On October 29, 1956, Israeli armed forces pushed into Egypt toward the Suez Canal after Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-70) nationalized the canal in July of that same year, initiating the Suez Crisis. The Israelis soon were joined by French and British forces, which nearly brought the Soviet Union into the conflict, and damaged their relationships with the United States. In the end, the British, French and Israeli governments withdrew their troops in late 1956 and early 1957. The catalyst for the joint Israeli-British-French attack on Egypt was the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in July 1956. The situation had been brewing for some time.
Two years earlier, the Egyptian military had begun pressuring the British to end their military presence (which had been granted in the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty) in the canal zone. Nasser’s armed forces also engaged in sporadic battles with Israeli soldiers along the border between the two countries, and the Egyptian leader did nothing to conceal his antipathy toward the Zionist nation. Supported by Soviet arms and money, and furious with the United States for reneging on a promise to provide funds for construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River, Nasser ordered the Suez Canal seized and nationalized. The British were angry with the move and sought the support of France (which believed that Nasser was supporting rebels in the French colony of Algeria) and Israel (which needed little provocation to strike at the enemy on its border) in an armed assault to retake the canal.