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1967: Israel ends six-day war

Fighting in the Middle East has ended after Israel finally observed the UN ceasefire and halted her advance into Syria.

Within the last six days Israeli troops have taken territory many times larger than Israel itself and united the holy city of Jerusalem for the first time since 1948.

Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol justified the pre-emptive strike on Egypt, and battles with Jordanian and Syrian forces by saying his country was acting in self-defence.

He told the Sunday Times newspaper: "The threat of destruction that hung over Israel since its establishment and which was about to be implemented has been removed."

He added: "For the first time in 19 years, Jews are again free to pray at the Wailing Wall and at other shrines sacred to Judaism in Jerusalem and Hebron."

Ceasefire confirmed

The UN set a ceasefire at 1630GMT (1730BST) after Israel and Syria agreed to position UN observers on both sides of the front line at Kuneitra, nine miles (14 km) inside Syria, and at Tiberias, on the Israeli side.

But Syria has said Israeli fighter planes flew over its capital, Damascus, five minutes after the ceasefire had been due to come into force.

Two hours later the observers sent word to the UN Security Council in New York that firing on both sides of the front line had indeed stopped.

Nasser to stay in office

There was good news and bad news for Egyptians.

Having decided to resign yesterday after his country's humiliating defeat, President Abdel Nasser today announced he would in fact remain in office.

This brought thousands of Egyptians out onto the streets of Cairo and other Arab cities cheering and rejoicing. In an address to the Assembly, relayed by loudspeaker to the crowds outside, he said: "I will give the nation everything I have, even my life itself."

But this was tempered by reports from Cairo Radio that Israeli bombing raids of the Suez Canal had left it blocked with sunken ships, a further blow to the nation's economy.

Meanwhile the Soviet Union - which has broken off diplomatic relations with Israel - and its Eastern Bloc allies have agreed a plan to re-supply Arab forces with armaments.

In Context
After a period of relative peace in the Middle East, Palestinian guerrilla groups, supported by Egypt and Syria, started a series of attacks on the Israeli border in 1965.

These were followed by Israeli reprisals and a gradual build-up of Arab military forces around Israel's border.

The second Arab-Israeli war, also known as the six-day war, began on 5 June with a massive pre-emptive strike on Egypt. Israel crippled Egypt's air force, then seized the Sinai peninsula from Egypt in the south and the strategic Golan Heights from Syria in the north.

It also pushed Jordanian forces out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, uniting the once divided Holy City.

The assault that ended 10 June changed the face of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It also displaced some 500,000 Palestinians who fled to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

In November 1967, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 242 which laid down a formula for Arab-Israeli peace whereby Israel would withdraw from territories occupied in the war in exchange for peace with its neighbours.

This resolution has served as the basis for negotiations ever since.

Israeli forces evicted Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip in August 2005 and began to demolish some settlements on the West Bank as well.

Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations that have made peace with Israel since 1967.


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