How the Suez Crisis Triggered Israel’s First Occupation of Gaza

Perched on his couch in a windowless room, leaning forward on his cane, Bassam Barbakh said Israel’s first military foray into Gaza 65 years ago was etched into his memory.

“When I was a child, I swore that if I lived a thousand years I would not be able to forget what happened,” said the squat 73-year-old at his home in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza.

3 View gallery

Bassam Barbakh, shows a photo of one of his deceased brothers killed by Israeli soldiers

Bassam Barbakh, shows a photo of one of his deceased brothers killed by Israeli soldiers

(Photo: AFP)

Israel’s controversial history in the Palestinian enclave includes nearly four decades of occupation, from 1967 until the disengagement in 2005, and a blockade since 2007, the year Hamas Islamists seized the territory. But the first time Israel took control of Gaza was on November 3, 1956, when Egypt’s military governor surrendered, marking the start of a four-month occupation during the Suez crisis.

That period has receded as a prominent phase in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, displaced by the occupation that followed the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel has said the goals of the 1956 invasion of Gaza included ensuring free passage to across the Strait of Tiran and “reduce fedayeen (guerrilla) attacks” from the Strip.

According to Tel Aviv University historian Eyal Zisser, prior to the invasion of Gaza, Israel had determined that circumstances in the Strip ran the risk of “destabilizing” Israel, following previous border disturbances and the threat of military forces. accumulated in the enclave. “From the Israeli point of view, this was an unacceptable situation,” Zisser said, adding that the Suez crisis created an “opportunity” for action.

On July 26, 1956, then Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. Fearing the waterway would be cut off, Britain, France and Israel conspired to attack Egypt and Israel seized control of Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula. It withdrew from those areas in March 1957 under pressure from the United States.

A bustling market now surrounds Khan Yunis’ century-old Barquq Castle, and outside the walls, Barbakh pointed to areas where he said Israeli troops left dozens of bodies.

He showed photos of two of his brothers who he said were killed during the “terrible and terrifying” riots.

3 View gallery

Barbakh walks in front of the 13th-century Barquq Castle of Khan Yunis, where he said dozens of corpses killed by Israeli troops were left outside the walls.Barbakh walks in front of the 13th-century Barquq Castle of Khan Yunis, where he said dozens of corpses killed by Israeli troops were left outside the walls.

Barbakh walks in front of the 13th-century Barquq Castle of Khan Yunis, where he said dozens of corpses killed by Israeli troops were left outside the walls.

(Photo: AFP)

The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) noted in a December 1956 report that “a large number of civilians died” in Khan Yunis on November 3, but there were “conflicts in the accounts given about the causes of the victims”. .

The Israeli army recently said that after the Gaza takeover, “some 4,000 Egyptian soldiers and Palestinian fighters and fedayeen remained inside,” and many “dressed as civilians.”

Israeli operations to stop Fedayeen attacks and confiscate weapons led to clashes, the army said. “This caused damage to civilians, as the IDF (army) could not differentiate between combatants and uninvolved civilians,” he said. Barbakh claimed that Israel had “punished” Khan Yunis because of the “ferocity of the resistance.”

UNRWA also reported that “several refugees were killed” by Israeli fire in Rafah, further south, on 12 November. The Israeli army described the dead as “48 rioters” who threatened the troops, citing then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

On Friday, President Isaac Herzog apologized for an incident that occurred on the first day of the Suez Campaign, October 29, 1956, when 49 Arabs were killed in Kafr Qasim, a village within Israel.

“On the 65th anniversary of one of the saddest events in the history of our country … on my behalf and on behalf of the State of Israel, I apologize,” Herzog said.

Israel has said that 231 soldiers were killed in the operation that captured the Sinai Peninsula, and the military said that at least seven civilians were also killed in multiple attacks near the Gaza border in the first week of November 1956.

Lior Yavne, executive director of the Israeli organization Akevot that uses archives to promote human rights, said that before being forced to withdraw, the Ben-Gurion government intended for Gaza to become “an integral part of Israel.” .

“Israel declared an area in the Gaza Strip a military zone for the purpose of building a settlement,” he said, drawing a parallel with the subsequent development of settlements in the West Bank, now home to some 475,000 Jews.

3 View gallery

Palestinian refugees queue for food distributed by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) at a camp in Gaza on November 9, 1956Palestinian refugees queue for food distributed by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) at a camp in Gaza on November 9, 1956

Palestinian refugees queue for food distributed by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) at a camp in Gaza on November 9, 1956

(Photo: AFP)

Zisser said that Ben-Gurion and other Israeli officials had made various comments about the absorption of Gaza into Israel, but their intentions were not final and depended on multiple factors, especially Washington’s actions. “Clearly, the position of some (in 1956) was ‘if the Americans allow me, I will stay here (in Gaza),'” he said.

Yavne noted that the era marked an early Israeli brush with international occupation law. Shabtai Rosenne, the then legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, intervened after reading a draft proclamation that determined that it could have constituted the illegal annexation of Gaza.

Rosenne noted that under national law, the defense minister “had the authority to proclaim that (Gaza) is subject to Israeli law.” But, he warned, other countries could conclude that Israel’s annexation of Gaza “contravenes” international law.

The Defense Ministry backed down, but Israel would unilaterally annex East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights after the 1967 war, measures that the international community largely rejected.



Reference-www.ynetnews.com

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *