British Ambassador to the U.N.Her Majesty's government and the French government have intervened. On October 29, 1956, in response to Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal and barring of Israeli shipping, Israel launched an attack on Egypt and its Arab allies. In a lightning strike, Israeli forces under General Moshe Dayan seized the Gaza Strip and drove through the Sinai to the east bank of the Suez Canal. On October 31, Britain and France, whose diplomats were expelled from Egypt and ships were barred from the Suez, entered the conflict in a coalition with Israel, demanding the immediate evacuation of Egyptian forces from the Suez Canal Zone. That day, the British ambassador to the United Nations was heard defending the aggression. The Suez Canal, which stretches 101 miles across the Isthmus of Suez, connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas, was first completed under the direction of French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1869. The canal rapidly became one of the world's most heavily traveled shipping lanes, and in 1882, British troops invaded Egypt, beginning a forty-year occupation of the country, and a seventy-five-year occupation of the Suez Canal Zone. During the early 1950s, Egyptian nationalists rioted in the Canal Zone and organized attacks on British troops, and on July 26, 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser nationalized the canal, setting off the Suez Canal Crisis. The international community expressed outrage at the hostilities, and Britain, France, and Israel agreed to withdraw as an U.N. emergency force was sent to the area. By the spring of 1957, all troops had departed and the Suez Canal passed into Egyptian hands.