Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV   ■   Volume Twelve   ■   Number 4&5 (69-70)  ■  September 1999   ■  Ariel Center for Policy Research




The Sinai Peninsula - A Theater of War

Ehud Eilam

Four times during the last fifty years, the Sinai Peninsula has been a war front between Israel and Egypt.  During this period many military lessons had been learned, particularly in logistics, air power and ground operations.  Maintaining an armed force in the desert had always been a difficult task.  The distance between the armies, the natural physical conditions and the demands of armored warfare complicated the military moves of both sides.

The need to find and destroy the enemy in the large empty spaces of the desert, while controlling the main junctures, passes and airfields, had an additional effect on air force and ground troops movements.

This article examines the lessons drawn from the Sinai experience and will review the build-up of the two armies.

The Israeli army transformed from an infantry army to a modern, fast and powerful army, based on well-trained and experienced units and air force.

In 1955 the Egyptian army changed its British equipment and was supplied by Eastern European countries.  In the late 1970s it switched yet again to western arms, this time elaborate new American weapons along with some French products.

During the 1956 and 1967 wars, the Egyptians occupied the Sinai and had a military infrastructure to assist them. After the Six Day War in 1967 the Israelis occupied the Sinai, had access to the military infrastructure and improved it, using it also in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

For the past twenty years, following the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt there has existed no military infrastructure in most of the Sinai.

The last part of the article examines the main factors which may influence the next war in the Sinai should it occur.

These factors include the control of airfields and important roads and routes, as well as deployment of ground troops, operations in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal and identification of the various armed vehicles traveling in the desert.

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