In the early morning hours of Monday, June 5, 1967, the sun was already heating everything up around the Tel Nof airbase. Some of us were making our way to the mess hall of the base as Jordanian artillery shells shook the earth. Fragments reached our barracks, puncturing the outer walls with significant holes. Located in central Israel, the airbase was just a few miles away from a Jordanian base.
In the preceding few weeks, it was the IAF (Israel Air Force) that carried the brunt of the preparation for a war no one wished for. The war however appeared to be imminent as Abdul Nasser, the Egyptian dictator, ordered the U.N. forces to vacate the Sinai and then moved over 100,000 Egyptian troops into the Sinai in early May, while at the same time closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli navigation, in breach of international agreements.
All ground and aircrews were restricted to the base, and all leaves were canceled already in early May. Our base was on alert, and the work assigned to every squadron was feverish. We were on a 24-hour work shift, with most of us getting a mere two hours of sleep in those numbing weeks, restocking, testing systems, receiving instruction on emergency procedures. Maj. General Motti Hod, the commander of the IAF, was busy with the top brass reactivating shelved plans. The IAF alone could save Israel, and in briefings we received from the commander of our airbase, we were left with that indelible impression.
The bombs exploding in our airbase in the early morning hours of June
5 were a fearful indicator that war had broken out. We were confident that
we had done all we could in the sleepless weeks, and hoped for the best.
According to news reports on the Voice of Israel, the government of Prime
Minister Levi Eshkol had appealed to King Hussein of Jordan not to attack
Israel, and assured the king that Israel would not attack his kingdom unless