Egypt Table of Contents
During the First Arab-Israeli War (1948-49), an Egyptian invasion force of 7,000 men crossed the Palestinian border at Rafah on the Mediterranean coast and at Al Awja (Nizzana) farther inland (see fig. 7). They soon reached Ashdod, less than thirty-five kilometers from Tel Aviv. But by the time the first truce ended in mid-July, the Israelis had reinforced their positions, beating off Egyptian attacks and recovering territory to protect Jewish settlements in the Negev. By the fall of 1948, the Israelis put Egypt's 18,000 troops deployed in Palestine on the defensive and penetrated the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt and Israel concluded an armistice under United Nations (UN) auspices at the end of 1948 and later agreed on a cease-fire line that generally followed the prewar boundary between Palestine and Sinai. But Egyptian forces still occupied and administered the narrow coastal strip of southwestern Palestine, the Gaza Strip.
The venality and ineffectiveness of the Faruk regime were the main causes of Egypt's failures in the war. Although inexperienced, Egypt's troops had performed well in defensive operations before being driven back by the Israelis.
A coup d'état in 1952 toppled Faruk's regime and brought to power younger officers of the Free Officers' movement (see The Revolution and the Early Years of the New Government: 1952-56 , ch. 1). From then on, Egypt gave priority to the development of the military. In 1955 the government enacted the National Military Service Law, which aimed at reforming and upgrading the armed forces.
Data as of December 1990