History - UN Gaza Airport, 1950s and 60s Background
Between 1956 and 1967, the United Nations operated an airport in the Gaza Strip as part of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). It was established to supervise the "disentanglement" of the armies of Egypt, Britain, France, and Israel in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Historical images show UN planes at the Gaza airstrip, which served the UN Emergency Force and Gaza's inhabitants. The use of the airport was expanded from military purposes to civilian applications whereby UN planes provided transportation services and carried passengers and humanitarian/commercial cargo in and out of the Gaza Strip.
There are numerous testimonies that PUA has heard from Palestinians who confirmed that they traveled on UN planes from Gaza to Beirut as well as to Cyprus and other destinations. There is also information confirming that the Royal Air Force used the same airport (during the United Kingdom’s “mandate” or occupation of Palestine) to support allied operations during WWII in the Middle East and North Africa against the Axis powers.
The United Nations began utilizing the runway and the former military base after the 1956 Suez Crisis. The use of the airport was expanded from solely military purposes to civilian applications. The UN’s Emergency Force had a large airbase in the Egyptian town of El Arish (northern Sinai) that served as a maintenance hub for many airplanes which were used by the UN’s Gaza airport.