>>>Infiltration, Retaliation and the Sinai Campaign
Infiltration, Retaliation and the Sinai Campaign 2018-02-19T22:11:55+00:00

Infiltration, Retaliation and the Sinai Campaign

We won… Now what?

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..

Infiltrations

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.
101

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.

kadesh

The Sinai Campaign (The Kadesh Operation)

In 1956, Nasser took control of the Suez Canal. France and Britain, who were shareholders in the Suez Canal (because it had been dug by them), began to plan a military operation against Egypt with the cooperation of Israel. Israel had a number of goals: to conquer the Gaza Strip and to eradicate the murderous terror coming out of Gaza, to take control of the Sinai, to open the Suez Canal and enable the free passage of goods and to deter the Arab states. The aim of Britain and France was to regain control of the Suez Canal.

Israel, France and Britain agreed among themselves as to how the war would proceed. According to the plan, Israel would start the war and at the same time, France and Britain would ask Egypt to withdraw from the Suez Canal and would ask Israel to stop the warfare. In case Egypt didn’t agree, the British and French forces would launch a military operation against the Egyptian forces
On the night of October 29, 1956, Israel launched the campaign. Within five days, the IDF took control of the entire Sinai Peninsula and reached the Suez Canal. Egypt refused to withdraw from the Suez Canal but, in violation of the agreement, Britain and France did not join the fighting and did not take over the Canal.
Israel was pressed by the international community to withdraw from the Sinai. On November 7, 1956, Ben Gurion announced that Israel would withdraw from the Sinai. Israel did everything in its power to have the Canal placed under U.N. supervision. On March 3, 1957, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and U.N. observers were stationed at the Canal.
From Israel’s standpoint, all the goals that were set were achieved. The security threat was eliminated (until the Six Day War). The fedayeens’ infiltrations were stopped, the Tiran Straits were opened and Israeli ships could sail from Eilat to the Indian Ocean. The State of Israel defeated the Egyptian army and weakened it. The Sinai Campaign contributed to the morale of the Israeli public. Their lack of confidence was replaced by a feeling of well-being and economic growth.
meir

Meir Har Zion

Meir Har Zion was a fighter and a farmer. He was born in 1934, grew up in Rishpon and Ein Harod and served in Unit 101 under Arik Sharon. While serving in the army, Ben Zion wrote a diary in which, among other things, he described the retaliatory acts which he participated in. The diary was published in his book, “Passages from My Diary”. From 1959 till his death in 2014, he lived in Ahuzat Shoshana, a private farm that he established in the Jordan Valley in memory of his sister, Shoshana, who had been killed by Arabs.

eli

Eli Cohen

In 1961, Eli Cohen from the Mossad (the national intelligence agency of Israel) started to operate in Syria. His cover was that he was an Argentinean businessman that had moved to Syria. He was quickly accepted by high army officers and political leaders. Eli Cohen passed on to Israel important information about the Syrian army and government decisions. He was discovered and captured while transmitting information to Israel. His trial lasted ten days and he was sentenced to death. He was not given the right to appeal and he was hanged in May 1965 in the central square of Damascus. Till this day, his bones have not been brought to Israel for burial.

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