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  • Writer's pictureAnnemeet Hasidi-van Der Leij

Six Day War Project - Egypt expels UN observers

In mid-May 1967, Arab hostility toward Israel was about to take a dramatic turn for the worse. On May 14, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser began moving troops and military equipment into the demilitarized zone in the Sinai Peninsula between Israel and Egypt.

Nasser’s move was fueled, in part, by misinformation he had received from the Soviet Union - Egypt’s ally and sponsor - claiming that Israel was on the verge of invading Syria. However, though Nasser learned these reports were false just a day later, he continued moving tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks toward the Israeli border.

On May 16th, goaded on by other Arab countries and Egyptian public opinion, Nasser ordered the immediate evacuation of all UN troops and termination of the UN presence on the Egyptian-Israeli border. The UN complied, leaving the buffer zone under total Egyptian control. Israel now lay exposed on its southern border, as Egypt continued amassing its troops in the Sinai. By the end of the week, Egypt had placed 80,000 troops, 550 tanks, and 1,000 artillery pieces on the Israeli border.

This week, in the second of our 12-part video series, witness Egyptian President Nasser’s aggressive move to amass tens of thousands of troops along Israel’s border, and the surprising action of the United Nations.

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