I’m sure you were expecting the title to be “Six Days in June”. Well, the Six Day War does get a look-in in this post, but there were two other very important days in the month of June over the last century.
Starting chronologically, this week was the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. Arguably, this day was the turning point of the Second World War. The Daily Telegraph has an hour-by-hour timeline of the battle and the landings which makes fascinating reading.
The second day to commemorate, or rather week, in June 1967 was of course the Six Day War which started on 5th June and ended six days later, with the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem (falsely and slanderously called “Arab East Jerusalem” when it was never any such thing), the territories of Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights, more or less quadrupling Israel’s size within six days. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Here is the IDF Spokesman’s report on Operation Moked, the carefully planned operation to destroy the Arab air forces on the ground, which paved the way to Israel’s brilliant victory.
In 1962, Maj. Gen. Ezer Weizman, commander of the Air Force, had already planned an operation that would shut down all the air forces of enemy nations. In order to be effective, the IDF understood it first had to strike the airport runways that would keep planes on the ground.
The mission had to be a complete surprise for it to succeed. The orders of the Air Force Commander were clear: pilots would fly at low altitude and would not under any condition use communication lines — not for take off, not during flight and not even if a pilot had a technical problem and needed to eject. They would make contact only after the first round of strikes.
In 1964, about three years before the war, the IDF planned the 24 hour mission as a defensive measure against Israel’s increasingly hostile enemies. Senior commanders discussed the operation with the highest of secrecy and named it “Moked.”
Maj. Gen. Mordechai “Mottie” Hod, Air Force Commander, and Lt. Gen. Yitzahk Rabin, then IDF Chief of Staff, decided on June 4th to launch Operation Moked. After receiving the clearance from the political echelon in the afternoon, a few air base officers were gathered to receive the instructions from their commanders.
Read the whole article. It’s fascinating and reads like spy thriller fiction even though we all know it is absolutely true – and of course we know it has a good ending. Watch this short video too:
The last of the 3 days to commemorate happened today exactly 33 days ago: Operation Opera, i.e. the Israeli attack on the Iraqi Tammuz nuclear reactor at Osirak. This attack too was almost miraculous in the way the pilots managed to fly their planes, weighed beyond their limit with bombs, such a huge distance and at such a low altitude to avoid radar detection. They also succeeded in avoiding being hit by anti-aircraft fire and managed the flight home unscathed. Truly a miracle, and an achievement of mind-boggling heroics and bravery.
As we all know, the youngest of those brave pilots was Ilan Rimon who lost his life many years later on the space shuttle Columbia. What a loss to the nation!
You can watch how the operation unfolded in three consecutive videos:
There are those who doubt that international forces will ever have the guts or the political-incorrectness to act as decisively as the Allies did in Normandy 70 years ago.
One other personal note to remember this day: 33 years ago this was the day I gave birth to my first-born daughter. Having been rather busy in hospital the previous day I asked my husband if there was anything new in the world (this was in the days before internet and smart phones). He said casually “Yeah, we bombed the Iraqi reactor”. “Yeah sure”, I replied cynically. “No, really, it’s true!” he insisted. After I refused to believe him, he went to buy me a newspaper, where I read the wonderful truth for myself.
So happy birthday Tzfonit Rechoka (even though you’re not so tzfonit (north) or rechoka (far) any more). No one can say your birthday didn’t go off with a bang. 🙂