Arab-Israeli Border Wars, Incidents & Terrorist Attacks

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The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. to the Present
Arab-Israeli Border Wars, Incidents & Terrorist Attacks

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* the Arab flags, from top left to bottom right: Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan.

Israel and her Arab neighbors have fought major wars against each other in 1948-1949, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982-2000, 2006, and 2008. In addition, Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza met with opposition from the Palestinian inhabitants of those lands in the First and Second Intifada Uprisings (1987-1993, 2000-Present). Besides these conflicts, numerous other battles, cross-border commando and terrorist raids, air battles, sea battles, missile strikes, mini-invasions, and other acts of organized violence from the end of the 1948-1949 war through to the present day. This page attempts to chronicle and list these attacks in chronological order. This is a work in progress and more information will be added.

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Qibya Raid (October, 1951)—Israeli troops, led by Major Ariel Sharon (Israeli Prime Minister 2001-) destroyed dozens of buildings in the West Bank (Jordan) town of Qibya.  Civilian deaths reached 69.

Egyptian Seizure of the Israeli ship Bat Galim (Summer, 1954)—Egypt seized the Israeli ship Bat Galim as it attempted to enter the Suez Canal.  According to various international agreements, the Suez Canal is supposed to be accessible to ships of all nations.  This provoked worsening tensions between Israel and Egypt.

Gaza Raid (Feb. 28, 1955)—Israeli forces conducted a raid, a response to repeated guerrilla attacks and the seizure of an Israeli ship by Egypt, resulted in the deaths of 51 Egyptian soldiers and 8 Israeli troops.  This raid was the largest of its kind against Arab forces since the end of the First Arab-Israeli War in 1949.

First al-Fatah (PLO) Raid (Dec. 31, 1964)—Yassir Arafat’s al-Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization conducted its first raid into Israel from Lebanon.

Israeli-Syrian Border and Air Battle (Nov. 13, 1964)—Israel and Syria both claimed sovereignty over several Demilitarized Zones along their border.  These Zones were set up as part of the cease-fire ending the First Arab-Israeli War.  Israel attempted to farm the land in these Zones, while Syria developed a project to divert water from the Jordan River, which Israel shared with both Syria and Jordan.  Syrian forces often fired on Israeli tractors attempting to farm the Zones, while Israel looked for ways to interrupt the Syrian diversion project.  On Nov. 13, 1964, Syrian forces stationed on the top of the Golan Heights, a plateau overlooking Israeli territory in the Jordan River valley, fired on Israeli tractors.  Israeli forces returned fire.  Syrian artillery then targeted Israeli civilian villages.  Israel responded with air attacks on Syrian forces.  This battle resulted in 4 Israeli dead and 9 wounded.  Syrian losses included two tanks and machines involved in the diversion project. One result of this clash was Syria’s accelerated acquisition of more and better Soviet-made fighter planes. (Oren, 2001). 

West Bank Raids (May 1965)—After Palestinian guerrilla raids resulting in the deaths of 6 Israelis, the Israeli military conducted raids on the West Bank towns of Qalqilya, Shuna and Jenin.

1966—Israel reported 93 incidents along its borders.

West Bank Raid (April 30 1966)—Israeli forces destroyed over two dozen houses in the West Bank town of Rafat, killing 11 civilians.  This attack was in response to Palestinian raids on Israel.  Most of these attacks on Israel

West Bank Raids (1966)—Israeli forces raided the Hebron area of the West Bank.  These raids resulted in 8 civilian deaths and firefights with the Jordanian Army.

Israeli-Syrian Border Battles (Summer, 1966)—Continued artillery and tank duels along the Golan Heights front led to :

Israeli-Syrian Air Battle (July 7, 1966)—Responding to the continued fighting along the border, Israeli planes attacked Syrian forces, resulting in the loss of one Syrian MiG fighter plane.

Israeli-Syrian Air/Sea Battle (Aug. 15, 1966)—After an Israeli patrol boat ran aground on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (according to the 1949 cease-fire agreement, Israeli forces were not supposed to approach within 250 meters of the eastern shore, which was a Demilitarized Zone), Syrian planes attacked it.  Israel responded, shooting down two MiG planes.


Samu Raid (West Bank) (November 13, 1966)—Following a land mine explosion which killed three Israeli policemen and wounded one, Israel decided to launch a large retaliatory raid (called Operation Shredder) into the West Bank, to strike at a Palestinian (al-Fatah) guerrilla base near Hebron.  Designed to show Israeli military strength, the raiding force consisted of 10 tanks, forty half-tracks (a troop transportation vehicle) and around 400 soldiers.  The force enjoyed air cover from Israeli war planes.  This force destroyed a police station at the town of Rujm al-Madfa’ and then moved on to the town of Samu’.  As the Israelis demolished houses in Samu’, a small Jordanian force approached and was ambushed by the Israelis.  This battle resulted in 15 Jordanian dead and 54 wounded.  The leader of the Israeli ambush was killed and 10 of his men wounded.   Israeli planes chased off the Jordanian air force, shooting down a Jordanian fighter plane.  This raid also resulted in 3 Arab civilian deaths and 96 wounded.

Besides the large numbers of casualties (on both sides) from what was supposed to be a relatively swift and easy raid, Israel suffered diplomatic setbacks.  The United States was quite upset over this large attack on one of Washington’s few Arab friends (Jordan’s King Hussein) and at the lack of response to the Syrians, who were the true sponsors of most Palestinian attacks in Israel.  Riots broke out in Jordan at the seemingly ineffectual response of the Jordanian military and its apparent inability to protect Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.  The Samu raid inflamed Arab public opinion in the Middle East and turned out to be one of the factors leading up to the Six-Day War of 1967.




1. Kohn, George C. Dictionary of Wars. New York: Facts On File Publications. 1999.

2. Dupuy, R. Ernest and Trevor N. Dupey. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. to the Present New York, New York: Harper & Row. 1993.


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