General Background

From the beginning of 1966, a few incidents occurred that caused the outbreak of the Six Day War. In Syria, the radical sector of the ba'at took control of the government and continued with the aggression against Israel. The USSR supported Syria's extremism and tried to draw Egypt into the conflict.

In November 1966, a mutual defense treaty was signed between Egypt and Syria, in which they both promised to give aid to each other in case of need and perceive an attack on one country as an attack of both countries.

During October- November 1966, the number of terrorists penetrating Israel from the Jordanian border increased (13 times). The Jordanian king, against expectations, was passive about restraining the terrorists.

In April 1967, the Syrians incited the border. Israel's constant warning that harsh repercussions would follow did not caution the Syrians. On the 7th of April, the Syrians disturbed the lot procession in the Kibbutz Ha'on sector, and Israeli tanks returned fire. The Syrians expanded the battle and began bombing the agricultural settlements of gadot, ein-gev, ha'on, and tel-katzir. This incident ended with a large air battle, in which the Israeli air-force brought down six Syrian MiGs (fighter jets). Nasser dispatched two army delegations to Syria, and the Russians published false news items about Israeli army assemblage on the Syrian border, (To the extent of thirteen divisions). On the 14th of May, the CEO of the Defense Office invited the Israeli USSR ambassador, Tzochvin, to visit the Israel-Syria border and see for himself that there is no foundation to the Russians claim about the IDF. The Russian ambassador declined the invitation.

The Syrian and Russian information about IDF on the northern border did not permit Nasser to idly stand by and forced him to react defensively. The Egyptian president saw his army's strength as a main deterrent force against Israel and he was to put this assumption to the test.

The controlled deterioration phase:

During the 14th, 15th, and 16th of May 1967, Nasser used his army as a deterrent force and caused a controlled deterioration on the southern front. Nasser's hope was to be satisfied with proving credibility of his deterrent forces and to reinstate Egyptian precedence in the Arab world:

On May 14th 1967, the Egyptian army was on full alert and political and military contacts commenced between Egypt and Syria. The Egyptian military commander in chief left for Damascus. On the 15th of May 1967, in the midst of a modest army parade in Jerusalem, the IDF Commander in Chief, Yitzchak Rabin, received a note which alerted him that the Syrian army was preparing for an emergency battle. The entrance on the Egyptian army to Sinai was done openly and in front of the worlds' media eyes. Nasser was not content with just a showy entrance of his army and on the 16th of May 1967, the Egyptian military Commander in Chief, Muhammad Faozi, requested the UN emergency force commander to keep his forces away from the border and to assemble them on the Gaza Strip. At this stage, Nasser did not want or intend for a war. His demand for the UN's partial evacuation was a result of Hussein's claim that Egypt was hiding behind the UN so as not to provoke Israel.

On the 17th of May 1967, the UN Secretary-General announced that he would not acquiesce to Egypt's demand. The UN would either stay put or fully evacuate the border. The Jordanian army was on full alert and the Syrians were reinforcing their army on the Northern border. Nasser had not accounted for the UN's unexpected decision to evacuate the entire emergency force and so not much space to maneuver was left for him. Taking back the evacuation demand on his part could cost him his credibility and leadership.

The Uncontrolled deterioration phase:

* On the 18th of May 1967, Nasser commanded a full and final evacuation of the UN forces. The Egyptian border guard units took up the observation posts in Sinai.

* On the 19th of May 1967, the UN forces were evacuated from Sinai and the Gaza Strip. The Egyptians augmented their army in Sinai to over three divisions. Israel began a recruitment of reserves in the three commands, and the waiting period began.

* On the 22nd of May 1967, at the assembly of officers, Nasser announced the closing of the Straits of Tiran and said: "The Jews are threatening war and we say to them Ahalan Wasahalan- we are ready for war". Israel saw the closing of the Straits of Tiran as a declaration of war. The IDF commander in chief was ready for military action but the political echelon decided to exhaust the political process before military action. In the publics' eyes the government was hesitant and insecure. Nasser saw this as a sign of weakness.

The board of ministers for defense matters decided on a four to eight hour waiting period to exhaust the political process. Abba Even, Minister of Foreign Affairs, was sent to the USA to muster international support. He even met with the French president, Da Gol, who warned him "lest Israel shoot the first shot".

On the 31st of May 1967, the commander of the joint Arab headquarters came to Rabat Amon and received command of the Jordanian front. In Israel the pressure from the public unto the government was rising. They wanted to establish a united national government and to pass the Defense Ministry over to Moshe Dayan.

·         On June 1st 1967, the battle command was given to the Egyptian army. The essence of it- to destroy all of Israel's main armed forces. The Egyptian forces were assembled in Sinai. In Israel a national united government was founded. Dayan received the Defense Ministry. Begin and Yosef Sapir- ministers without portfolio.

·         On the 2nd of June 1967, in a conference of the board of ministers for defense matters and the IDF Chief of Command, it was decided to declare war, but not before the 5th of June.

·         On June 4th 1967, the government gave the IDF a green light for action. It was set for the morning of the 5thof June as so it was; the Six Day War broke out on the 5.6.67 at 07:45 AM. The operation that started the war was "Operation Moked" of the Israeli Air Force:

The fighter pilots were assembled and briefed before their exit to Operation Moked. Again and again they memorized: persistence, stick to the target, it is forbidden to breach the radio silence, it is forbidden to fly above 100 feet. After the briefing and equipping of maps and accessories needed for the flight, the pilots entered their planes and took off while maintaining total radio silence.

183 sorties were performed by the fighter planes during the first wave and 173 of them were against airports. The last 10 sorties were for petrol, aerial photographs and relays.

The pilots were very limited during the first wave, so as to not be exposed to enemy fire and to complete the attack quickly. The target was to allow other structures to complete their mission. Each structure had five to seven minutes to complete their mission. They were to bomb and then return and do three throws in order to snipe at the cannons on the planes and the other set targets. The pilots concentrated on attacking the runways and the planes on the ground and, at the first stage, avoided attack on the missile battery, cannons and radar stations- and also avoided going into air battle with the enemy planes.

The result of the first wave attack, which was also the shortest one, was better than expected. 204 planes, about half of the Egyptian air-force, were destroyed. 95 Israeli planes were able to destroy all the Egyptian planes at the exact estimated time of the operation. The first planes to be destroyed were mostly the bombers of the Egyptian air-force and almost all the planes that were in Sinai. The Sinai air ports were completely paralyzed in the assorted bombings, as well as the Fahd, Kavrit, and Inshas airports.

The success of the first wave enabled the Israeli air-force to divert planes to attack the Egyptian ground forces on the first day of the war, and also permitted the IDF to route other forces to assist on different fronts.

During the first wave the Israeli air-force lost five fighter pilots, two were captivated and three wounded. Eight planes were lost. Four of the eight were lost in air battles.

The Jordanian sector:

The cease-fire borderline between Israel and Jordan ran from north to south; The Jordan valley, Beit She'an Valley, the Yizrael Valley, Wadi Ara and the coast (Um El Fachem, Tul Karem- Kalkiliya), the Ayalon Valley, the Jerusalem corridor, Jerusalem, Beit Govrin, Yahav, the Dead Sea sector (partitioned down the center) Ein-Gedi, Sdom, and the Arava desert- until Eilat.

Jerusalem was the most sensitive area along the cease-fire borderline with Jordan, due to its special status and the nature of the municipal borderline, which ran through populated and densely built territory, and also due to the unique reality of a divided capitol and government institutions in range of enemy fire.

The Municipal Borderline:

 On November 30th 1948, the Open Abatement Treaty was signed between Israel and Jordan, in which a borderline was agreed upon, a borderline that divided Jerusalem for nineteen years and was called "the municipal borderline". The borderline was charted by the commanding officer of Jerusalem, Moshe Dayan, and Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah El-Tal of Jordan. They met in "no man's land" in the Musrara neighborhood. Each party outlined their army posts on a map which was 1:20,000. The municipal borderline ran for seven kilometers, beginning at Beit Tzaffafa, down to Ramat Rachel, Talpiot and Abu-Tur, down the steep Guy Ben-Hinum and scaling Mount Zion, from there to the foot of the city wall, crossing Hotzot Hayotzer and arriving at the Arab Beit Tanus, down to Suliman road (current day Derech Ha Tzanchanim), along the border of the Musrara neighborhood and Beit Yisrael, coming to the Mandelbaum gate and shikunei Pag"i- opposite the School for Officers. The sketching of the borderline was performed using soft wax pencils, so the width of the borderline that was drawn was approximately 2-3 millimeters, was 40- 60 meters in reality! On the 3rd of April 1948, the cease-fire treaty was signed between Israel and Jordan, and the map-including it's borders- was adopted as the cease-fire map. Over the course of time, the map aroused many problems, inasmuch as the wax melted and expanded and the width of the borderline grew and covered more land on the original map. Problems arose on the matter of the exact position of the municipal borderline, the no man's land, and the demilitarized territories.

Specific sections of the borderline were agreed upon before the 30th of November 1948. These were The Governor's Palace and the Mount Scopus enclave. In reality, the Mandelbaum gate was also demilitarized territory.

The Mount Scopus Enclave:

 Mount Scopus, overlooking Jerusalem from the east at a height of 812 meters above sea level, is situated on the north-eastern ridge of the city. The Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University were built there. West of the mount runs the Jerusalem-Ramallah-Nablus highway, and around its edges lies the large Arab neighborhood Sheik-Jarrach. In the War of Independence, Mount Scopus was a strong Jewish military post, and its guards held it until the termination of the battles, even after the second downfall of Sheik-Jarrach, and so Mount Scopus became an enclave in Arab territory. At that time, there were less than one hundred guards on the mount, and approximately thirty five civilians. On the 7th of July 1948, Israel conducted a treaty with Jordan, according to which Mount Scopus became a demilitarized enclave. According to the treaty, it was forbidden to maintain military forces on the mount. However, eighty six police officers and thirty five civilians occupied the Israeli portion, and forty police officers occupied the Jordanian part. The treaty also stated that once every other week Israel should be entitled to exchange half their garrison on the mount. In order to enable this tradeoff Jordan would permit a convoy through their territory, under the supervision of the United Nations. The Mount Scopus enclave constituted an important strategic point, because he who was in possession of the mount controlled the access to Jerusalem from the north and could overlook the old city and the Jordan valley.

The battle development on the Jordanian front:

Israel did not have war intentions in the Jordanian arena; furthermore, Israel clarified its intentions to King Husain. At 10 o' clock AM the Israeli government transmitted a dispatch to the king of Jordan in which it expressed its wishes for Jordan to stay out of the battle and promised that Israel would not attack in any place unless it was attacked first. Jordan did not respond.

On the 5th of June, at 09:30 in the morning, Hussain spoke on the Aman radio and voiced his hopes of returning his robbed homeland. Simultaneously an emergency situation was declared.

At 09:45 AM Jordanian forces opened fire with flat-trajectory weapons along the municipal borderline in Jerusalem and at 10:00 AM aimed also toward Mount Scopus.

At 10:30 AM the Aman radio announced the conquest of the Governor's Palace.

At 11:00 AM the Jordanian army opened fire with the high-trajectory weapons toward the Israeli Jerusalem and the Mount Scopus posts.

At 11:50 AM the Jordanian air-force came into action and bombed Netanya and Kfar-Saba. In addition, the Jordanians opened fire with flat-trajectory weapons onto army camps, air-ports and settlements along the “green line”. The explosions, which were accompanied by heavy bombings, exceeded the measures of fulfilling the Jordanian obligation of military co-operation with Egypt. At 13:30 Jordanian forces conquered the Governor's Palace, and the IDF went to war for Jerusalem.

The central command deployment:

On the morning of June 5th, the Central Command was deployed against the Jordanian forces according to plan, while the Jerusalem brigade was responsible for the Jerusalem sector. From June 5th and on, the forces were consequent to the eruption on the Jordanian front; the forces were reinforced by forces that were evacuated from their missions, in light of the success of the battle on the Egyptian front. That is how the Paratrooper brigade 55, which included battalions 66, 28 and 71, company 77 and engineering company 683, came to be diverted to the Jordanian front in Jerusalem.