Voice of the Arabs:
Scenario Preview, Chapter One
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
In the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israel Defense Forces planned and executed one of the most thorough victories in modern military history. On land and in the air, they utterly crushed all three of their front-line foes, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel would be preserved for the next three generations, and never would be seriously threatened with military conquest again.
That’s not how it happened according to Radio Cairo at the time. Their Voice of the Arabs channel reported victory after victory, as the brave Egyptian and Jordanian armies defeated the Israelis and marched on Tel Aviv (Syria, in the hands of a rogue regime not trusted in Cairo, was omitted from these “alternative facts”).
With Voice of the Arabs, a Campaign Study (small scenario book) for our 1967: Sword of Israel game, we can tell the story the way Radio Cairo wished it had happened. It didn’t happen this way. It never had much of a chance of happening this way. But let’s look at the first chapter’s scenarios, where the Egyptians invade Israel.
The Situation: 5 June 1967
The Israelis began their sneak attack against the peace-loving Arab peoples with an attack against Egyptian airfields that failed to find the Egyptian Air Force’s planes. These had been moved safely away to hidden emergency airfields, and then commenced a counter-strike that destroyed most of the Israeli Air Force in the first hours of the June 1967 war. And then the Egyptian National Army and Royal Jordanian Army commenced their own counter-offensives against the Israelis.
None of that happened; the Israelis struck first and struck hard, inflicting decisive defeats on the Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians. But that’s not how Radio Cairo’s Voice of the Arabs told the tale. We now enter that realm of madness and delusion.
Hill of Tarat Um
In what was meant to be a coordinated attack by air and ground forces against Egypt’s defenses, the Israelis invaded Egyptian territory along a broad front. At the hill known as Tarat Um, the alert and well-prepared defenders of the Egyptian 2nd Infantry Division awaited the Israeli attack. They had trained for this moment for 11 years, ever since the last unprovoked Israeli assault in this sector.
The Israeli invader met solid resistance, and could only make progress behind their tough Centurion tanks. In the actual battle, the Egyptians fought hard but were eventually outflanked by the more mobile Israelis. In the Voice of the Arabs version, it’s the Egyptians who deploy their faster armor to stop Israeli attempts to outflank their position and engaged the heavily-armored but slow Israeli tanks at close range after driving off the waves of Israeli infantry.
It’s an Israeli attack with tanks and infantry (lots and lots of infantry) against Egyptian prepared positions. The Egyptians generally fought well in 1967 from their fortifications, but ran into trouble when they had to maneuver. Here they are much more capable of that task, making them a deadly opponent.
Line of Demarcation
With the initial Israeli attacks repelled by the staunch Egyptian defenses, the Egyptian National Army began its counter-attack into Israeli-held territory. The Shazli Task Force, a rapidly-assembled collection of a tank brigade reinforced by commandos and infantry, spearheaded the advance on the central Sinai front. Soon they found their way blocked by Israel’s elite paratroopers.
In the actual Six-Day War, Sa’ad el-Din Shazli claimed that his task force advanced into Israeli territory and hid there for two days before making its way back to the Suez Canal with minimal losses. Other Egyptian officers were much less charitable, but Shazli emerged from the war with his reputation and career intact. He would serve as Egypt’s Chief of Staff in the 1973 war and hold operational command of the invasion of Sinai. In the Voice of the Arabs version, Shazli invaded Israel as the vanguard of the Sinai Army.
Here we have a pretty well-equipped Egyptian armored force, with T55 tanks and Commandos, fighting Israeli paratroopers. Who are tough bastards, because paratroopers, but are lacking in armor support of their own.
The Egyptians had better night-vision equipment than the Israelis, which gave them the advantage when the IDF continued their ill-considered advance past sunset of the war’s first day. The Israelis had numbers on their side in the desert meeting engagement east of Bir Lahfan, but the well-drilled Egyptians met them with great confidence.
The Egyptians did conduct a similar counter-attack on the first night of the war. Despite their superior night-vision gear, they managed to destroy one Israeli tank against the loss of dozens of their own. Things go the other way in the Voice of the Arabs version, with the skilled Egyptian tankers dealing out death and destruction to the over-confident Israelis. The way is opening for an Egyptian invasion of Israel.
A night battle, with the Egyptians finally getting to use all of that fancy infra-red gear. It’s a big one, with lots of tanks on each side: Israeli Centurions against Egyptian T54’s and T55’s. At night.
Into the Negev
With the Israeli assault on Egypt turned back, the Egyptian Sinai Army turned to the offensive, as President Nasser had desired. The advance of Egyptian armor into Israel proper unhinged the open left flank of the Israeli invaders and forced them to counter-attack the advancing Egyptians. Though the trackless desert of the Negev looked little different than the trackless desert of the Sinai, both sides approached battle on the Israeli side of the border with notable enthusiasm.
Egyptian plans, at least as described to the Voice of the Arabs, called for a drive into the Negev, south of the main Israeli concentration, to link up with a Jordanian advance from the West Bank. As the Voice would have it, the well-led, well-trained, and well-equipped Shazli Task Force with its modern Czech-made tanks proved more than a match for the Israelis.
It’s another big tank battle (when you make up the story, you can include lots of balanced tank battles), this time under the harsh desert sun. The Israelis have their waddling Centurions, backed up by renovated Shermans; Shazli has his T55’s.
East of al-Kuntillah
The Israelis had overloaded their right flank for a drive along the Mediterranean coast and toward the key passes that dominated routes through central Sinai. That left just one brigade on the southern end of the border, to face one Egyptian division. The Egyptians looked to cut off the Israeli port of Eilat from the rest of the country.
In the actual Six-Day War, the Israeli 8th Armored Brigade made a probing attack into Sinai to pin down the Egyptian 6th Mechanized Division. But according to the Voice of the Arabs, it was the Egyptian division that surged forward and swatted aside the Israelis – and given the disparity in quantity and quality of armor, the Egyptians had the capability of doing so with the right leadership and training.
We get to use those Egyptian JS3 heavy tanks, alongside the standard T54 and T55, against an Israeli brigade armed with unmodified Sherman tanks. There’s a reason the Israelis only conducted probes on this end of the Sinai front.
Out of Gaza
The stout 20th “Palestinian” Infantry Division had fended off repeated Israeli attacks on Gaza for the first two days of the war. On the third, they struck back against the now-shaken Israeli brigades facing them, backed by strong air support and spearheaded by seasoned Egyptian commandos, combat veterans of the war in North Yemen. The Israelis had already pulled back some of their best units to meet the threat of the Egyptian offensive, and would have to make do with what they had left to screen the Palestinian enclave.
The Voice of the Arabs didn’t have much to say about the defenders of Gaza, who were Egyptian National Army regulars. They weren’t as well-equipped as other Egyptian divisions, but they fought well behind their prepared positions. In the spirit of the Voice, they’re also capable on the attack, ejecting the invaders from Gaza and pressing into Israel itself.
Here we have the worst Egyptian formation taking the offensive against a second-line but still pretty good Israeli one. That works out a bit better in the Voice’s bizarro-world, but they’re still out-gunned and will have to rely on numbers and those tough commando platoons.
And that’s Chapter One of Voice of the Arabs. Next time it’s Chapter Two, which brings us to the Jordanian front.
You can order Voice of the Arabs right here.
1967: Sword of Israel (Playbook)
IDF: Israel Defense Forces
Voice of the Arabs
Retail Price: $147.97
Package Price: $120
Gold Club Price: $96
You can experience the Arab-Israeli Package right here.
Sign up for our newsletter right here. Your info will never be sold or transferred; we'll just use it to update you on new games and new offers.
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and NASA Journalist in Space finalist, he has published an unknowable number of books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his new puppy. He will never forget his dog, Leopold.
Want to keep Daily Content free of third-party ads? You can send us some love (and cash) through this link right here.