Israel launches an all- out assault
The Egyptian air force is wiped out at a stroke
The war started at 7.45am, dramatically and decisively, when the entire Israeli air force ( just 12 warplanes remained behind) headed off in Operation Focus, flying low to avoid Egyptian radar, and wiped out nearly all the Egyptian warplanes on the ground.
As the Israeli air force chief proclaimed: “The spirit of Israel’s heroes accompanies us to battle… From Joshua Bin-Nun, King David, the Maccabees and the fighters of 1948 and 1956, we shall draw the strength and courage to strike the Egyptians.”
Egyptian commander Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer, on being told a counter-attack was impossible as all his warplanes were destroyed, “completely collapsed. I had never seen him like that before,” recalled a subordinate. With 298 Egyptian warplanes destroyed by the end of the day, Israel had already effectively won the war as, without air cover, the Egyptian army in the Sinai desert was doomed. Israeli tanks joined the fray, pushing towards the Suez Canal.
Iraqi and Jordanian warplanes joined the fight and Israel wiped out those air forces too. When Jordan started shelling Israeli positions around Jerusalem, Israel told King Hussein: “The war is between us and the Egyptians. If you don’t join in, nothing will happen to you.” But Hussein’s soldiers intensified shelling and sealed their fate. Hussein was on his own. As Nasser’s air force collapsed, he had an incredible conversation with Hussein, informing him: “Be strong. Today we have sent all our aeroplanes against Israel. Since early this morning our air force has been bombing the Israeli air force.” Within a few days, Hussein’s army was gone, the king lamenting: “I have never received a more crushing blow than that.”
Egyptian warplanes lie destroyed on their runways after Israel’s pre- emptive strike