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   Vol.65/No.33            August 27, 2001 
Israel's wars against Palestinian liberation
Printed below are excerpts from the Pathfinder pamphlet Palestine and the Arabs' Fight for Liberation, by Fred Feldman and George Sayad. The piece describes two earlier Israeli wars--a six-day assault launched in 1967 and the 1973 war. Copyright © 1989 by Pathfinder Press, reprinted by permission. The subheading is by the Militant.

The Israeli rulers readied a military strike that they hoped would topple governments that had taken the strongest anti-imperialist stands, such as those in Egypt and Syria, crush the Palestinian struggle once and for all, and provide Israeli capitalists with expanded markets and a large pool of labor power that could be superexploited.

Confident of Washington's backing, the Israeli government launched massive bombings and invasions of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt on June 5, 1967. The surprise attack succeeded in virtually wiping out the air forces of those countries in the first hours of the war. Over the next six days, despite often bitter resistance, Israeli troops seized the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

More than 200,000 Palestinian refugees fled the West Bank. Tens of thousands left the Gaza Strip as well. But the Israeli invaders avoided the indiscriminate massacres that had provoked the flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948. The Israeli rulers' goal was not only to capture those parts of historic Palestine that had not been seized by Israel in 1948 but to capture the Palestinian population of these territories as well.

Of the newly captured portions of Palestine, East Jerusalem was annexed shortly after the war. The West Bank was officially renamed Judea and Samaria but was not formally annexed. It remained under military rule, along with the Gaza Strip. The future status of the Sinai, also under military rule, was left open. Over time, the Golan Heights, where some fourteen thousand Syrian Arabs live, became dotted with Israeli settlements and was formally annexed in 1981....  
1973 war
After the 1967 war the Israeli regime waged a "war of attrition" against Egypt, bombing, shelling, and dropping napalm on Egyptian cities. Following the defeat of the Palestinians in Jordan and a 1970 cease-fire that halted the "war of attrition," President Anwar al-Sadat began probing the possibility of an accord with Israel. Sadat had become president of Egypt after Nasser died in 1970.

In 1972 Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers from Egypt and sought Washington's help in getting the Israeli occupiers to give up the Sinai Peninsula. When the Israeli rulers showed no interest in a deal, he joined forces with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, who had taken power in a 1970 coup, to launch a war aimed at forcing Israel to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria.

On October 6, 1973, Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal and entered the Israeli-occupied Sinai. Simultaneously, a Syrian force began moving down the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Egypt's ground defenses and air force blocked Israel's warplanes from establishing the command of the skies that they had achieved in the first hours of the 1967 war. On October 10 the Israeli military began counterattacking and the Egyptian and Syrian forces were slowly pushed back in heavy fighting. By the end of October, cease-fires were in effect on both fronts. More than 1,800 Israeli soldiers died in the war, in contrast to 806 in 1967. Many more Egyptian and Syrian soldiers lost their lives.

During the war the U.S. government airlifted huge quantities of arms to Israel, including at least seventy jet planes and 150 tanks. More than twenty cargo flights carrying U.S. arms landed in Israel each day.

During the war the governments of Arab countries began an embargo on oil shipments to countries, including the United States, whose governments backed Israel. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), made up of governments of oil-producing countries oppressed by imperialism, imposed higher prices. Through these and other moves, Middle Eastern states got more concessions from the imperialist powers and more control over their natural resources.

Although Egyptian and Syrian forces were driven back in the October war, their sharply improved showing over 1967 gave a big lift to the morale of Palestinians and other Arabs, and dealt a blow to the Israeli image of invincibility.
Related articles:
Protest Israeli war drive against Palestinian people
Israeli regime steps up assault as Middle East girds for war
U.S., British planes bomb Iraq in stepped-up attack  
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