Sabaton Saturday: ‘Counterstrike’

Sabaton-Primo_Victoria-2005

My favorite war-facts are the ones that you never ever knew about. The ones that you read about and think, “How many people still remember this?” One of those moments happened to me last week when brainstorming for a new Sabaton Saturday. So this week on Overall Loudness’ Sabaton Saturday: ‘The Six Day War’, or, in other words, the ‘Third Arab-Iraeli War’. Which is featured in Sabaton’s ‘Counterstrike’.

Trenches dug by the Isrealis, after Egyptian forces entered the Sinai Peninsula

Trenches dug by the Isrealis, after Egyptian forces entered the Sinai Peninsula

When, in 1948, the first Arab-Israeli war is finished, the relations between Israel and its neighbors never fully recovered. With this unhealthy relationships between country’s the tension is always very high. Only a small spark can start a huge flame. This happened in 1967 when the Egyptians mobilized forces along the Israeli border in the “Sinai Peninsula”, south of the current Israeli state.

As a counter measure Israel launched a series of airstrikes against Egyptian airfields on June the fifth. Apparently the Egyptian defensive infrastructure was very poorly maintained. All at once the Egyptian air force was completely destroyed and it only cost Israel a couple of casualties. What it did was giving Israel complete air superiority.

The territories during the six day war

The territories during the six day war

Together with the airstrikes the Israelis launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, which is in current day and age still a tension point. Israel also marched to the northern and central routes of the Sinai, which surprised the Egyptians, again. On June the sixth and seventh the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, ordered the evacuation of the Sinai.

In those two days the Israeli forces pursued the Egyptian forces, inflicting heavy losses upon the disorganized and retreating troops. By June the seventh the Israelis reached the Suez canal and prepared the last steps of the conquering of the Sinai. On June the eighth Israel had taken the entire Sinai.

While the Israeli forces were occupying the Sinai, Egypt contacted Jordan and Syria about the situation. On June the fifth Israel took revenge on Jordan’s support for Egypt, by launching an offensive on East Jerusalem. The Israeli forces withheld from attacking Jerusalem for the fear of negative international reactions. But on June the seventh the Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Dayan gave the order to invade the city. At the same time the Israelis captured the western cities of Nablus and Bethlehem from the Jordanians.

Ruined Syrian fortifications on the Golan Heights

Ruined Syrian fortifications on the Golan Heights

However, Syria was struck from the air by the Israeli, which destroyed two-third of the entire Syrian air force in one night. Then the Israeli had air superiority over Syria as well. On the ninth of June Dayan ordered an invasion of the Golan Heights. With heavy fighting the Israelis broke through the Syrian defense line and by June the tenth they had taken the entire Golan plateau.

A Palestinian family in Yanoon, a city near Nablus (2004)

A Palestinian family in Yanoon, a city near Nablus (2004)

On the eleventh of June, a ceasefire was signed. Israel had tripled in size, with the control of the Gaza strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Only 1000 casualties were caused on the Israeli side, compared to 20,000 Arab killed forces. In this time 300,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank and 100,000 Syrians left the Golan Heights.

In 1978 Israel withdrew from the Sinai, after a peace treaty with Egypt. The conflict in the other conquered territories remained the same, which is still a terrible and bitter conflict, nowadays.

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