had concluded that it was a diversion for the main attack. However, as Gonen's lead battalion advanced, it suddenly came under intense fire and took heavy losses.
A second battalion was brought up, but was also pinned down. Meanwhile, the 60th Brigade became bogged down in the sand, while the paratroopers had trouble navigating through the dunes.
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The Israelis continued to press their attack, and despite heavy losses, cleared the Egyptian positions and reached the Khan Yunis railway junction in little over four hours. Gonen's brigade then advanced nine miles to Rafah in twin columns. Rafah itself was circumvented, and the Israelis attacked Sheikh Zuweid , eight miles to the southwest, which was defended by two brigades.
Though inferior in numbers and equipment, the Egyptians were deeply entrenched and camouflaged. The Israelis were pinned down by fierce Egyptian resistance, and called in air and artillery support to enable their lead elements to advance. Many Egyptians abandoned their positions after their commander and several of his staff were killed. The Israelis broke through with tank-led assaults. However, Aviram's forces misjudged the Egyptians' flank, and were pinned between strongholds before they were extracted after several hours.
By nightfall, the Israelis had finished mopping up resistance. Israeli forces had taken significant losses, with Colonel Gonen later telling reporters that "we left many of our dead soldiers in Rafah, and many burnt-out tanks. On 5 June, with the road open, Israeli forces continued advancing towards Arish. Already by late afternoon, elements of the 79th Armored Battalion had charged through the seven-mile long Jiradi defile, a narrow pass defended by well-emplaced troops of the Egyptian th Infantry Brigade.
In fierce fighting, which saw the pass change hands several times, the Israelis charged through the position. The Egyptians suffered heavy casualties and tank losses, while Israeli losses stood at 66 dead, 93 wounded and 28 tanks. Emerging at the western end, Israeli forces advanced to the outskirts of Arish.
The following day, 6 June, the Israeli forces on the outskirts of Arish were reinforced by the 7th Brigade, which fought its way through the Jiradi pass. After receiving supplies via an airdrop, the Israelis entered the city and captured the airport at 7: The Israelis entered the city at 8: Company commander Yossi Peled recounted that "Al-Arish was totally quiet, desolate. Suddenly, the city turned into a madhouse. Shots came at us from every alley, every corner, every window and house. The Egyptians fired from the rooftops, from balconies and windows. They dropped grenades into our half-tracks and blocked the streets with trucks.
Our men threw the grenades back and crushed the trucks with their tanks. Yoffe's attack allowed Tal to complete the capture of the Jiradi defile, Khan Yunis. All of them were taken after fierce fighting. Gonen subsequently dispatched a force of tanks, infantry and engineers under Colonel Yisrael Granit to continue down the Mediterranean coast towards the Suez Canal , while a second force led by Gonen himself turned south and captured Bir Lahfan and Jabal Libni. The Egyptians also had a battalion of tank destroyers and a tank regiment, formed of Soviet World War II armour, which included 90 T tanks, 22 SU tank destroyers, and about 16, men.
Two armoured brigades in the meantime, under Avraham Yoffe, slipped across the border through sandy wastes that Egypt had left undefended because they were considered impassable.
Simultaneously, Sharon's tanks from the west were to engage Egyptian forces on Um-Katef ridge and block any reinforcements. Israeli infantry would clear the three trenches, while heliborne paratroopers would land behind Egyptian lines and silence their artillery. An armoured thrust would be made at al-Qusmaya to unnerve and isolate its garrison.
An Israeli jet was downed by anti-aircraft fire, and Sharon's forces came under heavy shelling as they advanced from the north and west. The Israeli advance, which had to cope with extensive minefields, took a large number of casualties. A column of Israeli tanks managed to penetrate the northern flank of Abu Ageila, and by dusk, all units were in position. These movements were unobserved by the Egyptians, who were preoccupied with Israeli probes against their perimeter.
As night fell, the Israeli assault troops lit flashlights, each battalion a different color, to prevent friendly fire incidents. Israeli infantrymen assaulted the triple line of trenches in the east. To the west, paratroopers commanded by Colonel Danny Matt landed behind Egyptian lines, though half the helicopters got lost and never found the battlefield, while others were unable to land due to mortar fire. Egyptian reinforcements from Jabal Libni advanced towards Um-Katef to counterattack, but failed to reach their objective, being subjected to heavy air attacks and encountering Israeli lodgements on the roads.
Egyptian commanders then called in artillery attacks on their own positions. The Israelis accomplished and sometimes exceeded their overall plan, and had largely succeeded by the following day. The Egyptians took heavy casualties, while the Israelis lost 40 dead and wounded. Yoffe's attack allowed Sharon to complete the capture of the Um-Katef, after fierce fighting.
The main thrust at Um-Katef was stalled due to mines and craters. After IDF engineers had cleared a path by 4: The battle ended in an Israeli victory, with 40 Egyptian and 19 Israeli tanks destroyed. Meanwhile, Israeli infantry finished clearing out the Egyptian trenches, with Israeli casualties standing at 14 dead and 41 wounded and Egyptian casualties at dead and taken prisoner.
Further south, on 5 June, the 8th Armored Brigade under Colonel Albert Mandler , initially positioned as a ruse to draw off Egyptian forces from the real invasion routes, attacked the fortified bunkers at Kuntilla, a strategically valuable position whose capture would enable Mandler to block reinforcements from reaching Um-Katef and to join Sharon's upcoming attack on Nakhl.
The defending Egyptian battalion, outnumbered and outgunned, fiercely resisted the attack, hitting a number of Israeli tanks. However, most of the defenders were killed, and only three Egyptian tanks, one of them damaged, survived. By nightfall, Mendler's forces had taken Kuntilla. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had expressly forbidden entry into the area. The force was immediately met with heavy artillery fire and fierce resistance from Palestinian forces and remnants of the Egyptian forces from Rafah. By sunset, the Israelis had taken the strategically vital Ali Muntar ridge, overlooking Gaza City , but were beaten back from the city itself.
Twelve members of UNEF were also killed.
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The fighting was fierce, and accounted for nearly half of all Israeli casualties on the southern front. However, Gaza rapidly fell to the Israelis. Meanwhile, on 6 June, two Israeli reserve brigades under Yoffe, each equipped with tanks, penetrated the Sinai south of Tal's division and north of Sharon's, capturing the road junctions of Abu Ageila, Bir Lahfan, and Arish, taking all of them before midnight.
Two Egyptian armoured brigades counterattacked, and a fierce battle took place until the following morning. The Egyptians were beaten back by fierce resistance coupled with airstrikes, sustaining heavy tank losses. They fled west towards Jabal Libni. During the ground fighting, remnants of the Egyptian Air Force attacked Israeli ground forces, but took losses from the Israeli Air Force and from Israeli anti-aircraft units.
Throughout the last four days, Egyptian aircraft flew sorties against Israeli units in the Sinai.
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Many of the Egyptian units remained intact and could have tried to prevent the Israelis from reaching the Suez Canal , or engaged in combat in the attempt to reach the canal. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt. Meanwhile, President Nasser , having learned of the results of the Israeli air strikes, decided together with Field Marshal Amer to order a general retreat from the Sinai within 24 hours.
No detailed instructions were given concerning the manner and sequence of withdrawal. As Egyptian columns retreated, Israeli aircraft and artillery attacked them. Israeli jets used napalm bombs during their sorties. The attacks destroyed hundreds of vehicles and caused heavy casualties. At Jabal Libni, retreating Egyptian soldiers were fired upon by their own artillery.
At Bir Gafgafa, the Egyptians fiercely resisted advancing Israeli forces, knocking out three tanks and eight half-tracks, and killing 20 soldiers. Due to the Egyptians' retreat, the Israeli High Command decided not to pursue the Egyptian units but rather to bypass and destroy them in the mountainous passes of West Sinai. Therefore, in the following two days 6 and 7 June , all three Israeli divisions Sharon and Tal were reinforced by an armoured brigade each rushed westwards and reached the passes. Sharon's division first went southward then westward, via An-Nakhl , to Mitla Pass with air support.
It was joined there by parts of Yoffe's division, while its other units blocked the Gidi Pass. These passes became killing grounds for the Egyptians, who ran right into waiting Israeli positions and suffered heavy losses. According to Egyptian diplomat Mahmoud Riad , 10, men were killed in one day alone, and many others died from hunger and thirst. Tal's units stopped at various points to the length of the Suez Canal.
Israel's blocking action was partially successful. Only the Gidi pass was captured before the Egyptians approached it, but at other places, Egyptian units managed to pass through and cross the canal to safety. Due to the haste of the Egyptian retreat, soldiers often abandoned weapons, military equipment, and hundreds of vehicles. Many Egyptian soldiers were cut off from their units had to walk about kilometers on foot before reaching the Suez Canal with limited supplies of food and water and were exposed to intense heat. Thousands of soldiers died as a result. Many Egyptian soldiers chose instead to surrender to the Israelis.
However, the Israelis eventually exceeded their capabilities to provide for prisoners. As a result, they began directing soldiers towards the Suez Canal and only taking prisoner high-ranking officers, who were expected to be exchanged for captured Israeli pilots. According to some accounts, during the Egyptian retreat from the Sinai, a unit of Soviet Marines based on a Soviet warship in Port Said at the time came ashore and attempted to cross the Suez Canal eastward.
The Soviet force was reportedly decimated by an Israeli air attack and lost 17 dead and 34 wounded. Among the wounded was the commander, Lt. During the offensive, the Israeli Navy landed six combat divers from the Shayetet 13 naval commando unit to infiltrate Alexandria harbour. The divers sank an Egyptian minesweeper before being taken prisoner. Shayetet 13 commandos also infiltrated into Port Said harbour, but found no ships there. A planned commando raid against the Syrian Navy never materialized. Both Egyptian and Israeli warships made movements at sea to intimidate the other side throughout the war, but did not engage each other.
However, Israeli warships and aircraft did hunt for Egyptian submarines throughout the war. On 7 June, Israel began the conquest of Sharm el-Sheikh.
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The Israeli Navy started the operation with a probe of Egyptian naval defenses. An aerial reconnaissance flight found that the area was less defended than originally thought. There, the Israelis engaged in a pitched battle with the Egyptians and took the city, killing 20 Egyptian soldiers and taking 8 prisoner.
On 8 June, Israel completed the capture of the Sinai by sending infantry units to Ras Sudar on the western coast of the peninsula. Several tactical elements made the swift Israeli advance possible: These factors would prove to be decisive elements on Israel's other fronts as well. Jordan was reluctant to enter the war. Nasser used the confusion of the first hours of the conflict to convince King Hussein that he was victorious; he claimed as evidence a radar sighting of a squadron of Israeli aircraft returning from bombing raids in Egypt, which he said was an Egyptian aircraft en route to attack Israel.
Hussein decided to attack. The IDF's strategic plan was to remain on the defensive along the Jordanian front, to enable focus in the expected campaign against Egypt. Intermittent machine-gun exchanges began taking place in Jerusalem at 9: Under the orders from General Narkis, the Israelis responded only with small-arms fire, firing in a flat trajectory to avoid hitting civilians, holy sites or the Old City.
The commanders of these batteries were instructed to lay a two-hour barrage against military and civilian settlements in central Israel. Some shells hit the outskirts of Tel Aviv. The Jordanians initially targeted kibbutz Ramat Rachel in the south and Mount Scopus in the north, then ranged into the city center and outlying neighborhoods. Military installations, the Prime Minister's Residence, and the Knesset compound were also targeted.
Israeli civilian casualties totalled 20 dead and about 1, wounded. Some buildings were damaged, including Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. The attack caused minimal material damage, hitting only a senior citizens' home and several chicken coops, but sixteen Israeli soldiers were killed, most of them when the Tupolev crashed. When the Israeli cabinet convened to decide what to do, Yigal Allon and Menahem Begin argued that this was an opportunity to take the Old City of Jerusalem , but Eshkol decided to defer any decision until Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin could be consulted.
Dayan rejected multiple requests from Narkiss for permission to mount an infantry assault towards Mount Scopus. However, Dayan sanctioned a number of more limited retaliatory actions. The Hawker Hunters were refueling at the time of the attack. The Israeli aircraft attacked in two waves, the first of which cratered the runways and knocked out the control towers, and the second wave destroyed all 21 of Jordan's Hawker Hunter fighters, along with six transport aircraft and two helicopters. One Israeli jet was shot down by ground fire. A Pakistani pilot stationed at the base shot down an Israeli fighter and a bomber during the raid.
The Jordanian radar facility at Ajloun was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. Israeli Fouga Magister jets attacked the Jordanian 40th Brigade with rockets as it moved south from the Damiya Bridge. Dozens of tanks were knocked out, and a convoy of 26 trucks carrying ammunition was destroyed. In Jerusalem, Israel responded to Jordanian shelling with a missile strike that devastated Jordanian positions. The Israelis used the L missile, a surface-to-surface missile developed jointly with France in secret. A Jordanian battalion advanced up Government House ridge and dug in at the perimeter of Government House, the headquarters of the United Nations observers,    and opened fire on Ramat Rachel, the Allenby Barracks and the Jewish section of Abu Tor with mortars and recoilless rifles.
UN observers fiercely protested the incursion into the neutral zone, and several manhandled a Jordanian machine gun out of Government House after the crew had set it up in a second-floor window. After the Jordanians occupied Jabel Mukaber , an advance patrol was sent out and approached Ramat Rachel, where they came under fire from four civilians, including the wife of the director, who were armed with old Czech-made weapons. The immediate Israeli response was an offensive to retake Government House and its ridge.
Dreizin had two infantry companies and eight tanks under his command, several of which broke down or became stuck in the mud at Ramat Rachel, leaving three for the assault. The Jordanians mounted fierce resistance, knocking out two tanks. The Israelis broke through the compound's western gate and began clearing the building with grenades, before General Odd Bull , commander of the UN observers, compelled the Israelis to hold their fire, telling them that the Jordanians had already fled.
The Israelis proceeded to take the Antenna Hill, directly behind Government House, and clear out a series of bunkers to the west and south. The fighting, often conducted hand-to-hand, continued for nearly four hours before the surviving Jordanians fell back to trenches held by the Hittin Brigade, which were steadily overwhelmed. All but ten of Dreizin's soldiers were casualties, and Dreizin himself was wounded three times. During the late afternoon of 5 June, the Israelis launched an offensive to encircle Jerusalem, which lasted into the following day.
During the night, they were supported by intense tank, artillery and mortar fire to soften up Jordanian positions. Searchlights placed atop the Labor Federation building, then the tallest in Israeli Jerusalem, exposed and blinded the Jordanians. A combined force of tanks and paratroopers crossed no-man's land near the Mandelbaum Gate. One of Gur's paratroop battalions approached the fortified Police Academy. The Israelis used bangalore torpedoes to blast their way through barbed wire leading up to the position while exposed and under heavy fire. With the aid of two tanks borrowed from the Jerusalem Brigade, they captured the Police Academy.
After receiving reinforcements, they moved up to attack Ammunition Hill. The Jordanian defenders, who were heavily dug-in, fiercely resisted the attack. All of the Israeli officers except for two company commanders were killed, and the fighting was mostly led by individual soldiers. The fighting was conducted at close quarters in trenches and bunkers, and was often hand-to-hand. The Israelis captured the position after four hours of heavy fighting. During the battle, 36 Israeli and 71 Jordanian soldiers were killed. The battalion subsequently drove east, and linked up with the Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus and its Hebrew University campus.
Gur's other battalions captured the other Jordanian positions around the American Colony , despite being short on men and equipment and having come under a Jordanian mortar bombardment while waiting for the signal to advance. At the same time, the mechanized Harel Brigade attacked the fortress at Latrun , which the Jordanians had abandoned due to heavy Israeli tank fire. The brigade attacked Har Adar , but seven tanks were knocked out by mines, forcing the infantry to mount an assault without armoured cover.
The Israeli soldiers advanced under heavy fire, jumping between stones to avoid mines. The fighting was conducted at close-quarters, often with knives and bayonets. The Jordanians fell back after a battle that left two Israeli and eight Jordanian soldiers dead, and Israeli forces advanced through Beit Horon towards Ramallah , taking four fortified villages along the way. By the evening, the brigade arrived in Ramallah. Meanwhile, Egyptian commandos stationed in the West Bank moved to attack Israeli airfields.
Led by Jordanian intelligence scouts, they crossed the border and began infiltrating through Israeli settlements towards Ramla and Hatzor. They were soon detected and sought shelter in nearby fields, which the Israelis set on fire. Some commandos were killed, and the remainder escaped to Jordan.
From the American Colony, the paratroopers moved towards the Old City. Their plan was to approach it via the lightly defended Salah al-Din Street. However, they made a wrong turn onto the heavily defended Nablus Road. The Israelis ran into fierce resistance. Their tanks fired at point-blank range down the street, while the paratroopers mounted repeated charges. Despite repelling repeated Israeli charges, the Jordanians gradually gave way to Israeli firepower and momentum.
The Israelis suffered some 30 casualties — half the original force — while the Jordanians lost 45 dead and wounded. Meanwhile, the Israeli 71st Battalion breached barbed wire and minefields and emerged near Wadi Joz, near the base of Mount Scopus, from where the Old City could be cut off from Jericho and East Jerusalem from Ramallah. Israeli artillery targeted the one remaining route from Jerusalem to the West Bank, and shellfire deterred the Jordanians from counterattacking from their positions at Augusta-Victoria.
An Israeli detachment then captured the Rockefeller Museum after a brief skirmish. Afterwards, the Israelis broke through to the Jerusalem-Ramallah road. At Tel al-Ful, the Israelis fought a running battle with up to thirty Jordanian tanks. The Jordanians stalled the advance and destroyed a number of half-tracks, but the Israelis launched air attacks and exploited the vulnerability of the external fuel tanks mounted on the Jordanian tanks. The Jordanians lost half their tanks, and retreated towards Jericho. Joining up with the 4th Brigade, the Israelis then descended through Shuafat and the site of what is now French Hill , through Jordanian defenses at Mivtar, emerging at Ammunition Hill.
With Jordanian defenses in Jerusalem crumbling, elements of the Jordanian 60th Brigade and an infantry battalion were sent from Jericho to reinforce Jerusalem. Its original orders were to repel the Israelis from the Latrun corridor, but due to the worsening situation in Jerusalem, the brigade was ordered to proceed to Jerusalem's Arab suburbs and attack Mount Scopus. Parallel to the brigade were infantrymen from the Imam Ali Brigade, who were approaching Issawiya.
The brigades were spotted by Israeli aircraft and decimated by rocket and cannon fire. Other Jordanian attempts to reinforce Jerusalem were beaten back, either by armoured ambushes or airstrikes. Fearing damage to holy sites and the prospect of having to fight in built-up areas, Dayan ordered his troops not to enter the Old City. Privately, he told David Ben-Gurion that he was also concerned over the prospect of Israel capturing Jerusalem's holy sites, only to be forced to give them up under the threat of international sanctions.
On 7 June, heavy fighting ensued. Dayan had ordered his troops not to enter the Old City; however, upon hearing that the UN was about to declare a ceasefire, he changed his mind, and without cabinet clearance, decided to capture it. One battalion attacked from Mount Scopus, and another attacked from the valley between it and the Old City. Another paratroop battalion, personally led by Gur, broke into the Old City, and was joined by the other two battalions after their missions were complete.
The paratroopers met little resistance. The fighting was conducted solely by the paratroopers; the Israelis did not use armour during the battle out of fear of severe damage to the Old City. In the north, one battalion from Peled's division was sent to check Jordanian defenses in the Jordan Valley. A brigade belonging to Peled's division captured the western part of the West Bank. One brigade attacked Jordanian artillery positions around Jenin , which were shelling Ramat David Airbase. The Jordanian 12th Armored Battalion, which outnumbered the Israelis, held off repeated attempts to capture Jenin.
However, Israeli air attacks took their toll, and the Jordanian M48 Pattons , with their external fuel tanks, proved vulnerable at short distances, even to the Israeli-modified Shermans. Twelve Jordanian tanks were destroyed, and only six remained operational. Just after dusk, Israeli reinforcements arrived.
The Jordanians continued to fiercely resist, and the Israelis were unable to advance without artillery and air support. One Israeli jet attacked the Jordanian commander's tank, wounding him and killing his radio operator and intelligence officer. The surviving Jordanian forces then withdrew to Jenin, where they were reinforced by the 25th Infantry Brigade. The Jordanians were effectively surrounded in Jenin. Jordanian infantry and their three remaining tanks managed to hold off the Israelis until 4: The Jordanian tanks charged, and knocked out multiple Israeli vehicles, and the tide began to shift.
After sunrise, Israeli jets and artillery conducted a two-hour bombardment against the Jordanians. The Jordanians lost 10 dead and wounded, and had only seven tanks left, including two without gas, and sixteen APCs. The Israelis then fought their way into Jenin, and captured the city after fierce fighting. After the Old City fell, the Jerusalem Brigade reinforced the paratroopers, and continued to the south, capturing Judea and Gush Etzion.
Hebron was taken without any resistance. Fearful that Israeli soldiers would exact retribution for the massacre of the city's Jewish community, Hebron's residents flew white sheets from their windows and rooftops, and voluntarily gave up their weapons. On 7 June, Israeli forces seized Bethlehem , taking the city after a brief battle that left some 40 Jordanian soldiers dead, with the remainder fleeing.
On the same day, one of Peled's brigades seized Nablus ; then it joined one of Central Command's armoured brigades to fight the Jordanian forces; as the Jordanians held the advantage of superior equipment and were equal in numbers to the Israelis. Again, the air superiority of the IAF proved paramount as it immobilized the Jordanians, leading to their defeat.
One of Peled's brigades joined with its Central Command counterparts coming from Ramallah, and the remaining two blocked the Jordan river crossings together with the Central Command's 10th. Engineering Corps sappers blew up the Abdullah and Hussein bridges with captured Jordanian mortar shells, while elements of the Harel Brigade crossed the river and occupied positions along the east bank to cover them, but quickly pulled back due to American pressure.
The Jordanians, anticipating an Israeli offensive deep into Jordan, assembled the remnants of their army and Iraqi units in Jordan to protect the western approaches to Amman and the southern slopes of the Golan Heights. No specific decision had been made to capture any other territories controlled by Jordan. After the Old City was captured, Dayan told his troops to dig in to hold it. When an armoured brigade commander entered the West Bank on his own initiative, and stated that he could see Jericho , Dayan ordered him back.
It was only after intelligence reports indicated that Hussein had withdrawn his forces across the Jordan River that Dayan ordered his troops to capture the West Bank. First, the Israeli government had no intention of capturing the West Bank. On the contrary, it was opposed to it. Second, there was not any provocation on the part of the IDF. Third, the rein was only loosened when a real threat to Jerusalem's security emerged. This is truly how things happened on June 5, although it is difficult to believe.
The end result was something that no one had planned. In May—June , the Israeli government did everything in its power to confine the confrontation to the Egyptian front. Eshkol and his colleagues took into account the possibility of some fighting on the Syrian front. False Egyptian reports of a crushing victory against the Israeli army  and forecasts that Egyptian forces would soon be attacking Tel Aviv influenced Syria's decision to enter the war. Syrian artillery began shelling northern Israel, and twelve Syrian jets attacked Israeli settlements in the Galilee.
Israeli fighter jets intercepted the Syrian aircraft, shooting down three and driving off the rest. They were intercepted by Israeli fighter jets, and one was shot down. A minor Syrian force tried to capture the water plants at Tel Dan the subject of a fierce escalation two years earlier , Dan , and She'ar Yashuv. These attacks were repulsed with the loss of twenty soldiers and seven tanks.
An Israeli officer was also killed. But a broader Syrian offensive quickly failed. Syrian reserve units were broken up by Israeli air attacks, and several tanks were reported to have sunk in the Jordan River. Other problems included tanks being too wide for bridges, lack of radio communications between tanks and infantry, and units ignoring orders to advance.
A post-war Syrian army report concluded:. Our forces did not go on the offensive either because they did not arrive or were not wholly prepared or because they could not find shelter from the enemy's planes. The reserves could not withstand the air attacks; they dispersed after their morale plummeted. The Syrians abandoned hopes of a ground attack and began a massive bombardment of Israeli communities in the Hula Valley instead.
The Syrian aircraft that survived the attack retreated to distant bases and played no further role in the war. Following the attack, Syria realised that the news it had received from Egypt of the near-total destruction of the Israeli military could not have been true. On 7 and 8 June, the Israeli leadership debated about whether to attack the Golan Heights as well. Syria had supported pre-war raids that had helped raise tensions and had routinely shelled Israel from the Heights, so some Israeli leaders wanted to see Syria punished.
Dayan opposed the operation bitterly at first, believing such an undertaking would result in losses of 30, and might trigger Soviet intervention. Prime Minister Eshkol , on the other hand, was more open to the possibility, as was the head of the Northern Command, David Elazar , whose unbridled enthusiasm for and confidence in the operation may have eroded Dayan's reluctance. Eventually, the situation on the Southern and Central fronts cleared up, intelligence estimated that the likelihood of Soviet intervention had been reduced, reconnaissance showed some Syrian defenses in the Golan region collapsing, and an intercepted cable revealed that Nasser was urging the President of Syria to immediately accept a cease-fire.
The Syrian army consisted of about 75, men grouped in nine brigades, supported by an adequate amount of artillery and armour.
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Israeli forces used in combat consisted of two brigades the 8th Armored Brigade and the Golani Brigade in the northern part of the front at Givat HaEm , and another two infantry and one of Peled's brigades summoned from Jenin in the center. The Golan Heights' unique terrain mountainous slopes crossed by parallel streams every several kilometers running east to west , and the general lack of roads in the area channeled both forces along east-west axes of movement and restricted the ability of units to support those on either flank.
Thus the Syrians could move north-south on the plateau itself, and the Israelis could move north-south at the base of the Golan escarpment. An advantage Israel possessed was the excellent intelligence collected by Mossad operative Eli Cohen who was captured and executed in Syria in regarding the Syrian battle positions.
Syria had built extensive defensive fortifications in depths up to 15 kilometers,  comparable to the Maginot Line. As opposed to all the other campaigns, IAF was only partially effective in the Golan because the fixed fortifications were so effective. However, the Syrian forces proved unable to put up effective defense largely because the officers were poor leaders and treated their soldiers badly; often officers would retreat from danger, leaving their men confused and ineffective.
The Israelis also had the upper hand during close combat that took place in the numerous Syrian bunkers along the Golan Heights, as they were armed with the Uzi , a submachine gun designed for close combat, while Syrian soldiers were armed with the heavier AK assault rifle, designed for combat in more open areas. On the morning of 9 June, Israeli jets began carrying out dozens of sorties against Syrian positions from Mount Hermon to Tawfiq, using rockets salvaged from captured Egyptian stocks.
The airstrikes knocked out artillery batteries and storehouses and forced transport columns off the roads. The Syrians suffered heavy casualties and a drop in morale, with a number of senior officers and troops deserting. The attacks also provided time as Israeli forces cleared paths through Syrian minefields. However, the airstrikes did not seriously damage the Syrians' bunkers and trench systems, and the bulk of Syrian forces on the Golan remained in their positions.
Its advance was spearheaded by Engineering Corps sappers and eight bulldozers, which cleared away barbed wire and mines. As they advanced, the force came under fire, and five bulldozers were immediately hit. The Israeli tanks, with their maneuverability sharply reduced by the terrain, advanced slowly under fire toward the fortified village of Sir al-Dib, with their ultimate objective being the fortress at Qala. Israeli casualties steadily mounted. Part of the attacking force lost its way and emerged opposite Za'ura, a redoubt manned by Syrian reservists.
With the situation critical, Colonel Mandler ordered simultaneous assaults on Za'ura and Qala. Heavy and confused fighting followed, with Israeli and Syrian tanks struggling around obstacles and firing at extremely short ranges. Mandler recalled that "the Syrians fought well and bloodied us. We beat them only by crushing them under our treads and by blasting them with our cannons at very short range, from to meters. The Israelis took heavy fire from the houses, but could not turn back, as other forces were advancing behind them, and they were on a narrow path with mines on either side.
The Israelis continued pressing forward, and called for air support. A pair of Israeli jets destroyed two of the Syrian tanks, and the remainder withdrew. The surviving defenders of Qala retreated after their commander was killed. In the central sector, the Israeli st Battalion captured the strongholds of Dardara and Tel Hillal after fierce fighting. Desperate fighting also broke out along the operation's northern axis, where Golani Brigade attacked thirteen Syrian positions, including the formidable Tel Fakhr position.
Navigational errors placed the Israelis directly under the Syrians' guns. In the fighting that followed, both sides took heavy casualties, with the Israelis losing all nineteen of their tanks and half-tracks. The first Israelis to reach the perimeter of the southern approach laid bodily down on the barbed wire, allowing their comrades to vault over them. From there, they assaulted the fortified Syrian positions.
The fighting was waged at extremely close quarters, often hand-to-hand. On the northern flank, the Israelis broke through within minutes and cleared out the trenches and bunkers. During the seven-hour battle, the Israelis lost 31 dead and 82 wounded, while the Syrians lost 62 dead and 20 captured.
Among the dead was the Israeli battalion commander. By the evening of 9 June, the four Israeli brigades had all broken through to the plateau, where they could be reinforced and replaced. Thousands of reinforcements began reaching the front, those tanks and half-tracks that had survived the previous day's fighting were refueled and replenished with ammunition, and the wounded were evacuated. By dawn, the Israelis had eight brigades in the sector. Syria's first line of defense had been shattered, but the defenses beyond that remained largely intact.
Mount Hermon and the Banias in the north, and the entire sector between Tawfiq and Customs House Road in the south remained in Syrian hands. In a meeting early on the night of 9 June, Syrian leaders decided to reinforce those positions as quickly as possible, and to maintain a steady barrage on Israeli civilian settlements. Throughout the night, the Israelis continued their advance. Though it was slowed by fierce resistance, an anticipated Syrian counterattack never materialized. At the fortified village of Jalabina, a garrison of Syrian reservists, leveling their anti-aircraft guns, held off the Israeli 65th Paratroop Battalion for four hours before a small detachment managed to penetrate the village and knock out the heavy guns.
Meanwhile, the 8th Brigade's tanks moved south from Qala, advancing six miles to Wasit under heavy artillery and tank bombardment. At the Banias in the north, Syrian mortar batteries opened fire on advancing Israeli forces only after Golani Brigade sappers cleared a path through a minefield, killing sixteen Israeli soldiers and wounding four. On the next day, 10 June, the central and northern groups joined in a pincer movement on the plateau, but that fell mainly on empty territory as the Syrian forces retreated.
Several units joined by Elad Peled's troops climbed to the Golan from the south, only to find the positions mostly empty. When the 8th Brigade reached Mansura, five miles from Wasit, the Israelis met no opposition and found abandoned equipment, including tanks, in perfect working condition.
In the fortified Banias village, Golani Brigade troops found only several Syrian soldiers chained to their positions. During the day, the Israeli units stopped after obtaining manoeuvre room between their positions and a line of volcanic hills to the west. In some locations, Israeli troops advanced after an agreed-upon cease-fire  to occupy strategically strong positions.
This position later became the cease-fire line known as the " Purple Line ". That premature report of the surrender of their headquarters destroyed the morale of the Syrian troops left in the Golan area. By 10 June, Israel had completed its final offensive in the Golan Heights, and a ceasefire was signed the day after. Israel's strategic depth grew to at least kilometers in the south, 60 kilometers in the east, and 20 kilometers of extremely rugged terrain in the north, a security asset that would prove useful in the Yom Kippur War six years later.
Speaking three weeks after the war ended, as he accepted an honorary degree from Hebrew University, Yitzhak Rabin gave his reasoning behind the success of Israel:. In recognition of contributions, Rabin was given the honour of naming the war for the Israelis. From the suggestions proposed, including the "War of Daring", "War of Salvation", and "War of the Sons of Light", he "chose the least ostentatious, the Six-Day War, evoking the days of creation".
Dayan's final report on the war to the Israeli general staff listed several shortcomings in Israel's actions, including misinterpretation of Nasser's intentions, overdependence on the United States, and reluctance to act when Egypt closed the Straits. He also credited several factors for Israel's success: Egypt did not appreciate the advantage of striking first and their adversaries did not accurately gauge Israel's strength and its willingness to use it. In Egypt, according to Heikal , Nasser had admitted his responsibility for the military defeat in June After the Yom Kippur War , Egypt reviewed the causes of its loss of the war.
Issues that were identified included "the individualistic bureaucratic leadership"; "promotions on the basis of loyalty, not expertise, and the army's fear of telling Nasser the truth"; lack of intelligence; and better Israeli weapons, command, organization, and will to fight. Between  and Israelis were killed and 4, were wounded.
Fifteen Israeli soldiers were captured. Arab casualties were far greater. Between 9,  and 15,  Egyptian soldiers were listed as killed or missing in action. An additional 4, Egyptian soldiers were captured. Between  and  Syrians were captured. At the commencement of hostilities, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country.
It has been alleged that Nasser did not want Egypt to learn of the true extent of his defeat and so ordered the killing of Egyptian army stragglers making their way back to the Suez canal zone. There have been a number of allegations of direct military support of Israel during the war by the US and the UK, including the supply of equipment despite an embargo and the participation of US forces in the conflict.
America features prominently in Arab conspiracy theories purporting to explain the June defeat. Johnson was obsessed with Nasser and that Johnson conspired with Israel to bring him down. Salah Bassiouny of the Foreign ministry, claims that Foreign Ministry saw the reported Israeli troop movements as credible because Israel had reached the level at which it could find strategic alliance with the United States. Nasser broke off diplomatic relations following this allegation. Nasser's image of the United States was such that he might well have believed the worst. However Anwar Sadat implied that Nasser used this deliberate conspiracy in order to accuse the United States as a political cover-up for domestic consumption.
Israel said the attack was a case of mistaken identity, and that the ship had been misidentified as the Egyptian vessel El Quseir. Israel apologized for the mistake, and paid compensation to the victims or their families, and to the United States for damage to the ship. After an investigation, the U. One soldier, therefore, features "curly hair and a shy toothy smile"; another, Hammel proclaims, was tipped to become a chief-of-staff many times--if, that is, he chuckles fondly, the soldier survived his notorious penchant for killing enemies face to face.
Time and time again Israel's Zahad is extolled in the most over-the-top ways--it is, or at least was, a fine wartime army though I'd argue its collective punishment of Palestinian commoners only exacerbates tensions among the Arabs, but anyway , but the extent to which Hammel repeatedly reminds the readers that Israel pioneered this and that and what have you, and how they baffled the world's most renowned military minds with their enterprise "I wonder", Hammel claims that unspecified strategists would later say, "how the Israelis would do it" The Arab side on the other hand is nearly always overlooked, except in short scathing terms.
Therefore Hammel contemptuously dismisses the idea of Arab solidarity which is true, since it was historically more the Islamic caliphate rather than Arab identity that bound the Arabs , mocks Hussein of Jordan for claiming that the time for revenge had done and justifies Israeli officers using over-the-top measures in return.
When a fairly minor Jordanian officer, Badr Awad, escapes after a defeat in Jerusalem, it is because, Hammel ludicrously suggests, the Israeli troops purposely left that channel open. When the Egypt officer Abdul-Munim Hussein, in order to avoid unnecessary civilian bloodshed, surrenders Gaza, Hammel claims it was done in response to unspecified "Israeli pleas" to avoid civilian casualties, when even Israeli officers would admit that they had not sent any pleas but had merely told the Arabs to surrender.
It's a shame because it could have been a good piece of military history. Shame the fool ruins it with partisan tub-thumping triumphalism. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. While author Hammel has done a marvelous job in writing this well-researched account of the 6-days war of , Kindle has dropped the ball badly in converting the content to digital format. In the first pages how do you convert 'location' to 'page number? Dropped periods at sentence-end, "m" in place "in", and other conversion errors take the fun out of reading.
This seems to be endemic with Kindle books. One person found this helpful. I was very interested in reading this book and learning more about the history of Israel and the Palestinians. I was lost in the last chapters of the book, the endless details The product is flaws in two respects: Without maps it is impossible to follow the narrative.
There is at least one typo on almost every page. Outstanding in detail written in away that makes you feel like you are there in each battle. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will keep this short. The only necessary chapter to read is on the Zahal. Much of the book depends on silly, childish praise for the realistically superior Israeli Force. So much so that it makes for pedantic reading. I do not recommend. See all 27 reviews. Most recent customer reviews.
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Six-Day War ends
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