Six Days War: Escalting Arab Terror Attacks (1964-67)

Figure 1.--Because of the Palestinisn terror attacks on Israeli civilians, Isreali schools, kibutzes, and other fcilities set up secure spots. This is one of those safe places for the infanys at an Israeli border kibutz. It is undated, but looks to have been taken just before or during the Six Day War.

Armed action between Israel and the Arabs did not begin with outbreak of the Six Days War. Israel for several years was asailed by both Fatah terror attacks and attacks supported or even carried out by the Arab militries. The PLO’s creation and Yasser Arafat's control of it resulted in a substantial increase in terror attacks (1964). In 1965 there were 35 raids. In 1966 this increased to 41 attacks. In the first 4 months of 1967, there were 37 attacks. The attackers consistently attacked unarmed civilians. [Sachar, p. 616.] The pattern was a little different along the various borders. Along the Egyptian border, despite the war-like language coming from President Nasser and Egyptian media, actual attacks were limited. A few came from Egyptian-ocvupied Gaza. It is unclear to what extent the Egyptian Government was fomenting the attacks. We do know that the number of attacks were lower than along the Jordanian and Syrin border. The existence of United Nartions border peace keeping force may have been a factor (UNEF1). . Along the Jordanian boorder, mistly vfrom the West Bank, the Fedayeen conducted cross-border raids, primarily tsrgetting Israeli civilians. The objective was to destabilize. Israel retaliated with incursions against Palestinian targets believed to be involved. The Syrians used artilley enplacements in the Golan Heights to fie on Israeli kibutz farmers in the valley below. Syrian army intelligence recruited terrorists for actions against Israel. They were conducted with a Fatah cover so the Syrian military could not be directly blamed. A factor here was a rivalry between Egypt and Suria over control of Fatah. The first of these actions claimed was an attack on the Israel water carrier at Beit Netopha, but in fact no attack had taken place (December 31, 1964). A second attempt failed ehen the explosive charge was disarmed (January 2, 1865). Successful attacks followed (January 14 and February 28, 1965). In the next 18 months runniung up to he Six Days War, Syria insigated and/or supported 120 Palistinian terror attacks, resulting in a mere 11 Israeli deaths. The effort was stimied by effective Israeli security operations. Along the Lebanese border there was minimal activity. Despite the minimal results achieved by Fatah, the Arab press devote considerable publicity to them, inclusing where they were launched from. There was an obvious contrast with the lack of action from Egypt despite Nasser's bombastic speeches. Some authors believe that this rivalry was far of the fermet thst led up to the Six Days War. It seems to have been a motivation for Nasser's aggressive actions against Israel that led to the War. Nasser seems to have felt a need to prove himsel to the Arab street. Historians debate if Nasser's aggressiveness was more driven by the Syrian rivalry or the Fatah movement. It does seem to be the case that the actions of the Palestinians and Syrians pushed Nasser to moving against Israel. Of course neither created Nasser's desire to eliminate Israel, he was strongly motivated in that direction, but it seems to have at a minimum reduced his inhibitions and affected his judgements concenining the dangers of war.


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Created: 10:35 PM 12/10/2016
Last updated: 10:35 PM 12/10/2016