The Six-Day-War: Fifty Years Ago Underdog Israel Changed The World
By Jeff Dunetz
With their dominating victory over three powerful Arab States in the Six-Day-War, Israel changed the world. It moved the Arab world from pan-Arab nationalism to every country for itself. It established that underdog Israel was no longer the underdog, and she was going to be around for a long time.
Fifty years ago with an attack by the Egyptian Army imminent, the Israeli Air Force launched a preemptive strike on the Egyptian Air Force destroying their airplanes. Egypt had by far the largest and the most modern of all the Arab air forces, consisting of about 420 combat aircraft, all of them Soviet-built and with a heavy quota of top-of-the line MiG-21 capable of attaining Mach 2 speed. Initially, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country. That was the start of what is now called the Six-Day-War.
Of particular concern to the Israelis were the 30 Tu-16 “Badger” medium bombers, capable of inflicting heavy damage on Israeli military and civilian centers. On June 5 at 7:45AM Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the IAF launched Operation Focus (Moked). All but 12 of its nearly 200 operational jets left the skies of Israel in a mass attack against Egypt’s airfields.The Egyptian defensive infrastructure was extremely poor, and no airfields were yet equipped with hardened aircraft shelters capable of protecting Egypt’s warplanes. Most of the Israeli warplanes headed out over the Mediterranean Sea, flying low to avoid radar detection, before turning toward Egypt. Others flew over the Red Sea.
Reading reports about the war from 50 Years ago vs today reminds me of one of those Star Trek episodes where Kirk and the boys go back in history and change the past–it seems like two different wars.
Fifty years ago the media reports spoke of the underdog Israel and her need to defend herself against the warlike acts of the big bullies led by Egypt. They wrote about how Egypt was committing many acts that could be interpreted as acts of war including: conspiring with other belligerent countries (in this case, Syria and Jordan) for a coordinated attack, closing Israel’s access to international waterways (the straits of Tiran), violating the terms of the 1956 armistice by re-militarizing the Sinai, expelling the UN and USA peace-keeping troops from the Sinai, sending illegal spy-plane fly overs to reconnoiter Israeli sensitive areas and massing troops and tanks on Israel’s borders…
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