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Six days of war – forty years of misery.

June 5, 2007

June 5th marks a sad anniversary: Forty years ago on this date, Israel, fearing invasion by Egypt launched a pre-emptive attack against the Egyptian airforce . This attack effectively crushed the Egyptian airforce, but also provoked Egypt’s allies Jordan and Syria into entering what has later been known as the Six-Day War.

Even though the war lasted only six days, the consequences were formidable. At the end of the war, Israel had captured eastern Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. According to Wikipedia, this meant about one million Arabs were placed under Israel’s direct control in the newly captured territories. A little more than 300 000 fled, mainly to Jordan, while more than 600 000 remained. Needless to say, neither they nor their descendants were very happy with the occupation.

An Israeli soldier guarding prisoners of war during the Six Day War. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Death and destruction

The Israeli occupation has brought nothing but death and destruction. First and foremost to the Palestinian population, who have suffered check points, shelling, nightly raids and destruction of their houses and property. The Israeli population has also received their share of death in the forty years following the Six Day War. Far from all Palestinians have limited their struggle against the occupation forces to peaceful means, and the violent ones have not only targeted military troops and installations. Israeli civilians have been the target of both rockets and suicide attacks from Palestinian freedom fighters/terrorists as well as strict measures from their own government.

A region suffers

Not only Israelis and Palestinians suffer from the direct or indirect consequences of the six disastrous days in 1967. The Six Day War itself, brief as it was, didn’t claim to many lives, as wars go, but the occupation that followed has born numerous wars since then. The latest, and one of the ugliest, was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, following the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah. Responding to the kidnapping of two – 2 – individiuals by invading a country is of course disproportionate beyond belief, but Hizbollah did their best to tip the scales by raining rockets on Israeli towns and villages close to the border, again hurting mostly civilians. The result was a bloody mess, which lasted far longer than six days. Thanks to the Israeli use of cluster munitions, rounds fired many months ago still kill and maim Lebanese civilians.

Back to 1967

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the treatment of Palestinians living in the occupied territories, especially since Hamas came to power, has made it all to clear to me that there is only one possible way to start improving the situation created by the extremely bad judgement of Israeli, Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian leaders during the disastrous six days in 1967, and by the foolish, vengeful actions of Israelis and Palestinians in the forty years that followed. Israel must give the Palestinians their land back. After 40 years of fighting, it seems clear that any real peace starts with a two-state solution. It is time for Israel to give up what was conquered in 1967.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2007 9:37 pm

    This is a very interesting piece that I’ll need to mull over as I don’t know enough details to make a solid argument such as you have done. I have always felt that the only fair/equitable/peaceful solution would be to return the land to the Palestinians–but again, I’ve never educated myself enough to know if that was a factually backed feeling. I agree that whatever the original mess, both sides have clearly been irresponsible and violent in their reactions–the latest invasion of Lebanon was unconscionable.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, it is a situation that should not be forgotten.


  2. June 6, 2007 8:05 am

    The thing is, Kelly, after I finished the piece, I have mulled over it quite a bit myself, and started to wonder that maybe I actually made too solid an argument. While I absolutely feel that the morally right thing to do, is for Israel to give back the land that was conquered during the Six Day War, it might not be time to do that just yet. The fierce fighting between Hamas and Fatah supporters makes me wonder whether the Palestinian authorities have enough power and support in the people to actually govern their own state.

    That said, I am absolutely positive that Israel has to give up the conquered land sooner rather than later. Not only the Palestinians, but also Syria wants their land back rather badly. If there is one lesson Syria should have learned from the Six Day War, it is not to attack Israel, but the current Syrian government might just find the Golan heights worth fighting a bloody war over.

    Thus, the main point of my piece still stands: Israel must return the conquered land. This might not ensure lasting peace in the region, as some Arab hardliners do not recognize the Israeli state at all. However, I am absolutely positive that without giving up Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights and giving the Palestinians their own state, Israel will never achieve peace with her neighbors.



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