Infiltration, Insurgency and Counter Measures in the Arab-Israeli Wars

Infiltration of national borders has been a component of the Arab-Israeli conflict, for example, during 1949-53 the Arabs organised over 3,000 infiltrations and in 1949-56 over two hundred Israelis were killed by mistanenim. The general name for this conflict is the Terrorist War, however, the War of Attrition (1968-70) also saw many infiltrations. I have grouped them together as the military operations were very similar.

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Egyptian Order of Battle in the 1956 Arab-Israeli War

During the 1956 Arab-Israeli War the Egyptian army might have been big and well equipped but it was a bit of a mess. The Egyptian troops were poorly trained and led, and had little incentive to fight. Motivation was low as the Egyptians used conscription but didn’t pay any allowances to the family if a soldier was killed or incapacitated. Possibly worse still the predominantly upper class Egyptian Officers considered it beneath them to train their men. Finally communication between the field and HQ was poor. Field commanders invented successes and/or exaggerated enemy numbers, and then ignored orders from above as they knew these orders were based on fabricated reports like their own.

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Israeli Order of Battle in the 1956 Arab-Israeli War

Up to and including the 1956 Arab-Israeli War the IDF was a predominantly infantry based organisation. Israel’s armour focus only came after the Moshe Dayan (IDF Chief-of-Staff) saw how effective armour operations could be during Operation Kadesh. The plan for the Sinai Campaign was to have the armour in infantry support roles; as it turned out they did some nifty blitzkrieg type attacks.

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Sinai Campaign and Operation Kadesh

Called variously the 1956 War, the Sinai Campaign, Operation Kadesh (after the IDF codename), and the 100 hours war (the length of time it took the Israeli’s to win). Egypt, Syria and Jordan were planning a joint war on Israeli, however, events took a different turn. Egypt had nationalised the Suez Canal – thus offending … Read more