In the wake of a pair of security alerts and the deaths of two Egytian policemen Wednesday night, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Thursday that Israel intended to do whatever was necessary to prevent terrorists from using the Sinai as a base of operations against Israel. “We will never allow the Sinai Peninsula to again become an area of war and terror” against Israel, Rivlin said.
Rivlin was speaking at a special memorial service for the Israeli soldiers killed during the 1956 Sinai Campaign. One hundred fifty one IDF soldiers were killed in the war, also known as “Operation Kadesh,” and hundreds were wounded. While the war was sparked by Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal, hurting British and French interests, Israel joined the war in the hope that it could prevent further attacks by terrorist “fedayeen” from Gaza and Sinai, who killed thousands of Israelis between the establishment of the state and the Six Day War. In 1955 alone, 260 Israeli citizens were killed or wounded by fedayeen.
Rivlin said that Israel was as committed as ever to keeping the peace with Egypt, but that the real test of that peace was still to come. “Over the graves of our beloved sons we again declare our deep commitment to the peace agreement, and to our deep commitment to defending our people,” Rivlin said.
At the same time, he said, the unrest in Egypt had clearly affected that country's commitment – or ability to enforce – peace with Israel. On the background of the ongoing protests in Egypt against the country's military rulers, Rivlin said that “today the Egyptian people are determining their future, and the fate of Egypt's relations with Israel are in their hands as well. The peace treaty is in Egypt's interests. as well as in Israel's, and we hope that they will continue to choose the way of peace.”
Nevertheless, Rivlin said, that choice was less clear than ever. “Today it seems, unfortunately, that the test of peace is far from being resolved.” Regardless, Rivlin said, “Israel will never again allow Sinai to become a place of terror and war ever again.”