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The Six-Day War - Little Known Facts

Today, June 5th, marks the 53rd anniversary of the Six-Day War, the war that completely changed Israel and the whole Middle East to this day.


We would like to share with you a few facts about the war, that you most likely have never heard before.


On April 7th, before the war broke out, things were tense on Israel's borders. Israel had shot down 21 Syrian Airforce MIG fighter planes. This caused the Syrians to ask the Egyptians for help, thus the two sides signed a mutual defense agreement. Not that that really helped them during the war...

In the days before the war, most of the Israeli Reserves were drafted, we're talking about tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of civilians that were taken out of their day-to-day life to protect Israel. This totally paralyzed the Israeli markets. If you think the Corona effects were bad, you can just imagine what the feelings were like back then.


On the morning of June 5th, Israeli planes carried a surprise attack against the Egyptian Airforce, destroying 350 planes, nearly the whole Egyptian airplane fleet. This successful attack ensured the Israeli side had complete air control throughout the whole war.


After the IDF Paratroopers breached the Jordanian siege on the Old City of Jerusalem, and Mota Gur announced on the radio "Har HaBayit BeYadenu" (The Temple Mount is in our hands), the Israeli flag was hoisted above the Dome of the Rock and quickly removed, as to not embarrass the Jordanians.

The Syrian forces in the Golan Heights consisted of 50,000 soldiers, and a large number of tanks and artillery. The Israeli side managed to beat the Syrians and overtake the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon with just one division. Just so we're clear of how big this victory was, a division consists of between 10,000 to 20,000 soldiers. Israel has less than half the amount of soldiers the Syrians had!

Between 12,000 to 21,500 Arab soldiers were killed, 45,000 injured, and 6,000 were taken, hostage. The IDF lost 777 of its men in the war, 2,593 were injured, and 15 were taken, hostage. These numbers are quite staggering when you compare the number of Israeli soldiers in the war to the Arab soldiers.

264,000 Israeli soldiers, 196 fighter planes, and 800 tanks faced over 547,000 Arab soldiers, 957 fighter planes, and 2,504 tanks. It's no surprise then, that the IDF was considered by many the strongest army in the world after the war.

An older Israeli soldier wearing a beret, glasses, and an IDF uniform stands in front of a large crowd of Israeli soldiers sitting on the ground.
The 14th Brigade's end-of-the-war ceremony / Avraham Vered / CC BY-SA 3.0

The euphoria in Israel was quite immense after the war, and people thought that Israel was totally invincible. These are the words of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Chief of Staff during the Six-Day War, spoken after Israeli victory:

"In this war, we faced all of the Arab forces at the same time. We fought this war alone. In the future, if we know to prepare just as well, and accomplish the same results, we can look towards the future in confidence and faith".