New upsurge of Fedayeen attacks.
The Suez Crisis / the Sinai Campaign.
The cease fire agreements finally collapsed - in fact there had never been a period of total peace and quiet since they were signed. The Arab states did not accept the fact of the existence of the State of Israel. Infiltration, theft and hostility were part and parcel of everyday life for the citizens of the State, especially those in border settlements.
Hostile acts against Israel increased in the mid-50’s. Marauding gangs known as the fedayeen were specially trained to infiltrate from the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian border. They sowed destruction and death. Vehicles were attacked and their passengers murdered. The fedayeen even penetrated to the center of the country, slaughtering women and children. The IDF (Israel Defense Force) responded by establishing a special force, Paratrooper Unit 101, to initiate attacks upon enemy territory and inflict as much damage as possible. Between 1948 and 1956 a total of 1,300 Israeli citizens were killed or wounded, and more that 6,000 terrorist activities were recorded.
In September 1955 the Egyptians announced the closure of the Straits of Tiran to all vessels. Prior to this, the Suez Canal had been barred to Israeli vessels, despite the fact that it is an international waterway. Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser signed a large weapons deal with Czechoslovakia at the same time that the Syrians closed a similar deal with the Soviet Union. In October 1955 Syria and Egypt signed a military treaty and established a joint Military Command headed by an Egyptian general. In Jordan, elections to the Parliament were won by Nasser’s supporters, so Jordan entered the alliance. Israel was far outnumbered by these forces. Egypt called for the destruction of Israel, and every day the threat of war grew closer.
On October 29, 1956 the Sinai Campaign began. IDF soldiers parachuted deep into the Sinai Desert, not far from the Mitla Pass. On October 30 the Governments of Britain and France demanded that both Israel and Egypt cease hostilities and withdraw their forces ten miles from both sides of the Suez Canal. Israel accepted the demand but Egypt rejected in. The next day Britain and France launched an aerial attack, destroying Egypt’s air force and conquering Port Said and Port Fuad. Within eight days the combined forces captured the entire Sinai Peninsula, in a brilliant operation which won praise from military experts throughout the world.
In the course of the war hundreds of Egyptians were captured and much weaponry fell into the hands of the IDF. At the end of the war the Straits of Tiran were opened, free passage on the waterways was assured and the Egyptian threat was removed. An indirect outcome of the war was the immigration of the many Egyptian Jews to Israel. The war cost the lives of 172 IDF soldiers.
America and the rest of the international community pressured Israel to retreat to the armistice border, and an international emergency force was stationed on the border between Israel and Egypt. American guarantees ensured that quiet was maintained in the region until just before the outbreak of the Six Day War in June 1967.