cover image Gates of Gaza

Gates of Gaza

Mordechai Bar-On. Palgrave MacMillan, $85 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-312-10586-0

This fresh interpretation of the Suez crisis is based on recently declassified material and the author's own recollections; as defense minister Moshe Dayan's personal assistant, Bar-On was a witness to many of the events considered here. He reveals how the 1955 Egyptian-Czech arms deal and Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal presented Israel with two major threats to its security, then discusses steps the Jewish state took to ensure that the inevitable confrontation would take place under conditions favorable to itself. In his vivid account of the military campaign that followed, Bar-On argues that Israeli generalship exemplified the proper subordination of military priorities to political exigencies: Dayan made changes that ran counter to military doctrine in the allocation of forces, choice of targets, timetables and operational tactics to satisfy political demands. The author explains a major paradox in connection with the 1956 conflict: Though arrayed against each other on the battlefield, both Israel and Egypt emerged as victors. France and Britain were the losers. Bar-On concludes his study with a discussion of ways the Sinai Campaign influenced the outcome of the 1967 Six-Day War. (May)