by Eli E. Hertz
International law makes a clear distinction between defensive wars and wars of aggression.
In June 1967, the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan attacked Israel with the clear purpose expressed by Egypt's President: "Destruction of Israel." At the end of what is now known as the Six-Day War, Israel, against all odds, was victorious and in possession of the territories of Judea and Samaria [E.H., The West Bank], Sinai and the Golan Heights.
International law makes a clear distinction between defensive wars and wars of aggression. More than half a century after the 1948 War, and more than four decades since the 1967 Six-Day War, it is hard to imagine the dire circumstances Israel faced and the price it paid to fend off its neighbors' attacks.
Who Starts Wars Does Matter
Professor, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, past President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) states the following facts:
"The facts of the June 1967 'Six Day War' demonstrate that Israel reacted defensively against the threat and use of force against her by her Arab neighbors. This is indicated by the fact that Israel responded to Egypt's prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, its proclamation of a blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the manifest threat of the UAR's [The state formed by the union of the republics of Egypt and Syria in 1958] use of force inherent in its massing of troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of UNEF.
"It is indicated by the fact that, upon Israeli responsive action against the UAR, Jordan initiated hostilities against Israel. It is suggested as well by the fact that, despite the most intense efforts by the Arab States and their supporters, led by the Premier of the Soviet Union, to gain condemnation of Israel as an aggressor by the hospitable organs of the United Nations, those efforts were decisively defeated.
"The conclusion to which these facts lead is that the Israeli conquest of Arab and Arab-held territory was defensive rather than aggressive conquest."
Judge Sir Elihu Lauterpacht wrote in 1968, one year after the 1967 Six-Day War:
"On 5th June, 1967, Jordan deliberately overthrew the Armistice Agreement by attacking the Israeli-held part of Jerusalem. There was no question of this Jordanian action being a reaction to any Israeli attack. It took place notwithstanding explicit Israeli assurances, conveyed to King Hussein through the U.N. Commander, that if Jordan did not attack Israel, Israel would not attack Jordan.
"Although the charge of aggression is freely made against Israel in relation to the Six-Days War the fact remains that the two attempts made in the General Assembly in June-July 1967 to secure the condemnation of Israel as an aggressor failed. A clear and striking majority of the members of the U.N. voted against the proposition that Israel was an aggressor."
Eli E. Hertz
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