June the 5th, 1967

The convoy of fuel tankers left a few nights ago. The road leading to the village is deserted. The days are hot and are getting longer. The waiting continues. I arrive at school in the morning. This is the last month of the last year before moving to high school. Nobody concentrates any more on anything – only on the question: Will there be a war? When? The teacher does not yet finish reading the list of pupils from the diary when the little loudspeaker hanging in the corner of the room, which is normally used for messages and for the broadcasting of educational programmes, wakes up to life. In the head teacher’s room, someone places a radio receiver in front of the microphone. From the loudspeaker comes the voice of the news reader Yoram Arbel: “This is the voice of Israel from Jerusalem. The time is ten minutes past eight. Listen to the announcement of the IDF spokesman. Since the early hours of the morning heavy armour and air battles are taking place between Egyptian forces that advanced towards our territory and our forces that went out to hold them back. Our aircraft are engaged in bitter air battles with enemy planes…” The held breath is released at once. The accumulating tension of the long weeks of waiting is discharged. The war has begun, and for better or worse, it will not be very long.

Sirens are heard across the area. We go down to the school’s bomb shelter a few times. After an hour or two we’ve had enough and we take our bags and go home. A feeling of each one to their fate. My parents are also at home after their workplaces were dispersed. My father is too old for military service and is serving as a civil defence volunteer. The announcement of the IDF spokesman is broadcasted again and again, with no facts or commentary. My father, who experienced a large war many years ago, frowns and says to us quietly: “If it is to hold them back – then it is not good.” My mother, who came from a country that never knew war, looks out of our window, worried, at the distant west bank hills, and says suddenly with anxiety in her eyes: “Now the Arabs will slaughter us all.” We shut her up angrily.

Another siren. We have no bomb shelter and we ran to a zigzagging trench fortified by sand bags that was dug by a tractor behind the vegetable garden. Many families crowd into it. Someone switches on a transistor radio: “The Arab Legion is shelling Jerusalem…  Ein HaMifratz was attacked from the air…” A young girl begins to sob. The radio adds misleading reports about the location of the falling shells of the Jordanian ‘Long Tom’ cannon in the area of Tel Baruch, causing the enemy gunners to increase range and to the shells to fall into the sea. I look around from inside the trench. In the distance, my eye spots a twin engine jet aircraft flying very low and at a high speed westwards. It is hard to identify but it is too small to be a Soviet Iiyushin 28 which serves in the Egyptian and Syrian air forces and that a cardboard model of is hanging in our room. The aircraft approaches fast and passes north of us with its engines screaming. It is a French made IAF ‘Vautour’ bomber jet. Why it is flying at this uncharacteristic altitude, heading and speed is not clear, but at least it is one of ours.

U, who was a paratrooper in Unit 101 until he was badly wounded and became disabled, and now serves as a reserve instructor, returns from one of the air force bases. He meets my father on the road under our house and tells him that our air force has already achieved a huge success this morning against the air forces of the Arab countries, and that the war has already been practically decided in our favour, My father returns home, passes the information carefully to us and adds his own doubts, in case it is inaccurate. Evening falls. All the windows are covered and a heavy darkness descends outside. We all lie in our clothes along the width of my parent’s folding bed which my father lowers from the wall wardrobe storing it during the day, and we listen to the radio. Towards midnight the IDF spokesman begins to release information. The fog of battle is beginning to disperse. The commander of the Israeli air force, General Moti Hod, informs the people of Israel about the destruction of the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian air forces on the ground at their air bases. IDF forces are advancing in to the Sinai and around Jerusalem. The first day of the Six Days War is coming to an end.

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One Response to June the 5th, 1967

  1. JCWmoderator says:

    I remmember General Hod’s broadcast – over 400 enemy planes destroyed in one day, the 1st 300 (the Egyptian Air Force) in just 3 houes! An amazing piece of Jewish History.
    You can download that and other broadcasts from the IBA website.

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