Israel zeroes in on Syria
With Jordan and Egypt quelled, Israeli forces push northwards
In the Sinai, advancing Israeli troops had stopped taking enemy soldiers prisoner, leaving them to walk west to the Suez Canal, only seizing highranking Egyptians for use in any eventual prisoner swap (the Arabs only took 15 Israelis prisoner). Israel simply could not accommodate the vast numbers of Egyptian prisoners and wounded.
One Israeli tank commander later testified how he told himself: “Hold on, there’s going to be a massacre here with both sides shooting.” He ordered his men: “No killing soldiers. Try to catch them and then let them go so that they’ll spread the word that the Israelis won’t kill them. Just send them home.”
By 8 June, with the Jordanian and Egyptian armies broken, Israel turned its attention to the northern front with Syria. Would it attack for a third time, against Syria? Israel feared Soviet intervention and Dayan opposed a war with Syria. The conflict appeared to be ending as a four- day war, with Israel in charge of the Sinai and the West Bank. Syria, it appeared, would escape the war unscathed. The Soviets signalled that they would not accept further Israeli aggression.
At 7.10pm, Eshkol convened his ministerial team and argued for the seizure of at least part of the Golan Heights, against Dayan’s wishes. In an unprecedented move, members of the Israeli settler movement addressed the convened ministers. One minister said that he would prefer the Golan Heights and a diplomatic break with the Soviets, to the Syrians on the ridge and Israel retaining ties with Moscow. Others there argued against an attack, saying that a break with Moscow meant a break with a raft of Afro-Asian countries. Dayan also spoke against war with Syria. Finally, Eshkol proposed that Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, the head of the Israeli army, and he would approve a Golan operation if necessary.
Egyptian soldiers are transported to a prisoner of war camp