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    Glossary of Key Terms and Events in Israel's History
Six Day War   

In May 1967, events in the region led Israel to believe that an Arab attack was imminent. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had ordered a withdrawal of the U.N. forces on the border and announced a blockade of Israeli goods through the Straits of Tiran. At the same time, Syria increased border clashes along the Golan Heights and mobilized its troops. Israel held back on military action due to a request by the United States, but international diplomatic efforts to stop the blockade failed. The Arab states began to mobilize their troops, and Arab leaders called for a war of total destruction against Israel.

Arab mobilization compelled Israel to mobilize its own troops, 80 percent of which were reserve civilians. Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt on June 5. Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and when Jordan and Syria entered the conflict Israel also gained control of the West Bank and the eastern sector of Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. In a catastrophic military defeat - which shook the Arab world for many years to come - the Arab nations ceased their fight six days after the war began.

This new territory brought great changes to Israeli daily life and created new challenges for policymakers. With the reunification of Jerusalem, Jews, who had been prevented by Jordan from entering the eastern part of the city, flocked to pray at the Western Wall for the first time in 19 years. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel had to grapple with the implications and challenges of having one million Palestinian Arabs now under its administration.

Soon after the end of the fighting, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 242, calling for an Israeli withdrawal from territories recently occupied and an acknowledgment by the Arab nations of Israel's right to live in peace within secure borders.
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