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By Gary D. Keenan

Note: Apart from the foot notes, a great deal of information can be found in the end
notes which are indicated by roman numerals.

This is the first of three articles dealing with the June 1967 Israel/Arab war. My objective
is to provide a summary of the war (Part I); set the record straight regarding Israel’s
claim that it offered to withdraw from all lands it invaded during the war, only to be
rebuffed by the Arab states, i.e., the so-called “three no’s” (Part II), and briefly analyze
UN Security Council Resolution 242 (Part III). Although its root causes are Zionism and the
1947/48 Nakba or first Palestinian catastrophei, the legacy of the 1967 war is the reason
the Israel/Palestinian-Arab conflict continues to this day.

“Operation Cast Lead”
I am compelled to fast-forward and discuss (primarily in the end notes) the most tragic,
and given its unprecedented worldwide condemnation, significant consequence of
the 1967 war. On 27 December 2008,ii after besieging and blockading the tiny Gaza
Strip (360 square kilometers) for 18 months, iii Israel implemented “Operation Cast Lead,”
a massive unrelenting 22 day land, air and sea military assault against its 1.5 million
virtually defenceless inhabitants1, more than half of whom are under 18 years of age.

For informative analyses of events that occurred between 17 June 2008, when the
Hamas/Israel six month cease-fire was implemented, and when Israel launched
“Operation Cast Lead,” see “Israel’s Lies” by Professor/Rabbi Henry Siegman,iv former
national director of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of
America, published in the January 29/09 issue of The London Review of Books2 as well as
“A Context for Gaza,” by Dr. Duncan Kennedy, Harvard professor of General
Jurisprudence, in the Harvard Crimson, 2 February 2009.

According to a press release issued on 12 March 2009 by the respected Palestinian
Center for Human Rights (PCHR)3, 1,417 Palestinians were killed, including 926 civilians,
of whom 313 were children and 121 were women. Also among those killed were 255
civil police officers, i.e., traffic police and the like (240 perished in airstrikes during their

1 Well over one million are refugees (and their descendants) from what are now Israel and the Israeli occupied West
3 To view the PCHR report go to

graduation ceremony on the first day of the assaults)4, and 236 combatants (16.7% of
the total deaths.) A total of 5,303 were wounded, including 1,606 children and 828

In a report issued on 2 July 2009, Amnesty International states that “more than 3,000
homes were destroyed and some 20,000 damaged in Israeli attacks which reduced
entire neighborhoods of Gaza to rubble and left an already dire economic situation in
ruins. Much of the destruction was wanton and could not be justified on grounds of
‘military necessity.’" Amnesty also noted that “During Operation ‘Cast Lead’ Israeli
forces made extensive use of white phosphorus, often launched from 155mm artillery
shells, in residential areas (my emphasis), causing death and injuries to civilians. Homes,
schools, medical facilities and UN buildings – all civilian objects – took direct hits.” 6

In a report issued on 13 May 2010, Human Rights Watch stated that during Operation
Cast Lead, “Israeli forces destroyed buildings that had ‘no military significance,’ a grave
breach of the Fourth Geneva Conventions...” Human Rights Watch documented the
complete destruction of 189 buildings, including 11 factories, 8 warehouses and 170
residential buildings, leaving at least 971 people homeless during the operation which
began in December 2008. The 12 incidents documented in the report account for
roughly 5% of the homes, factories and warehouses destroyed in Gaza during the
operation the report said. ‘These cases describe instances in which Israeli forces caused
extensive destruction of homes, factories, farms and greenhouses in areas under IDF
control without any evident military purpose,’ the report said. ‘These cases occurred
when there was no fighting in these areas; in many cases, the destruction was carried
out during the final days of the campaign when an Israeli withdrawal was imminent.’

“Human Rights Watch says it discounted any case in which a military action occurred
nearby. The report stops short of saying outright that war crimes were committed by the
Israeli Defence Forces. But, it said, ‘the report examines incidents of destruction that
suggested violation of the laws-of-war prohibition of wanton destruction’ - the term
used to describe extensive destruction of civilian property not lawfully justified by
military necessity. ‘Such destruction would be a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva

4 Including the 255 civil police officers, over 80% of the 1,417 killed were civilians. In the village of Zeytoun, Israel’s
invasion force killed 26 members of the Samouni family, including 10 children and seven women.

5 On 23 July 2009, Gaza’s Health Ministry issued a report stating that 59 Palestinians were still missing and believed to be
buried beneath the rubble. Their names were provided. (Ma’an News Agency, On 13 August 2009, Human Rights Watch issued a report
that accused Israel of unlawfully shooting and killing 11 Palestinian civilians, including four children, who were in groups
waving white flags, a war crime. The report also declared that "The Israeli military should conduct thorough, credible
investigations into these deaths to tackle the prevailing culture of impunity [my emphasis.]" (The Telegraph, 14 August
2009) In a report issued on 9 September 2009, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said “1,387 Palestinians were killed
in the war - 773 civilians, 330 combatants, 248 Hamas policemen and 36 people whom the group was unable to classify
as combatants or non-combatants. B’Tselem said among the civilian dead were 320 minors under the age of 18.”


Conventions of 1949, which is applicable in Gaza. Individuals responsible for committing
or ordering such destruction should be prosecuted for war crimes,’ the report said.” 7

Israel suffered some damaged buildings and 13 dead, including three civilians from
rocket fire and three soldiers killed in a friendly-fire incident. In short, Operation Cast
Lead was a slaughter, not a war.

On 15 September 2009, the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the
Gaza Conflict was issued. While the panel, headed by Richard Goldstone, former chief
prosecutor with the war crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, did state that
Hamas rocket attacks against civilian areas would “constitute war crimes” and “may
amount to crimes against humanity,” nearly all of its report dealt with Israel’s violations
of international humanitarian law, i.e., "war crimes and possibly, in some respects,
crimes against humanity."v

At 7:45 AM on 5 June 1967, just four days after the conclusion of successful discussions in
Cairo between Egyptian President Nasser and Robert Anderson, U.S. President Lyndon
Johnson’s special advisor, to end the confrontation that had developed between Israel
and Egypt,8 Israel launched a land and air attack against Egypt and thereby, Jordan
and Syria, each of whom shared a mutual defence pact with Egypt.

It is important to note at the outset that Israel’s invasion of Egypt was in violation of a
pledge Prime Minister Levi Eshkol had cabled U.S. President Lyndon Johnson on May
30th. As agreed to by his cabinet during a meeting on May 28th, Eshkol acceded to
Johnson’s request and promised to hold back on attacking Egypt - until June 11th
Johnson was convinced - to give Washington sufficient time to seek a diplomatic

To quote President Johnson: “As my advisers and I interpreted it, [the content of Eshkol’s
May 30th cable]...meant that we had about two weeks to make diplomacy succeed
before Israel took independent military action. This judgment was strengthened by
information from other diplomatic sources.”9 (The “other diplomatic sources” are
discussed below.)

8 The purpose of the meeting was to find a means to defuse the growing crisis that had originated with Israel’s violations
of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, including its repeated and escalating military incursions into the northern demilitarized
zones (DMZs) on the Syrian border; its invasion of the village of Samu in the Jordanian controlled Palestinian West Bank on
13 November 1966, resulting in several casualties, great destruction and condemnation by the UN Security Council and a
land and air assault against Syria on 7 April 1967 during which its jets “buzzed” Damascus and shot down six Syrian
aircraft. Scores of Syrians were killed. The Security Council censured Israel for these attacks as well.
9 Lyndon Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
1971, p. 294

On May 11, tensions in the region had increased dramatically when Chief of Staff
General Yitzhak Rabin announced on Israel radio: "The moment is coming when we will
march on Damascus to overthrow the Syrian government....” 10

UN Secretary General U Thant recalled in his memoirs that "rumours of an impending
blow against Syria were current throughout Israel.... [T]hey reached Cairo and other
Arab capitals, where they generated the belief that Israel was about to mount a
massive attack on Syria.... Bellicose statements by Israeli leaders...created...panic in the
Arab world." 11

Alarm bells went off in Washington as well: "The US State Department 'cautioned' Israel
against the 'unsettling effects' of its ‘threatening statements', and the US charge
d'affaires in Cairo advised Egypt's Foreign Minister that the Israeli threats should be
taken 'most seriously'. [France’s newspaper,] Le Monde editorialized that 'it was only a
matter of time' before Israel launched an attack on Syria." 12

Given his failure to respond to Israel’s bloody attack on the Palestinian West Bank
village of Samu on 13 November 1966 or its land and air invasion of Syria on May 7
(noted in footnote 8 above), the mounting evidence that Israel was about to launch an
all out attack against Syria caused Arabs throughout the region to take to the streets
demanding Nasser do something to demonstrate that Egypt would abide by the terms
of their mutual defence pact (7 November 1966) and stand by Syria. With his credibility
on the line, Nasser moved two divisions of troops into the Sinai on 14 May.

Washington understood why Nasser moved troops into the Sinai. In a May 17 memo to
President Johnson, Walt Rostow, Johnson’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs,
opined as to why Nasser deployed troops in Sinai: "Nasser probably feels his prestige
would suffer irreparably if he failed a third time to come to the aid of an Arab nation
attacked by Israel. Moderates like [King] Hussein have raked him over the coals for not
coming to Jordan's aid in November or to Syria's when Israel downed 6 of its MiG's last
month." 13

Soon thereafter, Nasser moved five more divisions into the Sinai. However, these
additional troops were not in an offensive posture as they were mostly "held in reserve
up to a hundred miles from the frontier."14

10 Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship; Stoddart, 1991,
p. 137

11 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Verso, London–New York, 1995, p. 126
12 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 126

13 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days That Changed the Middle East, Amana Books, Brattleboro, Vermont,
1988, pp. 74-75
14 Anthony Nutting, Nasser - London: Constable, 1972, p. 410, quoted by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p.
218. Nasser’s reasons for deploying these troops so far from the frontier are discussed below.

Nasser also had to respond to Arab accusations that he was hiding behind the United
Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) by permitting it to remain stationed on Egypt's side of
the 1956 Suez war's armistice lines as a buffer between Israeli and Egyptian forces.
Hence, on May 16, the Egyptian chief of staff requested the commander of the UNEF to
withdraw his troops from Palestine’s Gaza Strip (administered by Egypt) and Egypt’s
Sinai. Importantly, however, Nasser also informed UN Secretary General U Thant that he
did not want the UNEF to pull out of Sharm el-Sheikh at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba
where it oversaw the passage of Israeli ships out into the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean
in accordance with the armistice agreement ending the 1956 Suez war. U Thant paid
no heed and instead issued an all-or-nothing ultimatum to Nasser informing him that he
would not agree to a partial withdrawal of UN troops from Egypt. It had to be total
evacuation, including those at Sharm el-Sheikh or none at all. On May 18, Nasser
reluctantly requested UNEF's total withdrawal from Egypt, including Sharm el-Sheikh.
The next day, Israel's government announced a full military mobilization, including a
call-up of reserves.

After the war, Israeli General Yitzhak Rabin acknowledged that Nasser had requested
UNEF to withdraw "only from the portion of the border from Rafah [in the Palestinian
Gaza Strip along Egypt's Sinai border] to Kuntilla [in Sinai], and he suggested that the UN
soldiers be regrouped at Gaza [City] and at Sharm el-Sheikh." Rabin went on to say
that "unfortunately, Thant made him choose - to keep the international force at all their
positions or, on the other hand, to request their total and definitive withdrawal."

As Nasser stated during a 1970 interview, “[U Thant] decided to withdraw all the 'blue
hats' [UNEF]" thus "forcing me to send Egyptian forces to Sharm el-Sheikh." 15

UNEF Chief of Staff General Odd Bull realized why Nasser demanded the withdrawal of
UNEF from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai up to Kuntilla: "[Nasser] was obliged to act if his
reputation in the Arab world was not to suffer, because he had been subjected to a lot
of criticism on the ground that he was sheltering behind UNEF." 16

Israel's leaders also knew that Nasser's decision to move troops into Sinai and his
subsequent call for the withdrawal of UNEF from Sinai (Kuntilla) and the Gaza Strip were
precipitated by Israel's attacks against Samu and Damascus and its threat to launch a
full scale invasion of Syria. Moshe Dayan, Israel's defence minister during the war, later
admitted that "the nature and scale of our reprisal actions against Syria and Jordan left
Nasser with no choice but to defend his image and prestige in his own country and
throughout the Arab world, thereby setting off a train of escalation in the entire Arab
region." 17

For the record: Israel refused U Thant’s request that it allow the redeployment of UNEF
from Gaza and Sinai to its side of the 1956 armistice lines.

15 John Quigley, Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 1990, p. 159.
16 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality.... p. 127.
17 Ibid

On May 22nd, in further response to Israel`s threats to invade Syria, President Nasser
announced that shipments of strategic goods by Israeli and non-Israeli flagged ships to
Israel’s port of Eilat/Elath18 would be blockaded and denied passage through the Straits
of Tiran.

In a letter published in the New York Times at the end of the 1967 war, Roger Fisher,
professor of International Law at Harvard University expressed his opinion regarding
Egypt’s decision to close the Straits of Tiran to strategic goods bound for Israel: "The
United Arab Republic (Egypt) had a good legal case for restricting traffic through the
Straits of Tiran.... [A] Right of innocent passage is not a right of free passage for any
cargo at any time. In the words of the Convention on the Territorial Sea: 'Passage is
innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the
coastal state.' In April, Israel conducted a major retaliatory raid on Syria and
threatened raids of still greater size. In this situation was Egypt required by international
law to continue to allow Israel to bring in oil and other strategic supplies through the
Egyptian territory - supplies which Israel could use to conduct further military raids? That
was the critical question of law. The exercise by Israel of the belligerent right of
retaliation on Syria in April may have been morally justified (although the United Nations
found it was not and censured Israel.) Even so, it provided fair basis for the UAR to
assert the right to exercise a comparable (and less bloody) belligerent right - namely to
close the Straits of Tiran to strategic cargo for Israel.... [T]aking the facts as they are, I
would rather defend the legality of the UAR's action in closing the Straits of Tiran than to
argue the other side of the case, and I would certainly rather do so than to defend the
legality of the preventive war which Israel launched."19

On May 27, the U.S. State Department received an urgent message from Soviet Premier
Kosygin warning that the U.S.S.R. would not sit idly by if Israel attacked Egypt. The State
Department immediately sent a cable signed by President Johnson to Prime Minister
Eshkol. "The message relayed Moscow's warning that 'if Israel starts military action the
Soviet Union will extend help to the attacked party.' After reassuring Eshkol of America's
interest in Israel's safety, the message cautioned: 'As your friend, I repeat even more
strongly what I said yesterday to Mr. Eban. It is essential that Israel not take any pre-
emptive military action and thereby make itself responsible for the initiation of hostilities.'
The President strengthened the warning by writing two words so that the sentence read,
'It is essential that Israel JUST MUST not take any pre-emptive military action...' " 20

As President Johnson noted in his memoirs, the aforementioned conversations in Cairo
between his representative, Robert Anderson, and Nasser that were concluded on
June 1st had “produced an arrangement for UAR [Egypt’s] Vice-President Zakaria

18 In reality, Eilat/Elath is the Arab village of Umm Rashrash illegally occupied by Israel on 10 March 1949 in violation of
the February 1949 armistice agreement with Egypt and renamed Eilat following the expulsion of its Arab inhabitants.
19 Dr. Adel Safty, From Camp David to the Gulf, Black Rose Books, Montreal, Quebec and Cheektowaga, New York,
1992, p. 162. For an in depth explanation of Egypt’s right to close the Straits of Tiran to Israel bound shipping, see
Professor John Quigley’s Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 1990,
pp. 165-7
20 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 159.

Mohieddine to confer with us in Washington on Wednesday, June 7." 21 While in
Washington, Mohieddine was to present a compromise regarding the passage of Israeli
ships through the Straits of Tiran. It suggested a return to the arrangement that existed
before the 1956 war when Israeli ships hoisted "a neutral flag - the Liberian one, for
example - while passing through the straits." 22

By agreeing to send his vice-president to Washington with a compromise he had
negotiated with Anderson, Nasser was clearly demonstrating that he wanted to end
the crisis and avert war. In his communication confirming Mohieddine's visit, Nasser also
warmly accepted the offer President Johnson had made on May 23 to send Vice-
President Hubert Humphrey to the region, saying he would be "welcome at any time." 23

On June 2nd, Walt Rostow, Johnson’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, met
with “a high ranking Israeli diplomat.” Rostow advised the president in a memo that the
diplomat confirmed that Israel “had made a commitment to hold steady for about two
weeks. He would measure that from the Cabinet meeting last Sunday [May 28.]
Therefore, he was talking about things that might happen in the week after next; that is,
the week beginning Sunday, June 11 – although he indicated that there was nothing
ironclad about the time period being exactly two weeks.” 24

It is important to note that the “high-ranking Israeli diplomat” did not indicate or even
hint to Rostow that there was a possibility Israel might attack Egypt as it did, just three
days after their meeting.

Before he received official notification from the State Department, Avraham Harman,
Israel’s U.S. ambassador, learned from his contacts in the Johnson administration that
discussions had taken place in Cairo between Nasser and Anderson and that
Mohieddine would soon confer with officials in Washington. 25 Harman immediately
informed Israel’s government.

On Saturday, June 3rd, Cairo publicly announced Mohieddine’s forthcoming trip to
Washington and on Sunday, “...Israel decided to go to war. Washington was not
informed of the decision [my emphasis].” 26

Israel attacked Egypt on Monday at 7:45 AM, just hours before Vice President
Mohieddine was to fly to the U.S. Needless to say, his trip was cancelled.

21 Lyndon Johnson, The Vantage Point.... p. 294.
22 Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison..., p. 144; see also Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the
Middle East, University of California Press, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1988, p. 132.
23 Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 97 & p. 180.
24 Lyndon Johnson, The Vantage Point: ..., p. 294
25 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 181.
26 William B. Quandt, Decade of Decisions; American Policy Toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1967-1976; University of
California Press Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, 1977, p. 59.

The bottom line is that a negotiated solution was unacceptable to both expansionists
and moderates in Israel’s cabinet, including Foreign Minister Aba Eban, who had
rejected the military option until he learned that discussions had taken place between
Nasser and Anderson and that Mohieddine would be attending a meeting in
Washington on Wednesday, June 7.

Under no circumstances would Israel allow Nasser to again emerge with his reputation
enhanced as he had following Israel’s 1956 invasion of Egypt in collusion with Britain and
France. In the words of Eban: "It was probable that this initiative [i.e., President Johnson
inviting Mohieddine to Washington] would aim at a face-saving compromise - and that
the face to be saved would be Nasser's, not Israel's. For us the importance of denying
Nasser political and psychological victory had become no less important than the
concrete interest involved in the issue of navigation [in the Straits of Tiran.]" 27

Israel’s refusal to cooperate in the pursuit of a peaceful outcome ran counter to
Washington’s optimism that Mohieddine and Johnson would reach an agreement. As
Secretary of State Dean Rusk later revealed, "...there was a 'real possibility' that the
blockade would have been formally lifted or modified after the Egyptian vice-
president's visit to Washington in early June." 28

 Dean Rusk later suggested that Israel’s decision to attack Egypt on June 5th may have
been prompted by Mohieddine’s upcoming visit to Washington: “Dean Rusk later rued
telling [Israel’s] Ambassador [Avraham] Harman of the Egyptian vice-president's travel
plans since 'perhaps this was the spark that touched off the Israeli attack.’” 29

By 11:00 AM on the first day of the war, Israel’s air force had already set the stage for
victory by destroying 309 of Egypt’s 340 serviceable aircraft while they were still on the
ground, including all thirty of its long-range Tu-16 bombers, and killing or wounding 100
of its 350 pilots. “Nearly all of its airfields lay in ruins, including those as far away as Luxor.
Israel’s loss was nineteen planes, two of them shot down by Egyptian MiGs and the rest
lost to antiaircraft fire or malfunctions.” 30

Complying with his defence pact with Egypt, Jordan’s King Hussein ordered his air force
(a handful of old British Hawker Hunters) to strafe a small Israeli airfield near Kfar Sirkin. In
response, Motti Hod, commander of Israel's Air Force, ordered his pilots to "do the
Jordanians." Israeli Mirages then attacked Jordan's airfields and wiped out its air force
by destroying 30 aircraft on the ground. 31

Jordanian artillery also fired into West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas. “Israel
responded with a heavy counter fire of artillery and mortars and blazing aircraft
attacks. And, in a brutal display of Israel’s power, one of its planes flew over Amman

27 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. l81.
28 Dr. Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., pp. 139-40.
29 Dr. Finkelstein, Image and..., p. 141.
30 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 203.

and fired two rockets and machine-gun bursts directly into Hussein’s Basman
Palace...causing considerable damage.... Both rockets hit close enough to the king’s
office that if he had been there...he would have been killed.” 32

Syria, Egypt's other defence pact ally, joined in shortly after Jordan by conducting
ineffectual bombing raids on an oil refinery near Haifa, an air base at Megiddo and
Israeli positions near the Sea of Galilee. Israel retaliated with attacks against Syria's air
fields that destroyed 57 aircraft, mostly on the ground, leaving Damascus without an air
force. Prior to Israel’s land and air invasion of Syria, which would occur on June 9, the
only significant military action between the two countries after Israel’s destruction of
Syria’s air force on June 5 was artillery exchanges.

The sole military participation on the part of other Arab countries occurred at about
2:00 P.M. on June 5, when Iraq’s meager air force bombed, with little consequence,
Netanya, on Israel's coast. At Hod's orders, Israeli planes flew five hundred miles across
Jordan into Iraq where they attacked a military base situated at Habbaniyah near the
Kirkuk oil pipeline, destroying ten planes sitting on the runway.33

With all Arab air forces effectively eliminated, Israel aircraft and armoured units were
free to concentrate on retreating Egyptian troops in the Sinai.

"Israel's forces were triumphant everywhere. The 100,000 men and 930 tanks in the
Egyptian units now in the Sinai were in panicky retreat before the might of more than
70,000 Israeli troops thrusting forward with about 800 tanks. Israel's smaller force was
more than compensated by its total air superiority. Egyptian troops were being
incinerated in pools of burning napalm dropped on them by the swarming Israeli planes
[my emphasis]." 34

Meanwhile, in New York, while delivering his maiden speech, Aba Eban was attempting
to mislead the U.N. Security Council by falsely accusing Egypt of starting the war:
"[During] the morning of 5 June, when Egyptian forces engaged us by air and land,
bombarding the villages of Kissutim, Nahal-Oz and Ein Hashelosha, we knew that our
limit of safety had been reached, and perhaps passed. In accordance with its inherent
right of self-defense as formulated in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, Israel
responded defensively in full strength." 35

Nearly a week later, on June 11, Eban still refused to admit that Israel had struck first. He
declared before the Security Council that "they opened the hostilities. Egypt, Jordan,
Syria, Iraq, one after the other, moved against Israel. They were repelled, and were
driven back into their territory." Incredibly, in his autobiography published in 1977, he

32 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., pp. 205-6.
33 Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., pp. 203-04.
34 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 209.
35 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality ...,
   pp 140 -41.

continued to lie: "Israel engaged in a 'counterattack' against the Egyptian air force
which was 'sighted on the radar screens advancing toward us'." 36

On June 6, at 6:30 P.M., New York time, (June 7, 12:30 AM Middle East standard time)
the UN Security Council passed Resolution 233 demanding "...the governments
concerned as a first step to take forthwith all measures for an immediate cease-fire and
for a cessation of all military activities in the area." The resolution was ignored by Israel
but accepted by Egypt on June 8 at 11:00 P.M. (5:00 P.M. in New York). By agreeing to
comply with Resolution 233, Egypt was in effect admitting defeat.

On June 9, Israeli forces reached the Suez Canal and also captured Sharm el Sheikh
without firing a shot after it had been abandoned by Egyptian troops who had been
ordered to redeploy in the Sinai. Israel now had control of the Straits of Tiran.

Egypt suffered massive casualties and loss of weaponry in the Sinai: "Egypt officially
reported its casualties at ten thousand soldiers and fifteen hundred officers with an
estimated half of them killed or wounded in battle and many of the rest dying in the
desert. About five thousand soldiers and five hundred officers, nearly half of them
wounded, fell into Israeli captivity. Other Egyptian losses included about seven hundred
tanks, six hundred of which had been destroyed or damaged and the rest captured;
four hundred field guns and ten thousand vehicles of various types. In all, Egyptian
losses amounted to 80 percent of its military equipment in the brief war, Nasser later
reported." 37

Nearly three decades later, a highly credible source accused Israeli forces of having
committed a major atrocity against retreating Arab soldiers in Sinai: "... Arieh Yitzhaki, a
former archivist with the [Israeli] army's history branch ... [alleges] that in 1967, 300 to 400
Egyptian and Palestinian soldiers fleeing from the Gaza Strip toward Egypt were mowed
down by Israel's Shaked reconnaissance unit. Some, he says, died fighting, but others
were shot after surrendering." 38 During the first day of its invasion of Egypt, the Israeli
army also twice attacked the lightly armed 1st Sikh Light Infantry Battalion serving with
UNEF in Sinai and killed 14 of its soldiers and wounded 16 more. 39

Israel commenced its assault on Jordanian controlled East Jerusalem and the rest of the
West Bank after dark on June 5. Its army and air force had little difficulty crushing
Jordanian "Israeli troops were fanning throughout the West Bank.
Jordanian troops suffered the same fiery [i.e., napalm] fate as the Egyptians at the
hands of the free-flying Israeli Air Force. Palestinian towns fell one after the other. The
noose around the Old City of Jerusalem was drawing tighter." 40

36 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 141
37 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 262.
38 Time Magazine, August 28, 1995.
39 The Globe and Mail, 16 June 1967.
40 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p.224.

By the evening of June 6, Israeli forces had the Old City (East Jerusalem) with its 40,000
Arab inhabitants completely surrounded. Knowing they could mount no effective
resistance, nearly all of the remaining Jordanian troops slipped away undetected in the
dark. The ancient city was in Israeli hands by 10:00 A.M. the next day.

"The Moslem notables of the Old City had already decided that they would not, could
not, resist an Israeli attack. They were prepared to surrender the fabled city to spare its
civilian population and its precious shrines." 41

Although Jordan accepted UN Security Council cease-fire Resolution 233 immediately
after its passage, Israel ignored it and went on to conquer all of the West Bank up to the
Jordan River. Largely through its liberal use of napalm, Israel inflicted staggering
casualties on the Jordanian army. vii

On June 10, when the cease-fires came into effect, Israel occupied the remaining 22%
of Palestine that Jewish forces had not captured prior to and during the 1948 war (i.e.,
the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, under Jordanian rule since 1950, and the Gaza
Strip, administered by Egypt since 1949),42 along with Syria’s Golan Heights,43 Lebanon’s
Shebaa Farmsviii and once again, Egypt’s Sinai.44

Due to sloppy or more likely, deliberately misleading reporting by the main stream
media, most Americans were convinced at the time that Egypt’s President Nasser was
about to launch a genocidal war against Israel. This was due in large measure to the
fact that television and newspaper reports quoted him as having declared in Arabic
during a radio broadcast on 26 May 1967, “our basic objective will be to destroy Israel."
Israel and its supporters have repeatedly used this text book case of misrepresentation
by omission to convince the world that Israel was justified in attacking Egypt.

In reality, Nasser’s full statement to the Arab world on Egyptian radio during his May 26th
address to the General Council of the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions
regarding the possibility of war with Israel conveyed a completely different message:

41 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 231.
42 The annexation of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem (the Old City), by Jordan’s King Abdullah on 24
April 1950, was in violation of international law. Recognized only by Britain and Pakistan, it was rejected by all other Arab
states, the United States and the United Nations. In January 1949, Egypt assumed administration of the Gaza Strip with
the proviso that it was doing so on behalf of the Gaza Strip’s rightful owners, the Palestinians.

43 Disregarding international law, Security Council resolutions and world opinion, Israel illegally annexed Syria’s Golan
Heights on 14 December 1981.

44 In March 1957, following its 1956 invasion of Egypt in collusion with France and Britain, Israel was forced by the U.N.,
the U.S.S.R. and U.S. President Eisenhower to withdraw from the Sinai. France and Britain had previously been pressured
into pulling their occupation forces out of the Suez Canal region in December, 1956.

"If Israel embarks on an aggression against Syria or Egypt, the battle against Israel will be
a general one and not confined to one spot on the Syrian or Egyptian border. The
battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel." 45

Clearly, Nasser did not threaten to attack Israel. He did, however, leave no doubt that
if Egypt or its mutual defence pact ally Syria were attacked by Israel, he would respond
with total war. (Jordan and Egypt signed a mutual defence pact on May 30.)

Inexcusably, the only portion of Nasser's speech quoted by leading American television
commentators, including Huntley and Brinkley and Walter Cronkite, as well as articles
published in newspapers such as the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune was the
last eight words. As a result, Nasser was demonized and portrayed as a war monger
determined to strike first and annihilate Israel. 46

Although Israel used Nasser’s blockade of the Straits of Tiran as a casus belli to justify its
attack against Egypt, with Foreign Minister Aba Eban claiming that it was being
“‘strangled’...condemned to ‘breathe with a single lung,’” according to the UN
Secretariat, "not a single Israeli-flagged vessel had used the port of Eilat in the previous
two and a half years." Also, at most, only five per cent of Israel's trade passed through
Eilat. 47

According to The Statistical Abstract of Israel (1967), "the relative importance of Eilat to
the total number of ships arriving at the four other principal Israeli ports (Haifa, Tel Aviv,
Jaffa, and Ashdod) was 2.20%, 2.46%, 2.75%, and 2.91% for the years 1966, 1965, 1964,
and 1963 respectively; while the percentage of net tonnage registered at Eilat to the
net tonnage registered at the other four ports was 1.90%, 2.48%, 1.71% and 1.55% for the
same years respectively." 48

The only strategic commodity significant to Israel affected by the blockade was oil from
Iran and although more costly, it could have been re-routed to the port of Haifa.

In a cable from Cairo to the U.S. State Department, special presidential envoy Charles
W. Yost stated "'[I] cannot believe' keeping the Straits open' is vital to Israel's existence,
especially recalling that Straits were closed prior to 1957.' He recommended that
'interim arrangements' be made 'to supply Israel with oil through other ports' until the
complaint [regarding the blockade] could be presented to the International Court of

45 Translated by the Foreign Broadcasting Information Service, a U.S. agency in Washington; quoted by Dr. Alfred
Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection: What Price Peace? - Middle East Perspective, Inc., New York, 1979, p. 553.
46 Ibid.
47 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 139.
48 Dr. Alfred Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection..., p. 826.
49 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 220.

Providing further proof of his desire to solve the crisis with Israel peacefully, Nasser
agreed with Yost and “[suggested] that the issue of navigation through the Straits of
Tiran be taken to the International Court of Justice.” 50

At the end of May, J. William Fulbright, chair of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations
Committee recommended that Nasser’s closure of the Straits of Tiran be taken to the
World Court for a ruling. According to James Anderson, Nasser “did not rule out
completely [the] possibility of a World Court review if it could be done speedily.” 51
Renowned Middle East specialist William B. Quandt, was of the view, however, that
Israel would find “intervention by the World Court ‘impossible to accept.’” 52

The U.S. State Department's legal adviser rejected Israel's claim that it had a right to use
force to open the straits: " the opinion of the State Department's legal adviser,
international law almost certainly did not confer on Israel the right to initiate the use of
armed force against the UAR [Egypt] in the absence of an armed attack by the UAR on
Israel. A blockade, he observed, in a memorandum to [Secretary of State] Rusk, did not
of itself constitute an armed attack, and self-defense did not cover general hostilities
against the UAR."

Furthermore, as the UN Emergency Force (UNEF)Commander, Major General Idar Jit
Rikhye, revealed, Nasser was not enforcing the blockade: "[The Egyptian] navy had
searched a couple of ships after the establishment of the blockade and thereafter
relaxed its implementation." 53

Israel still argues that its decision to launch a land and air invasion of Syria at 11:30 A.M.
on June 9th 54 was necessary for Israel’s post-war security because of repeated
unprovoked pre-war shelling of its northern civilian settlements by Syrian artillery
positioned in the Golan Heights.

Israel’s violations of the 1949 Armistice Agreement before the war did cause Syrian
artillery to go into action and some shells struck settlements and military positions within
Israel, but most fell inside the demilitarized zones (DMZs.) The shelling was also sporadic
and relatively ineffectual. This is confirmed by the fact that despite it being a time of
intense skirmishes between the two countries, "...not a single Israeli civilian is reported to
have been killed by Syrian artillery in the six months before the 1967 war..." 55

50 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 130.
51 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 179.
52 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and..., p. 139.
53 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 139.
   A full four days after Israel started the war and four-and-a-half hours after Damascus agreed to abide by UN Security
Council Resolution 233’s demand for an “immediate cease-fire.”
55 Donald Neff, "Israel-Syria: Conflict at the Jordan River, 1949-1967," Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XXlll, No. 4, Summer
1994, p. 38.

Also, as Major General Carl von Horn, Chief UN Truce supervisor, observed, it was
"unlikely [Syrian artillery] would have come into action had it not been for Israeli
provocation." 56

Any doubt that Israel has misrepresented the role pre-war Syrian shelling played in its
decision during the war to seize the Golan Heights and Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms was
put to rest by then Defence Minister Moshe Dayan in 1976 during private conversations
with Israeli journalist Rami Tal. Although Dayan died in 1981, his comments were not
made public until 1997, when they were published at the request of his daughter, Yael,
in the Israeli newspapers, Yediot Ahronot and Ha'aretz:

"I can tell you how at least 80% of the incidents began...we would send a tractor to
plough at some spot where it was impossible to do anything in the demilitarized zone,
knowing in advance that the Syrians would start shooting. If the Syrians didn't react, we
would instruct the tractorists to keep advancing until the Syrians finally became fidgety
enough to open fire, and then we activated our artillery and later the air force. That
was the pattern. I did it and [Chaim] Laskov [former Chief of General Staff] and Chara
(Commander-in-Chief Tzvi Tzur) did it, Yitzhak Rabin did it.... At the time, we thought -
and this was the case for a long time - that we could change the [1949] armistice lines
by military activity that stopped short of war, that is, by snatching a piece of territory
and holding on to it until the enemy gave up in despair and let us have it." 57

Dayan also confirmed that Syria posed no threat after the first day of the war and
revealed that the real reason Israel conquered the Golan Heights (and expelled nearly
all – about 100,000 - of the native Syrian Druze population) was to seize its fertile farm
lands and gain control of the upper waters of the Jordan River: "'I made a mistake in
allowing the conquest of the Golan Heights. As defense minister I should have stopped
it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time.' The attack proceeded, he
went on, not because Israel was threatened but because of pressure from land-hungry
farmers and army commanders in northern Israel. 'Of course [war with Syria] was not
necessary. You can say the Syrians are bastards and attack when you want. But this is
not policy. You don't open aggression against an enemy because he's a bastard but
because he's a threat.’" 58

Israel also contends that a key cause of the war was cross border attacks from Syria
and the Jordanian controlled West Bank by Palestinian guerrillas. Not so, according to
Moshe Dayan who noted during the war, on June 8, that the guerrilla attacks were "a
nuisance but not a cause of war." 59

Dayan’s appraisal was corroborated soon after the war by Yehoshaphat Harkabi,
former chief of Israeli military intelligence: "[T]he 'operational achievements' of the

56 Major General Carl von Horn, Soldiering for Peace, David McKay company, Inc., New York, 1967, p. 129.
57 “The Myth of the Golan Heights," by Amnon Danker, Ha'aretz, 5 May 1997.
58 "Israel and Syria: Correcting the Record," editorial by Stephen S. Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, 24 December 1999.
59 Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East, University of California Press, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1988,
p. 128.

Palestinian guerrillas 'in the thirty months from its debut to the Six-Day war' were 'not
impressive by any standard' and certainly posed no threat to 'Israel's national life.' He
reports that there were all of 14 casualties (4 civilians, 4 policemen and 6 soldiers) for the
entire two-and-a-half year period...." 60

Israel also claimed that another reason it launched the war on June 5th was that its
economy was near the breaking point due to having to maintain such a high level of
mobilization. The Johnson administration disagreed: "On May 26 at noon, President
Johnson convened at the White House the first and only full-scale meeting of his
advisers held during the crisis....” Earle G. Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
“began with a military briefing, which included the evidence available on each side's
force postures. Wheeler expressed the judgment that Israel could stay at its present
level of mobilization for two months [i.e., until July 26] without serious trouble. In a military
sense, then, time did not seem to be running out." 61

Egypt, however, was finding it increasingly difficult to sustain its troop deployment in
Sinai. Every day it was "extending its vulnerability by lengthening its lines of
communications...experiencing confusion in [its] logistical system and as the distances
and complexity increased, the confusion was likely to get worse rather than better." 62

Israel insists that it would not have attacked East Jerusalem and the rest of the West
Bank during the war if King Hussein had acceded to the Eshkol government’s urgings on
the first day of the war and not committed his forces to the battle. Thanks, however, to
Lieutenant General Odd Bull, head of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, we know
what really happened.

At 8:30 A.M. - 45 minutes after Israel launched its assault against Egypt - Odd Bull
received a phone call from Israel's Foreign Ministry requesting his immediate presence.
Upon arriving at the ministry, Odd Bull was met by Deputy Director-General Arthur
Lourie, who falsely informed him that the war had begun with an attack on Israel by
Egyptian aircraft that were intercepted by Israel’s air force.

Lourie then asked Odd Bull to pass on a message to King Hussein: "We shall not initiate
any action whatsoever against Jordan. However, should Jordan open hostilities, we
shall react with all our might, and the King will have to bear the full responsibility for all
the consequences." 63

As far as Odd Bull was concerned, "[the message] was a threat, pure and simple and it
is not the normal practice of the U.N. to pass on threats from one government to
another." However, as "...this message seemed so important... we quickly sent it...and
King Hussein received the message before 10:30 the same morning." 64

60 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 133.
61 William B. Quandt, Decade of Decisions...., p. 51.
62 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., pp. 140-41.
63 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 205.
64 Ibid

It is reasonable to conclude that Odd Bull agreed to deliver Israel's "threat" to King
Hussein because Lourie misled him into believing Egypt had started the war. He would
thus be of the view that Jordan was not obligated under the terms of its mutual
defence pact with Egypt to enter the conflict. If Odd Bull had known that Israel
initiated the war, it is entirely possible that he would not have forwarded the message.

Knowing that Israel had attacked first, and perhaps encouraged by Egypt’s bogus
announcement that it had shot down several Israeli aircraft as well as Iraq’s false claim
that it had conducted a devastating bombing run on Tel Aviv65, King Hussein
responded to Israel’s ultimatum by declaring: "They started the battle. Well, they are
receiving our reply by air." 66

As noted above, Jordan’s air force, comprised of a few old British Hawker Hunters,
attacked a small Israeli airfield near Kfar Sirkin and its artillery shelled Tel Aviv, West
Jerusalem and other areas. Israel now had reason to order a full scale land and air
onslaught against East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, beginning with its
destruction of Jordan’s puny air force.

To state the obvious, if the Eshkol government really wanted Jordan to stay out of the
war it would have communicated directly with King Hussein. At the same time of
course, Israel knew Jordan was bound by their mutual defence pact to come to Egypt's

Israel also realized that apart from his pact with Egypt and the fact he was the official
custodian of Muslim shrines in East Jerusalem, King Hussein had no choice other than to
come to Egypt’s assistance. Half of his subjects were Palestinian refugees, who along
with the Arab world in general, would despise him if he did not. As Anwar Khatib, then
governor of the West Bank, later noted, “If he didn’t take part all the people would
blame him because he didn’t take an active part they lost the war. He couldn’t
behave otherwise.” 67

It would seem Israel's purpose in deceiving General Odd Bull regarding who started the
war and convincing him to deliver the ultimatum to King Hussein was to create the
illusion that it had made a sincere effort to keep Jordan out of the conflict.

Even if Jordan had not participated in the war, the Eshkol government would have
probably found some pretext to invade East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a whole.
To quote American historian, Cheryl Rubenberg: " seems apparent that Israel would
have attacked Jordan [i.e., the Jordanian controlled West Bank, which included East
Jerusalem] even if Hussein had refrained from joining the fighting, after the Egyptians

65 “... Moshe Dayan had shrewdly ordered that no mention be made by Israeli officials of the country’s victories in order
‘to keep the enemy camps confused’.” (Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 205)

66 Ibid
67 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 206.

and Syrians were crushed: the temptation to seize the remainder of Jerusalem and the
rest of historic Palestine would have been overwhelming. Indeed, a series of events
during the war clearly suggests such premeditation....” 68 (The “series of events” Ms.
Rubenberg refers to will be discussed in Part II.)

Several of its government and military leaders who were directly involved in the
decision making process later contradicted Israel’s assertion that its attack was pre-
emptive, i.e., to head off an imminent Egyptian attack:

Prime Minister Eshkol: "The Egyptian layout in the Sinai and the general military buildup
there testified to a military defensive [my emphasis] Egyptian set-up, south of Israel."
(Israeli daily, Yediot Aharonot, l8 October 1967); Prime Minister Menachem Begin,
Minister without portfolio in Eshkol's cabinet, while addressing Israel's National Defence
College on 8 August 1982: "In June, 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army
concentrations in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We
must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him." (New York Times, 21 August
1982); Meir Amit, chief of Israel's Mossad: "Egypt was not ready for a war and Nasser did
not want a war;" 69 Mordechai Bentov, an Israeli cabinet minister at the time: "All this
story about the danger of extermination [of Israel in June 1967] has been a complete
invention and has been blown up a posteriori to justify the annexation of Arab

Foreign Minister Abba Eban revealed in his memoirs that he knew Nasser did not want
war. After being informed by his confidant Arthur Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations, that Nasser had promised U Thant he would not start a war, Eban recalls
that he "found this assurance convincing. Nasser did not want war; he wanted victory
without war." 71

American and other government officials along with respected journalists were also
convinced that Nasser “did not want war” and had no desire to start one:

Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defence: “Three separate intelligence groups had
looked carefully into the matter [and] it was our best judgment that a UAR attack was
not imminent." 72 On May 26, while in Washington, Abba Eban was informed by
President Johnson that "...even after instructing his 'experts to assume all the facts that
the Israelis had given them to be true', it was still 'their unanimous view that there is no
Egyptian intention to make an imminent attack." 73 Also on May 26, in reply to Eban’s
assertion that according to Israeli intelligence, "an Egyptian and Syrian attack is
imminent," Secretary of State Dean Rusk dismissed the claim and assured Eban that

68 Cheryl Rubenberg, Israel and the American National Interest: A Critical Examination; Chicago: University of Illinois
Press, 1986; pp. 121-22.
69 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 134-135
70 Al Hamishmar, 14 April 1972 and Le Monde, 3 June 1972.
71 Quoted by Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem...,, p. 147.
72 Lyndon Johnson, The Vantage Point..., p. 293.
73 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 134.

Israel faced no threat of attack from Egypt. On the same day, during a meeting at the
Pentagon, Eban was also told by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and his aides
that "...Egyptian forces were not in an aggressive posture and that Israel was not
opening itself to peril by not attacking immediately. The contrary was true, Eban was
told.” 74 While interviewing President Nasser on June 2nd, British Member of Parliament
Christopher Mayhew asked "If Israel does not attack, will you let them alone?" Nasser
replied: "Yes, we will leave them alone. We have no intention of attacking Israel." In a
memo from Cairo dated June 2nd, U.S. presidential special envoy Charles W. Yost wrote:
"Yet even at this late date, despite all these verbal pyrotechnics and concentrations of
force, there does not seem to have been any intention in Cairo to initiate a war." 75 An
article published in the New York Times (4 June 1967) just hours before Israel attacked
notes that Major General Indar Jit Rikhye, Commander of UNEF in the Middle East, "who
toured the Egyptian front, confirms that Egyptian troops were not poised for an
offensive." 76 Journalist James Reston, in an article cabled to the New York Times on the
eve of the war: "An alarming fatalism seems to be settling on this city. Cairo does not
want war and it is certainly not ready for war." 77 An article in the last issue of Time
magazine published before the outbreak of war stated: "From Arab diplomats in both
Cairo and Beirut last night came hints that the crisis might be negotiated. Nasser...does
not want to gamble his winnings by actually leading them [the Arabs] to war. He is
reportedly ready to bargain with Israel for the lifting of the blockade of the Gulf of
Aqaba." 78

Israel had no doubt it would win the war. As historian Trevor Dupuy wrote in his Elusive
Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974, at the beginning of June "there were no
doubts in the minds of Israeli military leaders that their own troops were technologically
more sophisticated, or that they would be victorious in the event of another conflict.
[Indeed,] they expected to be as successful as in the 1956 war." 79

To quote historian Dr. Norman Finkelstein: “...the only two issues in the otherwise highly
contentious literature on the June 1967 war on which a consensus seems to exist are:
(a) there was no evidence at the time that Nasser intended to attack; and (b) even if
he did, it was taken for granted that Israel would easily thrash him.” 80

When all is considered, one can only conclude that the last thing Israel wanted was a
peaceful outcome to the crisis with Egypt. The evidence clearly demonstrates that
Israel had no justification for launching the war. It was not pre-emptive. Indeed, as
Israeli Cabinet Minister Mordechai Bentov observed in his statement quoted above,
“the annexation of Arab territory” was Israel’s prime objective. In this regard, Israel must

74 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., pp. 140-41.
75 Dr. Alfred Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection..., p. 554.
76 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 134.
77 New York Times, 5 June 1967; quoted by Gabor Mate, The Arab Case, Documents and Testimonies, The June War,
Vol. 1, No.1, 1968, p. 4.
78 Quoted by Gabor Mate, The Arab Case...., p. 4.
79 Quoted by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality ...,, p. 135.
80 Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 134.

have been very pleased that militarily weak Jordan and Syria had mutual defence
pacts with Egypt.

According to highly respected Middle East historian and journalist, Patrick Seale, Israel
had been meticulously preparing for another war against the Arabs since its 1956
invasion of Egypt: "In the decade since the Suez campaign Israel had built up forces
that could move fast and hit hard: mobile armoured units able to cover long distances,
mechanized infantry, heliborne and naval paratroopers for use behind enemy lines,
and above all, an air force of Mirage and Super-Mystere interceptors and Mystere
fighter-bombers of unchallenged superiority. The main lesson Israel had learned from
the Suez war was the importance of air dominance not only to neutralize Arab air
forces but also for use as flying artillery against infantry and tanks." 81

Ezer Weizman, former commander of Israel's Air Force revealed in his memoirs that Israel
had meticulously planned the attack against Egypt: "For five years I had been talking of
this operation, explaining it, hatching it, dreaming of it, manufacturing it link by link,
training men to carry it out." Recalling how he felt at 7:30 A.M. on 5 June 1967, Weizman
wrote: "Now in a quarter of an hour, we would know if it was only a dream or whether it
would come true...." 82

Contrary to pro-Israel spin, the total number of Arab combat- ready troops was not
much more than that of Israel. Historian Trevor N. Dupuy "...notes that Israeli officials
'recognized something that went unnoticed by most of the rest of the world, and was
not given sufficient attention even by the Arabs: they had nearly as many first line
troops as the combined Arab forces'." 83

Indeed, according to Hanson Baldwin, military analyst for the New York Times, Israel
probably enjoyed superiority in the number of soldiers directly involved in hostilities. This
was due to the fact that apart from sending his best soldiers (i.e., one third of Egypt’s
total of 200,000 regular troops) to Yemen to support its republican government, Nasser
was obsessed with what had occurred during the 1956 invasion when the Suez Canal
was occupied and judged its defence along with Egypt’s security as paramount.

"Since the vaunted superiority in numbers of the Arab armies was never brought to bear
on the fighting fronts, Israel probably had an over-all numerical superiority in the troops
actually involved and a clear-cut superiority in firepower and mobility in the actual
battles.... Many of the more than 2,000 tanks and self-propelled guns used by the
principal Arab armies do not appear to have been engaged at all.... President Nasser
appears to have retained ... [the majority of his available] troops to maintain his
precarious foothold in Yemen, to perform internal security duties in Egypt, and to
provide a reserve for the defense of the Suez Canal and Egypt proper." 84

81 Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East, p. 117.
82 Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem..., p. 202.
83 Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality..., p. 219.
84 New York Times, 8 June 1967; Prof. Khouri, The Arab Israeli Dilemma, p. 261.

The CIA’s role in the 1967 war
Another factor that may well have encouraged Eshkol and his cabinet to launch the
war was what appeared to be a green light from the CIA and Pentagon in a report by
Meir Amit, head of Mossad, who travelled to the United States incognito to assess their
positions regarding a strike against Egypt. Amit was not concerned with the efforts of
the State Department and President Johnson to prevent a war. "[Amit] consulted only
with CIA and Pentagon officials and apparently received encouragement for an Israeli
assault intended to destroy Nasser's Soviet-supplied arsenal and severely damage his
and Moscow's prestige. Amit did not consult with State Department officials, whose
diplomatic efforts were aimed in the opposite direction. With increased confidence in
American approval, determined to punish Nasser and thwart the intent of Mohieddine's
forthcoming visit to Washington, the cabinet on 4 June approved Dayan's plan to
attack Egypt the next morning." 85

There is a theory that the 1967 war was arranged between Meir Amit and James
Angleton, the CIA's official liaison with Israel’s Mossad. Angleton was a fervent anti-
communist who, like Israel, wanted to "break Nasser in pieces," to destroy him as a
political force. "One long-serving official at the CIA's ancient rival, the code-breaking
National Security Agency, states flatly that 'Jim Angleton and the Israelis spent a year
cooking up the '67 war. It was a CIA operation, designed to get Nasser.' Such a verdict,
from a source inside an agency that had the inclination and the facilities to monitor
both the CIA and the Israelis, must carry some weight." 86

For the record: Prior to the 1948 war, what we now refer to as West Jerusalem and East
Jerusalem comprised one city, Jerusalem. The western portion was known as the New
City and the eastern as the Old City. What Israel now defines as “East Jerusalem”
includes (as explained in Part II) vast areas of the occupied West Bank that it has
illegally incorporated into occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 war. Before it was

85 Dr. Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israel Conflict, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1988, p. 200.
86 Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison...., pp. 146-47.

occupied by Israel in 1967, East Jerusalem consisted of only 2.5 square miles/6.5 square
kilometres and included the Old City (which contains the Noble Sanctuary or Temple
Mount, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre)
along with the Holy Basin (a portion of which is within the Old City). Also, prior to the
1967 war, East Jerusalem was considered to be part of the West Bank. It is only since
the war that along with its illegally extended boundaries, East Jerusalem (illegally
annexed and joined to West Jerusalem by Israel in 1980 – see Part II) has been referred
to as an entity separate from the West Bank.


i At least 300,000 Palestinians were evicted from their homes and properties by Jewish forces during the just
over five months between passage of the UN General Assembly’s recommendatory only (i.e., no status in
law; contrary to the terms of the British Class A Mandate and international law and never adopted by the
Security Council) Partition Plan (Resolution 181, 29 November 1947) and the declaration of the state of
Israel on 14 May 1948 – effective May 15 - (Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, St.
Martin’s Press, New York, 1988, p. 145.) (For the record: According to historian Rosemarie M. Esber, "Zionist
Jewish military organizations forced more than 400,000 Palestinian Arab inhabitants from their homes in
about 225 villages, towns and cities in Palestine" before 14 May 1948 (Under the Cover of War: The Zionist
Expulsion of the Palestinians, Arabicus Books & Media, LLC, 2009) This was accomplished through force of
arms, intimidation and acts of terror, including rape and several massacres. The ongoing and accelerating
expulsion of Palestinians necessitated military intervention in Palestine by outnumbered and outgunned
Arab state armies (for a detailed comparative analysis of Israeli and Arab forces, see Harvard Professor
Emeritus Walid Khalidi ‘s From Haven to Conquest, Washington, The Institute for Palestine Studies, 1987, pp.
856-871.) Indeed, the capabilities of the Arab state armies were privately ridiculed by U.S. Secretary of
State George Marshal. During the ensuing war Israel defeated the Arab state armies as well as the small
and poorly armed mainly Palestinian volunteer Arab Liberation Army (ALA) and the disorganized
Palestinian irregulars. By the end of 1948, Israel controlled 78% of Palestine, expelled a further 450,000-
500,000 Palestinians and went on to destroy around 450 of their towns and villages. According to Walter
Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the “real number” of Palestinians driven out of
their homeland in 1948 “was close to 800,000." (Norman Finkelstein, "Debate on the 1948 Exodus" Journal of
Palestine Studies, Vol. XXI, number 1, Autumn, 1991, p. 86.) For the record: When the Partition Plan was
passed, the total population of British Mandate Palestine was approximately 2,115,000 of which about 31
per cent were Jews who owned only 5.67 per cent of the land area, including just over 15 per cent of its
cultivable area. (Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest: A Modern History of Palestine, Olive Branch Press, 1991, pp.
49-50) As of 1946, 90 per cent of the Jewish population consisted of foreigners (primarily from Poland, Russia
and Central Europe) and their offspring born in Palestine. The remaining ten per cent of the Jewish
population was native anti-Zionist Palestinian/Arab Jews. Only one-third of the Jewish immigrants had
acquired citizenship and tens of thousands were illegal immigrants. (Clifford A. Wright, Facts and Fables:
The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Kegan Paul International, London and New York, 1989, p. 114, several sources
cited) Thus, despite massive Jewish immigration, indigenous Palestinians made up 69 per cent of the
population and owned 94.33 per cent of the land, including state land. Shockingly, however, the Partition
Plan recommended that 56% of Palestine be granted to the proposed Jewish state. As if this were not unjust
enough for the Palestinians, about 407,000 of them lived in 400 villages within the proposed Jewish state
and they owned 80% of its most cultivable areas. As events soon revealed, their presence was not wanted.
Significantly, given the turmoil in Palestine as a consequence of the Partition Plan, when the state of Israel
was declared on 14 May 1948, the UN General Assembly was in the midst of a U.S. instigated debate aimed
at shelving the Partition Plan in favour of a UN Trusteeship for Palestine. U.S. Secretary of State George
Marshal was very much in favour of a trusteeship and was utterly opposed to President Truman’s ultimate
decision to recognize de facto a Jewish state in Palestine.

ii On 9 December 2008 (18 days before Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, its assault against the Gaza
Strip), Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian territories issued a

statement declaring that the civilian population in the Gaza Strip was “being collectively punished by
policies that amount to a Crime against humanity.” He also declared that the international court should
“determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege
should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.” According to Falk, contrary
to its commitment under the terms of the 17 June 2008 six month cease-fire agreement with Hamas
(explained in end note iii), Israel was only allowing into the Gaza Strip small amounts of food and fuel in
quantities enough to “stave off mass famine and disease.” He also pointed a finger at governments who
were “complicit by continuing their support politically and economically for Israel’s punitive approach.”
(Gulf Times, 9 December 2008) Israel responded with a campaign of character assassination against
Professor Falk even though his credentials and integrity are above reproach. Apart from his UN role, he is
also the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice, Princeton University; a
member of the New York Bar and the Visiting Distinguished Professor of Global and International Studies at
the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a practicing Jew as well. I am uneasy noting Professor
Falk’s religion for it should not be considered germane to his criticism of Israel. As he has made clear in
public statements, Professor Falk sees himself first as a civilized human being and as such, morally obligated
to uphold hard-won international humanitarian law and consequently, to pursue justice for the long
suffering Palestinians. I decided to mention his religion due to the fact that on 14 December 2008, while
further pursuing his duties as the UN Special Rapporteur five days after issuing his scathing report on the
plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, he was confined to a holding cell in Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport along
with 20 other detainees, strip searched and then deported from the “Jewish state.”

iii Although Israel withdrew its occupation forces and colonist settlers in August, 2005, the Gaza Strip
remains occupied under international law as Israel still controls its entrances, exits, air space and coast line.
In effect, the entire Gaza Strip became (and remains) an open air prison under Israel’s boot with the
shameful assistance of Egypt’s U.S. dependent Mubarak regime. In response to Hamas’s victory over Fatah
(76 of the 132 seats) in the January 2006 election (certified as honest and democratic by international
observers) for representation in the Palestinian Legislative Council (i.e., to govern both the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip), Israel and the Quartet (the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the U.N., established in
2002) imposed economic sanctions, including customs duties, against the Palestinian Authority throughout
the occupied territories. The United States had ignored warnings from Fatah that Hamas may win the
election. Fatah was mired in corruption, much more so following the death of Arafat who had lived
modestly and retained the respect of his people. The new leadership lived like “princes” while ordinary
Palestinians were finding it increasingly difficult to survive and feed their families. No wonder they voted for
Hamas. Through various means, including Israel’s arrest of 34 elected West Bank members of Hamas,
Washington and Israel installed a “moderate” (i.e., anti-Hamas, “pro-western” and relatively compliant)
Fatah government led by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in the occupied West Bank. The U.S. Congress
also thwarted an attempt by Fatah and Hamas to work together by holding back funding to the
Palestinian authority. In June 2007, Hamas retained control of the Gaza Strip by carrying out a preventative
counter-coup or counter-putsch against a U.S. orchestrated attempt by Fatah, known as the Dayton Plan,
to take control by military means. In an article published in Vanity Fair, investigative journalist Peter Rose
reveals the details: “Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the
U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by [President G.W.] Bush and implemented
by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a
Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by [Fatah’s Mohammed] Dahlan and armed with new
weapons at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected
Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.) But the secret plan
backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its
enemies out of power, the U.S. backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control
of Gaza.” (Peter Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell,” Vanity Fair, April 2008, Following the Hamas government’s
defeat of Fatah, Israel and the Quartet along with Canada (whose slavishly Stephen Harper led pro-Israel
Conservative government was the first to do so) imposed a crippling, inhumane and illegal blockade
against the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip that denied them sufficient amounts of food, water, medicines,
fuel and electricity. Previously imposed sanctions against the Fatah controlled West Bank were lifted. In
violation of the terms of the 17 June 2008 six month cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Israel permitted only

20% of the amount of essentials agreed to into the Gaza Strip rather than gradually removing the blockade
(see Richard Falk’s comments in end note ii.) This led to sporadic rocket fire into Israel (causing no
casualties) by Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades, not Hamas, which attempted to stop the rockets.
On November 4 – the day of the U.S. presidential election - Israel crossed the Gaza border and killed six
Palestinians. As Middle East scholar Sara Roy puts it, this attack by Israel was "no doubt designed finally to
undermine the truce." (Sara Roy, "If Gaza Falls," London Review of Books, 1 January 2009) (Israel’s feeble
excuse for the incursion and killings is the unproven allegation that the six Palestinians were about to dig a
tunnel under the border to kidnap Israeli soldiers.) Hamas responded with rocket fire but at the same time
offered to extend the June 17 truce (due to expire on 17 December 2008) if Israel abided by the 17 June
cease-fire and lifted its blockade. Israel refused. Hamas rocket fire resumed and although no Israeli was
killed, it was used by Israel as justification for its murderous rampage – “Operation Cast Lead” - that started
on December 27. According to Desmond Travers, co-author of the U.N.’s 2009 Goldstone Report on
“Operation Cast Lead,” during the month prior to December 27 “only ‘something like two’ rockets fell on
Israel.” (Ha’aretz, 10 February 2010.)

For the record: Embargoes against the Gaza Strip constitute “collective punishment,” illegal under
international law. Although, apart from periodic air bloody attacks and land incursions, Israel’s assault on
the Gaza Strip has ended, it maintains an illegal strict embargo. “As the Occupying Power, the State of
Israel has a legal obligation, codified in the Fourth Geneva Convention, to allow unrestricted humanitarian
access. Further, if the resources in the occupied territory are inadequate – as is currently the case in the
Gaza Strip – then Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention places a specific obligation on the
Occupying Power [Israel] to provide the articles necessary to ensure the safety and well being of the
civilian population.” (Report of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), 12 March 2009)

Israel constantly attempts to justify “Operation Cast Lead” by referring to the thousands of crude
homemade rockets launched into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. In this regard, it is important to note
that the rocket attacks from occupied Gaza started in 2001 and took their first Israeli victim in 2004. Since
then, there had been 14 Israeli victims prior to “Operation Cast Lead.” Tragic indeed, but hardly
comparable to the seventeen hundred Gaza Strip Palestinians killed by Israel during the same period,
including many innocent men, women and children.

iv In his article “Israel’s Lies,” Professor/Rabbi Siegman makes the following important observations:       “Middle
East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of
these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the [17June 2008 six month] truce: Hamas undertook to stop
firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it
tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the
scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF's Gaza Division. In an
interview in Ha'aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel's government of having made a 'central error'
during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing 'to take advantage of the calm to
improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . . When you
create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,' General Zakai said, 'it is obvious that
Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . .
You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they're in, and expect
that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.' The truce, which began in June last year [2008] and was
due for renewal in December, required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas
had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad
(even Israel's intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising
effectiveness), and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions. This
understanding was seriously violated on 4 November, when the IDF entered Gaza and killed six members of
Hamas. Hamas responded by launching Qassam rockets and Grad missiles. Even so, it offered to extend
the truce, but only on condition that Israel ended its blockade. Israel refused. It could have met its
obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn't even try. It cannot be said
that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the
strangulation of Gaza's population.” (January 29/09 issue of The London Review of Books)

v The Goldstone Report also declares that Operation Cast Lead was "directed at the people of Gaza as a
whole," not just Hamas militants as Israel claims, that its operations were "carefully planned in all their phases
as a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population,
radically diminish its local economic capacity to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever
increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability." Goldstone and his fellow panelists also found Israel
guilty of attacking residential areas, water wells, rooftop water tanks, agricultural land, citrus groves,
chicken farms, greenhouses, business factories and police stations; that "the destruction of food supply
installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a
systematic policy by the Israeli armed forces." The panelists also charge Israel with using phosphorous
incendiary shells on a UN compound sheltering more than 600 civilians, using phosphorous and high
explosive artillery shells on Al-Quds hospital and they reject Israel’s assertion that Hamas or other militants
were using the hospital. Israel is accused of attacking a crowded mosque during evening prayers (the
panel rejected the contention that armed militants were inside), using flechettes (4-cm metal darts fired
from missiles, planes or tanks "that penetrate straight through human bone and can cause serious, often
fatal, injuries") and of using Palestinians as human shields during house searches, a "war crime under the
Rome statute of the International Criminal Court." No evidence was found to support Israel’s contention
that Hamas had used Palestinians as human shields. Goldstone urged the UN Security Council to ask both
the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to conduct transparent investigations and file reports within in six
months. If either or both parties failed to do so, the council should refer the matter to the prosecutor of the
International Criminal Court.” (The full report in PDF format can be viewed at

vi Israel had put a great deal of effort into planning its conquest of East Jerusalem. The extent of this
preparation was revealed by General Mordechai Gur, whose paratroops led the attack, in his book The
Battle for Jerusalem (1974): "The houses in the immediate vicinity of the boundary [between West and East
Jerusalem] had been prepared in advance as battle sites. On every roof positions for weapons had been
constructed." General Gur recalled that as the battle began, "[s]uddenly Colonel David came in,
brimming over, as always, with energy and smiles.... Behind us we had years of working together. Long ago
he and I had planted charges of explosives to undermine the wall of the Old City, hoping that some day
we would have a chance to set them off." (Richard H. Curtiss,
A Changing Image: American Perceptions of the Arab-Israeli Dispute, American Educational Trust,
Washington, D.C., 1986, p. 85)

vii Regarding Israel’s use of napalm, Reverend A.C. Forrest, editor of the United Church Observer (Canada),
who visited Jordan in 1970, quotes General Sir John Glubb, commander of the Arab Legion military force in
Transjordan and Jordan from 1939 to 1956: “General Sir John Glubb, in his ... The Middle East Crisis,
published in 1967 ... states: 'The greater part of the Jordan army were destroyed by napalm....' He quotes
from a signed statement from a team of doctors of the American University of Beirut who volunteered to
help in Jordan military hospitals ... [One of them declared]: 'I handled 600 to 700 patients of whom 160 were
civilians. Two hundred were suffering from secondary degree burns. I did not see a single bullet wound.'
[The doctors also told Glubb that] ‘Many soldiers say that their units were destroyed by fire without their
ever seeing an Israeli soldier. A doctor reported that the Mobile Field Hospital, containing 350 patients, was
incinerated with all its patients and staff by napalm....' ” (Reverend A.C. Forrest, The Unholy Land,
McClelland and Stewart Limited Toronto/ Montreal, 1971, pp. 16-17)

viii Contrary to Israel’s contention, the water rich Shebaa Farms are not part of Syria. To quote former U.S.
President Jimmy Carter: “Since 1924, Shebaa Farms had been treated as Lebanese territory, but Syria
seized the area in the 1950s and retained control until Israel occupied the Farms – along with the Golan
Heights - in 1967. The inhabitants and properties were Lebanese, and Lebanon has never accepted Syria’s
control of the Farms. Although Syria has claimed the area in the past, Syrian officials now state that it is part

of Lebanon. This position supports the Arab claim that Israel still occupies Lebanese territory.” (Jimmy
Carter, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, Simon & Schuster, New York – London – Toronto – Sydney, 2006, pp.
98-99) According to free-lance Journalist Habib Battah: “...although several maps put the farms in Syria,
the Shebaa farmers consider themselves Lebanese. They possess Lebanese citizenship and paid taxes to
Lebanon well before the 1967 takeover [by Israel.]” During a visit to Shebaa in 2008, Battah was “assured”
by its mayor “that the farmlands on the Israeli side of the [UN] observation post did indeed belong to
Lebanon and that Shebaa farmers had produced nearly century-old land deed and tax documentation to
prove it. The claim has been bolstered by Hebrew University researcher Asher Kaufman...” (Habib Battah,
“Letter from Shebaa,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2008, Vol. XXVII, No. 9, pp. 42-3)

                                         END OF PART I

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