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Caught in the Middle: The United Nations Emergency Force, Israel, and the 1960 “Rotem Crisis”

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The refusal of the UN forces in Lebanon to accede to Israel's request to provide information on events they were witness to (the October 2000 abduction of three Israeli soldiers on the border), and the subsequent crisis between the two, are not unprecedented. A much more severe crisis broke out in 1960 after nearly the entire Egyptian army surprisingly deployed a few kilometres behind the UN Emergency Force's (UNEF) posts along the border with Israel in Sinai. Israel hurried to request UNEF to provide information—considered crucial to its survival—on this deployment, but was refused. The author reviews this unknown incident and tracks on the diplomatic efforts made by the then UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskj√∂ld alongside about UNEF's role and functions in this affair. He examines the UN's refusal and concludes that while the Egyptians did partially violate some informal understandings with the UNSG, it was indeed justified.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-06-01

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