United Nations Emergency Force

(UNEF)
   The United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force that was inserted between Israeli and Egyptian armies at the end of the Sinai War (1956). UN General Assembly Resolution 1000 (ES-1) of 5 November 1956 empowered the secretary general to establish an international emergency force with the capabilities of keeping the Egyptian-Israeli front at peace until a political settlement could be reached. UNEF was created as an armed police force, though it was authorized to use force only in self-defense. Its mandate was premised on four major objectives: secure the cessation of hostilities and supervise the cease-fire; ensure the orderly withdrawal of Israeli, British, and French forces from Egyptian territory; patrol the border between Israel and Egypt; and ensure the observance of the Egypt-Israel armistice agreement.
   The first UNEF unit was deployed to the Suez Canal on 15 November 1956. On 7 March 1957, the force became operational in the Gaza Strip with the permission of Egypt following the Israeli withdrawal. Israel never permitted UNEF to operate on its soil. At its strength, UNEF forces were deployed along the 145 miles of international frontiers connecting Israel and Egypt.
   The force functioned successfully for 10 years, until 18 May 1967, when Secretary General U Thant acquiesced to Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser's request to terminate UNEF's presence in Egypt. When on the same day Israel declined a request to allow UNEF to redeploy to the Israeli side of the international boundary, U Thant felt there was no choice but to terminate the force's operation. He was widely criticized for moving prematurely in this matter, thereby complicating diplomatic efforts to forestall hostilities in the spring of 1967.
   See also Six-Day War (1967).

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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