June 5th was the beginning.
Operation Focus was launched just before 8 a.m. when Israeli fighter bombersÂ took off and headed out to sea. The goal was to grab control of the air as soon as possible, so that Israel’sÂ air forceÂ could assist forces on the ground. Of course, the air strike was also timed to happenÂ as the Egyptian High Command was commuting to their offices -Â and stuck in traffic at 8:45.
A half an hour after Israel’s Air Force takes off, General Gavish orders the army toÂ engage Egyptian forces massed on Israel’s southern border.
Units of the Israeli armyÂ on the Jordanian and Syrian frontsÂ were orderedÂ to hold their defensive positionsÂ at all costs. The hope was thatÂ a quick defeat of the Egyptian army wouldÂ keep the Jordanians and Syrians out of the war.Â Â
In just two sorties,Â Israeli air power had neutralizedÂ Egyptian airbases and destroyed the majority of Egypt’s military aircraft on the ground. By noon, Jordan and Syria had entered the war, but early successes allowed the Israeli Air Force toÂ redirectÂ aircraftÂ to attack and neutralize Jordanian and Syrian air fields. Â
MostÂ sources confirm that Israel was very interested in keeping Jordan out of the war altogether and had been sending messages to that effect, asking them to maintain their defensive posture. The Jordanian army was small but extremely well trained and had a high level of moral. Furthermore, the Jordanian army needed only eight miles to advance to cut Israel in half.
Unfortunately,Â Gamal Abdel Nasser was more persuasive, claiming that Egypt was winning its battles in the Sinai. Nasser told King Hussein that his armies wereÂ pushing back across the border into Israel and that he’d better get in on the victory – or look like a fool.Â
Israeli intelligence intercepted Jordan’s agreement to enter the war, and Israeli population centers came under attack by Jordanian artillery. In response,Â at 3 p.m., Israeli armor crossed into the northern part of the West Bank, near Jenin.Â General Uzi Narkis also ordered the Har El* Brigade, near Jerusalem,Â to take Jordanian fortifications on RadarÂ Hill. After one of the toughest battles of the Six Day War, Radar Hill falls by 7:30 p.m.
The way to Jerusalem was open.
*Har El means Mountain of God in Hebrew.Â Â Â