The Crisis In The Middle East

How the Six-Day War of 1967 transformed the Middle East?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bordering countries of Israel

Mains level: Impacts of the War

Why in the News?

Fifty-seven years have elapsed since the Six-Day War ( June 5 to June 10, 1967) fought between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Causes of the War

  • Historical Tensions: Rooted in the establishment of Israel in 1948, which resulted in the displacement and death of thousands of Palestinian Arabs, creating a massive refugee crisis.
  • Egypt-Israel Relations: Particularly hostile due to territorial and water disputes, exacerbated by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s aggressive stance against Israel.
  • Cold War Influences: Military build-up in Israel and Arab states along Cold War lines, with Israel supported by the US and Arab states by the Soviet Union.
  • Provocations: Egypt’s naval blockade of the Straits of Tiran in May 1967, cutting off Israel’s maritime access to the Red Sea and mobilizing forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

Outbreak of the War

  • On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive airstrike on Egyptian airfields, swiftly gaining air superiority and neutralising the Egyptian Air Force.
  • Israel’s ground forces advanced into the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, territories occupied by Egypt.
  • Jordan and Syria entered the war, attacking Israel from the east and north, but were quickly repelled.

Impacts of the War

  • Territorial Gains for Israel: In less than a week, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan.
  • Geopolitical Shift: The defeat was a major blow to Arab nations, establishing Israel’s military and geopolitical dominance in the region.
  • Emergence of Palestinian Nationalism: The war spurred the rise of Palestinian nationalism and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) emerged as a significant political entity.
  • Continued Conflict: Ongoing tensions and conflicts in the region, including the 1973 Yom Kippur War, are direct results of the 1967 war and subsequent Israeli occupation of key territories.
  • Unresolved Refugee Crisis: The plight of Palestinian refugees displaced during and after the war remains unresolved, continuing to fuel regional instability.

Conclusion: The Six-Day War was thus a pivotal event that not only redefined territorial boundaries but also reshaped political dynamics and set the stage for ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

Mains PYQ:

Q “India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled back.” Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2018)

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