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Mideast 101

Mideast 101: The Six Day War

Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Arab troops massed on  its borders.
Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Arab troops massed on its borders.  

By Gary Tuchman

Editor's note: In our Mideast 101 series, CNN correspondents will take a look beyond the daily events at the forces that propel this seemingly interminable struggle in the Middle East.

(CNN) -- The Six-Day War lasted less than a week, but its ramifications on the Middle East have loomed large ever since.

In June 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan massed their troops on Israel's borders in preparation for an all-out attack.

Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on June 5, targeting Arab air fields and destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground.

Israel staged a pre-emptive strike in the 1967 Six Day War, taking land that remains in dispute today. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports (April 14)

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The Egyptian military was largely routed on the first day of the war and by the third day Israeli troops had reached the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. Israeli forces were in position to drive into Egypt's capital, Cairo, but chose not to.

"By the time you get to June 10 or 11, the Israelis have lost 600 or 700 people in the fighting, the Arabs had lost 25,000," said Kenneth Stein, a Middle Eastern and Israeli studies professor at Emory University.

The war was fought on many fronts, ending with Israel's victory over Syria.

In the end, Israel had taken control of Syria's Golan Heights, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip and Jordan's West Bank -- which included the entire city of Jerusalem (Israel and Jordan had controlled separate sections of the city before the war).

"Israel thought because it won this war that the phone was going to ring, that the Arabs were going to call, and say, 'Lets make peace,' but nobody called," Stein said.

The territory Israel occupied in 1967 became the basis for the "land for peace" diplomatic concept that was at the heart of the 1978 Camp David Accords and the 1993 Oslo Accords.

But the concept has not brought security to the Israelis or a state to the Palestinians.




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