By Penina Taylor, United with Israel
Between the War of Independence in 1948 and the Suez Crisis of 1956 – when Israel, in response to the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran, then-Egyptian President Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal and constant terror across the border, went to war with Egypt – Israel was under continuous attack by the surrounding Arab states.
The threats, although serious, were less intense in the latter part of the decade up until the spring of 1967, when the threat of a catastrophic war loomed on Israel’s horizon.
The armies of Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt amassed a formidable legion at Israel’s borders.
Israel’s 275,000 troops (many of whom were civilians who had been called up) seemed no match for the approximately 460,000 Arab troops, combined with their superior weaponry.
According to most accounts, the united Arab forces possessed more than twice the number of tanks and nearly four times the amount of combat aircraft than did Israel.
The odds of winning this war were as remote as those of the Chanukah story. The world sat by and watched as they expected the Jewish State to be annihilated. For three weeks before the war began, the people of Israel prepared for the worst.
Chanukah Miracle in 1967
The true miracle of the Six Day War was simply the way it began. Good intelligence, foresight and planning allowed for the Israeli army to carry out a pre-emptive strike on the enormous enemy forces.
The timing had to be right. Had Israel struck too early, she not only would have been seen by the world as the aggressor, but she would not have been able to destroy as much of the enemy’s fire power as she did.
If she had waited too long, she would have lost the element of surprise and would have had to defend herself against four powerful enemies, which vastly outnumbered and outpowered her in every aspect.
On June 5, Israel launched a series of pre-emptive airstrikes against Egypt. Caught completely by surprise, the Egyptian air force was all but destroyed, thus giving Israel an edge of air superiority. That evening, the IDF launched an airstrike against Syria, which was said to have destroyed nearly two-thirds of the Syrian air force.
Having gained virtual control of the air, the IDF was in a much better position to fight the ground war that followed.
The war lasted only six days but ended with Israel gaining control of an area three times her size, including the Sinai Peninsula and strategic Golan Heights as well as the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of the Jewish People.
Although she would eventually relinquish Sinai as part of a peace treaty with Egypt, the new area allowed Israel to establish more defensible borders and to send a strong message to her attackers.
Reminiscent of the story of Chanukah, the odds of Israel surviving, let alone winning, the 1967 war were minimal. Yet fighting for her very existence and with God on her side, Israel emerged the victor once again.
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