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Six-Day War: Prime Minister Eshkol's Note
to Premier Kosygin

(June 5, 1967)

On the day that fighting broke out, Prime Minister Eshkol sent a note to Premier Kosygin in which he set out once more the reasons for the step taken by Israel.  Please find the full text of this note below.  

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I turn to you urgently to bring to your attention today's grave developments. Since the early hours of the morning, fighting has broken out between Egyptian armoured and air forces which moved against Israel, and Israeli forces which went into action to contain them.

After weeks in which our peril has grown day by day, we are now engaged in repelling the wicked aggression which Nasser has been building up against us. I discussed this fully in my letter to you of 1 June.

Israel's existence and integrity have been endangered. The provocative troop concentrations in Sinai, now amounting to five infantry and two armoured divisions; the massing of more than 900 tanks against our southern frontier; the massing of 400 tanks opposite Eilat in an attempt to sunder the Southern Negev from Israel, the lawless blockade in the Straits of Tiran; the insolent defiance of the international community; the policy of strangling encirclement including the deployment of Egyptian and Iraqi troops and aircraft in Jordan; Nasser's announcement in his speeches of 26 May and 4 June of "total war against Israel" and of his "basic aim" to annihilate Israel; yesterday's Order of the Day by the Egyptian Commander, General Murtagi, calling on his troops in Sinai to wage a war of destruction against Israel; the acts of sabotage and terrorism from Syria and Gaza; this morning's engagements and the bombardment of the Israel villages of Kisufim, Nahal Oz and Ein Hashlosha in Israel territory - all of this amounts to an extraordinary catalogue of aggression that must be abhorred and condemned by people in all peace-loving countries.

This is a ruthless design to destroy the State of Israel, which embodies the memories, sacrifices and hopes of an ancient people which in this generation lost six million of its people brutally murdered in a tragedy without parallel in history. Surely, Mr. Chairman, no one can deny this, when it is announced and confessed by President Nasser himself.

Throughout the weeks in which Egypt was preparing itself for aggression against Israel, we acted with supreme restraint, hoping that the war machine mounted by President Nasser would not be put into action. Our hopes proved to be in vain. We appeal to you again, Mr. Chairman, to understand the gravity of the situation created by Egyptian's warfare against Israel's existence. We appeal to you in this hour, crucial for peace in the Middle East and the entire world, to join in an effort to secure peace based on the independence and territorial integrity of all nations.

We claim nothing except peaceful life in our territory, and the exercise of our international rights. Surrounded by enemy armies on all sides, we are now engaged in a mortal struggle to defend our existence and forestall Egypt's avowed intention to repeat against the Jewish people in Isralel the inhuman crimes committed by Hitler. We cannot but be confident that the Soviet Unions role in history will be vindicated once more by an attitude of comprehension and brotherhood toward the Jewish people in its hour of trial.

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs