Israeli Milestones: From Six-Day Victory to Six-Month Failure

In June 1967 Israel launched surprise attacks on its Arab neighbors and captured Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan. With military and intelligence support from Lyndon Johnson’s administration, Israel shocked and overwhelmed its neighbors, largely destroying Egypt’s air force on the ground. Israel not only seized possession of these territories, they humiliated their adversaries. It only took six days.

This assault was pivotal in three respects. First, it cemented hard core zionism  including unrepentant violence at the core of the country. This is shown not only by the atrocities committed against their Arab neighbors.  It is shown in the attempt to sink the USS Liberty and kill all its US navy personnel. Second, it created the myth of Israeli military and intelligence superiority.  Third it generated huge support for the Zionist state internationally. As they say, “Everybody loves a winner”,  and Israel was the undisputed winner in 1967.  Anti-zionist sentiment in the US and international Jewish community, previously quite strong,  declined significantly. Western support for Israel increased dramatically. Due to effective propaganda, public support also increased.

The decades since then have seen a consistent Israeli refusal to compromise with the people whose land they took and whose livelihoods they control. Gaza has been under siege for decades and a concentration camp since 2007. The West Bank and Jerusalem are not much better with ever tightening restrictions, checkpoints and arrests.

The Al Aqsa Flood Operation

On 7 October 2023 it was the Israeli military that was shocked.  Hamas and other Palestinian resistance forces broke out of the concentration camp, seized Israeli military posts, entered Israeli towns and kibbutzes. They killed about 400 Israeli military and police and took about 250 military and civilians hostage. About 800 civilians died either from Hamas gunfire or Israeli tanks or Apache gunship helicopters. Hundreds of cars  containing both Palestinians and Israelis were demolished by the latter.

The Israeli assumptions of  military, intelligence and ethnic superiority were exploded  that day. In  rage, Israeli military  and political officials vowed to avenge  the embarrassment and military setback. Ministry of Defense Yoav Galant said Palestinians were “human animals” and vowed to kill through military means and starvation. They vowed to “destroy Hamas” and immediately launched wave after wave of bombing attack.  After about  a month of bombing, the Israeli military entered Gaza . They are still there.

Steeped in belief in Jewish supremacy, much of the Israeli public supports the ongoing massacre. Now, after six months of relentless attacks,  the belief in Israeli superiority has fallen apart. The Israeli military has not been able to “destroy” Hamas or weaken Palestinian resolve. On the contrary, support for Hamas and the other resistance forces has increased both in Gaza and the West Bank.  Israeli leaders thought they could easily conquer and “destroy” Hamas but they have not been able to do that despite billions in US and western supplied armaments.

Hamas and the other Palestinian militants have survived and still inflict significant losses on the Israeli military. Yesterday, four more Israeli soldiers were killed in Khan Younis.

Israel has destroyed United Nations schools and shelters, churches and mosques, universities and even hospitals. They have killed over 100 reporters and thousands of  health workers, ambulance drivers, doctors and university professors. The recent killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers was only exceptional because the victims were from the West. Israel has been committing atrocities like this against Palestinians for six months.

1967 vs Today

As Israel’s international stature grew after the Six Day War, it is collapsing after the Six Month Siege and Massacre in Gaza.  In 1967 many American Jews embraced Israel. Now, rapidly growing numbers who condemn Israel’s atrocities and want nothing to do with the country. They correctly perceive the difference between a state (Israel) and ideology (zionism)  on the one hand, and a faith and ethnicity on the other. They are proud to wear T-shirts saying “Jewish Voice for Peace” and  “If Not Now”.

The Global Majority of nations are fervently opposed to Israel and what it is doing. The UN General Assembly has condemned the zionist state and numerous countries have withdrawn their ambassadors.

Even western states closely allied with Israel, such as Canada, are changing their tune. Canada has suspended arms shipments to Israel and restored funding to UNRWA.

The International Court of Justice has recently ordered Israel to allow food and aid into Gaza. The Australian ICJ judge confirmed they have ordered Israel to suspend military operations in Gaza. If Israel refuses to comply, it will only increase the global condemnation.

As another sign of how much geopolitics are changing, Nicaragua has filed a case at the International Court of Justice charging Germany with complicity in Israel’s genocide.

The US Congress and Administration continues to support Israel’s genocide but is now shifting due to popular presssure, protests and demands. Even Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi is now urging Biden to cease arms shipments to Israel.

The Six Month Failure

Israel’s Six Month Failure has fueled the contradictions inherent in the state.  Political and religious contradictions are escalating with bigger and bigger demonstrations against Netanyahu and his refusal to end the war and bring home the hostages.  Demonstrations inside Israel are becoming increasingly volatile. Last Saturday, five protesters were purposely hit by a car.

We have passed the tipping point.  The unrelenting slaughter of Palestinian civilians over the past six months has forever changed the perception of  Israel in the West.

Israel is now widely seen internationally as a “bad guy” similar to how the US was seen in the late 60’s in Vietnam. Just as the Tet Offensive cost the lives of tens of thousands of Vietnamese but was a crucial turning point, the October 7 Al Aqsa Flood operation marks a crucial turning point for Palestine.

Rick Sterling is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at