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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
Personal accounts of the war of 1967
Readers of the BBC website share their memories of the Arab Israeli war.

SAMIA KHOURY, 73, PALESTINIAN, EAST JERUSALEM

Samia Khoury

We were living in Beit Hanina, a suburb north of Jerusalem. There was a Jordanian military camp right behind our house.

The Israeli planes raiding the area didn't realise that the Jordanian camp had been evacuated before the war had even begun.

One of the bombs fell directly on the strawberry bed in our garden, breaking our living room window.

It was not really a six-day war. It was a 24-hour walk-through with minimal resistance. Almost overnight the whole population was facing a new reality.

We were under a military occupation, and to add insult to injury we had to put up a white piece of cloth as a sign of surrender.

We just stood helpless, not realising what we were up against.

In fact our anger was focused on the Arab armies who lost the war on three fronts, and on Jordan specifically for abandoning the area before the fighting had started.

MOSHE, 67, ISRAELI, JERUSALEM

At about 10am we heard a rumour that the Egyptian air force had been destroyed.

To be at the Wailing Wall; it was a dream for us!

I was doing my military service, working as a technician for the air force. Of course I knew the reservists were already called up; but I didn't have the feeling war was imminent.

No-one believed it would be so easy. Suddenly we had a big Israel with all the sites of the Bible.

On the sixth day of war we said "Let's go the Wailing Wall". I hadn't been there before, not to East Jerusalem.

Before 1967, there was a viewpoint from which you could see the Wailing Wall; I remember my father pointing it out to me as a child.

You must understand, this was only 22 years after the Holocaust. Remembering my family members who were killed ... and then to be at the wall; it was a dream for us! The history of 2,000 years was coming back!

After the war, there was enormous prosperity in Israel; people started to invest in the country. Jews came from all over the world.

RAHAF, 68, SYRIAN, DAMASCUS

Map of the Golan Heights

I remember it being quite a hot summer. I was 28 years old and alone with my four children in Quneitra, as my husband was quite close to the front. He was a member of the military police.

During the build-up, the media was very one-sided and patriotic. It was all about defeating Israel and gaining a victory for the Arab street, something that was very much needed.

You must understand, at the time Damascus was inundated with Palestinian refugees; their suffering was very evident and there was an animosity towards Israel that permeated through society; it still does.

There were a lot of rumours and the only way to determine how close the Israeli army actually was, was by word of mouth.

I was anxious and felt quite isolated; I could see my neighbours slowly closing up and leaving for Damascus.

My husband finally called me and told me to do the same, which I did. He followed about a week later.

I remember people thinking that Syria had fallen and soon the Israeli army would enter the gates of Damascus.

The media was very subdued and did not elaborate on our defeat. The nation went from a state of euphoria, to utter despondency.

It was the ultimate anti-climax, and I could see it etched clearly on my husband's face when he returned. He never spoke much of what he saw, as it would bring tears to his eyes, and he hated me seeing him cry.

FATHI SALAMEH, 47, PALESTINIAN, JENIN, WEST BANK

Fathi Salameh

Jenin was under the protection of Jordanian and Iraqi troops at the time. There were just 30 or 40 kilometres between us and Israeli territory.

I was seven years old and I remember it all well. When they started to bomb us we hid in caves in the village. My family have horrible stories about what Israel did to our people in 1948.

So, we spent two or three nights in the caves without electricity or water.

It's a myth that it was a six day war; everything was finished in just 48 hours.

We were at the top of the mountain watching the Iraqis and Jordanians escape from the area. There was no unified command; they gave up the land very easily.

There were individual heroes who tried to resist. We watched one lone Iraqi tank stay on the hill and fire on the approaching Israeli tanks. He kept on firing and holding them back until an Israeli war plane flew in and bombed him.

The Jordanians didn't have the strength or weapons that the Israelis had and they didn't want to commit suicide. So, they went home to their families.

After we left the caves we went home too. Everyone in the village put white flags on their houses.

I'm now 47 and I've spent 40 years of my life under occupation.

GEORGE MUENZ, 52, CANADIAN/ISRAELI, VANCOUVER

George Muenz

I was 12 years old in 1967, living in Montreal. As the son of an Auschwitz survivor, this was initially a traumatic time for me and Jews in general.

I first heard about the war when I came into the kitchen for breakfast and my foster mother was crying.

I did not really understand war, but I sensed that we were in great danger.

I remember watching TV and seeing mobs in Cairo screaming "Itabch Al Yahud" - "Slaughter the Jews" and there was real fear that we were facing another holocaust.

The subsequent Israeli victory was a huge watershed in our lives, and in 1974 I moved to Israel and joined the Israeli Army.

ADNAN AWAMLAH, 58, JORDANIAN, JORDAN (From BBCArabic.com)

I was a student when the war broke out. We were expecting certain victory over Israel.

However, I woke up out of a series of dreams to a surprising and horrific reality.

These dreams were fuelled by the Arab leaders of the time and by the official media. They included a romantic desire to return Palestinian lands occupied by Israel; and another one of forming an unbeatable joint Arab army.

If there is one main consequence of the war, it could be that I lost confidence in Arab leaders.

I still remember King Hussein of Jordan promising Arab armies would "eat up Israelis with their hands and teeth" - words that later proved no more than rhetoric after Israel destroyed three Arab armies in a few hours.

I also can't forget my friends and relatives breaking down in tears after the defeat.

With all pre-war talk about certain victory, we just didn't expect to lose.

RONNIE DALLAL, 54, FORMERLY IRAQI JEW, NOW BRITISH CITIZEN

Ronnie Dallal

By 1967 there were only about 2,500 Jews left in Iraq. We kept ourselves to ourselves and were generally left alone; but things changed dramatically after the war.

I was 14 and went to the Jewish school where we tried to maintain a semblance of normal life despite the many restrictions imposed on us as Jews.

On the day it started, all I was aware of was parents coming to pick their children up. I couldn't understand what was happening. The mother of a friend told me war had started.

For the first few days of the war no-one knew what was happening. When the truth came out, we started being persecuted.

After this, Jews were not allowed to have 'phones, my brother couldn't go to university. In 1969 nine Jews were publicly hanged in Iraq for spying for Israel. We had our own ID to show we were Jewish. Guess what colour the card was: yellow.

I was 18 when I left; I was smuggled into Iran. I think the Jewish community in Iraq has dwindled to about 10.

NASHED RASHED, 53, EGYPTIAN/CANADIAN, CANADA

Nashed Rashed

I was 13 years old at the time, living in Cairo. After 40 years the events are still fresh in my mind.

We used to live near a railway line connecting Cairo to Suez. Before the war you could see the heavy equipment being taken by rail from Cairo to Sinai, through Suez.

You could see the faces of the soldiers; they were singing and chanting as if they were going on a picnic.

After the war, the trains used to sneak back after midnight, carrying the wounded, the dead and the destroyed artillery.

It was such a shock to me and everyone else, but at the time we knew very little; neither when nor how the war ended, because all information was controlled by the Nasser regime.

More and more memories come to my mind, but they are all sad. We felt destroyed as a nation.

JOSEPHINE BACON, 65, BRITISH/ISRAELI, LONDON

Josephine Bacon

For the first three days of the war we were told nothing by Israeli radio, we did not know if we were winning or losing.

I was living in Jerusalem with my husband, a reservist in the air force, and my baby daughter.

We lived opposite the head of news at Kol Israel, Israeli Radio, who was a friend of ours, but he would not tell us what was happening.

On the third day, people who had stayed at home started to venture out, as we realised the shelling had stopped.

When I went to buy groceries I saw a crowd of people had gathered. When I got closer, I saw they were crowding around a jeep with an Israeli soldier in it - but could see immediately from the camouflage that it was not an Israeli jeep!

Sure enough, there were the Arabic numerals on the number plate. That was the first time I knew we had won.






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