On the ground in the Sinai, Israel’s 70,000 men and 700 tanks crashed head-on into the Egyptian battle lines, taking heavy casualties and causing heavier ones to the enemy. Over a week of fighting secured the entire Sinai Peninsula for the Israelis. The battles with the Jordanians were much closer to home with fighting in Jerusalem and its immediate environs. Old Jerusalem and the east bank of the Jordan fell to Jewish forces as did the Golan Heights defended by Syria. When the war came to an abrupt end, the Israelis had killed or wounded more than 16,000 enemies at the loss of about 900 killed and 5,000 wounded. A million Muslims suddenly found themselves within Israeli jurisdiction. The official name of the conflict became “The Six Day War,” one of the greatest triumphs in a short time, in history.
Israeli tanks advancing on the Golan Heights
A national euphoria enveloped Israel, and jokes about the brevity of the war and heroism of Israelis made the rounds. “It was our finest hour — or did it take that long?” A soldier says to his friend, “Let’s take over Cairo.” His friend replies, “What shall we do in the afternoon?” Overconfidence reigned until the surprise attacks that threatened to destroy Israel in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The jokes ended, but that’s another story.