This is a combat update page distributed on the third day of the Six-Day War (June 7, 1967). The letter was distributed by the Northern Command, led by David Elazar, chief of the Command. At the top of the page is the emblem of the Northern Command featuring a deer, a common animal in the north of Israel. The letter was intended to strengthen the soldiers’ spirits and prepare them for the continuation of the campaign.
The letter opens with an update on the battles being fought by the IDF on several fronts simultaneously. The update mentions the victories against the armies of Egypt and Jordan and the conquest of Judea and Samaria and the Sinai Peninsula. This description of the victories is followed by a call to strengthen the soldiers’ morale in the face of the coming battles against Syria. David Elazar called on the fighters to:
use all their strength, initiative, wisdom, talent, and comradeship to defeat the enemy in front of us as soon as possible and with as few casualties as possible. Each person should summon maximum efforts to assist in our victory.
A whole paragraph was dedicated to the morality of war, with Elazar calling on the commanders and soldiers to ensure humane treatment of the residents of the occupied territories and to refrain from acts of looting and theft.
The letter finishes wishing the fighters success:
I am sure that just as you were amazed by the victories over the past few days, you will continue to surpass expectations today and tomorrow!
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Six Day War - Since May 1967 there had been tension along the borders of Israel. Egypt moved troops into Sinai and unilaterally closed the Straits of Tiran, which blocked off Israel’s supply route with Asia. Likewise, Syria deployed troops in the Golan Heights. After months of threats and aggression, the Israeli cabinet approved a pre-emptive attack on Egypt. On June 5, 1967, Israel’s air force bombed Egyptian airfields and destroyed their entire fleet of airplanes while still on the ground. The Syrian, Jordanian, and Iraqi air forces were also attacked, and over the next few days battles took place on the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian fronts. On June 6 fighting began in the divided city of Jerusalem at Ammunition Hill. The Old City of Jerusalem was liberated the following day, June 7, by forces led by Colonel Motta Gur who radioed the message: “The Temple Mount is in our hands and our forces are by the [Western] Wall.” At the Western Wall, the IDF chaplain, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, blew a shofar to celebrate the event, which was broadcast live on Kol Yisrael, the Israeli radio station. The fighting was over after six days. Despite the many casualties, there was also a sense of euphoria. Jerusalem was reunified, and Israel had captured the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While much has changed in the area in the ensuing years, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights (Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005) remains a matter of controversy both in Israel and around the world.
David Elazar – David (Dado) Elazar was the ninth IDF chief of staff. Elazar served in the army from 1942 to 1973. He fought in many important battles in the War of Independence, became the commander of the armoured corps, was the commander of the Northern Command, and was appointed chief of staff in 1972. During his service as chief of staff, the Yom Kippur War broke out. Even though the IDF was victorious in the war, the high casualty rate and Israel’s unpreparedness for the war led to a wave of public protest. A commission was set up to investigate why Israel had not been prepared and found that: “Elazar bears personal responsibility for the assessment of the situation and the preparedness of the IDF.” As a result, David Elazar resigned from the IDF, although many in Israel did not feel that he was personally responsible and held the government, particularly Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, responsible for the events of the Yom Kippur War. Elazar died of a heart attack a few years later.