30 Jul 2019
GS Paper 1
What is six-day war and why was it fought? How has this war shaped history of the modern world? (250 words)
- Briefly explain about the Six-Day war in the introduction.
- Mention the causes and the immediate reasons that triggered the war.
- Explain how it impacted the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
The Six-Day War was a brief but bloody conflict fought in June 1967 between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. This war led to the emergence of Israel as a significant power in the region and shocked the Arab world of the severity of their defeat.
The six day war can be considered as a consequence of several decades of political tension and military conflict between Israel and the Arab states.
The roots of the war lay in the very creation of Israel in 1948, which was followed by the First Arab-Israeli War. This also created Palestinian refugee crisis aggrieved by the military conflict.
Further conflict erupted in 1956 in the form of Suez crisis after the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Hence, the Six-Day war can be seen as a consequential step of the ongoing geo-political rift in the Middle East.
Some of the other direct major causes of the war were:
- Cross border attacks in 1960s by Syrian-backed Palestinian guerillas against the Israel Defense Forces.
- Israel-Syria air and artillery engagement in April 1967.
- Amassing of troops by Egypt towards Sinai Peninsula. This was after Soviet Union intelligence inputs and in apprehension of a full scale invasion by Israel near its northern border with Syria.
- Support of USSR for the modernization of Egyptian and Syrian armies.
- In May 1967, Egypt banned Israeli shipping from the Straits of Tiran, the sea passage connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.
All these events led the Israel Defense Forces to initiate Operation Focus, a coordinated aerial attack on Egypt on June 5, 1967. This marked the beginning of the Six-Day war in the form of fierce air and artillery warfare.
The war ended with a U.N.-brokered ceasefire. However, it significantly altered the map of the Middle East and gave rise to other geopolitical tensions. Below are further consequences of the war:
- Israel seized the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
- This put a question mark on the capabilities of Arab world. They met in Sudan in August 1967 and signed a resolution that promised “no peace, no recognition and no negotiation” with Israel.
- Led by Egypt and Syria, the Arab states later launched a fourth major conflict with Israel during 1973’s Yom Kippur War.
- Capturing West Bank and Gaza strip worsened the Palestinian refugee crisis. This laid the groundwork for ongoing political turmoil and violence in the region.
Since 1967, the lands Israel seized in the Six-Day War have been at the center of efforts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Even though Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1982 and withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the status of the Golan Heights and the West Bank continues to be a stumbling block in Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.
The violence of the conflict has been the object of numerous international conferences at UN platforms. This has divided the modern world in dealing with historic rights, security issues and human rights of the Palestinians. While the Arab world generally supported the Palestinian cause, the western world led by USA always supported Israel’s claims in the region.
Hence, the conflict continues to shape the history of the modern world in the form of ongoing geo-political tensions like the one between US and Iran, the leader of the Muslim world.