These were the famous words spoken by Motta Gur, the commander of the paratroop brigade on June 7, 1967, the day the Israelis liberated Jerusalem. Fifty years later we celebrate this victory that saw Israel defeat the combined militaries of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in just six short days.
Many students of the Bible believe this stunning victory was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. While predicting the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Jesus then said, “… Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). Was this amazing event that caught the attention of the world the beginning of the end of the times of the Gentiles?
Let’s review this incredible victory. Egyptian President Gamal Nasser was an egomaniac who wanted to unify the Arab world under his leadership. But he had a big problem – the Arab world did not want to unify under his leadership. So how does he get them to do this – why start a war with Israel – of course.
Having resupplied Egypt with a massive amount of weapons, Russia convinced Nasser, as if he needed convincing, that he could defeat Israel. With encouragement from Russia, Nasser made an alliance with Syria and Jordan to destroy Israel. The stated Arab goal was not only to defeat the Israeli military and reclaim the land, but to kill every Jew in Israel – man, woman and child. DON’T EVER FORGET THIS!
In May, 1967, Nasser began to move his troops into the Sinai. He ordered the United Nations (UN stands for Usually Nothing) peace-keeping forces out of the area. Then as a final attempt to provoke Israel, he blocked the Israeli port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aquaba. (Against the better wisdom of the State Department, I was parasailing in the Gulf of Aquaba during the first Gulf War.)
Israel was left with no choice but to retaliate. On June 5, 1967, Israel made a lighting attack against her enemies. Israeli jets, flying dangerously low over the Mediterranean to avoid radar, approached the Egyptian airfields with the Egyptian planes all lined up waiting for the order to attack Israel. The Israeli pilots destroyed the entire Egyptian air force including approximately 500 Egyptian planes before they ever got off the ground.
Not able to face reality, Nasser proclaimed a great victory while boasting that Egyptian planes were bombing Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Believing the lie, King Hussein of Jordan entered the war thinking that Egypt was defeating Israel. This was a tragic mistake as the Israeli government had warned King Hussein that if he stayed out the war they would not attack Jordan.
The Egyptian ground forces in the Sinai were also routed. The Israelis captured 600-700 Russian supplied tanks including more than one hundred tanks that were undamaged. In addition they took huge quantities of weapons and other military equipment. Weapons were not all they took. They also captured, or shall we say, liberated land. By the time the short six-day war was over, Israel liberated the Sinai and the Gaza Strip, from which Egypt had made many raids into Israel.
They also liberated the Golan Heights from Syria. For years, Syria had fired on Israeli civilians from the strategic area of the Golan. Looking down from their fortified bunkers, Syrian snipers easily “picked off” Israeli citizens who were trying to farm the land below. It made no difference if it was men, women or children. On one of our many trips to Israel, we went in one of those abandoned bunkers to see for ourselves how easy it was for Syrian sharpshooters to murder at will.
The battle for the Golan was especially costly and dangerous as the land had been mined. Israeli soldiers had to climb the Golan in an “up-hill” battle against snipers and Syrian tanks while crawling through a land area full of mines. Even today, many of these mines are still there in areas fenced off with warning signs. One effort to liberate the Golan was featured in the amazing video series; “Against all Odds” which everyone should buy and watch over and over.
In the 1948 War of Independence, Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria including the Old City of Jerusalem. This area is the heartland of Israel which the world calls the “West Bank” because it is west of the Jordan River. For nineteen years, the Jordanians demolished and desecrated everything Jewish in the Old City and forbid Jews from entering their ancient capital. During this period when Jordan had the rule, they never had the thought of declaring a Palestinian state. Isn’t that interesting!
The most important outcome of the six-day war was the Israeli liberation of the old city of Jerusalem (this is Biblical Jerusalem) and Judea and Samaria. The Jews had not been masters of Jerusalem in well over two thousand years. They had been banned from living there since A.D. 135 by the Roman emperor Hadrian after the second Jewish war with the Romans. Now after all these centuries, they are back in their land and in possession of Jerusalem their ancient capital promised to them as an everlasting possession by God. Truly this is cause to celebrate.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst, says the LORD. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:10-12).