In 1947 the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the division of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states and internationalization of Jerusalem and its surroundings. Jews accepted the plan but Arabs rejected it and attacked Jewish settlements.
Six months later, in May 1948, Israel declared its independence and was attacked by forces of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq but held its position and, under a U.N.-sponsored armistice in 1949, gained control over what became its basic territory.
In 1956, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula as French and British forces moved against Egypt in response to Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal. Israeli forces withdrew in 1947, after a U.N. peace-keeping force was established in Gaza and Sinai.
Through 1966 and early 1967, terrorist raids and retaliatory attacks across Israel's borders with Syria and Jordan became frequent. In May 1967, as tension mounted between Israel and Syria, Egypt moved 100,000 troops into the Sinai, ordered the U.N. forces out and blockaded the Strait of Tiran, preventing Israeli shipping from entering the Gulf of Aqaba and reaching Eilat, a major Israeli port. Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia then massed forces at Israel's border.
On June 5, 1967, Israeli warplanes, in daring preemptive raids, surprised Egypt's Air Force and destroyed more than three-fourths of it on the ground. Later that day similar raids severely crippled the air forces of Syria and Jordan. Israel's military forces, though outnumbered, were then able to move without fear of air attack and under Israeli air cover.
After six days of fighting, Israel had captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Israel reported 766 soldiers killed. No figures were reported for the Arab states, but their total casualties -- dead and wounded -- have been estimated at 20,000.