The Sinai Campaign in 1956 is not well-known – both in Israel and abroad. Israel was still a brand new country – less than 10 years old. Israel had only proven in it’s War of Independence that it could survive. But it was certainly not a power to be reckoned with. In 1956, the beginning of the glowing reputation of the Israel Defense Forces began to evolve. This video does an excellent job of explaining the background that led up to the 1956 Sinai Campaign.
Did Israel Win the War?
France and England were part of this story, and it all centered around the Suez Canal. It is not just any waterway. It is the location through which the bulk of the oil flowed to the entire continent of Europe. When the Suez Canal was threatened by Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s dictator, this led to a war between Egypt and England, France, and Israel.
It was a complicated war, but Israel clearly routed the Egyptian forces and freed the shipping routes. Even though Britain and France were part of the plan to attack Egypt, Britain and France basically took an even-handed approach diplomatically at the end of the battle. The United States also did not take a clear stand on Israel’s side. All of the Western world was too concerned about alienating the Arab countries over concern about oil.
Even though Israel had pushed back Egyptian forces back to the Suez Canal and out of the Sinai Peninsula, they were forced to give it all away at the end. Many called it a military victory followed by a diplomatic defeat. But one thing is clear. The Israeli Army emerged as a serious force to be reckoned with in the Middle East. It was an Army that knew how to fight in an organized and tenacious fashion in the desert. A new kind of Jew was emerging – an Israeli fighter. That change is permanent. Perhaps that it what it means when people refer to it as Israel’s Second War of Independence.