Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Six Days, Forty Years Later

Little Green Footballs commemorates the 40 year anniversary of the Six Day War, and links to Time magazine's reporting of the war at the time:

The air war wasn't much of an air war...

By Monday night, the end of the first day's fighting, some 400 warplanes of five Arab nations had been obliterated. Egypt alone lost 300, Syria 60, Jordan 35, Iraq 15, Lebanon at least one. The cost to Israel's 400-fighter air force: 19 planes and pilots, mostly downed by ground fire.

no U.S. or British planes had been involved.

How did Israel manage to win so big so quickly? Much of the answer can be found in the almost incredible lack of Arab planning, coordination and communications. Despite their swift defeat in 1956, this time the Arabs seemed to expect a long, leisurely war of attrition. Though two squadrons of Algerian MIG-21s arrived, they were a fatal 24 hours too late because Egyptian commanders had failed to instruct them which airbase to head for. In retrospect, it might have been even worse if they had arrived in time for the Israeli raids. Five planeloads of Moroccan troops actually got to Cairo, but five others were grounded in Libya because Egypt had not given them clearance to enter Egyptian airspace. More than 100 truckloads of Algerian troops crossed southern Tunisia on the way to the Sinai front, which crumbled long before they arrived. Tunisian troops ready to move for Nasser were never asked for by Cairo.

The Israelis shot down 50 Arab fighters while losing only three.

The "tank war"...
Israeli tanks, each manned by a single regular of Israel's 50,000-man standing army, waited in convenient tank parks for the two or three reservists required to complete each crew. The tanks were ready to move out, complete with helmets, razors and toothbrushes. Each crew had been assigned battle sectors, rendezvous points and objectives. Israeli Intelligence had tracked the Arab enemy to the last desert dune. The system worked so well that Israel was able to field a fighting force of 235,000 men within 48 hours.

And finally, the "ground war"...
Next night Israeli commandos prepared a dawn attack into the Old City itself. But most of the Jordanian troops defending it had slipped away, leaving only sniper resistance as one Israeli unit entered through St. Stephen's Gate and a second drove through the Damascus Gate. By 10 a.m., the conquerors stood before the great boulders of the Wailing Wall, the only remnant of the Second Temple, that for 1,897 years has been the symbol of Jewish national hope —and despair. For all the sensational —and far more important military victories won in Sinai, nothing so elated the Israelis as the capture of the Biblical city of Jerusalem. Said the tough commando leader who took the Wall: "None of us alive has ever seen or done anything so great as he has done today." And there by the Wall, he broke down and wept.

Curious Footnote. One by one, other Biblical towns fell to the advancing Israelis—Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem—until they had seized all of Hussein's kingdom west of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Unlike their Egyptian brethren in Sinai, King Hussein's legionnaires fought stubbornly and with discipline. But as in Sinai, the Israelis' absolute mastery of the air meant ultimate Arab defeat. All day the jets wheeled into steep dives to drop bombs and napalm canisters on stubborn pockets of Jordanian resistance. Unaware of the extent of Egypt's air losses, Hussein could not believe that the Israeli air force alone could so blacken the sky on his own Jordanian front. Thus it was partially understandable that for a while, at least, he backed up Nasser's claim that the U.S. and British planes had joined in Israel's attack.

Interestingly, the New York Times quoted Bassem al-Nabris,
...a poet from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, wrote on the Arabic news Web site Elaph that if there was a referendum in the Gaza Strip on the question of whether people would like the Israeli occupation to return, “half the population would vote ‘yes.’ ”

However, the irony was lost on the Arab League, of which the AP noted:

Forty years after Israel’s stunning victory over three Arab armies, the defeat still lingers in the Arab world — so much so, some blame it for everything from a lack of democracy in the region to the rise of religious extremism.

It seems the Arab League is not in touch with the Palestinians, now suffering from violent internal struggles. Somehow, it's Israel's fault.

Also, Gateway Pundit remembers Tiananmen Square.

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