Arab-Israel Six Day War: Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency
May 26, 1967

Zionism maps history biography definitions e-Zion about issues timeline photos books documents links contact

Arab-Israel Six Day War: Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency
May 26, 1967

Introduction

This estimate of Israelis and Arab military capabilities was prepared just prior to the Six day war on May 26, 1967 by the United Stated Central Intelligence Agency. It has sometimes been cited as "proof" that Israel was not in any danger and that the US and Israel knew this to be the case.  Between 50,000 (US estimate) and 100,000 (Israeli estimate) Egyptian troops had been moved into Sinai by May 25. The US estimate of five divisions, given below, would be consistent with a force of about 75,000.  Israeli intelligence warnings on the same day as this estimate was delivered, had warned of an imminent Egyptian attack, while the US repeated cautioned Israel not to initiate a pre-emptive strike. Israel had dug 10,000 graves and prepared about 14,000 hospital beds for casualties in preparation for the war.

The report makes the following interesting estimate:

Israel could almost certainly attain air superiority over the Sinai Peninsula in 24 hours after taking the initiative or in two or three days if the UAR struck first. In the latter case, Israel might lose up to half of its air force. We estimate that armored striking forces could breach the UAR's double defense line in the Sinai within several days. Regrouping and resupplying would be required before the Israelis could initiate further attacks aimed at driving to the Suez Canal. Israel could contain any attacks by Syria or Jordan during this period.

Had Israel had lost half its air force, regrouping and resupply would have been possible only if there were not serious loss of pilots, since it would be impossible to retrain pilots in this period. Airport runways would not be serviceable and there would be no way to service the aircraft and refuel them. Presumably, during this period, Israeli cities and strategic installations, including the Dimona nuclear reactor, would be open to Egyptian attack and Israel would have little effective air defense capability. As the Egyptians would probably have bombed Israeli ports and Lod Airport, resupply would have been difficult. In the event they had hit the nuclear reactor, the strike might have spread a great deal of radiation, in which case there might have been little point to resupply.

In the event, Israel struck first. However there is no way of knowing for certain what would have been the result if the Egyptians had struck first.

The estimate admits that Arab armies had numerical superiority and superiority in equipment over the IDF:

1. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are at a numerical disadvantage to the combined strength of Israel's Arab neighbors in terms of aircraft, armor, artillery, naval vessels, and manpower.

Nonetheless, the US refused repeated Israeli requests for military supplies. The Israelis would win, according to the CIA because of intangibles:

Nonetheless, the IDF maintain qualitative superiority over the Arab armed forces in almost all aspects of combat operations. The high quality of training and maintenance, the degree of operational proficiency, and the important, but intangible, morale factor give the advantage to the IDF, which operates through a single command structure and over interior lines of communication.

Whatever justification was used for this estimate of qualitative superiority is not given. A far different estimate was delivered by the CIA National board of estimates on the same day, stating that Israel had lost this round by failing to attack, and would suffer heavy losses if it attacked now. Unlike this estimate, the other one is presented in some detail.

The U.S. chose to believe the first estimate, apparently because it was intent on restraining Israel from attacking first regardless of possible costs to Israel.

Copyright

The introduction above is copyright 2007 by Ami Isseroff. The document below is in the public domain. Please cite the sources. Source of document: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28054.htm


76. Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency/1/

[document number not declassified]

Washington, May 26, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, CIA Intelligence Memoranda, 5/67-7/67. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]. Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Intelligence. An attached note from Helms to the President states, "This is our response to your request of two days ago that we review again the military capabilities of Israel versus the Arab States."

MILITARY CAPABILITIES OF ISRAEL AND THE ARAB STATES

Summary

Israel could almost certainly attain air superiority over the Sinai Peninsula in 24 hours after taking the initiative or in two or three days if the UAR struck first. In the latter case, Israel might lose up to half of its air force. We estimate that armored striking forces could breach the UAR's double defense line in the Sinai within several days. Regrouping and resupplying would be required before the Israelis could initiate further attacks aimed at driving to the Suez Canal. Israel could contain any attacks by Syria or Jordan during this period.

Discussion

I. General Assessment

1. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are at a numerical disadvantage to the combined strength of Israel's Arab neighbors in terms of aircraft, armor, artillery, naval vessels, and manpower. Nonetheless, the IDF maintain qualitative superiority over the Arab armed forces in almost all aspects of combat operations. The high quality of training and maintenance, the degree of operational proficiency, and the important, but intangible, morale factor give the advantage to the IDF, which operates through a single command structure and over interior lines of communication.

2. In contrast, the Arab states are hampered by a lack of cohesiveness and by friction among Arab leaders. The United Arab Command (UAC), even at the present state of alert, is ineffective either as a command or a coordinating structure. Only the UAR, Syria, and Iraq are coordinating military activity to any extent. Jordan, with limited offensive strength, is reluctant to become heavily engaged. Iraqi participation is limited by distance and internal security needs. Lebanon has no offensive capability. The principal Arab military strength lies with the UAR, which has now mobilized and has deployed the equivalent of about five divisions for a strength of over 50,000 in the Sinai Peninsula. Though field experience acquired by Egyptian forces in Yemen has improved their over-all military capabilities, the presence of some 35,000 UAR troops in Yemen and limited reserves at home restrict the additional forces available for use against Israel.

[Omitted here is more detailed discussion.]

This document is at Zionism and Israel Information Center - Historical Documents and References

General History of Zionism - Zionism and the Creation of Israel


We are not responsible for information at external sites.

Please do copy these links, and tell your friends about  Zionism and Israel Information Center

Thank you.

Sister sites: Zionism and Israel Pages Zionism and Israel On the Web Brave Zionism

Web Logs at Zionism On the Web: ZOTW's Blogs
ZNN - Zionism News Network - News and Views about Zionism, Israel and Antisemitism - serving a network of Zionist Web sites.

Friends and informative sites:

Zionism - Definition and Brief History

Labor Zionism

Active Zionism - A Zionist advocacy site with many useful links

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Peace with Realism

HSJE-Historical Society of Jews from Egypt

La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale- Le Grand Mufti Husseini

The Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini

TheMiddleEastNow - Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East, Zionism, News and Views

Israel-Palestina - (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine, Zionism.... Dutch and English.

Israel Council for Peace and Security (also at Israel Council for Peace and Security)

Look Israel

MidEastWeb- Middle East

Israeli Palestinian Conflict - History

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Peace with Realism

Boycott Israel?

Boycott Israel?

What is Zionism?  Chicago Peace Now on Zionism.
Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism

Zionism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Zionism at Jewish Virtual Library 

Six Day War (UK)
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog
Christians Standing With Israel

 What is Zionism?- ADL on Zionism

 

 

ZioNation - Zionism-Israel Web Log    Zionism & Israel News  Israel: like this, as if History of Zionism Zionism FAQ Zionism Israel Center Maps of Israel Jew Israel Advocacy  Zionism and its Impact Israel Christian Zionism

CIA 1967 SIX DAY WAR ESTIMATE