Did the PLO coordinate with Arab armies during the Six Day War?

Did the PLO coordinate with Arab armies during the Six Day War?

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In general, the PLO did some raiding before and after the Six Day War but I noticed this facebook post (and also wikipedia) that listed the PLO among the contributors to the Arab's strength.

It would make sense that the PLO would want to be involved in some action but I cannot find any source that describes what they did.

1) Did the PLO (or other Palestinian militant group) do some action during the Six Day War?

2) Was this coordinated with the Arab States?

3) Were they aware of Egypt/Syria's plan beforehand?

The Wikipedia article on the Six Day War states that Palestinian positions in Gaza opened fire on the Negev settlements of Nirim and Kissufim. This provided the pretext/reason for IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin to over-ride the orders of Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Dayan (who had had expressly forbidden entry into the Gaza Strip) and order the 11th Mechanised Brigade under Colonel Yehuda Reshef to enter the Strip. The force was immediately met with heavy artillery fire and fierce resistance from Palestinian forces and remnants of Egyptian forces from Rafah.

I'm not entirely sure how much co-ordination there was between the Arab States themselves, let-alone with the PLO. I certainly can't find any evidence to suggest that the PLO coordinated their attacks on this occasion.

The question of the Egyptian and/or Syrian plan for the war has been going on for half-a-century. There probably were nascent plans for a war against Israel, but the water has been muddied by Soviet misinformation before during and after the war, and by the efforts of all the countries involved to justify their actions, and/or explain why they lost so badly, since the 1967 war.

In any event, the preemptive strikes by the IDF rendered any pre-existing plans the Arab States may or may not have had moot (perhaps Helmuth von Moltke's observation that “No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy” is particularly appropriate here). Even if the plans had been in place, and the PLO had been aware of them, they could never be put into action.

The PLO is a political organization. The PLA, however, the Palestinian Liberation Army was the military wing of the PLO and was definitely involved in the Six-day war. There are several books which detail the function of the PLA before and during the war, detailing its support in Syria and Egypt, how the PLA took up positions in Gaza as the UNEF troops pulled out, and specifically being placed there at the behest of Egypt, so yes, they were in communication with other Arab states.

  • The book The Six Day War 1967: Sinai By Simon Dunstan actually lists, on page 67 the 20th PLA Division, as an Egyptian unit.
  • The Palestinian Military: Between Militias and Armies By Hillel Frisch goes into detail on the units organization, strength(over 6,000 men) and the fight in Gaza. pgs 54-58.
  • Another book, The Sinai Blunder: Withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force Leading to the Six-Day War of June 1967, By Indar Jit Rikhye obviously focuses on the UNEF withdrawal and the PLA entering Gaza before the Israeli actions.

Look over some of these sources, and you will get the impression of a definite military force, which was organized, trained and supplied by other Arab states. (I would clip some quotes, but these works are all recent, so you will have to look them over yourselves. Sorry)

Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan (Hebrew: משה דיין ‎‎ 20 May 1915 – 16 October 1981) was an Israeli military leader and politician. As commander of the Jerusalem front in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (1953–1958) during the 1956 Suez Crisis, but mainly as Defense Minister during the Six-Day War in 1967, he became a worldwide fighting symbol of the new state of Israel. [2] In the 1930s, Dayan joined the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish defense force of Mandatory Palestine. He served in the Special Night Squads under Orde Wingate during the Arab revolt in Palestine and later lost an eye in a raid on Vichy forces in Lebanon during World War II. Dayan was close to David Ben-Gurion and joined him in leaving the Mapai party and setting up the Rafi party in 1965 with Shimon Peres. Dayan became Defence Minister just before the 1967 Six-Day War. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, during which Dayan served as Defense Minister, he was blamed for the lack of preparedness after some time he resigned. In 1977, following the election of Menachem Begin as Prime Minister, Dayan was expelled from the Labor Party because he joined the Likud-led government as Foreign Minister, playing an important part in negotiating the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Did the PLO coordinate with Arab armies during the Six Day War? - History

Using the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) — which it had occupied illegally since 1948 — as launching point, Jordan attacked Israel on June 5, 1967. During the subsequent war, as many as 325,000 Arab residents fled to escape fighting in the area. According to historian Howard M. Sachar, "most of these 1967 fugitives departed voluntarily no [Israeli] attempts were made to influence them to leave." Most crossed to the East Bank of the Jordan River, into Jordan proper.

Since most were Jordanian citizens fleeing one area under Jordanian jurisdiction (up to that time) to another, it is more accurate to describe them as displaced persons than as refugees. Israel — having acquired the territory in successful self-defense — became the legitimate military administrative authority. It expelled a handful of Palestinian Arabs for "strategic and security reasons," but quickly allowed some to return.

As for other alleged expulsions, most if not all West Bank Arabs who fled to the East Bank (Jordan) after the war did so of their own volition. Often they or their families were originally from the East Bank, or they were civil servants or pensioners afraid they might lose their Jordanian income if they stayed. The New York Times reported (June 11, 1967) that Jordanian radio broadcasts urged people not to flee, indicating this was a matter of choice, not compulsion: " . the refugees are on the move in spite of repeated Jordanian radio broadcasts that say: 'To the Arabs of the West Bank, do not desert your homes. Be patient. Be men and do not desert your homes. Be patient. Do not create another refugee problem.'"

Although Arab regimes claimed that Israel was expelling thousands of West Bankers, a Times reporter found no supporting evidence: "At no time during a number of long talks with Arabs in this area was anything said to support Arab charges at the United Nations that thousands had been forced to cross the Jordan River from the west bank area occupied by the Israelis . " ("War Brings Problems for '48 Palestine Refugees," New York Times , June 15, 1967).

A detailed U.N. report, filed by the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Nils-Goran Gussing, also found little support for claims of expulsions. Among other things, the review noted that "during his visit to the area, the Special Representative received no specific reports indicating that persons had been physically forced to cross to the East Bank." Gussing did record "persistent reports" of acts of intimidation by Israeli armed forces and attempts to suggest to Arab residents that they might be better off in Jordan. But he noted that "the inevitable impact upon a frightened civilian population of hostilities and military occupation as such, particularly when no measures of reassurance are taken, has clearly been a main factor in the exodus from the West Bank."

The Special Representative recorded that the mayor of Hebron, one of the largest Arab cities on the West Bank, told him that even with an Israeli assurance there would be no fighting nearby, "when the Arab Legion (Jordanian army) withdrew from the area, people began to flee. Approximately 15,000 to 18,000 out of a population of 150,000 in the area had left," the majority "before the arrival of the Israeli troops . They had left of their own free will without any pressure from the army. Many had come back, and about 90 percent of all those who had gone would like to come back."

Israeli law, passed in the 1950s to deal with Arab refugees from the 1948 war, in general also barred the return of Arabs who fled in 1967. However, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol's government, at United Nations' urging, agreed to repatriate 40,000. The Israeli government, Gussing noted, decided that "persons who had resided on the West Bank, and who crossed over to the East Bank between 5 June and 4 July 1967" would be permitted to return. Israel arranged with the International Red Cross for the return of thousands who had fled.

But Jordan discouraged large-scale return by August, 1967 only 14,000 West Bank Arabs had done so. In 1968, Jordan prohibited those who intended to remain in the East Bank from emigrating to the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, by the time of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel had permitted the return of another 40,000. Sachar says that "their homes, land, and other property at all times were maintained intact."

After the Six-Day War, Israel made repeated attempts to move Palestinian Arabs out of Gaza Strip and West Bank refugee camps in the into new, permanent housing. The goal was to assist in their "rehabilitation" as settled residents integrated into the local economy. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) opposed rehabilitation, murdering a few Arabs who participated and intimidating many others. The Arab states successfully sought U.N. resolutions to keep the refugees in the areas now under Israeli control in the camps. This stemmed from an attitude exposed earlier by former U.N. Relief and Works Agency official Ralph Galloway, who said in 1958:

The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don't give a damn whether the refugees live or die.

Myths & Facts - The 1967 Six-Day War

Israel consistently expressed a desire to negotiate with its neighbors. In an address to the UN General Assembly on October 10, 1960, Foreign Minister Golda Meir challenged Arab leaders to meet with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to negotiate a peace settlement. Nasser answered on October 15, saying that Israel was trying to deceive the world, and reiterating that his country would never recognize the Jewish State. 1

The Arabs were equally adamant in their refusal to negotiate a separate settlement for the refugees. As Nasser told the United Arab Republic National Assembly March 26, 1964:

Israel and the imperialism around us, which confront us, are two separate things. There have been attempts to separate them, in order to break up the problems and present them in an imaginary light as if the problem of Israel is the problem of the refugees, by the solution of which the problem of Palestine will also be solved and no residue of the problem will remain. The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel as it is in the present and in what she represents. 2

Meanwhile, Syria used the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above the Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. Syria's attacks grew more frequent in 1965 and 1966, while Nasser's rhetoric became increasingly bellicose: "We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand," he said on March 8, 1965. "We shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood." 3

Again, a few months later, Nasser expressed the Arabs' aspiration: ". the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel." 4

"Israel's military strike in 1967 was unprovoked."

A combination of bellicose Arab rhetoric, threatening behavior and, ultimately, an act of war left Israel no choice but preemptive action. To do this successfully, Israel needed the element of surprise. Had it waited for an Arab invasion, Israel would have been at a potentially catastrophic disadvantage.

While Nasser continued to make speeches threatening war, Arab terrorist attacks grew more frequent. In 1965, 35 raids were conducted against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41. In just the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched. 5

Meanwhile, Syria's attacks on Israeli kibbutzim from the Golan Heights provoked a retaliatory strike on April 7, 1967, during which Israeli planes shot down six Syrian MiGs. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union — which had been providing military and economic aid to both Syria and Egypt — gave Damascus information alleging a massive Israeli military buildup in preparation for an attack. Despite Israeli denials, Syria decided to invoke its defense treaty with Egypt.

On May 15, Israel's Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai and massing near the Israeli border. By May 18, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights.

Nasser ordered the UN Emergency Force, stationed in the Sinai since 1956, to withdraw on May 16. Without bringing the matter to the attention of the General Assembly, as his predecessor had promised, Secretary-General U Thant complied with the demand. After the withdrawal of the UNEF, the Voice of the Arabs proclaimed (May 18, 1967):

As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence. 6

An enthusiastic echo was heard May 20 from Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad:

Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation. 7

On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel's only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran. The following day, President Johnson expressed the belief that the blockade was illegal and unsuccessfully tried to organize an international flotilla to test it.

Nasser was fully aware of the pressure he was exerting to force Israel's hand. The day after the blockade was set up, he said defiantly: "The Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war." 8

Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight," he said on May 27. 9 The following day, he added: "We will not accept any. coexistence with Israel. Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel. The war with Israel is in effect since 1948." 10

King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30. Nasser then announced:

The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel. to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations. 11

President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined in the war of words: "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map." 12 On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of Arab forces. Approximately 250,000 troops (nearly half in Sinai), more than 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft ringed Israel. 13

By this time, Israeli forces had been on alert for three weeks. The country could not remain fully mobilized indefinitely, nor could it allow its sea lane through the Gulf of Aqaba to be interdicted. Israel's best option was to strike first.On June 5, the order was given to attack Egypt.

Israel Before the 1967 War

"Nasser had the right to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping."

In 1956, the United States gave Israel assurances that it recognized the Jewish State's right of access to the Straits of Tiran. In 1957, at the UN, 17 maritime powers declared that Israel had a right to transit the Strait. Moreover, the blockade violated the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which was adopted by the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea on April 27, 1958. 14

The closure of the Strait of Tiran was the casus belli in 1967. Israel's attack was a reaction to this Egyptian first strike. President Johnson acknowledged as much after the war (June 19, 1967):

If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Strait of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent maritime passage must be preserved for all nations. 15

"The United States helped Israel defeat the Arabs in six days."

The United States tried to prevent the war through negotiations, but it could not persuade Nasser or the other Arab states to cease their belligerent statements and actions. Still, right before the war, Johnson warned: "Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone." 16 Then, when the war began, the State Department announced: "Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed." 17

Moreover, while the Arabs were falsely accusing the United States of airlifting supplies to Israel, Johnson imposed an arms embargo on the region (France, Israel's other main arms supplier, also embargoed arms to Israel).

By contrast, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs. Simultaneously, the armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts. 18

"Israel attacked Jordan to capture Jerusalem."

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent a message to King Hussein saying Israel would not attack Jordan unless he initiated hostilities. When Jordanian radar picked up a cluster of planes flying from Egypt to Israel, and the Egyptians convinced Hussein the planes were theirs, he then ordered the shelling of West Jerusalem. It turned out the planes were Israel's, and were returning from destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground. Meanwhile, Syrian and Iraqi troops attacked Israel's northern frontier.

Had Jordan not attacked, the status of Jerusalem would not have changed during the course of the war. Once the city came under fire, however, Israel needed to defend it, and, in doing so, took the opportunity to unify its capital once and for all.

"Israel did not have to shoot first."

After just six days of fighting, Israeli forces broke through the enemy lines and were in a position to march on Cairo, Damascus and Amman. A cease?fire was invoked on June 10. The victory came at a very high cost. In storming the Golan Heights, Israel suffered 115 dead ? roughly the number of Americans killed during Operation Desert Storm. Altogether, Israel lost twice as many men ? 777 dead and 2,586 wounded ? in proportion to her total population as the U.S. lost in eight years of fighting in Vietnam. 19 Also, despite the incredible success of the air campaign, the Israeli Air Force lost 46 of its 200 fighters. 20 Had Israel waited for the Arabs to strike first, as it did in 1973, and not taken preemptive action, the cost would certainly have been much higher and victory could not have been assured.

"Israel viewed the territories it captured as conquered lands that were now part of Israel and had no intention of negotiating over their return."

By the end of the war, Israel had captured enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem. Israeli forces had also captured the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Israel's leaders fully expected to negotiate a peace agreement with their neighbors that would involve some territorial compromise. Almost immediately after the war, Israel's leaders expressed their willingness to negotiate a return of at least some of the territories. Israel subsequently returned all of the Sinai to Egypt, territory claimed by Jordan was returned to the Hashemite Kingdom, and nearly all of the Gaza Strip and more than 40 percent of the West Bank was given to the Palestinians to establish the Palestinian Authority.

To date, approximately 93 percent of the territories won in the defensive war have been given by Israel to its Arab neighbors as a result of negotiations. This demonstrates Israel's willingness to trade land for peace.

Cease-Fire lines after the Six-Day War

"Israel expelled peaceful Arab villagers from the West Bank and prevented them from returning after the war."

After Jordan launched its attack on June 5, approximately 325,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank fled. 21 These were Jordanian citizens who moved from one part of what they considered their country to another, primarily to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a war.

A Palestinian refugee who was an administrator in a UNRWA camp in Jericho said Arab politicians had spread rumors in the camp. "They said all the young people would be killed. People heard on the radio that this is not the end, only the beginning, so they think maybe it will be a long war and they want to be in Jordan." 22

Some Palestinians who left preferred to live in an Arab state rather than under Israeli military rule. Members of various PLO factions fled to avoid capture by the Israelis. Nils-G?ran Gussing, the person appointed by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the situation, found that many Arabs also feared they would no longer be able to receive money from family members working abroad. 23

Israeli forces ordered a handful of Palestinians to move for "strategic and security reasons." In some cases, they were allowed to return in a few days, in others Israel offered to help them resettle elsewhere. 24

Israel now ruled more than three-quarters of a million Palestinians ? most of whom were hostile to the government. Nevertheless, more than 9,000 Palestinian families were reunited in 1967. Ultimately, more than 60,000 Palestinians were allowed to return. 25

"Israel imposed unreasonable restrictions on the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem."

After the 1967 War, Israel chose not to annex the West Bank or Gaza Strip and instituted a military administration instead. This was necessary as an interim step until negotiations could resolve the future of the territories. This was by no means an ideal situation for the inhabitants, but the Israeli authorities tried to minimize the impact on the population. Don Peretz, a frequent writer on the situation of Arabs in Israel and a sharp critic of the Israeli government, visited the West Bank shortly after the Israeli troops had taken over. He found they were trying to restore normal life and prevent any incidents that might encourage the Arabs to leave their homes. 26

Except for the requirement that school texts in the territories be purged of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic language, the authorities tried not to interfere with the inhabitants. They did provide economic assistance for example, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were moved from camps to new homes. This stimulated protests from Egypt, which had done nothing for the refugees when it controlled the area.

Arabs were given freedom of movement. They were allowed to travel to and from Jordan. In 1972, elections were held in the West Bank. Women and non-landowners, unable to participate under Jordanian rule, were now permitted to vote.

East Jerusalem Arabs were given the option of retaining Jordanian citizenship or acquiring Israeli citizenship. They were recognized as residents of united Jerusalem and given the right to vote and run for the city council. Also, Islamic holy places were put in the care of a Muslim Council. Despite the Temple Mount's significance in Jewish history, Jews were barred from conducting prayers there.

After the Six-Day War ended, President Johnson announced his view of what was required next to end the conflict:

"During the 1967 War, Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty."

The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was a grievous error, largely attributable to the fact that it occurred in the midst of the confusion of a full-scale war in 1967. Ten official United States investigations and three official Israeli inquiries have all conclusively established the attack was a tragic mistake.

On June 8, 1967, the fourth day of the Six-Day War, the Israeli high command received reports that Israeli troops in El Arish were being fired upon from the sea, presumably by an Egyptian vessel, as they had a day before. The United States had announced that it had no naval forces within hundreds of miles of the battle front on the floor of the United Nations a few days earlier however, the USS Liberty, an American intelligence ship assigned to monitor the fighting, arrived in the area, 14 miles off the Sinai coast, as a result of a series of United States communication failures, whereby messages directing the ship not to approach within 100 miles were not received by the Liberty. The Israelis mistakenly thought this was the ship doing the shelling and war planes and torpedo boats attacked, killing 34 members of the Liberty's crew and wounding 171.

Numerous mistakes were made by both the United States and Israel. For example, the Liberty was first reported ? incorrectly, as it turned out ? to be cruising at 30 knots (it was later recalculated to be 28 knots). Under Israeli (and U.S.) naval doctrine at the time, a ship proceeding at that speed was presumed to be a warship. The sea was calm and the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry found that the Liberty's flag was very likely drooped and not discernible moreover, members of the crew, including the Captain, Commander William McGonagle, testified that the flag was knocked down after the first or second assault.

According to Israeli Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin's memoirs, there were standing orders to attack any unidentified vessel near the shore. 28 The day fighting began, Israel had asked that American ships be removed from its coast or that it be notified of the precise location of U.S. vessels. 29 The Sixth Fleet was moved because President Johnson feared being drawn into a confrontation with the Soviet Union. He also ordered that no aircraft be sent near Sinai.

A CIA report on the incident issued June 13, 1967, also found that an overzealous pilot could mistake the Liberty for an Egyptian ship, the El Quseir. After the air raid, Israeli torpedo boats identified the Liberty as an Egyptian naval vessel. When the Liberty began shooting at the Israelis, they responded with the torpedo attack, which killed 28 of the sailors.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff investigated the communications failure and noted that the Chief of Naval Operations expressed concern about the prudence of sending the Liberty so close to the area of hostilities and four messages were subsequently sent instructing the ship to move farther away from the area of hostilities. The JCS report said the messages were never received because of “a combination of (1) human error, (2) high volume of communications traffic, and (3) lack of appreciation of sense of urgency regarding the movement of the Liberty.” The report also included a copy of a flash cable sent immediately after the attack, which reported that Israel had “erroneously” attacked the Liberty, that IDF helicopters were in rescue operations, and that Israel had sent “abject apologies” and requested information on any other U.S. ships near the war zone.

Initially, the Israelis were terrified that they had attacked a Soviet ship and might have provoked the Soviets to join the fighting. 30 Once the Israelis were sure what had happened, they reported the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and offered to provide a helicopter for the Americans to fly out to the ship and any help they required to evacuate the injured and salvage the ship. The offer was accepted and a U.S. naval attach? was flown to the Liberty.

The Israelis were “obviously shocked” by the error they made in attacking the ship, according to the U.S. Ambassador in Tel Aviv. In fact, according to a secret report on the 1967 war, the immediate concern was that the Arabs might see the proximity of the Liberty to the conflict as evidence of U.S.-Israel collusion. 30a

Many of the survivors of the Liberty remain bitter, and are convinced the attack was deliberate as they make clear on their web site. In 1991, columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak trumpeted their discovery of an American who said he had been in the Israeli war room when the decision was made to knowingly attack the American ship. 31 In fact, that individual, Seth Mintz, wrote a letter to the Washington Post on November 9, 1991, in which he said he was misquoted by Evans and Novak and that the attack, was, in fact, a "case of mistaken identity." Moreover, the man who Mintz originally said had been with him, a Gen. Benni Matti, does not exist.

Also, contrary to claims that an Israeli pilot identified the ship as American on a radio tape, no one has ever produced this tape. In fact, the official Israeli Air Force tape clearly established that no such identification of the ship was made by the Israeli pilots prior to the attack. Tapes of the radio transmissions made prior, during and after the attack do not contain any statement suggesting the pilots saw a U.S. flag before the attack. During the attack, a pilot specifically says, “there is no flag on her!” The recordings also indicate that once the pilots became concerned about the identity of the ship, by virtue of reading its hull number, they terminated the attack and they were given an order to leave the area. A transcript of the radio transmissions indicates the entire incident, beginning with the spotting of a mysterious vessel off El Arish and ending with the chief air controller at general headquarters in Tel Aviv telling another controller the ship was “apparently American” took 24 minutes. 32 Critics claimed the Israeli tape was doctored, but the National Security Agency of the United States released formerly top secret transcripts in July 2003 that confirmed the Israeli version.

A U.S. spy plane was sent to the area as soon as the NSA learned of the attack on the Liberty and recorded the conversations of two Israeli Air Force helicopter pilots, which took place between 2:30 and 3:37 p.m. on June 8. The orders radioed to the pilots by their supervisor at the Hatzor base instructing them to search for Egyptian survivors from the "Egyptian warship" that had just been bombed were also recorded by the NSA. "Pay attention. The ship is now identified as Egyptian," the pilots were informed. Nine minutes later, Hatzor told the pilots the ship was believed to be an Egyptian cargo ship. At 3:07, the pilots were first told the ship might not be Egyptian and were instructed to search for survivors and inform the base immediately the nationality of the first person they rescued. It was not until 3:12 that one of the pilots reported that he saw an American flag flying over the ship at which point he was instructed to verify if it was indeed a U.S. vessel. 33

In October 2003, the first Israeli pilot to reach the ship broke his 36-year silence on the attack. Brig.-Gen. Yiftah Spector, a triple ace, who shot down 15 enemy aircraft and took part in the 1981 raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor, said he had been told an Egyptian ship was off the Gaza coast. "This ship positively did not have any symbol or flag that I could see. What I was concerned with was that it was not one of ours. I looked for the symbol of our navy, which was a large white cross on its deck. This was not there, so it wasn't one of ours." The Jerusalem Post obtained a recording of Spector's radio transmission in which he said, "I can't identify it, but in any case it's a military ship." 34

None of Israel's accusers can explain why Israel would deliberately attack an American ship at a time when the United States was Israel's only friend and supporter in the world. Confusion in a long line of communications, which occurred in a tense atmosphere on both the American and Israeli sides (five messages from the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the ship to remain at least 25 miles — the last four said 100 miles — off the Egyptian coast arrived after the attack was over) is a more probable explanation.

Accidents caused by “friendly fire” are common in wartime. In 1988, the U.S. Navy mistakenly downed an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 civilians. During the Gulf War, 35 of the 148 Americans who died in battle were killed by “friendly fire.” In April 1994, two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters with large U.S. flags painted on each side were shot down by U.S. Air Force F-15s on a clear day in the “no fly” zone of Iraq, killing 26 people. In April 2002, an American F-16 dropped a bomb that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. In fact, the day before the Liberty was attacked, Israeli pilots accidentally bombed one of their own armored columns. 35

Retired Admiral, Shlomo Erell, who was Chief of the Navy in Israel in June 1967, told the Associated Press (June 5, 1977): “No one would ever have dreamt that an American ship would be there. Even the United States didn't know where its ship was. We were advised by the proper authorities that there was no American ship within 100 miles.”

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress on July 26, 1967: “It was the conclusion of the investigatory body, headed by an admiral of the Navy in whom we have great confidence, that the attack was not intentional.”

In 1987, McNamara repeated his belief that the attack was a mistake, telling a caller on the “Larry King Show” that he had seen nothing in the 20 years since to change his mind that there had been no “cover?up.” 36

In January 2004, the State Department held a conference on the Liberty incident and also released new documents, including CIA memos dated June 13 and June 21, 1967, that say that Israel did not know it was striking an American vessel. The historian for the National Security Agency, David Hatch, said the available evidence "strongly suggested" Israel did not know it was attacking a U.S. ship. Two former U.S. officials, Ernest Castle, the United States Naval Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in June 1967, who received the first report of the attack from Israel, and John Hadden, then CIA Chief of Station in Tel Aviv, also agreed with the assessment that the attack on the Liberty was a mistake. 37

The new documents do not shed any light on the mystery of what the ship was doing in the area or why Israel was not informed about its presence. The evidence suggests the ship was not spying on Israel.


The significance of the designation of these territories as occupied territory is that certain legal obligations fall on the occupying power under international law. Under international law there are certain laws of war governing military occupation, including the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention. [18] One of those obligations is to maintain the status quo until the signing of a peace treaty, the resolution of specific conditions outlined in a peace treaty, or the formation of a new civilian government. [19]

Israel disputes whether, and if so to what extent, it is an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian territories and as to whether Israeli settlements in these territories are in breach of Israel's obligations as an occupying power and constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and whether the settlements constitute war crimes. [20] [21] In 2015, over 800,000 Israelis resided outside the 1949 Armistice Lines, constituting nearly 13% of Israel's Jewish population. [22]

Sinai Peninsula Southern Lebanon Golan Heights West Bank
(excluding East Jerusalem)
East Jerusalem Gaza Strip Territories within the 1949 cease fire lines
Occupation period 1956–1957,
1982–2000 1967–present 1967–present 1967–present 1956–1957,
1967–2005 (direct),
2005–present (indirect)
Claimed by Egypt Lebanon Syria
Lebanon (Shebaa f.)
Jordan (1967–1988) [23] [24]
Palestine (1988–present)
Jordan (1967–1988) [23] [24]
Palestine (1988–present)
Egypt (1967–1979)
Palestine (1988–present)
Palestine (1947–present) [Note 1]
Currently administrated by Egypt Lebanon Israel PNA (Area A)
Israel (Areas B and C)
Israel Hamas Israel
Israel considers it part of its territory No No Yes, as part of the Northern District, [Note 2]
by the Golan Heights Law
De jure no, but de facto Israelis are allowed to live in settlements within Areas B and C, as a part of the Judea and Samaria Area

Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War. It established settlements along the Gulf of Aqaba and in the northeast portion, just below the Gaza Strip. It had plans to expand the settlement of Yamit into a city with a population of 200,000, [26] though the actual population of Yamit did not exceed 3,000. [27] The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in stages beginning in 1979 as part of the Egypt–Israel peace treaty. As required by the treaty, Israel evacuated Israeli military installations and civilian settlements prior to the establishment of "normal and friendly relations" between it and Egypt. [28] Israel dismantled eighteen settlements, two air force bases, a naval base, and other installations by 1982, including the only oil resources under Israeli control. The evacuation of the civilian population, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamit. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation. [ citation needed ] Since 1982, the Sinai Peninsula has not been regarded as occupied territory.

The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon took place after Israel invaded Lebanon during the 1982 Lebanon War and subsequently retained its forces to support the Christian South Lebanon Army militia in Southern Lebanon. In 1982, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and allied Free Lebanon Army Christian militias seized large sections of Lebanon, including the capital of Beirut, amid the hostilities of the wider Lebanese Civil War. Later, Israel withdrew from parts of the occupied area between 1983 and 1985, but remained in partial control of the border region known as the South Lebanon Security Belt, initially in coordination with the self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State, which executed a limited authority over portions of southern Lebanon until 1984, and later with the South Lebanon security belt administration and its South Lebanon Army (transformed from Free Lebanon Army), until the year 2000. Israel's stated purpose for the Security Belt was to create a space separating its northern border towns from terrorists residing in Lebanon.

During the stay in the security belt, the IDF held many positions and supported the SLA. The SLA took over daily life in the security zone, initially as the official force of the Free Lebanon State and later as an allied militia. Notably, the South Lebanon Army controlled the prison in Khiam. In addition, United Nations (UN) forces and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were deployed to the security belt (from the end of Operation Litani in 1978).

The strip was a few kilometes wide, and consisted of about 10% of the total territory of Lebanon, which housed about 150,000 people who lived in 67 villages and towns made up of Shiites, Maronites and Druze (most of whom lived in the town of Hasbaya). In the central zone of the Strip was the Maronite town Marjayoun, which was the capital of the security belt. Residents remaining in the security zone had many contacts with Israel, many of whom have worked there and received various services from Israel.

Before the Israeli election in May 1999 the prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, promised that within a year all Israeli forces would withdraw from Lebanon. When negotiation efforts failed between Israel and Syria—the goal of the negotiations was to bring a peace agreement between Israel and Lebanon as well, due to Syrian occupation of Lebanon until 2005—Barak led the withdrawal of the IDF to the Israeli border on 24 May 2000. No soldiers were killed or wounded during the redeployment to the internationally recognized border of Blue Line.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. A ceasefire was signed on 11 June 1967 and the Golan Heights came under Israeli military administration. [29] Syria rejected UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which called for the return of Israeli-occupied State territories in exchange for peaceful relations. Israel had accepted Resolution 242 in a speech to the Security Council on 1 May 1968. In March 1972, Syria "conditionally" accepted Resolution 242, [ citation needed ] and in May 1974, the Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria was signed.

In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria attempted to recapture the Golan Heights militarily, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights under Israeli control, while returning a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control. A United Nations observation force was established in 1974 as a buffer between the sides. [30] By Syrian formal acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 338, [31] which set out the cease-fire at the end of the Yom Kippur War, Syria also accepted Resolution 242. [32]

On 14 December 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli administration and law to the territory. Israel has expressly avoided using the term "annexation" to describe the change of status. However, the UN Security Council has rejected the de facto annexation in UNSC Resolution 497, which declared it as "null and void and without international legal effect", [33] and consequently continuing to regard the Golan Heights as an Israeli-occupied territory. The measure has also been criticized by other countries, either as illegal or as not being helpful to the Middle East peace process. [ citation needed ]

Syria wants the return of the Golan Heights, while Israel has maintained a policy of "land for peace" based on Resolution 242. The first high-level public talks aimed at a resolution of the Syria–Israel conflict were held at and after the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991. Throughout the 1990s several Israeli governments negotiated with Syria's president Hafez Al-Assad. While serious progress was made, they were unsuccessful.

In 2004, there were 34 settlements in the Golan Heights, populated by around 18,000 people. [34] Today, an estimated 20,000 Israeli settlers and 20,000 Syrians live in the territory. [30] All inhabitants are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which would entitle them to an Israeli driver's license and enable them to travel freely in Israel. [ citation needed ] The non-Jewish residents, who are mostly Druze, have nearly all declined to take Israeli citizenship. [30] [35]

In the Golan Heights there is another area occupied by Israel, namely the Shebaa farms. Syria and Lebanon have claimed that the farms belong to Lebanon and in 2007 a UN cartographer came to the conclusion that the Shebaa farms do actually belong to Lebanon (contrary to the belief held by Israel). UN then said that Israel should relinquish the control of this area. [36]


Both of these territories were part of Mandate Palestine, and both have populations consisting primarily of Palestinians Arabs, including significant numbers of refugees who fled or were expelled from Israel and territory Israel controlled [37] after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Today, Palestinians make up around half of Jordan's population.

Jordan occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967, annexing it in 1950 and granting Jordanian citizenship to the residents in 1954 (the annexation claims and citizenship grants were rescinded in 1988 when Jordan acknowledged the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people). Egypt administered the Gaza Strip from 1948 to 1967 but did not annex it or make Gazans Egyptian citizens. [38]

West Bank

The West Bank was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but the West Bank was occupied by Transjordan after the 1948 war. In April 1950, Jordan annexed the West Bank, [39] but this was recognized only by the United Kingdom and Pakistan. (see 1949 Armistice Agreements, Green Line)

In 1967, the West Bank came under Israeli military administration. Israel retained the mukhtar (mayoral) system of government inherited from Jordan, and subsequent governments began developing infrastructure in Arab villages under its control. (see Palestinians and Israeli law, International legal issues of the conflict, Palestinian economy). As a result of "Enclave law", large portions of Israeli civil law are applied to Israeli settlements and Israeli residents in the occupied territories. [40]

Since the Israel – Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, most of the Palestinian population and cities came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has frequently redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration in various parts of the two territories. On July 31, 1988, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank for the PLO. [24]

In 2000, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier, within the West Banks, separating Israel and several of its settlements, as well as a significant number of Palestinians, from the remainder of the West Bank. State of Israel cabinet approved a route to construct separation barrier whose total length will be approximately 760 km (472 mi) built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or "Green Line" between Israel and Palestinian West Bank. [41] 12% of the West Bank area is on the Israel side of the barrier. [42]

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the barrier violates international law. [43] It claimed that "Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall". [44] However, Israel government derived its justification for constructing this barrier with Prime Minister Ehud Barak stating that it is "essential to the Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and independence without being dependent on the State of Israel". [45] The Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, stated that Israel has been holding the areas of Judea and Samaria in belligerent occupation, since 1967. The court also held that the normative provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation are applicable. The Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 were both cited. [7]

About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank along the Israeli West Bank barrier (and a further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem and 50,000 in the former Israeli–Jordanian no-man's land). [ citation needed ] The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel, [46] restricted access to water sources, and economic effects. Regarding the violation of freedom of Palestinians, in a 2005 report, the United Nations stated that:[47] . it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, people's access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barrier's exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences. [47] This has led to considerable anxiety among Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted. The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns. [48]

On Feb 6, 2017, The Knesset passed the controversial Regulation Law, which aimed at retroactively legalizing 2,000 to 4,000 Israeli settlements in Area C. [49] On June 9, 2020, the Israeli Supreme Court struck down the law as "infringing on the property rights of Palestinian residents." [50]

East Jerusalem

Jerusalem has created additional issues in relation to the question of whether or not it is occupied territory. The 1947 UN Partition Plan had contemplated that all of Jerusalem would be an international city within an international area that included Bethlehem for at least ten years, after which the residents would be allowed to conduct a referendum and the issue could be re-examined by the Trusteeship Council.

However, after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jordan captured East Jerusalem and the Old City, and Israel captured and annexed the western part of Jerusalem [ citation needed ] . Jordan bilaterally annexed East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in 1950 as a temporary trustee [51] at the request of a Palestinian delegation, [52] and although the annexation was recognized by only two countries, it was not condemned by the UNSC. The British did not recognize the territory as sovereign to Jordan. [53] Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. On June 27, Israel extended its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to East Jerusalem and several nearby towns and villages, and incorporated the area into the Jerusalem Municipality. In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which was declared a Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the "complete and united" capital of Israel. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared this action to be "null and void", and that it "must be rescinded forthwith". The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and considers it occupied territory. [54]

UN Security Council Resolution 478 also called upon countries which held their diplomatic delegations to Israel in Jerusalem, to move them outside the city. Most nations with embassies in Jerusalem complied, and relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities prior to the adoption of Resolution 478. Following the withdrawals of Costa Rica and El Salvador in August 2006, no country maintains its embassy in Jerusalem, although Paraguay and Bolivia once had theirs in nearby Mevaseret Zion. [55] [56] The United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, stating that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999." As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Until May 2018, the law had never been implemented, because successive U.S. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama exercised the law's presidential waiver, citing national security interests. On 14 May 2018, the US opened its Embassy in Jerusalem. [57]

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip was allotted to the Arab state envisioned by the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but no Arab state formed as a result of the 1947 partition plan. As a result of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, the Gaza Strip became occupied by Egypt.

Between 1948 and 1967, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration, being officially under the jurisdiction of the All-Palestine Government until in 1959 it was merged into the United Arab Republic, de facto becoming under direct Egyptian military governorship.

Between 1967 and 1993, the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military administration. In March 1979, Egypt renounced all claims to the Gaza Strip in the Egypt–Israel peace treaty.

A July 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice treated Gaza as part of the occupied territories. [58]

In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005, and was completed on 12 September 2005. Under the plan, all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and four in the West Bank) and the joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez Industrial Zone were dismantled with the removal of all 9,000 Israeli settlers (most of them in the Gush Katif settlement area in the Strip's southwest) and military bases. Some settlers resisted the order, and were forcibly removed by the IDF. On 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. To avoid allegations that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, which is a narrow strip adjacent to the Strip's border with Egypt, after Egypt's agreement to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control to prevent the smuggling of materials (such as ammunition) and people across the border with Egypt. With Egypt agreeing to patrol its side of the border, it was hoped that the objective would be achieved. However, Israel maintained its control over the crossings in and out of Gaza. The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was monitored by the Israeli army through special surveillance cameras. Official documents such as passports, I.D. cards, export and import papers, and many others had to be approved by the Israeli army. [ citation needed ]

The Israeli position is that it no longer occupies Gaza, as Israel does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions inside the Gaza Strip. [59] [60] Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni stated in January, 2008: "Israel got out of Gaza. It dismantled its settlements there. No Israeli soldiers were left there after the disengagement." [61] Israel also notes that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state.

Immediately after Israel withdrew in 2005, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated, "the legal status of the areas slated for evacuation has not changed." [59] Human Rights Watch also contested that this ended the occupation. [62] [63] The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs continues to consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls the Gaza Strip's airspace and territorial waters as well as the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea. [13] [14] [15]

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs maintains an office on "Occupied Palestinian Territory", which concerns itself with the Gaza Strip. [64] In his statement on the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories" wrote that international humanitarian law applied to Israel "in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war." [65] In a 2009 interview on Democracy Now Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contends that Israel is an occupying power. However, Meagan Buren, Senior Adviser to the Israel Project, a pro-Israel media group contests that characterization. [66]

In 2007, after Hamas defeated Fatah in the Battle of Gaza (2007) and took control over the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli raids, such as Operation Hot Winter continued into 2008. A six month ceasefire was agreed in June 2008, but it was broken several times by both Israel and Hamas. As it reached its expiry, Hamas announced that they were unwilling to renew the ceasefire without improving the terms. [67] At the end of December 2008 Israeli forces began Operation Cast Lead, launching the Gaza War that left an estimated 1,166–1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. [68] [69] [70]

In January 2012, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General stated that under resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the UN still regards Gaza to be part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. [12]

Territories within the 1949 cease fire lines

Palestinian views

Al Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Ramallah in the West Bank and an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, has asserted that "As noted in Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 'a party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty'. As such, Israeli reliance on local law does not justify its violations of its international legal obligations". [71] Further, the Palestinian mission to the U.N. has argued that: [72]

it is of no relevance whether a State has a monist or a dualist approach to the incorporation of international law into domestic law. A position dependent upon such considerations contradicts Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 which states that: "a state is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purposes of a treaty when it has undertaken an act expressing its consent thereto." The Treaty, which is substantially a codification of customary international law, also provides that a State "may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty" (Art. 27).

Israeli views

The Israeli government maintains that according to international law the West Bank status is that of disputed territories. [73] [74]

The question is important given if the status of "occupied territories" has a bearing on the legal duties and rights of Israel toward those. [75] Hence it has been discussed in various forums including the UN.

Israeli judicial decisions

In two cases decided shortly after independence, in the Shimshon and Stampfer cases, the Supreme Court of Israel held that the fundamental rules of international law accepted as binding by all "civilized" nations were incorporated in the domestic legal system of Israel. The Nuremberg Military Tribunal determined that the articles annexed to the Hague IV Convention of 1907 were customary law that had been recognized by all civilized nations. [76] In the past, the Supreme Court has argued that the Geneva Convention insofar it is not supported by domestic legislation "does not bind this Court, its enforcement being a matter for the states which are parties to the Convention". They ruled that "Conventional international law does not become part of Israeli law through automatic incorporation, but only if it is adopted or combined with Israeli law by enactment of primary or subsidiary legislation from which it derives its force". However, in the same decision the Court ruled that the Fourth Hague Convention rules governing belligerent occupation did apply, since those were recognized as customary international law. [77]

The Israeli High Court of Justice determined in the 1979 Elon Moreh case that the area in question was under occupation and that accordingly only the military commander of the area may requisition land according to Article 52 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention. Military necessity had been an after-thought in planning portions of the Elon Moreh settlement. That situation did not fulfill the precise strictures laid down in the articles of the Hague Convention, so the Court ruled the requisition order had been invalid and illegal. [78] In recent decades, the government of Israel has argued before the Supreme Court of Israel that its authority in the territories is based on the international law of "belligerent occupation", in particular the Hague Conventions. The court has confirmed this interpretation many times, for example in its 2004 and 2005 rulings on the separation fence. [79] [80]

In its June 2005 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Gaza disengagement, the Court determined that "Judea and Samaria" [West Bank] and the Gaza area are lands seized during warfare, and are not part of Israel:

The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation (see The Beit Sourik Case, at p. 832). His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been "annexed" to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05 The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset et al. (yet unpublished, paragraph 3 of the opinion of the Court hereinafter – The Gaza Coast Regional Council Case). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter – The Hague Regulations). These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (hereinafter – the Fourth Geneva Convention). [81] [82]

Israeli legal and political views

Soon after the 1967 war, Israel issued a military order stating that the Geneva Conventions applied to the recently occupied territories, [83] but this order was rescinded a few months later. [84] For a number of years, Israel argued on various grounds that the Geneva Conventions do not apply. One is the Missing Reversioner theory [85] which argued that the Geneva Conventions apply only to the sovereign territory of a High Contracting Party, and therefore do not apply since Jordan never exercised sovereignty over the region. [77] However, that interpretation is not shared by the international community. [86] The application of Geneva Convention to Occupied Palestinian Territories was further upheld by International Court of Justice, UN General Assembly, UN Security Council and the Israeli Supreme Court. [86]

In the cases before the Israeli High Court of Justice the government has agreed that the military commander's authority is anchored in the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and that the humanitarian rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention apply. [87] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the Supreme Court of Israel has ruled that the Fourth Geneva Convention and certain parts of Additional Protocol I reflect customary international law that is applicable in the occupied territories. [88]

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Meir Shamgar, taking a different approach, wrote in the 1970s that there is no de jure applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention regarding occupied territories to the case of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the Convention "is based on the assumption that there had been a sovereign who was ousted and that he had been a legitimate sovereign." [89] Israeli diplomat, Dore Gold, has stated that the language of "occupation" has allowed Palestinian spokesmen to obfuscate this history. By repeatedly pointing to "occupation," they manage to reverse the causality of the conflict, especially in front of Western audiences. Thus, the current territorial dispute is allegedly the result of an Israeli decision "to occupy," rather than a result of a war imposed on Israel by a coalition of Arab states in 1967. [89]

Gershom Gorenberg, disputing these views, has written that the Israeli government knew at the outset that it was violating the Geneva Convention by creating civilian settlements in the territories under IDF administration. He explained that as the legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron was the Israeli government's expert on international law. On September 16, 1967 Meron wrote a top secret memo to Mr. Adi Yafeh, Political Secretary of the Prime Minister regarding "Settlement in the Administered Territories" which said "My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the Administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention." [90] Moshe Dayan authored a secret memo in 1968 proposing massive settlement in the territories which said "Settling Israelis in administered territory, as is known, contravenes international conventions, but there is nothing essentially new about that." [91]

Various Israeli Cabinets have made political statements and many of Israel's citizens and supporters dispute that the territories are occupied and claim that use of the term "occupied" in relation to Israel's control of the areas has no basis in international law or history, and that it prejudges the outcome of any future or ongoing negotiations. They argue it is more accurate to refer to the territories as "disputed" rather than "occupied" although they agree to apply the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention pending resolution of the dispute. Yoram Dinstein, has dismissed the position that they are not occupied as being "based on dubious legal grounds". [92] Many Israeli government websites do refer to the areas as being "occupied territories". [93] According to the BBC, "Israel argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place." [94]

In the Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, usually referred to as Levy Report, published in July 2012, a three-member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy which was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comes to the conclusion that Israel's presence in the West Bank is not an occupation in the legal sense, [95] and that the Israeli settlements in those territories do not contravene international law. [96] The report has met with both approval and harsh criticism in Israel and outside. As of July 2013, the report was not brought before the Israeli cabinet or any parliamentary or governmental body which would have the power to approve it.

Israeli Jewish religious views

According to the views of most adherents of Religious Zionism and to certain streams of Orthodox Judaism, there are no, and cannot be, "occupied territories" because all of the Land of Israel (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל ‎ ʼÉreṣ Yiśrāʼēl, Eretz Yisrael) belongs to the Jews, also known as the Children of Israel, since the times of Biblical antiquity based on various Hebrew Bible passages. [ citation needed ]

The Jewish religious belief that the area is a God-given inheritance of the Jewish people is based on the Torah, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham's grandson. A literal reading of the text suggests that the land promise is (or was at one time) one of the Biblical covenants between God and the Israelites, as the following verses show. [ citation needed ]

The definition of the limits of this territory varies between biblical passages, some of the main ones being:

The boundaries of the Land of Israel are different from the borders of historical Israelite kingdoms. The Bar Kokhba state, the Herodian Kingdom, the Hasmonean Kingdom, and possibly the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah [97] ruled lands with similar but not identical boundaries. The current State of Israel also has similar but not identical boundaries.

A small sect of Haredi Jews, the Neturei Karta opposes Zionism and calls for a peaceful dismantling of the State of Israel, in the belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah. [98] [99]

International views

The official term used by the United Nations Security Council to describe Israeli-occupied territories is "the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem", which is used, for example, in Resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980) and 484. A conference of the parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, [100] and the International Committee of the Red Cross, [101] have also resolved that these territories are occupied and that the Fourth Geneva Convention provisions regarding occupied territories apply.

Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 (see Jerusalem Law) has not been recognized by any other country, [102] and the annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 (see Golan Heights Law) has been recognized only by the United States. United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared the annexation of East Jerusalem "null and void" and required that it be rescinded. United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 also declared the annexation of the Golan "null and void". Following withdrawal by Israel from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, as part of the 1979 Egypt–Israel peace treaty, the Sinai ceased to be considered occupied territory. While the Palestinian Authority, the EU, [103] the International Court of Justice, [3] the UN General Assembly [4] and the UN Security Council [104] consider East Jerusalem to be part of the West Bank and occupied by Israel Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital and sovereign territory. [105]

The international community has formally entrusted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the role of guardian of international humanitarian law. That includes a watchdog function by which it takes direct action to encourage parties to armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law. [106] The head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories stated that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions that constitute war crime. [107]

In 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled that portions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 merely declare existing customary international law. [108] In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted a binding Chapter VII resolution establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The resolution approved a Statute which said that the problem of adherence of some but not all States to the Geneva Conventions does not arise, since beyond any doubt the Convention is declarative of customary international law. [109] The subsequent interpretation of the International Court of Justice does not support Israel's view on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions. [110]

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice delivered an Advisory Opinion on the 'Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory'. The Court observed that under customary international law as reflected in Article 42 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention, territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army, and the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. Israel raised a number of exceptions and objections, [111] but the Court found them unpersuasive. The Court ruled that territories had been occupied by the Israeli armed forces in 1967, during the conflict between Israel and Jordan, and that subsequent events in those territories, had done nothing to alter the situation.

International law professors Orna Ben-Naftali and Aeyal M. Gross wrote in 2005 that the occupation itself is in their view, illegal. [112] Michael Lynk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, in his 2017 report to the UN General Assembly has opined that the occupation itself has become illegal and has recommended that a UN study be commissioned to determine this and to consider asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion. [113]

The establishment of Israeli settlements is held to constitute a transfer of Israel's civilian population into the occupied territories and as such is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. [114] [115] [116] This is disputed by other legal experts who argue with this interpretation of the law. [117]

In 2000, the editors of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Palestine Yearbook of International Law (1998–1999) said "the "transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory" amounts to a war crime. They hold that this is obviously applicable to Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Arab Territories." [118]

In 2004 the International Court of Justice, in an advisory, non-binding [119] opinion, noted that the Security Council had described Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in the occupied territories as a "flagrant violation" of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Court also concluded that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established "in breach of international law" and that all the States parties to the Geneva Convention are under an obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international law as embodied in the Convention. [110]

In May 2012 the 27 ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union published a report strongly denouncing policies of the State of Israel in the West Bank and finding that settlements in the West Bank are illegal: "settlements remain illegal under international law, irrespective of recent decisions by the government of Israel. The EU reiterates that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties." [120] The report by all EU foreign ministers also criticized the Israeli government's failure to dismantle settler outposts illegal even under domestic Israeli law." [120]

Israel denies that the Israeli settlements are in breach of any international laws. [121] The Israeli Supreme Court has yet to rule decisively on settlement legality under the Geneva Convention. [122]

2012 UN report on settlements

The United Nations Human Rights Commission decided in March 2012 to establish a panel charged with investigating "the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem." [123] In reaction the government of Israel ceased cooperating with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and boycotted the UN Human Rights Commission. The U.S. government acceded to the Israeli government demand to attempt to thwart the formation of such a panel. [123]

On January 31, 2012 the United Nations independent "International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory" filed a report stating that Israeli settlement led to a multitude of violations of Palestinian human rights and that if Israel did not stop all settlement activity immediately and begin withdrawing all settlers from the West Bank, it potentially might face a case at the International Criminal Court. It said that Israel was in violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention forbidding transferring civilians of the occupying nation into occupied territory. It held that the settlements are "leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination." After Palestine's admission to the United Nations as a non-member state in September 2012, it potentially may have its complaint heard by the International Court. Israel's foreign ministry replied to the report saying that "Counterproductive measures – such as the report before us – will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel." [124] [125] [126]

2013 EU directive for 2014 to 2020

Following a decision by European Union (EU) foreign ministers in December 2012 stating that "all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967," the European Commission issued guidelines for the 2014 to 2020 financial framework covering all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia but excluding trade on 30 June 2013. According to the directive all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish settlements and Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line – including the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. [127] EU grants, funding, prizes or scholarships will only be granted if a settlement exclusion clause is included, forcing the Israeli government to concede in writing that settlements in the occupied territories are outside the state of Israel to secure agreements with the EU. [128]

In a statement, the EU said that

the guidelines are. in conformity with the EU's longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel's sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. At the moment Israeli entities enjoy financial support and cooperation with the EU and these guidelines are designed to ensure that this remains the case. At the same time concern has been expressed in Europe that Israeli entities in the occupied territories could benefit from EU support. The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support. [129]

The guidelines do not apply to any Palestinian body in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, and they do not affect agreements between the EU and the PLO or the Palestinian Authority, nor do they apply to Israeli government ministries or national agencies, to private individuals, to human rights organizations operating in the occupied territories, or to NGOs working toward promoting peace which operate in the occupied territories. [130] [131]

The move was described as an "earthquake" by an Israeli official who wished to remain anonymous, [128] and prompted harsh criticism by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who said in a broadcast statement: "As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights and our united capital Jerusalem to be harmed. We will not accept any external diktats about our borders. This matter will only be settled in direct negotiations between the parties." Israel is also concerned that the same policy could extend to settlement produce and goods exported to European markets, as some EU member states are pressing for an EU-wide policy of labelling produce and goods originating in Jewish settlements to allow consumers to make informed choices. [127] A special ministerial panel led by prime minister Netanyahu, decided to approach the EU and demand several key amendments in the guidelines before entering any new projects with the Europeans. A spokesperson for the EU confirmed that further talks would take place between Israel and the EU, stating: "We stand ready to organise discussions during which such clarifications can be provided and look forward to continued successful EU-Israel cooperation, including in the area of scientific cooperation." [132]

Palestinians and their supporters hailed the EU directive as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements. Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the guidelines, saying: "The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps, which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace." [127]


Before Israel gained independence in 1948, neither Israel nor the Arab nations surrounding it had many tanks. The Arabs and the Israelis had to find their weapons through arms dealers, or from any country that would supply them.

The first armored tanks and vehicles in Israel were, like many other countries, imported or based on other's designs but eventually evolved into their own tank designs. But in Israel the plans to import them began before the country even was formed and rudimentory built armoured cars and trucks were prepared in secret. The Palmach was an elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv (Jewish community) and had been established on 15 May 1941 and organized so by the outbreak of the Israeli War for Independence in 1948 it consisted of over 2,000 men and women in three fighting brigades.

Following the United Nations General Assembly vote for the Partition Plan for Palestine on 29 November 1947, the Jewish forces plans went into action to build and procure mobile armoured cars and supply trucks and to purchase and bring in tanks and a large number of half-tracks to prepare for the termination of the British Mandate and Israeli proclamation of statehood on 14 May 1948. [1] During this period the Jewish and Arab communities of British Mandate clashed with only light arms, while the British organized their withdrawal and intervened only on an occasional basis.

From January onwards, operations became increasingly militarized. A number of Arab Liberation Army regiments infiltrated into Palestine, each active in a variety of distinct sectors around the different coastal towns. They consolidated their presence in Galilee and Samaria. [2] The Army of the Holy War, under the command of Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, came from Egypt with several hundred men. Having recruited a few thousand volunteers, al-Husayni organised the blockade of the 100,000 Jewish residents of Jerusalem. [3]

To counter this, the Yishuv authorities tried to supply the city with convoys of up to 100 armoured vehicles, but the operation became more and more impractical as the number of casualties in the relief convoys surged. By March, al-Husayni's tactic had paid off. Almost all of Haganah's armoured vehicles had been destroyed, the blockade was in full operation, and hundreds of Haganah members who had tried to bring supplies into the city were killed. [4] The situation for those who dwelt in the Jewish settlements in the highly isolated Negev and North of Galilee was more critical.

The Arab League began to believe that the Palestinian Arabs, reinforced by the Arab Liberation Army, could put an end to partition. The British decided on 7 February 1948 to support the annexation of the Arab part of Palestine by Jordan. [5]

Ben-Gurion ordered Yigal Yadin to plan in preparation for the announced intervention of the Arab states. The result of his analysis was Plan Dalet, which was put in place from the start of April onwards.

The adoption of Plan Dalet marked the second stage of the war, in which Haganah took the offensive and the stated purpose of which was to take control of the territory of the Jewish state and to defend its borders and people, including the Jewish population outside of the borders, in expectation of an invasion by regular Arab armies. [6] According to the Israeli Yehoshafat Harkabi, "Plan Dalet" called for the conquest of Arab towns and villages inside and along the borders of the area allocated to the proposed Jewish State—according to the UN Partition Plan. [7] In case of resistance, the population of conquered villages was to be expelled outside the borders of the Jewish state. If no resistance was met, the residents could stay put, under military rule. [8] [9] [10] [11]

The first operation, named Nachshon, was directed at lifting the blockade on Jerusalem. [12] Armored cars and forces tried to clear out the roads and escort supply trucks as they tried to reach Jerusalem. The Arab attacks on communications and roads has intensified. The failure of the convoys and the loss of Jewish armoured vehicles has shaken the Yishuv leaders confidence.

1,500 men from Haganah's Givati brigade and Palmach's Harel brigade conducted sorties to free up the route to the city between 5 April and 20 April. The operation was successful, and enough foodstuffs to last 2 months were trucked into Jerusalem for distribution to the Jewish population. [13] The success of the operation was assisted by the death of al-Husayni in combat.

At the same time, the large-scale operation of the Arab Liberation Army was defeated at Mishmar HaEmek. [14] Their Druze allies left them through defection. [15]

Within the framework of creating Jewish territorial continuity according to Plan Dalet, the forces of Haganah, Palmach and Irgun moved to consolidate areas with Jewish populations as the British had essentially withdrawn their troops.

The situation pushed the leaders of the neighboring Arab states to intervene, with the Arab Legion of Transjordan's monarch, King Abdullah I moving tanks and armoured forces into the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine.

Preparing for Arab intervention from neighbouring states, Haganah successfully launched Operations Yiftah [16] and Ben-'Ami [17] and with limited armored forces they tried to hold what areas they had under their control and sent forces to secure the Jewish settlements of Galilee, and Operation Kilshon and created an Israeli-controlled front around Jerusalem. With the creation of Israel's army, the three Palmach Brigades were disbanded and its members formed the backbone of the Israel Defense Forces high command for many years. The few tanks and armoured cars of these Brigades were the beginning of what was to become a long history of armoured forces in the Israeli Army.

Pre-World War I to British Mandate period

The military forces of Israel can trace its roots to Jewish paramilitary organizations in the New Yishuv, starting with the Second Aliyah (1904 to 1914) and the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Legion of War World I, both of which were part of the British Army. After the 1920 Palestine riots against Jews in April 1920, the Yishuv's leadership saw the need to create a nationwide underground defense organization, and the Haganah was founded and became a full-scale defense force after the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine with an organized structure, consisting of three main units—the Field Corps, Guard Corps, and later the Palmach. In 1942, there was a period of great concern for the Yishuv, when the forces of German General Erwin Rommel advanced east in North Africa towards the Suez Canal and there was fear that they would conquer Palestine. This event was the direct cause for the founding, with British support, of the Palmach [18] —a highly trained regular unit belonging to Haganah (a paramilitary group that was mostly made up of reserve troops). During World War II the successor to the Jewish Legion of World War I was the Jewish Brigade. Later, veterans of the Jewish Brigade became key participants of the new State of Israel's Israel Defense Forces.

End of British Mandate/Arab–Israeli War of 1948

The modern military forces, the IDF was founded following the establishment of the State of Israel, after Defense Minister and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion issued an order on 26 May 1948. [19] In 1946, Ben-Gurion had decided that the Yishuv would probably have to defend itself against both the Palestinian Arabs and neighbouring Arab states and accordingly began a "massive, covert arms acquisition campaign in the West". By September 1947 the Haganah had "10,489 rifles, 702 light machine-guns, 2,666 submachine guns, 186 medium machine-guns, 672 two-inch mortars and 92 three-inch (76 mm) mortars" and acquired many more during the first few months of hostilities. Initially, the Haganah had no heavy machine guns, artillery, armored vehicles, anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons, [20] nor military aircraft or tanks. [21] In the United States, Yishuv agents purchased three B-17 bombers, and dozens of half-tracks, which were repainted and defined as "agricultural equipment". In Western Europe, Haganah agents amassed guns and mortars but most importantly ten H-35 light tanks, and a large number of half-tracks. The Israelis also got two Cromwell tanks from sympathizers at a arms depot in the Haifa port area, which would form the basis of the Israeli Armored Corps.

Then on 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel to be known as the State of Israel, a few hours before the termination of the Mandate at midnight and conflict with Arab irregulars as well as forces of the neighboring Arab states, Egypt, Jordan (Transjordan) and Syria, invaded what had just ceased to be the territory of the British Mandate, [22] [23] and immediately attacked Jewish settlements. [24]

The Israeli tank force included a small number of Sherman and Cromwell tanks, as well as ten Hotchkiss H-39 light tanks. Egypt used Shermans, Crusaders and Matildas, as well as Light Tank Mark VI and M22 Locust light tanks. They may have used some Valentines, as well. The Syrians had Renault R35s and R39s (an improved R35). The Lebanese used Renault FTs. [ citation needed ]

The new army of Israel organized itself quickly during the ensuing 1948 Arab–Israeli War as the neighbouring Arab states attacked Israel. Twelve infantry and armored brigades formed: Golani, Carmeli, Alexandroni, Kiryati, Givati, Etzioni, the 7th, and 8th armored brigades, Oded, Harel, Yiftach, and Negev. [25] Some of the armoured brigades formed during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War had Sherman tanks and mounted infantry and some also contained an artillery element. One of the brigades, the 7th Armored Brigade (Hebrew: חטיבה שבע ‎, Hativa Sheva) was the main force in the Battles of Latrun.

Facing them was the forces of the Egypt's army which in 1948, was able to put a maximum of around 40,000 men into the field. Initially, an expeditionary force of 10,000 men was sent to Palestine, consisting of five infantry battalions, one armoured battalion equipped with British Light Tank Mk VI and Matilda tanks, one battalion of sixteen 25-pounder guns, a battalion of eight 6-pounder guns and one medium-machine-gun battalion with supporting troops. [26]

The other main force facing Israel was Jordan's Arab Legion, which was considered the most effective Arab force. Armed, trained and commanded by British officers, this 8,000–12,000 strong force was organised in four infantry/mechanised regiments supported by some 40 artillery pieces and 75 armoured cars. [27] Until January 1948, it was reinforced by the 3,000-strong Transjordan Frontier Force. [28] As many as 48 British officers served in the Arab Legion. [29] Glubb Pasha, was the commander of the Legion. The Arab Legion joined the war in May 1948, but fought only in the areas that King Abdullah wanted to secure for Jordan: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

On 14 May Syria invaded Israel with the 1st Infantry Brigade supported by a battalion of armoured cars, a company of French R35 and R39 tanks, an artillery battalion and other units. However within a week it had been halted in a series of battles around Degania. [30]

The heaviest fighting occurred in Jerusalem and on the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv road, between Jordan's Arab Legion and Israeli forces. [31]

After the 1948 war, the Israel Defense Forces shifted to low intensity conflict against Arab Palestinian guerrillas. In late 1954, Nasser began a policy of sponsoring raids into Israel by the fedayeen, triggering a series of Israeli reprisal operations. [32] At this time following the outbreak of the Algerian War in late 1954, France began to ship more and more arms to Israel. [33] In November 1954, Shimon Peres visited Paris, where he was received by the French Defense Minister Marie-Pierre Kœnig, who told him that France would sell Israel any weapons it wanted to buy. [34] By early 1955, France was shipping large amounts of weapons to Israel. [34] Then Nasser's moved towards the nationalization of the Suez Canal and sent Egyptian forces to seize control of the canal and implement its nationalization. [35] Egypt also closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, and blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba, in contravention of the Constantinople Convention of 1888. As tensions mounted, Israel also made an application to the US in 1955 to purchase 60 M47 tanks. After the US refused, Israel applied again in 1958, this time to purchase 100 M47 tanks, but the answer was the same.

1956 Suez Crisis

At the period right before the 1956 Suez war, the Israelis were also deeply troubled by Egypt’s procurement of large amounts of Soviet weaponry that included 530 armored vehicles, of which 230 were tanks and the influx of this advanced weaponry altered an already shaky balance of power. [36] Additionally, Israel believed Egypt had formed a secret alliance with Jordan and Syria. [37]

So with British and French support, Israel reacted and sent its armoured forces into the Sinai and Gaza Strip in the 1956 Suez Crisis, the IDF's first test of strength after 1949, the new army proved itself by capturing the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. The main IDF tank at the time was the AMX-13 along with some US made World War II armor and faced the Egyptian military well equipped with weapons from the Soviet Union such as T-34 and JS-3 tanks, and self-propelled guns. In the Gaza strip city of Rafah was strategically important to Israel because control of that city would sever the Gaza Strip from the Sinai and provide a way to the main centres of the northern Sinai, al-Arish and al-Qantarah. [38] Holding the forts outside of Rafah were a mixture of Egyptian and Palestinian forces in the 5th Infantry Brigade commanded by Brigadier General Jaafar al-Abd. [38] In Rafah itself the 87th Palestinian Infantry Brigade was stationed. [38] Assigned to capture Rafah were 1st Infantry Brigade led by Colonel Benjamin Givli and 27th Armored Brigade commanded by Colonel Haim Bar-Lev of the IDF. [38] To the south of Rafah were a series of mine-filled sand dunes and to the north were a series of fortified hills. [38]

Dayan ordered the IDF forces to seize Crossroads 12 in the central Rafah area, and to focus on breaking through rather than reducing every Egyptian strongpoint. [38] The IDF assault began with Israeli sappers and engineers clearing a path at night through the minefields that surrounded Rafah. [38] French warships led by the cruiser Georges Leygues provided fire support, through Dayan had a low opinion of the French gunnery, complaining that the French only struck the Egyptian reserves. [39]

Using the two paths cleared through the southern minefields, IDF tanks entered the Rafah salient. [39] Under Egyptian artillery fire, the IDF force raced ahead and took Crossroads 12 with the loss of 2 killed and 22 wounded. [39] In the north, the Israeli troops fought a confused series of night actions, but were successful in storming Hills 25, 25A, 27 and 29 with the loss of six killed. [39] In the morning of 1 November, Israeli AMX-13s encircled and took Hills 34 and 36. [40] At that point, General al-Abd ordered his forces to abandon their posts outside of Rafah and retreat into the city. [41]

With Rafah more or less cut off and Israeli forces controlling the northern and eastern roads leading into the city, Dayan ordered the AMX-13s of the 27th Armored Brigade to strike west and take al-Arish. [41] By this point, Nasser had ordered his forces to fall back towards the Suez Canal, so at first the Bar-Lev and his men met little resistance as they advanced across the northern Sinai. [41]

On 29 October, Operation Kadesh – the invasion of the Sinai, began when an Israeli paratrooper battalion was air-dropped into the Sinai Peninsula, east of the Suez Canal near the Mitla Pass. At the same time, Colonel Sharon's 202nd Paratroop Brigade raced out towards the Mitla Pass. Dayan’s efforts to maintain strategic surprise bore fruit when the Egyptian commander Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer at first treated the reports of an Israeli inclusion into the Sinai as a large raid instead of an invasion, and as such Amer did not order a general alert. By the time that Amer realized his mistake, the Israelis had made significant advances into the Sinai. Dayan had no more plans for further advances beyond the passes, but Sharon decided to attack the Egyptian positions at Jebel Heitan. Sharon sent his lightly armed paratroopers against dug-in Egyptians supported by aircraft, tanks and heavy artillery. Sharon's actions were in response to reports of the arrival of the 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 4th Egyptian Armored Division in the area, which Sharon believed would annihilate his forces if he did not seize the high ground. Sharon sent two infantry companies, a mortar battery and some AMX-13 tanks under the command of Mordechai Gur into the Heitan Defile on the afternoon of 31 October 1956. The Egyptian forces occupied strong defensive positions and brought down heavy anti-tank, mortar and machine gun fire on the IDF force. Gur's men were forced to retreat into the "Saucer", where they were surrounded and came under heavy fire. Sharon sent in another task force while Gur's men used the cover of night to scale the walls of the Heitan Defile. During the ensuing action, the Egyptians were defeated and forced to retreat.

On 30 October, a probing attack by Israeli armour under Major Izhak Ben-Ari turned into an assault on the Umm Qataf ridge that ended in failure. To the south, another unit of the Israeli 7th Armored Brigade discovered the al-Dayyiqa gap in the Jebel Halal ridge of the "Hedgehog". The Israeli forces stormed and took the al-Dayyiqa gap. An IDF force entered the al-Dayyiqa and at dawn on 31 October attacked Abu Uwayulah and after an hour's fighting, Abu Uwayulah fell to the IDF.

On the morning of 1 November, Israeli and French aircraft launched attacks on the Egyptian troops at Umm Qataf and the 37th Armored Brigade came in and joined the 10th Brigade to assault Umm Qataf, and the Egyptian commander ordered a general retreat from the "Hedgehog" on the evening of 1 November.

1967 Six-Day War

In the 1967 Six-Day War, with the exception of Jordan, the Arabs relied principally on Soviet tanks and weaponry. Egypt, Syria and Iraq used T-34/85, T-54, T-55, PT-76, and SU-100/152 World War II-vintage self-propelled guns. Jordan's army was equipped with American weaponry, and used M-47, M-48, and M-48A1 Patton tanks. Israeli weapons were mainly of Western origin and its armoured units were mostly of British and American design and manufacture. In the early 1960s, Israel signed a deal with West Germany to purchase 150 M48A2 Patton tanks. However, due to strong Arab nation opposition, only 40 were received. Then the US decided to supply the remaining 110 M48A2 Patton tanks and to add another 100 M48 tanks. So, in 1965, Israel received 90 M48 tanks from the US and another 120 M48 tanks in 1966. At this time, Israel had 250 M48 Patton tanks, 150 of them M48A1 and 100 of them M48A2, all of these armed with a 90mm main gun. Israel upgraded those tanks to M48A3's by replacing their engines and transmissions with newer models. These tanks were also fitted with a new 105mm L7 gun (same as on the Centurion MBT) and with the Israeli Urdan cupola. 293 Centurion tanks were operational at the beginning of the war.

So, by the time of the Six-Day War, Israel had in use the M50 and M51 Shermans, M48A3 Patton, Centurion, AMX-13. The Sherman M-50 and the Sherman M-51, were known abroad as the Super Sherman, and were modified versions of the American M4 Sherman tank. The Sherman also underwent extensive modifications, including a larger 105mm medium velocity French gun, a redesigned turret, wider tracks, more armour, and an upgraded engine and suspension. The Centurion was upgraded with the British 105 mm L7 gun prior to the war. During the Six-day War, only 120 of Israel's 250 M48 tanks were combat ready they were mainly engaged on the Sinai front against the Egyptian army. M48s were also used with mixed results during the 1967 Six-Day War. On the Sinai front, Israeli M48s up-gunned with 105 mm L7 rifled guns were used with success against Egyptian IS-3s, T-54s, T-34s and SU-100s supplied by the Soviet Union in the second battle of Abu-Ageila. However, on the West Bank front, Jordanian M48s were often defeated by Israeli 105mm Centurions and WWII-era M4 Shermans (M-51s up-gunned with 105 mm guns). In pure technical terms, the Patton was superior to the Sherman, with shots at more than 1,000 meters simply glancing off the M48s' armor. However, the 105 mm gun of the Israeli Shermans fired a HEAT round designed to defeat the T-62 tank, which was the Soviet response to the M48's successor in US service, the M60. The Jordanian Pattons' failure on the West Bank could also be attributed to Israeli air superiority. The Israeli Army captured about 100 Jordanian M48 and M48A1 tanks and pressed them into service in their own units after the war.

The Egyptian forces consisted of seven divisions: four armoured, two infantry, and one mechanized infantry. Overall, Egypt had around 100,000 troops and 900–950 tanks in the Sinai, backed by 1,100 APCs and 1,000 artillery pieces. [42] This arrangement was thought to be based on the Soviet doctrine, where mobile armour units at strategic depth provide a dynamic defense while infantry units engage in defensive battles.

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 70,000 men and 700 tanks, who were organized in three armoured divisions.

The Israelis broke through with tank-led assaults against the Egyptian army in Sinai. In the Battle of Abu-Ageila, the Israeli 38th Armored Division under Major-General Ariel Sharon assaulted Um-Katef a heavily fortified area defended by the Egyptian 2nd Infantry Division where the Egyptians also had a battalion of tank destroyers and a tank regiment, formed of Soviet World War II armour, which included 90 T-34-85 tanks, 22 SU-100 tank destroyers, and about 16,000 men. The Israelis had about 14,000 men and 150 post-World War II tanks including the AMX-13, Centurions, and M50 Super Shermans (modified M-4 Sherman tanks). Israeli tanks managed to penetrate the northern flank of Abu Ageila, and by dusk, all units were in position. The Israelis then brought up 90 105mm and 155mm artillery guns for a preparatory barrage, and Israeli tanks assaulted the northernmost Egyptian defenses and were largely successful, though an entire armoured brigade was stalled by mines, and had only one mine-clearance tank. The battle ended in an Israeli victory, with 40 Egyptian and 19 Israeli tanks destroyed.

In the center of Israel, the Jordanian Armed Forces, which included 11 brigades totalling some 55,000 troops and equipped with some 300 modern Western tanks, were brought to bear. Nine of these brigades (45,000 troops, 270 tanks, 200 artillery pieces) were deployed in the West Bank, including the elite 40th armoured the other two were in the Jordan Valley. The Jordanian Army, then known as the Arab Legion, moved against the Israeli forces. Against Jordan's forces on the West Bank, Israel deployed about 40,000 troops and 200 tanks (8 brigades). [43] Israeli Central Command forces consisted of five brigades. The first two were permanently stationed near Jerusalem and were called the Jerusalem Brigade and the mechanized Harel Brigade. Mordechai Gur's 55th paratrooper brigade was summoned from the Sinai front. The 10th Armored Brigade was stationed north of the West Bank. The Israeli Northern Command provided a division (3 brigades) led by Major-General Elad Peled, which was stationed to the north of the West Bank, in the Jezreel Valley. The Israelis launched an offensive to push back the Jordanian forces and encircle Jerusalem, supported by intense tank, artillery and mortar fire to soften up Jordanian positions and captured their objectives after heavy fighting. The Jordanian M48 Pattons, with their external fuel tanks, proved vulnerable at short distances, even to the Israeli-modified Shermans. During the war, Israel captured about 100 of Jordan's 170 M48/M48A1 tanks. Israel decided not to take the M47 tanks left by the Jordanian army, as they were already obsolete at that time.

In the north on the Golan Heights, the Israeli forces faced the Syrian army which consisted of about 75,000 men grouped in nine brigades, supported by an adequate amount of artillery and armour. 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 in the center. The 8th Armored Brigade, led by Colonel Albert Mandler, advanced into the Golan Heights from Givat HaEm. 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 of 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. The first three Israeli tanks to enter Qala were stopped by a Syrian bazooka team, and a relief column of seven Syrian tanks arrived to repel the attackers. 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. Meanwhile, Za'ura fell in an Israeli assault, and the Israelis also captured the 'Ein Fit fortress. [44]

Israel conquered the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Golan Heights from the surrounding Arab states, changing the balance of power in the region as well as the role of the IDF.

War of Attrition

The War of Attrition was fighting from 1967 to 1970 between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, PLO and their allies following the 1967 Six-Day War with support from the armored forces such as in the Israeli raid at Karameh, but no major tank battles. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser pushed for a military initiative to compel Israel or the international community to facilitate a full Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. [45] [46]

Usually it was limited artillery duels and small-scale incursions into Sinai, but by 1969 the Egyptian Army started larger-scale operations. On March 8, 1969, Nasser proclaimed the official launch of the War of Attrition, characterized by large-scale shelling along the Suez Canal, extensive aerial warfare and commando raids. [45] [47] Hostilities continued until August 1970 shortly before Nasser's death and ended with a ceasefire, the frontiers remaining the same as when the war began, with no real commitment to serious peace negotiations.

Yom Kippur War

Egyptian president Anwar Sadat had signaled soon after he Nasser's death that, in return for a total withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, he was ready to recognize Israel as an independent state but this did not lead to any agreement with Israel, so Sadat felt he had only the military option. The Yom Kippur war was a conflict between the Arab world and Israel that lasted from October 6, 1973 to October 25, 1973. The Yom Kippur War began when a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on Yom Kippur which happens to be the Jewish day of atonement and the holiest day for people of the Judaic faith.

The Arab coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli positions in the Israeli-occupied territories on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, which occurred that year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Egyptian and Syrian forces crossed ceasefire lines to enter the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights

Anticipating a swift Israeli armored counterattack by three armored divisions, [48] the Egyptians had armed their assault force with large numbers of man-portable anti-tank weapons—rocket-propelled grenades and the less numerous but more advanced Sagger guided missiles, which proved devastating to the first Israeli armored counterattacks. Each of the five infantry divisions that was to cross the canal had been equipped with RPG-7 rockets and RPG-43 grenades, and reinforced with an anti-tank guided missile battalion.

The Israelis who have begun to receive quantities of the US M60 Patton tanks and use in their armoured forces, counterattacked the Egyptians with the 162nd Armored Division composed of three brigades totaling 183 tanks and the Israeli 143rd Armoured Division, which was led by General Ariel Sharon, who had been reinstated as a division commander at the outset of the war and Egyptian armored attacks were repulsed with heavy losses. [49] Then the Israeli forces detected a gap between the Egyptian Second and Third armies and as these armies attacked eastward in six simultaneous thrusts over a broad front, they left behind five infantry divisions to hold the bridgeheads over the Suez canal crossings. The attacking Egyptian forces consisted of 800 [50] -1,000 tanks [51] with artillery support. They were up against 700 [50] -750 [51] Israeli tanks. The Egyptian armored thrust suffered heavy losses as Egyptian units launched head-on-attacks against the waiting Israeli defenses. [52]

The Israelis repulsed the armoured thrust and followed up with counterattack through the gap between the Egyptian 2nd and 3rd Armies and established bridgeheads on the east and west banks of the canal. The Israeli Armored Divisions then crossed through the breach to the west bank of the canal and swung southward, encircling the 3rd Army. [53] The Israeli forces on the west bank launched an offensive with an armoured thrust toward Ismailia and toward Suez City while other Israeli forces pushed west toward Cairo and south toward Adabiya. By the end of the war, the Israelis had advanced to positions some 101 kilometres from Egypt's capital, Cairo, and occupied 1,600 square kilometres west of the Suez Canal. They had also cut the Cairo-Suez road and encircled the bulk of Egypt's Third Army.

Arab leaders did plan to eliminate Israel in Six-Day War

It’s true that he made threats. It’s true that he sent more and more divisions to Sinai. It’s true that he expelled the United Nations observers. It’s true that he incited the masses in Arab countries. It’s true that the Arab regimes rattled their sabers and prepared for war. It’s true that he closed the Straits of Tiran. It’s true that Israel was besieged from its southern side. It’s true that this was a serious violation of international law. It’s true that it was a “casus belli” (a case of war).

All that doesn’t matter, however, because there is a mega-narrative that obligates the forces of progress to exempt the Arabs from responsibility and point the accusing finger at Israel. And when there is a narrative, who needs facts? After all, according to the mega-narrative, Israel had expansionist plans, so it seized the opportunity. Different scholars are distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor.

Excuse us for winning

I was a child, an elementary school student. I remember fear, a lot of fear. There were no shelters in the house I lived in. It was clear that there would be bombings, so we dug pits in the yard.

Occasionally, we are reminded of the sound of thunder from Cairo to remind us of the annihilation threats. But in fact, they were much more serious. Both the Arab League and the leaders of all neighboring states announced in an unequivocal manner that the plan was annihilation. I repeat: Annihilation. Arrogant talk? Considering the fact that the Arab and Muslim world was engaged in endless self and mutual massacres, it was pretty clear that what they were doing to themselves—and it’s still going on—they would also do to Israel.

We must remember one thing, therefore: The alternative to victory was annihilation. So excuse us for winning. Because an occupation without an annihilation is preferable to an annihilation without an occupation.

‘Our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map’

The Arab states never accepted the State of Israel’s existence, not for a moment. There was no occupation from 1949 to 1967, but a Palestinian state wasn’t established, because the leaders of the Arab world didn’t want another state. They wanted Israel. They didn’t hide their intentions for a minute.

The new stage began in 1964. On the backdrop of a conflict over the water sources, the Arab League convened in Cairo and announced: “. collective Arab military preparations, when they are completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel.”

Two years went by, and then-defense minister Hafez Assad, who went on to become Syria's president, declared: "Strike the enemy’s settlements, turn them into dust, pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews.” And to erase any doubt, he added: "We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea.”

Nine days before the war broke out, Nasser said: “The Arab people want to fight. Our basic aim is the destruction of the State of Israel.” Two more days passed before Iraq’s president, Abdul Rahman Arif, joined the threats: “This is our chance…our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map.”

Two days before the war broke out, PLO founder and leader Ahmad Shukieri said: “Whoever survives will stay in Palestine, but in my opinion, no one will remain alive.” Yes, that was the atmosphere. Does anyone still seriously think that those were just declarations? Does anyone think that their intention was an enlightened occupation? Does anyone think that there would not have been a mass slaughter like the one Egypt carried out in Yemen and later on in Biafra?

Hussein: No annihilation orders, 'as far as I know'

In order to understand that these were not false statements, it should be noted that in a meeting held after the war between Israel’s Ambassador to London Aharon Remez and British Foreign Secretary George Brown, Remez said that Israel had seized documents of the Jordanian army on operational orders, from May 25 and 26, about two weeks before the war's outbreak, which included orders to exterminate the civil population in the communities that were planned to be occupied as well. They believed at the time that it was indeed going to happen.

It isn’t clear, Remez said at the time, whether Hussein was aware of these orders, but they were very similar to the annihilation orders issued by the Egyptian army. This appears both in Michael Oren’s book about the Six-Day war and in Miriam Joyce’s book about Hussein’s relations with the United States and Britain, as well as in Dr. Moshe Elad’s book (“Core Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”). At first, Hussein rejected the claims about the annihilation orders out of hand, but later added: “As far as I know.”

Clear and simple facts

The days passed. The threats increased. More and more forces were sent to Sinai. More Arab countries joined the war coalition. It’s unclear whether Nasser really wanted a war, Oren wrote in his book. But he and the Arab countries did everything in their power to deteriorate the situation. Nasser’s appetite kept growing, and immediately after blocking the straits, he declared: “If we managed to restore the conditions that existed before 1956 (the Straits of Tiran are blocked), God will surely help us and urge us to restore the situation that existed in 1948.”

The late Yitzhak Rabin, who served as IDF chief of staff at the time, told the government that “it will be a difficult war… There will be many losses.” He estimated that 50,000 people would be killed. And Oren, who had read almost every document that had been declassified, concluded: “The documentation shows that Israel wanted to prevent a war with all its might, and that up to the eve of the battles it tried to stop the war in every possible way—even at a heavy strategic and economic cost for the state.” These are the facts. But those who rewrite history are winning.

The political debate over the Israeli control of the territories has led to a situation in which political opinions disrupt the factual research. The political debate is important. It’s certainly legitimate. But there is no need to rewrite history to justify a political stance. It should be the other way around: Facts should influence political views. And the facts are clear and simple: The Arab states’ leaders did not only settle for declarations on an expected annihilation, they even prepared operational orders.

Did the PLO coordinate with Arab armies during the Six Day War? - History

LANCE SELFA explains why the impact of Israel's military conquest in the Six Days War persists 40 years later.

IT'S RARE for one discrete historical event occurring over a few days to have an impact that persists for decades. Israel's 1967 Six Day War--from June 5 to June 10, 40 years ago this week--is just such an event.

Though perhaps not immediately apparent at the time, the war's aftermath cast a huge shadow over the Middle East and the world. During the war, Israel's high-tech military routed the forces of Jordan, Egypt and Syria, and began the occupations of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.

The war thrust onto the world agenda all of the issues still at the center of Middle Eastern politics today.

Israel began one of the world's longest-running military occupations, which continues to be one of the greatest sources of Arab resentment against not only Israel, but its main cheerleader, the U.S. Israel's military prowess decisively shifted the U.S. into the pro-Israeli camp in the Middle East.

Plus, the Israeli occupation created the context for a "peace process," the seemingly never-ending quest of Israel to trade occupied land for "peace"--in other words, recognition of Israel by Arab governments.

Yet subsequent historical research has shown that Israel was well aware of its military superiority over its neighbors, and that its long-term strategic plans in the region led it to goad its neighbors into a war it knew it would win.

In a 1997 New York Times interview, Moshe Dayan, defense minister during the 1967 war, explained that Israeli settlers' "greed for the land" led them to provoke the Syrian army to shoot at them, opening the way for the Israeli invasion and seizure of the Golan Heights.

Likewise, the main casus belli for the war--Egypt's closing of the Straits of Tiran and its military buildup in the Sinai--amounted more to bluff than threat. In a 1982 speech to the Israeli National Defense College, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin said: "The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

One thing that was clear at the time was the absolute illegality of Israel's occupation and creeping annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, where more than 1 million Palestinians lived.

No country or international body recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Occupied Territories. Even the U.S. approved the pivotal United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 242, which emphasized "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and explicitly called for the "[w]ithdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict."

But rather than look for a way to disengage from the territories, subsequent Israeli governments built settlements and encouraged Israeli settlers to create "facts on the ground"--particularly the West Bank--to assert Israeli control.

A secret document prepared for the Israeli foreign ministry in 1967, which was made public only recently, showed that the highest reaches of the Israeli establishment knew that its settlement policies in the Occupied Territories violated the Geneva Accords, according to the Guardian.

While this may have discomfited Western elites, they looked overwhelmingly with favor on Israel's victory in the war. The London Daily Telegraph hailed it as "the triumph of the civilized." Le Monde commented: "In the past few days, Europe has in a sense rid itself of the guilt incurred in the drama of the Second World War, and before that, the persecutions which accompanied the birth of Zionism."

BUT THE most important reaction to the war occurred in Washington. Until 1967, the U.S. had not been convinced that Israel could serve as the main prop to American power in the region, so it maintained ties with Arab regimes, including Egypt, throughout the 1950s.

U.S. strategic doctrine relied on building a network of pro-Western states to hem in any Arab regime that bucked the West. Over the years, the U.S. relied on combinations of Turkey, the Shah's Iran, Israel and the Gulf monarchies to forge this alliance. But Israel became the first among these only after its quick victory in its 1967 war.

Nothing proved Israel's value to the U.S. better than its destruction of the Arab states' armies. The U.S. was even willing to forgive and forget Israel's attack on a U.S. surveillance ship, the USS Liberty, anchored off the Sinai coast, in which 34 U.S. sailors were killed.

The payoff from the U.S. to Israel was immediate. Between 1967 and 1972, total U.S. aid to Israel jumped from $6.4 billion a year to $9.2 billion a year. U.S. loans for Israeli purchases of U.S.-made weapons jumped from an annual average of $22 million in the 1960s to $445 million a year between 1970 and 1974.

The U.S. Congress even allowed the Pentagon to hand weapons to Israel without expecting any payment. House Speaker John McCormack noted in 1971 that "Great Britain, at the height of its struggle with Hitler, never received such a blank check."

Israel had finally gained its desired status as "strategic asset" to the U.S. in the Middle East. Democratic Sen. Henry ("Scoop") Jackson, nicknamed the "Senator from Boeing" for his hawkish views, pronounced in May 1973 that "the strength and Western orientation of Israel on the Mediterranean and Iran on the Persian Gulf safeguards U.S. access to oil."

The failure of Arab nationalists like Nasser and the Syrian Baathists to defeat Israel opened the door to a new generation of Palestinian militants, organized under the Palestine Liberation Organization, who argued for a strategy for liberation rooted in resistance in the Occupied Territories.

Only seven years after the Six Day War, and following further betrayals of the Palestinian cause by Arab leaders, the PLO leadership began to adjust itself to the "peace process" and to bargain for a piece of Israeli-occupied territory to become a Palestinian mini-state. But having seized the territories, Israel has had little interest in withdrawing from them.

Today's crises in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights remain the bitter fruit of the Six Day War.

Did the PLO coordinate with Arab armies during the Six Day War? - History

1948 - State of Israel created in British-mandate Palestine. Thousands of Palestinians flee Arab-Israeli fighting to West Bank and Jordan.

1950 - Jordan annexes West Bank.

1951 20 July - King Abdullah assassinated by Palestinian gunman angry at his apparent collusion with Israel in the carve-up of Palestine.

1952 11 August - Hussein proclaimed king after his father, Talal, is declared mentally unfit to rule.

1957 - British troops complete their withdrawal from Jordan.

1967 - Israel takes control of Jerusalem and West Bank during Six-Day War, major influx of refugees into Jordan.

1970 - Major clashes break out between government forces and Palestinian guerrillas resulting in thousands of casualties in civil war remembered as Black September.

1972 - Attempted military coup thwarted.

1974 - King Hussein recognises PLO as sole legitimate representative of Palestinian people.

1986 - Hussein severs political links with the PLO and orders its main offices to shut.

1988 - Hussein publicly backs the Palestinian uprising, or intifada, against Israeli rule.

1989 - Rioting in several cities over price increases.

1989 - First general election since 1967, contested only by independent candidates because of the ban on political parties in 1963.

1990 - Jordan comes under severe economic and diplomatic strain as a result of the Gulf crisis following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Peace deal signed (with Israel)

1994 - Jordan signs peace treaty with Israel, ending 46-year official state of war.

1996 - Food price riots after subsidies removed under economic plan supervised by the International Monetary Fund.

1997 - Parliamentary elections boycotted by several parties, associations and leading figures.

1998 - King Hussein treated for lymphatic cancer in United States.

1999 January - After six months of treatment King Hussein returns home to a rousing welcome, but flies back to the US soon after for further treatment.

1999 February - King Hussein returns home and is put on a life support machine. He is pronounced dead on 7 February. More than 50 heads of state attend his funeral.

1999 7 February - Crown Prince Abdullah ibn al-Hussein is sworn in as King.

2000 September - A military court sentences six men to death for plotting attacks against Israeli and US targets.

2001 March - King Abdullah and presidents Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt inaugurate a $300m (£207m) electricity line linking the grids of the three countries.

2002 January - Riots erupt in the southern town of Maan, the worst public disturbances in more than three years, following the death of a youth in custody.

2002 August - Spat with Qatar over a programme on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV which Jordan says insulted its royal family. Jordan shuts down Al-Jazeera's office in Amman and recalls its ambassador in Qatar.

2002 September - Jordan and Israel agree on a plan to pipe water from the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea. The project, costing $800m, is the two nations' biggest joint venture to date.

2002 October - Senior US diplomat Laurence Foley is gunned down outside his home in Amman, in the first assassination of a Western diplomat in Jordan. Scores of political activists are rounded up.

2003 June - First parliamentary elections under King Abdullah II. Independent candidates loyal to the king win two-thirds of the seats.

2003 August - Bomb attack on Jordan's embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad kills 11 people, injures more than 50.

2003 September - Jordan's Central Bank retracts its decision to freeze accounts belonging to leaders of Hamas.

2003 October - A new cabinet is appointed following the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb. Faisal al-Fayez is appointed prime minister. The king also appoints the three female ministers.

2004 February - Jordan's King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launch the Wahdah Dam project at a ceremony on the River Yarmuk.

2004 April - Eight Islamic militants are sentenced to death for killing a US government official in 2002.

Authorities seize cars filled with explosives and arrest several suspects said to be linked to al-Qaeda and planning chemical bomb attack on intelligence services HQ in Amman.

2005 March - Jordan returns its ambassador to Israel after a four-year absence. Amman recalled its envoy in 2000 after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising.

2005 April - A new cabinet is sworn in, led by Prime Minister Adnan Badran, after the previous government resigns amid reports of the king's unhappiness over the pace of reforms.

2005 August - Three missiles are fired from the port of Aqaba. Two of them miss a US naval vessel a third one lands in Israel. A Jordanian soldier is killed.

2005 November - Sixty people are killed in suicide bombings at three international hotels in Amman. Al-Qaeda in Iraq claims responsibility. Most of the victims are Jordanians. A day of mourning is declared.

2006 8 June - Iraq's prime minister announces that Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has been killed in an air strike.

2006 August - King Abdullah criticises the United States and Israel over the fighting in Lebanon.

2006 September - A gunman opens fire on tourists at the Roman amphitheatre in Amman, killing a British man.

2007 July - First local elections since 1999. The main opposition party, the Islamist Action Front, withdraws after accusing the government of vote-rigging.

2007 November - Parliamentary elections strengthen position of tribal leaders and other pro-government candidates. Fortunes of the opposition Islamic Action Front decline. Political moderate Nader Dahabi appointed prime minister.

2008 August - King Abdullah visits Iraq. He is the first Arab leader to visit the country since the US invasion in 2003.

2009 July - Military tribunal sentences an Al-Qaeda militant to death for his involvement in the 2003 killing of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman.

2009 December - King Abdullah appoints new premier to push through economic reform.

Transjordan was not a single administrative entity. It was a collection of Vilayets and Sanjuks of the Ottoman empire. It was generally a quiet region of the Ottoman empire with little economic activity to support a substantial population. Britain's first political concern with the area was as late as the 1830's and only then as a result of French diplomacy. Mohammed Ali of Egypt temporarily displaced Ottoman rule in the area with the tacit agreement of the French. The French used Ottoman treatment of Christians in the holy lands as an excuse to extend their influence over the area. However, Britain and Russia came to the diplomatic rescue of the Ottomans and compelled Mohammed Ali to withdraw from the area. Partly to placate the French, special agreement was made with the Ottomans to allow the French to protect Catholic citizens and the Russians to protect Orthodox citizens of the Ottoman empire. British (and other European) citizens in the area were granted extraterritorial legal status. However, with the exception of this incident, British involvement in the area was extremely limited throughout the nineteenth century.

At the turn of the century it was clear that the Ottomans were beginning to draw closer to the Germans and the Triple Alliance. This was unsettling to the British who were continuously concerned with securing the communication routes to the Indian subcontinent. The British held the Suez canal and had entered into protectorate agreements with many Arab leaders in the Gulf. Consequently, they began to attach strategic importance to this part of the world. Meanwhile, The Germans had funded and built the Hijaz railway line that went from Damascus to Medina and passed through the lands that would become Transjordan. Economic activity increased slightly as a result, but so did the number of Ottoman troops stationed to protect the line. The local arabs despised the Ottoman overlords and regarded them as little more than hostile soldiers of occupation. With the outbreak of war, it was not difficult to persuade some of these Arabs to rise up and fight the Ottoman rulers.

The job of persuading them to do so was left to the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon. He had entered into correspondence with the Sharif of Mecca the Hashemite King Hussein. This correspondence seemed to promise the Arabs their own state stretching from Damascus to the Arabian peninsular in return for fighting the Ottomans. However, not only was the correspondence deliberately imprecise but a number of Arabs and tribes were themselves ill disposed towards the Hashemite dynasty. Despite these problems, the Sharif of Mecca formally declared a revolt against Ottoman rule in 1916. Britain provided supplies and money for the Arab forces led by Abdullah and Faisal. British military advisers were also detailed from Cairo to assist the Arab army that the brothers were organizing. Of these advisers, T.E. Lawrence was to become the best known.


To further complicate the diplomatic waters, the British entered into an agreement with the French and Russians to divide the entire Middle East into areas of influence for each of the imperial powers but leaving the Holy Lands to be jointly administered by the three powers. This was a secret arrangement that was known as the Sykes Picot agreement of 1916. It directly contradicted the promises made to the Sharif of Mecca

Indeed, the waters were even further muddied by a third commitment entered into by the British in 1917. the British government made a promise to prominent Jews in Britain that the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine would be looked on with favour by the British. The reason for this pledge is not exactly clear, but it seems to have been made for two reasons. The first was to secure financial support from prominent Jewish financiers in Europe. The second seems to have been a way of breaking their own secret arrangement with the French and Russians by promoting their own influence into Palestine at their expense. Whatever the reason for this diplomatic chicanery, the diplomatic timebomb of these conflicting promises was about to explode as a direct result of the Russian revolution. The newly formed Bolshevik government took great pleasure in releasing the imperialistic designs of the British and French governments by publishing the Sykes-Picot agreement publicly and in full. The idea was to expose these capitilastic nations as morally bankrupt in their prosecution of the war and these secret agreements seemed to confirm that fact.

The publication of the Sykes-Picot agreement was not to be as politically devastating as feared for the simple fact that, at this point in time, the Arabs were advancing swiftly and assuredly against their Ottoman enemies. The Arabs felt that if they could make even further gains against the Ottomans that they would have more leverage in dealing with the imperial powers after the fighting had finished. The British were also advancing steadily through Palestine, capturing Jerusalem in December 1917. The British decisively defeated the Turks at Megiddo in September 1918, although the Arabs managed to enter Damascus before the British were in a position to do so. The Ottomans capitulated soon after leaving all of their previous dominions up for grabs.

The peace conference was used to impose allied plans and ideas on the defeated Central Powers, amongst whom was the Ottoman Empire. Faisal travelled in person to the peace conference to set forth the case of the Arabs in the divisions of the lands that they inhabited. He was not to be successful in promoting Arab independence, but had some success in persuading a border commission that Jewish immigration was not a good idea. Unfortunately, by this time, the British had already been declared as holding the mandate over Palestine and had independently reaffirmed the Balfour declaration opening the way for a Jewish homeland.

Meanwhile, a group of Arabs convened a congress in Damascus claiming an independent Syria with Faisal as the King. Soon after, Abdullah was declared as King of Iraq. The League of Nations Council rejected both pronouncements, and in April the San Remo Conference decided on enforcing the Allied mandates in the Middle East. French troops occupied Damascus in July, and Faisal was served with a French ultimatum to withdraw from Syria.

As a response to this action, Abdullah raised a force of 2,000 tribesman and advanced towards Damascus with a view of returning Faisal to the throne. By the March of 1920 he had advanced as far as Amman and was about to invade the French mandate of Syria. At this point, the British High Commissioner for Palestine intervened, calling for a conference of Arab leaders at As Salt. The Arab leaders were open to the idea partly as a response to the success of the fundamentalist Wahabbis in Arabia under the leadership of Ibn Saud. His power and influence was growing throughout the region at the expense of traditional rulers and families. So, when the High Commissioner offered Abdullah the leadership of Transjordan and a hefty financial subsidy the Hashemite ruler quickly called off his invasion of Syria. As part of the deal, his brother Faisal was offered the position of King of Iraq.

The advantages for the British were clear, not only had they prevented the invasion of their allies lands, but they had also formed a reasonably legitimate and a strong bulwark state to protect their other interests in Palestine and Egypt. This strategic thinking was confirmed by Winston Churchill at the Cairo conference on Middle Eastern policy held in 1921. Britain subdivided the Palestine Mandate along the Jordan River to Gulf of Aqaba line. The eastern portion, called Transjordan, was to have a separate Arab administration operating under the general supervision of the commissioner for Palestine and with Jewish immigration specifically avoided. The League of Nations agreed and confirmed the borders of this mandate the following year. Not for the first time, a state had been created for the express strategic convenience of the British.

Transjordan was a small nation of only 400,000 people and of these most of them were farmers or nomads. Because of this, there was little infrastructure in place and still less expertise in running a bureaucracy of any kind. Consequently, the Emir ran affairs much as any Sheikh had done before, leaving British officials to handle the problems of defense, finance, and foreign policy. The British appointed a resident to Transjordan, but he was effectively under instructions from the British High Commissioner in Palestine.

In 1921, a police force was organised to help the King with his problems of internal control. It was organised by F. G. Peake, a British officer known to the Arabs as Peake Pasha. This Arab force was soon actively engaged in suppressing brigandage and repelling raids by the Wahhabis. In 1923 the police and reserve force were combined into the Arab Legion as a regular army under Peake's command and helped regular British units fight against further Wahhabi incursions.

In 1923 Britain recognized Transjordan as a national state preparing for independence. Under British sponsorship, Transjordan made steady progress along the path to modernization. Roads, communications, education, and other public services slowly but steadily developed, although not as rapidly as in Palestine, which was under direct British administration. Tribal unrest remained a problem, reaching serious proportions in 1926 in the Wadi Musa-Petra area.

The lack of real independence of the King Abdullah was clearly shown by the creation of a new military force in early 1926. The British High Commissioner for Palestine created the Transjordan Frontier Force (TJFF) to defend Transjordan's northern and southern borders. This newly created force was directly responsible to the British High Commissioner, rather than to the Amir. It also had the effect of seriously undermining the effectiveness of the Arab Legion, which was under the Amir's control.

However, Britain and Transjordan took a further step in the direction of self-government in 1928, when they agreed to a new treaty that relaxed British controls while still allowing for Britain to oversee financial matters and foreign policy. The two countries agreed to establish a constitution, the Organic Law, later the same year, and in 1929 to install the Legislative Council in place of the old executive council. In 1934 a new agreement with Britain allowed Abdullah to set up consular representation in Arab countries, and in 1939 the Legislative Council formally became the Amir's cabinet, or Council of Ministers.

In 1930, with British help, Jordan launched a campaign to stamp out tribal raiding among the Beduins. A British officer, John Bagot Glubb (better known as Glubb Pasha), came from Iraq to be second in command of the Arab Legion under Peake. Glubb organized an effective Bedouin desert patrol consisting of mobile detachments based at strategic desert forts and equipped with good communications facilities. When Peake retired in 1939, Glubb succeeded to full command of the Arab Legion.

Britain maintained its high level of control over this mandate with the liberal use of money and by placing British advisers in key positions of influence and importance. The lack of real legitimacy by the Hashemite rulers meant that the Emir could not complain too loudly for fear of being ousted. The extent of the Hashemite's dependence on the British was made evident in 1925 when the last Hashemite Sharif of Mecca was finally overthrown by Ibn Saud. With the creation of Saudi Arabia, the Hashemites were even more indebted to the British than before.


Transjordan was first and foremost a strategic outpost of the British empire. Although it was not a rich country by any stretch of the imagination, the fact that it lay near vital lines of communication was enough to maintain Britain's interest in the area. Palestine and Suez were the primary concerns of the military thinkers, but the overland route that Jordan provided from Iraq was also a further strategic factor.

It's strategic importance was illustrated during World War II when Abdullah demonstrated his loyalty to the British by providing real military help when it was needed. Units of the Arab Legion served with distinction alongside British forces in 1941 overthrowing the pro-Nazi Rashid Ali regime that had seized power in Iraq and defeating the Vichy French in Syria. Later, elements of the Arab Legion were also used in guarding British installations in Egypt.

Transjordan was a poorly resourced nation. It's farmlands were of poor quality and it had little in the form of natural resources. It was disappointing that oil was found in their neighbours lands but none in Transjordan itself. British subsidies were essential in keeping the nation running on a day to day basis. Trade with Palestine was encouraged but Transjordan never seriously rivalled its neighbour in terms of production.

It was only with the financial exhaustion brought on by the end of the Second World War that saw the British attempt to pull back from financial and political responsibility for this mandate. On March 22, 1946, Abdullah negotiated a new Anglo-Transjordanian treaty, ending the British mandate and gaining full independence for Transjordan in exchange for providing military facilities within Transjordan, Britain continued to pay a financial subsidy and supported the Arab Legion.

A series of international events was to sour the relationship between the regime and the British. The first was the Russians, who were suspicious of Britain's backing for the regime and refused to allow the independent nation to join the newly formed United Nations. The second was the creation of the state of Israel. Officially the British had handed over the creation of Israel to the United Nations to consider. Unofficially, many Arabs thought that the British had reneged on previous agreements to them.

Military conflict quickly ensued between Arabs and Jews. Poorly trained Arabs from states neighbouring Palestine advanced into the former mandate. However, they were quickly beaten back by the highly motivated Jews. Only the well trained Arab League performed with distinction and successfully seized a large area of the West bank up to Jerusalem. The success of this unit did something to restore Jordanian and British trust.

Unfortunately, the British were to be further humiliated in 1956 by events in the Suez. Nasser's successful outmanoeuvring of the British gave a huge boost to Arab nationalism. King Hussein was forced by these feelings of nationalism to overcome his friendly disposition towards the British and to relieve all the British commanders from their positions in the Arab League. The following year, the Anglo-Jordanian treaty was revoked as Arab nations, fresh with oil funds, promised to subsidize Jordan with an amount of money that would free it from dependence upon the British subsidy.

Despite the strain that these events had put on Anglo-Jordanian relations, the two nations have remained surprisingly close in post-independence years.

The West Bank refers to the territory situated west of the Jordan River that was not included as part of Israel following the establishment of the state after the Arab–Israel War of 1948. The West Bank's total area is 2,270 square miles (5,880 sq. km), smaller than the area that was originally allocated to a future Arab state by the United Nations partition resolution of November 1947. It is demarcated by the Green Line (the armistice line set by the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli talks at Rhodes) in the west and the Jordan River in the east.

The West Bank occupies a place in the international consciousness far larger than its geography would suggest. The term acquired greater political significance and only came into common usage after the 1967 Arab-Israel War, when the area was separated from the rest of the Kingdom of Jordan (the East Bank). Many Israelis—and in particular the settlers—use the biblical term "Judea and Samaria" (Hebrew, Yehuda ve Shomron) to describe this region.

King Abdullah I ibn Hussein annexed the area to Jordan in April 1950 but, with only Great Britain and Pakistan recognizing this move, the region has remained without any clear status in international

law. During the 1967 Arab-Israel War, Israel captured the region, occupying it fully until 1994, and parts of it thereafter. Since 1994, parts of the West Bank have been transferred to the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accord. The region forms the core of a possible future sovereign Palestinian state.

According to international law, Israel has administered the West Bank since June 1967 as a belligerent occupant. On 7 June 1967 Israel's area commander for the West Bank issued a military proclamation declaring the assumption by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) area commander of all governmental, legislative, appointive, and administrative power over the region and its inhabitants. Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank continued until 1995 to be ruled under this system of military government. Municipal governments and village councils administered local services. As the occupying power, Israel both permitted and canceled scheduled elections for local governments and appointed and dismissed elected and appointed Palestinians as officials.

The region has been subject to widespread Israeli settlement activity since 1967. The settlements are administered under a municipal system separate from that of the Palestinian towns and villages. In 1992 the Israeli settlement of Maʿale Adumim, with a population of 15,000, became the first Israeli city in the West Bank.

On 27 June 1967 Israeli law, jurisdiction, and public administration were extended over a 28-square-mile (73 sq. km) area of the West Bank, including the 2.3 square miles (6 sq. km) that had constituted the municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule. This de facto annexation placed East Jerusalem and its Palestinian inhabitants under Israeli sovereignty. East Jerusalem is now considered by Israel an indivisible part of its capital city. Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Other cities in the West Bank include Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, and Jericho. The total population of the region in 2003 consisted of some 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank, with a further 180,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Over 200,000 Israeli settlers lived in the West Bank and a further 170,000 Israelis in East Jerusalem.

In 1967 the Palestinian population of the region was largely agricultural, but under Israeli rule many left agriculture to find employment in the Israeli cities as menial laborers. Following the onset of the first intifada in 1987, most of the Palestinians were excluded from the Israeli labor market, giving rise to widespread unemployment and severe poverty. In early 2003 the economic situation of the population was worse than it had ever been since 1967.

In September 1993 the signing of the Oslo Accord marked the beginning of a transition to Palestinian self-rule. The West Bank was divided into Areas A, B, and C, with the Palestinian Authority taking over full administration in Area A, including all of the major urban centers, and partial control in Area B, including most of the Palestinian villages, while Israel retained full control in Area C, including most of the Jordan Valley, the areas in close proximity to the Green Line boundary, and around Jerusalem. Following the al-Aqsa Intifada, which began in September 2000, the Sharon government sent the IDF to reoccupy some Palestinian towns. The status of the West Bank was still awaiting resolution when a package of proposals, known as the "Road Map," was drawn up and sponsored by "the Quartet"—the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations—in 2003. (See also Israel),

The term Black September (Arabic: أيلول الأسود‎ aylūl al-aswad) refers to the Jordanian Civil War that began in September 1970 and ended in July 1971. The conflict was fought between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, and the Jordanian Armed Forces, under the leadership of King Hussein. The civil war determined if Jordan would be ruled by the Palestine Liberation Organisation or the Hashemite monarchy. The war resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the vast majority Palestinian. Armed conflict ended with the expulsion of the PLO leadership and thousands of Palestinian fighters to Lebanon.

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in late 1947 led to civil war, the end of Mandatory Palestine, and the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948. With nationhood, the ongoing civil war was transformed into a state conflict between Israel and the Arab states. Egypt, Jordan and Syria, together with expeditionary forces from Iraq, invaded Israel. They took control of the Arab areas, and immediately attacked Israeli forces and several Jewish settlements. The fighting was halted with the UN-mediated 1949 Armistice Agreements, but the remaining areas of Palestine came under the control of Egypt and Transjordan. In 1949, Transjordan officially changed its name to Jordan in 1950, it annexed the West Bank of the Jordan River, and brought Palestinian representation into the government. In Egyptian dominated Gaza Strip, there was an attempt to establish the All-Palestine Government in September 1948, partially recognized by the Arab League (except Transjordan), but its authority was limited, and it was effectively abolished by Nasser in 1959.

Only one third of the combined population of the West Bank and Jordan consisted of Jordanians, which meant that the Jordanians had become a ruling minority over a Palestinian majority. However, Jordan had provided Palestinians with seats mounting to half the parliament and several Governmental positions. Moshe Shemesh claims that this proved to be a mercurial element in internal Jordanian politics, and played a critical role in the political opposition. The West Bank had become the center of the national and territorial aspects of the Palestinian problem, which was the key issue of Jordan's domestic and foreign policy. According to King Hussein, the Palestinian problem spelled "life or death" for Jordan, and would remain the country's overriding national security issue.

King Hussein feared an independent West Bank under PLO administration would threaten the autonomy of his Hashemite kingdom. The Palestinian factions were supported variously by many Arab governments, most notably Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who gave political support. The Palestinian nationalist organization Fatah started organizing attacks against Israel in January 1965, and Israel was subject to repeated cross-border attacks by Palestinian fedayeen these often drew reprisals. The Samu Incident was one such reprisal. Jordan had long maintained secret contacts with Israel concerning peace and security along their border. However, due to internal splits within the Jordanian government and population, many of King Hussein's orders to stop these raids were not obeyed, and some Jordanian commanders along the Israeli-Jordanian border were lending passive assistance to the Palestinian raids.

In June 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan during the Six-Day War.

After WW1 and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the British divided their Protectorate of Palestine into two parts - Palestine which they directly controlled and Transjordan (later called Jordan) which, with their backing, was controlled by the Arab Hashemites. The following maps show the effect of wars with Israel after its creation in 1948 (see Israel).

The Civil War, 1970-71 against the Palestine Liberation Organisation (known as Black September) led to the defeat of the latter and their expulsion to Lebanon.

Campaign to Return His Body

Eli Cohen&rsquos remains have never been returned, and his family continues to petition the Syrian government to release his body for burial in Israel. As recently as 2009, Cohen&rsquos family asked Pope Benedict XVI to intervene on their behalf.

Cohen&rsquos devotion to his country, and his bravery in the face of his Syrian captors, has earned him the affectionate title in Israel, &ldquoOur Man in Damascus.&rdquo On the 40th anniversary of his death, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Cohen was a, &ldquofighter who became a legend when he entered the lion&rsquos den alone.&rdquo And though he did not emerge alive, his contribution to Israeli history is a vital one.

Watch the video: Six-Day War 1967 - Third ArabIsraeli War DOCUMENTARY