THE YELLOW FLEET, PRISONERS OF THE DESERT
Behind the major historical events of the Mediterranean world
An episode from the series BORDERS
On June 5, 1967, the Israeli army launched a blitzkrieg against a coalition of Arab countries led by Egypt. To block the advance of the Hebrew state's troops, Nasser ordered the closure of the Suez Canal. Fourteen merchant ships that were crossing at the time were trapped.
The sailors on board, most of them Germans, English, and French, thought it was only a matter of days. They were unaware that their ships would remain ensnared until 1975. Eight long years during which these crews, substituted every six months, would have to learn to live together under the watchful eyes of the Egyptian and Israeli armies, each occupying one of the canal's banks and multiplying intimidation operations.
Covered over the months by the desert sands, these ships will go down in history as the "Yellow Fleet".