• the Six-Day War
    Old destroyed tank left over from the Six-Day War in Israel. Photo: Shutterstock

The Six-Day War

3 November 2016

The Six-Day War began on 5 June 1967. In six days, Israel defeated its neighboring countries Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, and captured a lot of territories. Despite its short duration, this war, therefore, had a major impact on world politics. Let us have a look at this war, its cause, and its consequences.

Cause of the Six-Day War

The War over Water

The Six-Day War had multiple causes. One of these causes was the War over Water (1964-1965). This conflict began with the Arabs’ decision to ‘dewater’ the Jordan. They wanted to divert the river to Lebanon and Jordan by means of dams. Israel disagreed with this decision and tried to abort the project by force. The Arabs had no choice but to suspend their ‘Syrian water plan’.


During this period, the Syrian state was rather divided. After the Alevitic Ba’ath party came to power, there was much internal unrest between the Alevites on the one hand and the Sunnis on the other. Syria’s aim was to form a single Arab state. Therefore Syria decided to focus on Israel.


Not only Syria was a threat to Israel. Al-Fatah, led by Yasser Arafat, was also targeting the Jewish state. Israel had to be destroyed and Palestine had to be freed from the Jews. Al-Fatah, which merged with the PLO in the 1960s, began firing missiles at Israel in 1965.

Suez Crisis

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, another important factor was at play in the development of the war, namely the Suez Crisis that took place at the end of 1956. Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal. France, Great Britain, and Israel, therefore, attacked Egypt and captured the Sinai Desert and the Gaza Strip.

Remnants of the Six Day War

Remnants of the Six-Day War can still be seen today in the Golan Heights. These old minefields formed the Israeli-Syrian border before Israeli forces took the Golan Heights in the 1967 War.

The course of the Six-Day War

The distrust between Israel on the one hand and Syria and Egypt on the other had increased considerably as a result of these events. Therefore, the Israeli government decided on 4 June 1967 to organize an attack on Egypt. In the early morning of 5 June, the Israeli army attacked multiple Egyptian bases and military airports. At the same time, various Israeli divisions invaded Egypt. The goal was to take control of the Suez Canal. Over the course of the day Syria, Jordan, and Iraq came to help Egypt, but the damage had already been done.

In the days that followed, all of Jerusalem was captured by Israel and the Westbank was taken. The Syrian Golan Heights were also captured by the Israelis on 7 June, after which a truce followed. On 8 June, the Israeli troops reached the Suez Canal and seized the entire Sinai Desert. The Six-Day War came to an end on 10 June, after Syria gave up its southern part to protect the capital city of Damascus.


After the war, the Arab countries surrounding Israel started to improve cooperation, but the Palestinian territories became isolated. Furthermore, the Six-Day War and Israel’s victory brought about a new Aliyah. Mainly Russian Jews decided to settle in Israel.