The Suez War 1956

The Suez War of 1956, fought to put an end to terrorist incursions into Israel and to remove the Egyptian blockade of Eilat, marked the final transformation of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) into a professional army capable of large-scale operations.

A battle plan for the operation was adopted in early October 1956, but was revised following Israel's secret agreement with Britain and France. Under this agreement, Israel would transfer the focus of action as close to the Suez Canal as possible.

At 17:00 on October 29,1956 Israeli units parachuted into the eastern approaches of the Mitla Pass near the Canal – a political rather than tactical or strategic objective. The action provided the pretext for a French and British ultimatum to Israel and Egypt, calling on both sides to cease hostilities and withdraw from the Canal area. For diversionary reasons, Israeli forces also advanced on southern and central axes.

The following day, October 30, Britain and France issued the planned ultimatum, but to no effect, as heavy fighting between Egyptian and Israeli units persisted. In a swift, sweeping operation of 100 hours, under the leadership of then chief of the General Staff, Moshe Dayan, the entire Sinai Peninsula fell into Israeli hands, at a cost of 231 soldiers killed.

The Sinai Campaign did not so much introduce new principles and policies as reaffirm the direction the IDF had already taken. Above all, the doctrine that the determining factors in Israel's mode of warfare would be the Armored Corps and the Air Force was confirmed. The Air Force was still deficient; its development was one of the lessons learned from that war; armor had proven its ability and was there to stay.

Although Israel had been compelled to withdraw from Sinai without any security guarantee, UNEF – the United Nations Emergency Force, was established to guard against a recurrence of past events. As a result, the fedayun ceased to exist.

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