User:John Z/drafts/Suez crisis

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According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, from 1953-1956 the IDF launched a number of large retaliatory strikes on Arab neighbours, which were designed in part to emphasise Israel's military superiority. Paradoxically, from 1954 onwards under the influence of the the IDF's new chief of staff Moshe Dayan the retaliatory strikes were also intended to provoke Arab states into war with Israel. Dayan wanted war and hoped that "a given retaliatory strike would embarrass or provoke the Arab state attacked into itself retaliating, giving Israel cause to escalate the shooting until war resulted - a war in which Israel could realize such major strategic objectives as the conquest of the West Bank or Sinai, or the destruction of the Egyptian Army". The Gaza incident on 28 February 1955, in which the IDF killed forty Egyptian soldiers [1], was one such attack. Egypt had previously consistently discouraged Palestinian infiltration into Israel, but following this incident Egypt did begin to sponsor official Fedayeen and commando raids on Israel, whilst still discouraging "private" Palestinian infltration. Morris estimates the total number of infiltrators killed by the IDF, police and civilians in the period 1949-1956 at between 2700 and 5000, with at least 100 being killed in 1954-56. From his analysis of the documentation Morris believes that the vast majority of those killed were "unarmed 'economic' and social infiltrators" (see Morris, 1997, pp. 91-93; p. 147 and pp. 190-191).

talk 6day 18 Fedayeen infiltration[edit]

Egypt sponsored fedayeen infilitration way before 1956. Not to mention, there are very pov sentences structures using Morris's claims as fact. Guy Montag 22:32, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

From The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World by historian Avi Shlaim, W.W. Norton 2001, pp.128-129:
Records of Egyptian and Jordanian military intelligence captured by the Israeli army in the course of the 1956 and 1967 wars conclusively disprove Dayan's version and substantiate Nasser's version. These records show that until the Gaza raid, the Egyptian military authorities had a consistent and firm policy of curbing infiltration by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Israel and that it was only following the raid that a new policy was put in place, that of organizing the fedayeen units and turning them into an official instrument of warfare against Israel.
The Jordanian documents tell a similar story. From them we learn that it was only in June 1955 that Egyptian military intelligence began to sponsor infiltration into Israel from Jordanian territory. Here, however, there was no change in the offical attitude toward infiltration. On the contrary, when the Jordanian authorities learned of the Egyptian attempt, they adopted even tougher and more comprehensive measures to counter it. These measures caused friction and tension between Jordan and Egypt.
Brian Tvedt 01:06, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

Michael Oren among others, tells another story. As far back as 1950, Colonel Mustafaa Hafez sponsored Palestinian infiltration from Gaza, many of which included sabotage attacks against Negev facilities, and terror attacks agains Israeli civilians. Sourced or not, this is a discrepency in historical fact that needs to be discussed. Guy Montag 03:02, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

Guy, if you can't cite sources this is by definition POV, i.e., unsourced editorial comment. No one is interested in the opinions of Wikipedia editors. If you want to make the claim above find a source. Expert opinion cited as such is not POV. Please don't label it as such. If you believe there is a dispute over the facts by experts of comparable standing, then just discuss that in the article and cite all the sources. Please don't restore the introduction making the POV claim that an invasion force was massing on Israel's borders. --Ian Pitchford 07:10, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

It is absurd to include more than the briefest mention of the pre 1956 and Suez war story here. Just because more people probably look at this article than the Suez war is no reason to include it and fight about it here. Attributing some things to Morris is ridiculous, it is like saying according to astronomer Homer J. Simpson, the sun rises in the east. The long accepted fact that Egypt did not sponsor the fedayeen before the Gaza raid is due to Ehud Ya'ari's Egypt and the Fedayeen, based on his publication of captured archives (in the early 70's iirc) not New Historians Shlaim or Morris much later by the way. As a common sense proposal, I also suggest using books for their main topic - e.g. Oren's 6 day war about this war, not the Suez war.John Z 08:47, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. The material belongs in the 1956 war article, not this one. Brian Tvedt 11:14, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
When an article starts filling with peripheral material, it's a sure sign of POV pushing. Thanks for removing it. Jayjg (talk) 20:57, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

Belongs there or not, it is still wrong material. I have in my hand Israel's Secret Wars' by Ian Black and Benny Morris. He explicitly states (on p.117) that the Gaza raid was "less a consequence of the death sentences in Cairo (related to Unit 131 prisoners that Nasser promised not to execute) than of years of raiding by Palestinian and Egyptian irregulars across the frontiers of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The Arab marauding, often as close as ten miles from Tel Aviv and on the outskirts of Jersusalem, turned large stretches of the border into virtual combat zones..." So don't tell me that this is unsourced. Morris tells a consistent story, it is not he who is taking things out of context.Guy Montag 18:15, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

There's no contradiction, (I don't think Nasser promised not to execute anyone, btw) Nobody denies that there were infiltrators, many of them terrorists before Gaza. The mufti, funded by the Saudis, for instance sponsored them. The question is whether Egypt sponsored them before Gaza. The scholarly consensus answer is no, based on captured documents and other sources - (e.g. records of negotiations between Israel and Egypt before Gaza (cf Elmore Jackson's Mission to Cairo iirc) show that Ben-G didn't really insist that Egypt was doing it) -and real negotiations were hardly likely if Israel thought there was massive state sponsored terrorism coming from Egypt. John Z 19:19, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

Egypt captured Gaza after the Israeli war of Independence in 1948. Afterwards, they turned Gaza into a virtual military base. Ben Gurion did not pressure Nasser because at that time he had just seized power. It was thought in all quarters, from London to Paris, to Tel Aviv, that he could be negotiated with. This is all sourced information. All you have to do is rent the book from any library and read the page I gave you. But on thing you are right. It was after the Gazan raid that Egypt officially amalgamated Palestinian fedayeen into their armed forces, but it doesn't mean that before that, Egypt did not unofficially sponsor terrorists. They did. Col. Mustafaa Hafez and Col. Salah Mustafaa both acted as controllers for various Palestinian terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank. Arguing that Egypt did not sponsor terrorism like for example, Iran does today, is simply a point of rhetoric, not reality. Guy Montag 00:50, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

The quote you provided from Black/Morris does not mention Col. Hafez or Col. Mustafaa. It refers only to "irregulars", with no mention that they were sponsored, officially or unofficially, by anybody. So the crucial claim you are making, that "Egypt sponsored fedayeen infilitration way before 1956", is still unsourced, and in fact contradicts the work of respected historians.
In Righteous Victims, Morris is consistent with Shlaim: "Until 1955 the Arab states officially opposed infiltration and generally attempted to curb it" (p. 270). John is correct that Shlaim's conclusion is baed on Ehud Ya'ari's investigation of captured Egyptian documents.
Brian Tvedt 12:25, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Morris does refer to Hafez as being responsible for sending agents into Israel; 24 of these were captured in 1954 during their missions to "gather intelligence or commit acts of sabotage". These missions/raids were organised by Egyptian military intelligence (see Israel's Border Wars, pp. 65-66) However, on pages 85-86 he writes "Throughout the early and mid-1950s Israel variously charged that the Egyptian authorities were instigating or encouraging armed infiltration from the Gaza strip and Sinai, actively helping the infiltrators, and doing nothing to curb the incursions. The reality was somewhat different and more complex, with the IDF's Gaza Raid in February 1955 marking a clear watershed: before the raid Egyptian policy had, with few exceptions, consistently opposed infiltration; after it, while continuing to oppose uncontrolled civilian infiltration, the Egyptian authorities themselves initiated terrorist infiltration for political and military reasons. In their more candid moments, before 1955, Israeli officials acknowledged that Egypt opposed infiltration. In November 1953 Dayan, then OC IDF General Staff Branch, told American officials that "the problems along the border with Egypt are not the fruit of Egyptian Government plots but a fruit of its neglect, especially in the Gaza strip area, where Egyptian rule is weak and the refugee problem is going from bad to worse. The Egyptians are busy with their internal problems... and do not pay attention to what is happening in the Strip.... and therefore... the infiltration spreads". And on page 93 "Immediately after the Gaza Raid Egyptian officials - who had hitherto referred to infiltrators as mitsalilun, a negative term connoting thieves - began to refer to infiltrators as Fedayeen (men of sacrifice), a positive term. A similar change occurred in the Egyptian media, which hailed the Fedayeen, and Egyptian documents began to refer with pride to the exploits of the border-crossers and with the delight at the distress they were causing Israeli border communities." . --Ian Pitchford 15:48, 14 September 2005 (UTC)


  • Bar-On, Mordechai, Morris, Benny and Golani, Motti (2002). Reassessing Israel's Road to Sinai/Suez, 1956: A "Trialogue". In Gary A. Olson (Ed.). Traditions and Transitions in Israel Studies: Books on Israel, Volume VI (pp. 3-42). SUNY Press. ISBN 0791455858
  • Bregman, Ahron (2002). Israel's Wars: A History Since 1947. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415287162
  • Hopwood, Derek (1991). Egypt: Politics and Society. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415094321
  • Morris, Benny (1997). Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198292627
  • Oren, Michael (2003). Six Days of War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195151747
  • Pollack, Kenneth (2004). Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0803287836