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Unknown Facts of Sinai Drive Revealed by Dayan on Third Anniversary

The third anniversary of the Sinai campaign was noted today with editorials in leading Israel newspapers and the start of publication of the “Sinai Diaries” of former Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan,

The first portions of the diaries, published by Davar, the Mapai paper, and The Jerusalem Post, indicated that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion initially envisaged the Sinai campaign as a limited campaign, particularly in terms of the number of troops to be involved. However, reaching the Tiran Straits to end the Egyptian blockade of the Israel port of Eilat was among the targets considered in planning the drive.

According to the diaries, it was the need to provide maximum protection for the assault troops, particularly the parachutists, and to forestall to the expected Egyptian counter-attack which required organizing the operation on a much larger scale than was originally planned.

The published first section does not describe any contacts with the British and French in preparation of the campaign. Various meetings with Mr. Ben-Gurion and orders of the day are described.

According to the diaries, Mr. Ben-Gurion made the final decision to proceed on October 25, four days before the action was launched. On the fifth day of the Sinai operation, there was a discussion on whether to occupy the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. Mr. Ben-Gurion, according to the diaries, objected, saying Israel should not become involved in what was rapidly becoming “a big international affair.”

Davar also reprinted a laudatory comment on Gen. Dayan’s leadership of the Sinai operation from Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, who served as Chief of Staff to Gen. Eisenhower in the Allied war on Nazi Germany. Gen. Smith made his comment in autographing a copy of his book, “Eisenhower’s Six Great Decisions, ” which he sent to Gen. Dayan three months after the Sinai operation.

Gen. Smith wrote: “My dear Dayan–I once thought I was a good military planner but I had unlimited resources to draw upon. I could never have done what you have Just accomplished and I send you my sincere congratulations.”

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