Tonight and tomorrow, May 24th 2017 (28th of Iyar) we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim. In 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan with the help of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Kuwait, Pakistan, the PLO and Sudan, decided to attack and destroy the young State of Israel. The combined Arab army, supported and supplied primarily by the USSR, counted with 465,000 troops, 2,880 tanks and 900 aircraft. Compared to Israel’s 264,000 soldiers (of which 200,000 were reservists), 800 tanks, and 300 aircraft. Led by Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt mobilized its troops into the Sinai desert. Expelled the UN peace keeping forces, and initiated other actions which were considered an act of war, like closing the Suez canal. They were so confident in their military superiority that the Arab states celebrated victory and rejoiced in the destruction of the Jewish State even before they started the war.
On June 5th 1967 Israel launched a preemptive strike beginning what is known as the Six Days War. Against all odds, Israel not only survived the attacks of a much more numerous and stronger army–with no American help– but also conquered the Sinai Peninsula, Judea and Samaria and the Golan heights. And the most important aspect of the Israeli victory was that 1900 years after its destruction by the Romans, on the 28th of Iyar 1967, Israel liberated and regained control over Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). This was probably one of the happiest days in the history of the Jewish people, a culmination of our Independence that started in Yom haAtzmaut, 1948.
Many miracles took place in the Six Days war and very especially in the battles for Yerushalayim. We shouldn’t be surprised. The Tora already promised the people of Israel that when we follow HaShem’s will, even if we are outnumbered, God will intervene in our behalf. He will be fighting with our troops, protecting us and delivering us from destruction (Debarim 20, 1-4):“When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for HaShem your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with You… HaShem your God is going with you, and will fight with you against your enemies — to deliver you…”. HaShem’s promises were fulfilled in the miracles that took place during the Six Days war.
In the Shirat haYam (Exodus 15) the song that the people of Israel sang after defeating the Egyptians and crossing the sea, we have a clear indication of how exactly HaShem “goes to war with us” to defeat our enemies. We witnessed His “Modus Operandi”, so to speak, when He intervenes in our behalf. The Tora says: תִּפֹּל עֲלֵיהֶם אֵימָתָה וָפַחַד בִּגְדֹל זְרוֹעֲךָ יִדְּמוּ כָּאָבֶן: “The nations will hear and tremble… the chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; By the power of your arm they will be petrified [by fear] as a stone.” HaShem intervenes by instilling fear in our enemies.
This is one of numberless testimonies of soldiers that fought on the Six Days War and saw this type of HaShem’s intervention:
Israel, an Israeli cab driver who was drafted to fight in the 6-Day War as part of the paratroop unit assigned with conquering the Straits of Tiran, told the following upon his return from the war:
“After landing in Sinai, I was sent with another soldier, an electrician, to patrol the area. When we had distanced ourselves two kilometers, an Egyptian military truck appeared before us filled with soldiers and mounted with machine guns on every side. We had only light weapons with a few bullets that couldn’t stop the truck for a second. We couldn’t turn back, so we stood there in despair, waited for the first shot, and for lack of a better idea, aimed our guns at them. But the shots didn’t come. The truck came to a halt, and we decided to cautiously approach it. We found 18 armed soldiers inside sitting with guns in hand, with a petrified look on their faces. They looked at us with great fear as though begging for mercy. I shouted ‘Hands up!’ As we were marching them and I had returned to a state of calm, I asked the Egyptian sergeant next to me, ‘Tell me, why didn’t you shoot at us?’ He answered, ‘I don’t know. My arms froze – they became paralyzed. My whole body was paralyzed, and I don’t know why.’ …why didn’t they eliminate us? I don’t have an answer. How can one say that God didn’t help us.”