May 12, 1967. Tensions in the Middle East are ratcheted upwards when Israel warns that continued attacks will bring serious consequences for the region.
In 1966, a new radical government gained control in Syria and increases terrorist attacks against Israel. LBJ later described the escalation:
“In November 1966 they [Israel] struck the Jordanian town of Es Samu, which they believed had been used as a base by Syrian terrorists.
Retaliation had little effect. Syria and Egypt concluded a mutual defense agreement. Terrorist raids continued and tension increased into the Spring of 1967. On May 12 of that year Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol warned that more terrorism would bring further retaliatory action. Reports spread in Damascus that the Israelis were mobilizing major forces on the Syrian frontier for full-scale action. We investigated, found the reports to be untrue, and informed the Russians and the nations bordering on Israel of this fact. UN Secretary General U Thant spoke publicly to the same effect.
At the same time, we received reports that Moscow had promised unlimited support to the Syrians…The Russians denied all knowledge of such a promise…Nevertheless, the Russians were helping to spread the rumor that the Israelis were mobilizing with the intention of striking Syria in a few days…Our reports indicated that the purpose of these rumors was to pressure Egypt into military support of Syria.”
—Lyndon Baines Johnson, The Vantage Point, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, pg. 289. LBJ Presidential Library photo, A5376-37, public domain. Map of Middle East via Google Maps.