UZI in the IDF




Hundreds of thousands of UZI's have been produced in its 50+ year history and they have served many roles. Some sit locked away in police lockers or warehouses covered in dust. Some see routine security duty and never fire a shot. Some live their lives in Hollywood to be glorified or vilified depending on the next script. The unfortunate ones are cut up and become parts kits or worse. The lucky ones have been bought up by gun enthusiasts who use and care for them. Like any versatile tool, the UZI served many purposes. But the UZI was designed as a weapon of war - a weapon of Israel's war. It was designed in 1951 by Uziel Gal for the Israeli Military. After a few years of testing and evaluation, it was adopted by the Israel Defense Force (IDF). Initially designed as a weapon for paratroopers, the IDF - or Zahal as it's known in Israel - used the UZI in many rolls. In addition to being a valuable arm for front line troops, it's compact size and controllability made it an ideal weapon for women (who served in large numbers in Israel) and for secondary troops such as medics.

Following is a photo history of the early years of the UZI, serving as an important weapon in Israel's armed combat. The legendary status of the UZI was born during these early days of military service.


Retaliation acts, 1950s.
IMI UZI factory in the 1950s.
Retaliation acts. 1950s.
Infantry in action during retaliation acts. 1950s.


The Suez/Sinai War of 1956

The early years of Israeli statehood were anything but peaceful, but tensions with Egypt rose dramatically in 1955. Egypt increased pressure on her unwelcome neighbor by blockading Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran. Additionally, Egyptian backed fedayeen wreaked havoc on Israeli settlements. On October 29, 1956, Israel attacked Egypt, mobilizing over 100,000 soldiers in 72 hours. This would be the first big test of the new UZI. Israeli forces quickly moved across Sinai towards the Suez Canal. On October 30th, the United States sponsored a Security Council resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal, but England and France vetoed it. The following day, those two countries bombed airfields near Suez. Having recently lost controlling interest in several Middle Eastern countries, England and France were eager to retain some control over the Suez Canal. By November 5th, the IDF had taken control of virtually the entire Sinai peninsula and the British and French has captured Port Said.

Upset with Israel's secret plan to attack Egypt, the United States sided with the Soviet Union (who had been supporting Egypt) to pressure Israel to withdraw. The U.S. threatened to withdraw all assistance from Israel as well as UN sanctions. Bowing to U.S. pressure, Israel withdraw from all areas it had taken. As part of the agreement to withdraw, President Eisenhower promised Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion that the U.S. would maintain free navigation in the area. Additionally, UN peace peeking troops would be moved into Sinai.

The November 2, 1956 issue of IDF Magazine showing the new UZI ready for war.
The taste of victory during the Sinai War (1956).
Engineering corps, making a bomb during 1950's retaliation acts.
Women soldiers displaying their UZI's at the 1959 Independence day parade.
IDF infantry in night training (1959).
IDF soldiers expedition in parade in Holland (1959).
Paratroopers in training (1959).


The Frontier Guard doing a pre operation briefing.
Soldier keeping watch on the national water conduit - 1964.
IDF Commando unit - 1960s.
Soldier keeping guard in the Hermon Mountains near Syrian the border.
IDF Commando unit - 1960s.
UZI production line from the 1960s.
IDF Commando unit - 1960s.
Lighting the Hanukka Lamp at Modi'in.
IDF Commando unit - 1960s.
Comparing an old style UZI with the newer style.


The Six Day War

By 1967, tensions between Israel, Egypt and Syria again reached the breaking point. On May 22, 1967, Egypt closed off the Straits of Tiran, blocking off all Israeli shipping. Egypt ordered the UN peacekeeping forces out of the area and by June 4, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq were all aligned against Israel and had 250,000 troops poised for action. Israel knew that an Arab invasion would be disastrous and that a preemptive strike was necessary. On June 5th, Israel attacked Egypt in Sinai, Syria in the Golan Heights and Jordan east of Jerusalem. 

In just six days of fighting, the Israeli's achieved stunning success. They had taken the entire Sinai peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and were in a position to attack Cairo, Damascus and Amman. On June 10th, a ceasefire was declared. In November, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 242, which outlined the process by which Israel would withdraw from territories occupied during the war in exchange for peace with her neighbors.

Israel Air Force flight course cadet in parade in Air Force day - 1967.
Young and old prepare for war.
Young paratroopers in the days before the war begins.
Female soldier shooting an UZI during training.
The Israeli flag flies over El Arish - the first Egyptian airbase captured during the Six day war.
IDF soldier with the UZI.
Golani (infantry) soldiers returning from battle.
Troops in the north near Kala.
First time the Israel flag flies over the Wailling Wall - 1967.
Soldier crying near the Wailing Wall after combat in the Six Days war - 1967.



Soldiers with the photo of Egyptian President Nasser - 1967.
New and old UZI compared in the IDF encyclopedia.
Soldier on watch near the Suez canal.
Golani (infantry) soldiers moments before attack.
Paratrooper on patrol.
IDF soldier of the Nahal brigade guarding near Nahal settlement.
Golani soldiers after battle.
The "Dome of the Rock" mosque in Jerusalem near the Wailing Wall.
By the parker monument, opposite the Suez Canal.
Soldiers at the Wailing Wall.
Some time to sleep any place possible - with the UZI nearby for safety.
Israeli troops at the "Lion's Gate" of Jerusalem.
Monument  to a fallen commando in the campaign on Jerusalem.





A female IDF soldier trains younger soldiers how to use the UZI.
Israeli troops inspect the Jordan police station at Chusan after it was destroyed by explosives.
Attacking the police station at Kalkiliah.
An injured soldier brought back to a first aid station.
Battle in front of the Rockfeller museum.
Female soldier returning from a helicopter flight.
Jubilant celebration after the Six Days war.



After the Six days war, soldier in Sinai Desert near the Suez Canal.
IDF parade near Jerusalem Walls - 1968.
Paratroopers in Parade near Jerusalem walls - 1968.
IDF Navy commando 13th fleet.
IDF paratroopers on parade - 1973.
Colonel Mordechai Gur, overlooking the temple.
Soldier guarding worker in a Jewish settlement.
IDF soldier checking what was left from an Egyptian Mig.
Soldier checking documents out on the street.
Parachutists on Parade Day in the 1960s.
Women military police on parade day in the 1960s.
Zahal postcard from the 1960s.




1973 Yom Kippur War

Israel is a nation constantly on watch. After three years of relative peace, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 6, 1973. The Egyptians attacked across the Sinai while the Syrians attacked the Golan Heights. After three weeks of fighting, the IDF turned back the attackers and had driven the Egyptians back across the Suez Canal. Two years of negotiations followed before Israel withdrew from the territory captured during the war.


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