Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories by Ahron Bregman - review by Adam LeBor

Adam LeBor

1967 & All That

Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 367pp £25

Few victories have been as fast, or as cursed, as Israel’s triumph in the Six Day War. At 7.45am on 5 June 1967, Israeli fighter pilots attacked the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian air forces. By the end of the morning the planes were blackened wrecks. Over four hundred enemy aircraft were destroyed, many while still on the ground. The land battles would continue for another five days, but in essence, the war was won that morning. It was a bitter and humiliating blow, and one that still reverberates through the Arab world. The Israeli victory was summed up in a sour joke. Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, telephones Egypt’s President Nasser after the war is over and says, ‘We have your next batch of fighter planes here. Shall we bother delivering them to you, or just blow them up ourselves on the ground?’

The victory brought Israel control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula. East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights have been annexed. The Sinai has been returned to Egypt and Gaza languishes in a kind of limbo under the rule of Hamas.

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