Is­rael ze­roes in on Syria

With Jor­dan and Egypt quelled, Is­raeli forces push north­wards

BBC History Magazine - - Six-Day War -

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

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