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(Excerpt from “Enfer des Espions” – New world 2010 edition – Jean René Belliard)
A historical reminder to think about
…Yuri Andropov, the new boss of the KGB is a strong and ambitious man. He took over the management of the agency in 1967. Andropov was an ambassador for the USSR. in Hungary at the time of the Budapest uprising against the communist regime. It is haunted by the idea that any communist regime could collapse like a house of cards. The secret police must therefore be constantly on the lookout for the grain. Andropov will lead the KGB. with an iron hand.
The Soviets have a vested interest in putting fuel on the fire in the Middle East. They believe that a conflict between Israel and the Arab states can only inflame the hatred of Jews among Arabs and consequently the hatred of those who support the Hebrew state: the United States and Western countries. They are increasing arms deliveries to Arab countries. They also put their intelligence networks at the service of their allies. Thus the Soviet government informed the Egyptian and Syrian governments that an Israeli attack could take place on 17 May 1967.
It is believed that this information was far-reaching and led both parties to war.
On May 15, the Israeli national holiday, the Tel Aviv government decides to organize a military parade in the Jewish area of Jerusalem. This military parade is for the Arabs only the camouflage of an offensive device. On 17 May, Egyptian and Syrian troops went on full alert. On the 18th, the Egyptian government demands the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force (U.N.E.F.) from Gaza and Sinai. Mr. Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, was forced to follow Egypt’s request on 19 May.
On May 22, President Nasser announced the mining of the Strait of Tiran, the closure of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli ships, as well as to foreign ships carrying strategic equipment to Israel. At the same time, 6 Egyptian divisions were heading towards the Israeli border.
On 31 May, King Hussein signed a mutual defence agreement with President Nasser between their two countries.
For the Israeli government, each of these events constitutes a casus belli. The Tel Aviv government is asking the United States to honour the commitments made by Eisenhower in 1957, which guarantee free access for ships bound for Eilat. But the Johnson administration is bogged down in the Vietnam conflict and can send nothing but an international fleet to clear the Tiran Strait.
Israeli spies contributed to the victory
On 5 June 1967, at dawn, the Israeli army attacked. Tsahal, the Israeli army, wins the victory in less than three hours. His air force destroyed most of Egypt’s air forces on the ground. The action was facilitated by the fact that “there was at least one Katsa or Mossad informant in all Egyptian air bases and headquarters. There were no less than three at the High Command Headquarters in Cairo – three staff officers returned.” (Secret History of Mossad” – Gordon Thomas – Editions Nouveau Monde. Page 64)
Israeli secret agents had discovered that between “7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., the radar surveillance units reached their maximum vulnerability level.” (idem – page 65) As for the pilots, most did not show up at the hangars until around 8 a.m.”. At that time, the ground teams had already started to take the aircraft out of the hangars to refuel and arm them. For about 15 minutes, the tarmac was crowded with tankers and ammunition vehicles.” (idem – page 66)
Israeli aircraft strike at 0801 hours. In a few minutes the Israeli jets ensured total control of the air. Arab armies without air cover will suffer the biggest defeat in their history.
A defeat with far-reaching consequences for the Arabs
In six days, Egyptians, Syrians and Jordanians lost more than 30,000 men, 430 aircraft, 500 pieces of artillery, 800 tanks, 10,000 trucks and other transport vehicles, a submarine, several other naval units, as well as a Sol-Air SA2 missile base, found abandoned in the Sinai desert. Material losses will amount to approximately EUR 1.5 billion. On the Israeli side, 676 people were reported dead, 40 planes and 100 tanks destroyed.
The disaster is tragic for the Arab populations. Not only are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees seeing the hope of seeing the houses from which they were driven in 1948 disappearing, but their ranks are still being swelled by 208,000 “displaced”. 115,000 people, already refugees, have returned to the exodus. The number of Palestinian refugees, scattered throughout the various Arab countries, now reaches 1,300,000 people. 1,061,400 Arabs have just come under Israeli control: 600,000 in the West Bank, 66,000 in the old city of Jerusalem, 356,000 in Gaza, 33,000 in the Sinai desert and 6400, mostly Druze, in the Golan.
A democratic problem for Israel
The Israelis have won such a crushing victory that it becomes impossible for them to understand the urgency of making peace with the Arabs. They prefer to cling to their territorial conquests. And not just any of them: they conquered most of the land of Israel which was the objective of the Zionist movement: they now control the old city of Jerusalem, Jericho, Hebron, Nablus and all those cities of the West Bank which are at the heart of the biblical land.
It is clear that the Israelis will not give up their conquests any time soon. As proof, the answer of Moshe Dayan, the Minister of Defence of the Israeli government to a question on a possible peace negotiation with King Hussein of Jordan: If he wants to speak, “he knows my telephone number”, implied, it is certainly not we who will actively seek to make peace!
But by clinging to all its conquests, Israel will find itself faced with a dilemma: How to remain a democratic state? As a result of his military victory, one million Palestinians, with a fertility rate higher than the Jews, came to swell the population of the Hebrew state. If Israel wants to remain a Jewish state, it can only do so by oppressing the legitimate aspirations of these Palestinians. There are three possible alternatives for Israel:
to be a Jewish state living in the whole land of Israel, but not democratic,
a democratic state throughout the land of Israel, but not Jewish,
a Jewish and democratic state but not in the whole land of Israel.
There is something else: the Palestinian identity. Until 6 June 1967, there was no Palestinian people as such. There was the Palestinian refugee problem in a number of Arab countries. There were West Jordanian subjects of King Hussein of Jordan and there were inhabitants of Gaza Egyptian subjects. The inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza did not feel Palestinian but Jordanian or Egyptian. The conquest of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza will at the same time create a Palestinian problem within the very limits of the great Israel that the Israelis dream of creating.
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Jean René Belliard
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