The War of Independence ended in 1949 with tremendous achievements for the young state. Many areas were captured and the IDF emerged victorious. After the war, there was great hope that that had been the last war. However, the Arabs did not accept the reality of the State of Israel.
After the War of Independence
The Arabs did not accept their loss in the War of Independence, nor did they accept the existence of the State of Israel. They demanded that Israel return to the lines of the Partition Plan of November 1947 and that the refugees return to their homes. Actually, the Arab-Israeli struggle still continued on all the fronts: military, political and economic. On the political front, the Arabs absolutely refused to recognize the State of Israel. When Israeli leaders spoke at the U.N., Arab diplomats got up and left; negotiations weren’t conducted with Israel. On the economic front, Israeli products were boycotted. Not only didn’t they buy Israeli products, but they also tried to pressure other countries not to trade with Israel. On the security/military front, infiltrators began to cross the borders into Israel..
The aims of the infiltrations were theft, looting, smuggling and terror. It was hard to Israel’s long borders and the settlements along it. The situation in the IDF was also difficult. After the War of Independence, the soldiers returned to their homes. Ben Gurion disbanded the Palmach, and the IDF was, in fact, an army of immigrants. The fortitude and determination of the War of Independence ebbed. The army suffered losses.
In 1953, Arik Sharon decided to establish Unit 101 – a very small force manned by elite soldiers, attached to the Parachutist Brigade. The unit was established in order to provide an answer to the problem of infiltration and to security problems facing the State of Israel.
Acts of Retaliation
The aim of the retaliatory acts was to deter and prevent the looting and terror of infiltrators. The guiding principle of the retaliatory acts was that the Arab states were responsible for the terror and therefore, the individual infiltrator was not the IDF’s target, rather the village and the country from which he came. The acts were usually carried out at night. Unit 101was a success and it brought a new spirit to the IDF. The retaliatory acts lifted the spirit of the nation, but it did not actually succeed in stopping the infiltrations and the terror. During the 1950s, the security situation continued to deteriorate because of two main reasons. First, Egypt signed a weapons deal with Czechoslovakia and large quantities of armaments began to pour into Egypt. Second, in 1955, Egypt’s President Nasser founded a unit of “fedayeen” (which means those who are willing to sacrifice themselves), a commando unit which committed acts of terror. During that period, Israel was caught in a vicious cycle: a terror attack, a retaliatory act, a terror attack, a retaliatory act. The State of Israel reached the conclusion that they must end this vicious cycle.