October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 29th, marked the 55th anniversary of the start of Operation Kadesh, or the Sinai Campaign. It began with the parachuting of the 890th Battalion east of the Mitla Pass, fairly close to the Suez Canal, for the purpose of providing Britain and France with an excuse to intervene militarily. Whether this opening act fulfilled Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan’s call to “start the war at the end, with heads turned backward, toward the Israeli border,” is an open question.
Historians are wont to assess the pros and cons of this military operation, whose legacy in the region was perhaps the quietest decade Israel has ever experienced, along with far more costly wars after the end of that decade. Israel stained itself morally by hatching a conspiracy with two fading European powers against North African national liberation movements, yet the IDF amazed the world with its daring maneuvers and intimidating agility; and the opening of a naval route to the Red Sea enabled relations to be cultivated with newly independent states in Asia and Africa.
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