In August 1955, the popular Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser dispatched a squad of Palestinian Fedayeen, a terrorist unit, to roam southern Israel looking for targets of opportunity. In one week they murdered 16 people.

The Israeli army’s chief of staff, Moshe Dayan, ordered Ariel Sharon, who was then in charge of a battalion of commandos, to raid Egyptian positions in the Gaza Strip in retaliation. Just before the retaliatory operation got under way a message arrived from the prime minister. It was a no-go. “Elmore Jackson, a representative of the American Society of Friends [Quakers], had arrived on an Israeli-Egyptian peacemaking mission and [prime minister Moshe] Sharett did not wish to impede Jackson’s efforts by instituting any Israeli acts of aggression.”

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