Naksa explainer: How Israel's 1967 invasion is still being felt

Naksa explainer: How Israel's 1967 invasion is still being felt
Israel's 1967 victory saw the West Bank and Gaza Strip occupied and set the scene for the present day plight of the Palestinians.
4 min read
05 June, 2023
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced following Israel's 1967 offensive [Getty]

During the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, Israel took control of 77% of historic Palestine, expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and demolishing their villages.

Nineteen years later, the Naksa, or setback, happened. Israel took control of the remaining 23% of Palestine - the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the space of just six days.

The 1967 War eradicated any immediate hope of a swift return for Palestinians to their homes, saw the collapse of the Arab military front against Israel and was a devastating blow to the Arab nationalist ideology promoted by Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Syrian Baath Party.

The effects of the Naksa remain today, with Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem still living under Israeli occupation while Gaza remains subject to a devastating siege.


Israel had managed to successfully defeat Arab armies and Palestinian armed factions in 1948, leading to 1949 Armistice Agreements that saw Jordanian forces annex the West Bank and Egypt take control the Gaza Strip. A border known as the Green Line, which separated Arab-controlled territory from Israeli-occupied territory.

But Israel would later annex those two territories less than two decades later, in a war the consequences of which continue till this day. Before that, countries surrounding Israel saw multiple Israeli attacks.

Suez Crisis

In 1956, the Second Arab-Israeli war broke out, as Israel, Britain and France agreed to invade Egypt in order to gain control of the Suez Canal, which had recently been nationalised by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. 

While the tripartite invasion of Egyptian territory lasted just a matter of days, from 29 October till 7 November, Israeli troops didn't leave Sinai or the Gaza Strip until March 1957.

The Naksa 

The effects of the Third Arab-Israeli Day War of 1967, in which Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, were much longer lasting. Israel continues to occupy East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Syrian Golan Heights.

It returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1982 following the 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty, although there are severe restrictions on the number of troops Egypt can deploy there. Israel also withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 but it continues to subject it to a crippling siege and frequent attacks.

Israel has annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem in violation of international law. Under the administration of former US president Donald Trump recognised these annexations.

Following the 1967 war, 250,000 Palestinians either fled or were expelled by Israel from the West Bank. However, most remained, forced to live under Israeli occupation. Israel had come out of another short war with neighbouring Arab countries, victorious and more brazen to act aggressively. 

This was a continuation of the Nakba, which Palestinians say never stopped, not in 1948, not in 1967, not now. Israel's policies of expanding illegal settlement building, demolishing the homes of Palestinians as a form of collective punishment, and forcibly expelling Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, has become ever more dangerous with Benjamin Netanyahu's current government.

Settlements and International Law

In a series of United Nations Resolutions, Israel has been asked to stop the construction and expansion of its settlements, allow Palestinians to return home and compensate them for their losses.

Following the Nakba, UN Resolution 194 stipulated that Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes should be allowed to do so, with compensation paid for the property of those that choose not to return, and for the loss of or damage to their properties. 

In the aftermath of the Six-Day War and following the events of Naksa, UN Resolution 242 called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories mentioned previously.

In 2016, UN Resolution 2334 reaffirmed that Israel's settlement building in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 - the West Bank and East Jerusalem - had "no legal validity". It further stressed that these settlements were a "flagrant violation" under international law, and a major hurdle to envisioning a two-state solution.

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The Palestinians wish to see the West Bank as part of any potential future state of theirs, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Despite these calls, Israel has defied all of these resolutions, vowing to continue its settlement building and recently moving more Israelis into settlements previously dismantled. It has refused to compensate for the dispossession of Palestinians, since the Nakba 75 years ago, or the Naksa 56 years ago.

Its siege of the Gaza Strip continues also, making life difficult for the over 2 million Palestinians living in the coastal enclave.