As Bar-On explains, he has had the unusual experience of recording Israel's role in the Suez Crisis of October-November 1956 on three occasions: during the events themselves, when as a lieutenant-colonel and head of bureau to Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, he kept daily records in a Bureau Diary; a year later, when he compiled and adapted the diary notations into a classified account of the events; and thirty years later when, using newly disclassified archival materials, he studied the same events for a doctoral dissertation at the Hebrew University.

This mix of personal experience and scholarly inquiry make The Gates of Gaza the authoritataive source on the ever-mysterious subject of how Israel got enmeshed with the British and French governments in the assault on Suez. More importantly, he establishes how, in the view of David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, and the other Israeli leaders, the road to Suez began over a year earlier -- in September 1955, when the Czech-Egyptian arms deal made Moscow an active player in the Middle East and gave Gamal Abdel Nasser an enormous boost in power. Bar-On argues that the Suez war "was fought to contend with the motivations of the Czech deal" and he expertly brings to life the mood in Israel in the ensuing months, especially the sense of apprehension among the military brass.