Israeli Soldiers Capture The Western Wall - Copyright: David Rubinger, GPO

On June 5th, 1967, the Six-Day War broke out, forever changing the dynamics of Middle Eastern diplomacy as well as Israel's borders. Throughout 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser amassed 465,000 troops on the Southern border of Israel. Seeing this, the United States tried to prevent war by establishing an embargo on the weapons trade with Israel. 

While the U.S. was trying to placate the Arab States by denying Israel defensive weapons, the Soviets were providing the Arabs with a massive amount of supplies. Israel, in a preemptive strike, launched a surprise attack that destroyed more than half of Egypt's Air Force in just one morning. Israel caught the Arabs by surprise, attacking them while they were eating breakfast. The result of this strike was a series of tank battles between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the deserts of Sinai in which Israel decimated the Egyptians and ended up conquering all of Sinai, gradually returning the desert land as part of the peace agreement signed in 1979.

Meanwhile, believing the Israeli army was occupied and distracted with Egypt, fighting erupted both on Israelโ€™s eastern border with Jordan-controlled Judea and Samaria, along with Syria who attacked Israel from the Golan Heights. Jordan prepared to send paratroopers to assault the Western part of Jerusalem which Israel controlled. When the paratroopers arrived, a guerilla war broke out on the streets with citizens and the Israeli military both fighting off the Jordanian soldiers. Furthermore, a battle broke out in an area called 'Ammunition Hill' which was a British-era, fortified arms depot that the Jordanian army had been using. 

This battle marked one of the bloodiest battles of the war and one of the deadliest in Israel's history. The commanders who were fighting against the Jordanian defenses encircled the Old City which Jordan had controlled, and the Jordanian forces retreated. Israel had reclaimed the whole of Jerusalem and reunified the city. In the next 48 hours, Israel followed the retreating Jordanian forces through the West Bank until the Jordanian forces had crossed to the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River.

During this counter-offensive by Israel, roughly 325,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank had fled to Jordan. Israel offered these refugees help to resettle, but they refused. To this day, not one of these refugees or their descendants is considered a citizen of Jordan.

The war ended just six days after it began, hence the name, and resulted in Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the entire West Bank including East Jerusalem being in the hands of Israel. While Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 and finished returning Sinai to Egypt around that time as well, Jordan refused Israeli gestures to return Judea and Samaria, directly resulting in the current crisis within the region.

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