45 years ago today, the Six-Day War began when the Israel Air Force launched a preemptive strike against Egyptian forces mobilized in the Sinai Peninsula.Continue Reading: The Six-Day War: A Veteran Looks Back
At the time, Hillel Erman was a 30-year-old staff sergeant serving in a reserve unit of the IDF Paratroopers Brigade. He sat down with us earlier this week and answered a few questions about his memories of the Six-Day War.
Do you remember the lead-up to the war?
Six-Day War veteran Hillel Erman
(Photo by Zev Marmorstein)
Hillel Erman (left) stands with IDF soldiers during the
Six-Day War. (Photo courtesy of Hillel Erman)
Yes, I remember it well, like it was yesterday. I remember when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran and prevented Israeli ships from entering or leaving Eilat. And I remember when Egypt mobilized its forces in the Sinai Peninsula — and expelled the U.N. troops that were in the area. The prime minister at the time was Levi Eshkol. He was under tremendous pressure to do something against the threat. The reserves could not stay mobilized forever, nor could they go home in the face of such danger.
Menachem Begin, who was in the Knesset opposition, joined the governing coalition, which strengthened the resolve of the public. People were very scared. They saw how the Arab nations around us were preparing for war, and we didn’t do anything.
Looking back at the miraculous success of the IDF back in 1967, it is easy to forget the urgency of the situation created by the threats by Nasser in Egypt and the fear created among Israelis.
Erman's account reminds of the the human element that was part of Israel's success in the Six Day War.
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