April 27, 1955
The Israeli public receives its first look at the Uzi submachine gun in the hands of Israel Defense Forces troops during a Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) parade. The weapon had its first operational use less than two months earlier during Operation Black Arrow, an IDF paratrooper attack Feb. 28 that killed at least 37 Egyptian soldiers in Gaza and cost eight Israeli lives.
The inventor of the Uzi, Uziel Gal, was born in Germany in 1923 and moved to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1933 after the Nazis came to power. He began working on the submachine gun — notable for its light weight, magazine in the grip, simple design and low cost to manufacture — around the time of the 1948 War of Independence and completed the design and a prototype in 1950. The gun is named for him over his objection.
The IDF decided to adopt the Uzi in 1951 but did not make it standard issue for special forces until 1954 and not for other units until 1956. Its first extensive use occurs during the 1956 Sinai campaign, and it also plays a prominent role in the June 1967 Six-Day War. The Uzi’s limited range and accuracy, however, lead the IDF to announce the phase-out of the weapon in 2003, although the IDF makes limited purchases of an improved version introduced in 2010, the Uzi Pro.
More than 1.5 million Uzis have been manufactured in Israel, and they have been used by military or police forces in more than 90 nations.