Coordinates: 31°N 35°E / 31°N 35°E / 31; 35
State of Israel
מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (Hebrew)
دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل (Arabic)
Anthem: "Hatikvah" (Hebrew for "The Hope")
(pre-) 1967 border (Green Line)
and largest city
Jerusalem (limited recognition)[fn 1]
31°47′N 35°13′E / 31.783°N 35.217°E / 31.783; 35.217
Ethnic groups (2017)
Unitary parliamentary republic
• Prime Minister
• Chief Justice
14 May 1948
• Admission to UNO
11 May 1949
20,770–22,072 km2 (8,019–8,522 sq mi)[a] (150th)
• Water (%)
• 2018 estimate
• 2008 census
400/km2 (1,036.0/sq mi) (33rd)
$332.541 billion (54th)
• Per capita
$361.609 billion (34th)
• Per capita
medium · 47th
very high · 19th
New shekel (₪) (ILS)
• Summer (DST)
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
^ 20,770 is
Israel within the Green Line. 22,072 includes the annexed
Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.
This article contains Hebrew and Arabic text. Without proper rendering
support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols.
Israel (/ˈɪzriəl, -reɪəl/; Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל;
Arabic: إِسْرَائِيل), officially the State of Israel, is
a country in the Middle East, on the southeastern shore of the
Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land
Lebanon to the north,
Syria to the northeast,
the east, the
Palestinian territories of the
West Bank and Gaza
Strip to the east and west, respectively, and
Egypt to the
southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within
its relatively small area. Israel's economy and technology
center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed
capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem
is not recognised internationally.[fn 2]
The Kingdoms of
Israel and Judah emerged during the Iron Age.
Neo-Assyrian Empire destroyed
Israel around 720 BCE. Judah was
later conquered by the Babylonian, Persian and Hellenistic empires and
had existed as Jewish autonomous provinces. The successful
Maccabean Revolt led to an independent Jewish kingdom in 110 BCE,
which came to an end in 63 BCE when the Hasmonean kingdom became a
client state of the
Roman Republic that subsequently installed the
Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE, and in 6 CE created the Roman province of
Judea lasted as a Roman province until the failed Jewish
revolts resulted in widespread destruction, expulsion of Jewish
population and the renaming of the region from
Iudaea to Syria
Palaestina. Jewish presence in the region has persisted to a
certain extent over the centuries. In the 7th century the
taken from the Byzantine Empire by the
Arabs and remained in Muslim
control until the
First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Ayyubid
conquest of 1187. The Mamluk Sultanate of
Egypt extended its control
Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman
Empire in 1517. During the 19th century, national awakening among Jews
led to the establishment of the Zionist movement in the diaspora
followed by waves of immigration to Ottoman and later British
In 1947, the
United Nations adopted a Partition Plan for Palestine
recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an
internationalized Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish
Agency for Palestine, and rejected by Arab leaders. The
following year, the
Jewish Agency declared the independence of the
State of Israel, and the subsequent
1948 Arab–Israeli War
1948 Arab–Israeli War saw
Israel's establishment over most of the former Mandate territory,
West Bank and Gaza were held by neighboring Arab states.
Israel has since fought several wars with Arab countries, and it
has since 1967 occupied territories including the West Bank, Golan
Heights and the
Gaza Strip (still considered occupied after 2005
disengagement, although some legal experts, dispute this
claim).[fn 3] It extended its laws to the Golan Heights
and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Israel's
occupation of the
Palestinian territories is the world's longest
military occupation in modern times.[fn 3] Efforts to resolve the
Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in peace. However,
peace treaties between
Israel and both
Jordan have been
In its Basic Laws,
Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic
Israel is a representative democracy with a
parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal
suffrage. The prime minister is head of government and the
Knesset is the legislature.
Israel is a developed country and an OECD
member, with the 34th-largest economy in the world by nominal
gross domestic product as of 2016[update]. The country benefits from a
highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in
the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding
a tertiary education degree.
Israel has the highest standard of
living in the Middle East, and has one of the highest life
expectancies in the world.
2.3 Classical period
2.4 Middle Ages and modern history
Zionism and British Mandate
2.6 After World War II
2.7 Early years of the State of Israel
2.8 Further conflict and peace process
3 Geography and environment
3.1 Tectonics and seismicity
4.1 Major urban areas
5 Government and politics
5.1 Legal system
5.2 Administrative divisions
5.3 Israeli-occupied territories
5.4 Foreign relations
5.5 International humanitarian efforts
6.1 Science and technology
7.2 Music and dance
7.3 Cinema and theatre
8 See also
12 External links
Merneptah Stele (13th century BCE). The majority of biblical
archeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs as "Israel," the first
instance of the name in the record.
Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name
"State of Israel" (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל
Medīnat Yisrā'el [mediˈnat jisʁaˈʔel]; Arabic:
دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل Dawlat Isrāʼīl [dawlat
ʔisraːˈʔiːl]) after other proposed historical and religious names
Israel ("the Land of Israel"), Zion, and Judea, were
considered but rejected. In the early weeks of independence, the
government chose the term "Israeli" to denote a citizen of Israel,
with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe
Land of Israel
Land of Israel and
Children of Israel
Children of Israel have historically been
used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of
Israel and the entire Jewish
people respectively. The name "Israel" (Standard Yisraʾel,
Septuagint Greek: Ἰσραήλ Israēl; 'El(God)
persists/rules', though after Hosea 12:4 often interpreted as
"struggle with God") in these phrases refers to the
Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name
after he successfully wrestled with the angel of the Lord. Jacob's
twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the
Twelve Tribes of Israel
Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel.
Jacob and his sons had
Canaan but were forced by famine to go into
Egypt for four
generations, lasting 430 years, until Moses, a great-great
grandson of Jacob, led the
Israelites back into
Canaan during the
"Exodus". The earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the
word "Israel" as a collective is the
Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt
(dated to the late 13th century BCE).
The area is also known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic
religions including Judaism, Christianity,
Islam and the Bahá'í
Faith. From 1920, the whole region was known as Palestine (under
British Mandate)[fn 4] until the Israeli Declaration of Independence
of 1948. Through the centuries, the territory was known by a
variety of other names, including Canaan, Djahy, Samaria, Judea,
Yehud, Iudaea, Coele-Syria,
Syria Palaestina and Southern Syria.
Main article: History of Israel
Further information: Prehistory of the Levant
The oldest evidence of early humans in the territory of modern Israel,
dating to 1.5 million years ago, was found in
Ubeidiya near the Sea of
Galilee. Other notable
Paleolithic sites include caves Tabun,
Qesem and Manot. The oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans
found outside Africa are the Skhul and Qafzeh hominins, who lived in
the area that is now northern
Israel 120,000 years ago. Around
10th millennium BCE, the
Natufian culture existed in the area.
Main article: History of ancient
Israel and Judah
Further information: Israelites, Kingdom of
Israel (Samaria), and
Kingdom of Judah
The Large Stone Structure, archaeological site in Jerusalem
The early history of the territory is unclear.:104 Modern
archaeology has largely discarded the historicity of the narrative in
Torah concerning the patriarchs, The Exodus, and the conquest
described in the
Book of Joshua, and instead views the narrative as
constituting the Israelites' inspiring national myth. Ancestors of
Israelites may have included ancient Semitic-speaking peoples
native to Canaan.:78–9 The
Israelites and their culture,
according to the modern archaeological account, did not overtake the
region by force, but instead branched out of the Canaanite peoples and
culture through the development of a distinct monolatristic—and
later monotheistic—religion centered on
Yahweh. The archaeological evidence indicates
a society of village-like centres, but with more limited resources and
a small population. Villages had populations of up to 300 or
400, which lived by farming and herding, and were largely
self-sufficient; economic interchange was prevalent. Writing
was known and available for recording, even in small sites.
Israel and Judah in the 9th century BCE
While it is unclear if there was ever a United
Monarchy, there is well accepted archeological
evidence referring to "Israel" in the
Merneptah Stele which dates to
about 1200 BCE; and the Canaanites are archeologically
attested in the Middle Bronze Age. There is debate about the
earliest existence of the Kingdoms of
Israel and Judah and their
extent and power, but historians agree that a Kingdom of Israel
existed by ca. 900 BCE:169–195 and that a Kingdom of
Judah existed by ca. 700 BCE. The Kingdom of
Israel was destroyed
around 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
In 586 BCE, King
Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Judah.
According to the Hebrew Bible, he destroyed
Solomon's Temple and
Jews to Babylon. The defeat was also recorded in the
Babylonian Chronicles. The
Babylonian exile ended around 538
BCE under the rule of the Persian
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great after he captured
Second Temple was constructed around 520 BCE.
As part of the Persian Empire, the former
Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah became the
province of Judah (Yehud Medinata) with different borders, covering a
smaller territory. The population of the province was greatly
reduced from that of the kingdom, archaeological surveys showing a
population of around 30,000 people in the 5th to 4th centuries
Second Temple period
Further information: Hasmonean dynasty, Herodian dynasty, and
Portion of the Temple Scroll, one of the
Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls written
Second Temple period
With successive Persian rule, the autonomous province Yehud Medinata
was gradually developing back into urban society, largely dominated by
Judeans. The Greek conquests largely skipped the region without any
resistance or interest. Incorporated into Ptolemaic and finally
Seleucid empires, the southern
Levant was heavily hellenized, building
the tensions between Judeans and Greeks. The conflict erupted in 167
BCE with the Maccabean Revolt, which succeeded in establishing an
Hasmonean Kingdom in Judah, which later expanded over much
of modern Israel, as the Seleucids gradually lost control in the
Roman Empire invaded the region in 63 BCE, first taking control of
Syria, and then intervening in the Hasmonean Civil War. The struggle
between pro-Roman and pro-Parthian factions in
Judea eventually led to
the installation of
Herod the Great
Herod the Great and consolidation of the Herodian
kingdom as a vassal Judean state of Rome. With the decline of the
Herodian dynasty, Judea, transformed into a Roman province, became the
site of a violent struggle of
Jews against Greco-Romans, culminating
in the Jewish–Roman wars, ending in wide-scale destruction,
expulsions, and genocide. Jewish presence in the region significantly
dwindled after the failure of the
Bar Kokhba revolt
Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman
Empire in 132 CE.
Nevertheless, there was a continuous small Jewish presence and Galilee
became its religious center. The
Mishnah and part of the
Talmud, central Jewish texts, were composed during the 2nd to 4th
centuries CE in
Tiberias and Jerusalem. The region came to be
populated predominantly by Greco-Romans on the coast and
Christianity was gradually evolving over Roman
paganism, when the area stood under Byzantine rule. Through the 5th
and 6th centuries, the dramatic events of the repeated Samaritan
revolts reshaped the land, with massive destruction to Byzantine
Christian and Samaritan societies and a resulting decrease of the
population. After the Persian conquest and the installation of a
short-lived Jewish Commonwealth in 614 CE, the Byzantine Empire
reconquered the country in 628.
Middle Ages and modern history
Further information: History of
Jerusalem during the Middle Ages,
Muslim conquest of the Levant, and Old Yishuv
Kfar Bar'am, an ancient Jewish village, abandoned some time between
the 7th–13th centuries AD.
In 634–641 CE, the region, including Jerusalem, was conquered by the
Arabs who had just recently adopted Islam. Control of the region
transferred between the
Rashidun Caliphs, Umayyads, Abbasids,
Fatimids, Seljuks, Crusaders, and Ayyubids throughout the next three
During the siege of
Jerusalem by the
First Crusade in 1099, the Jewish
inhabitants of the city fought side by side with the Fatimid garrison
and the Muslim population who tried in vain to defend the city against
the Crusaders. When the city fell, about 60,000 people were massacred,
Jews seeking refuge in a synagogue. At this time,
a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were
Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known and
include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.
According to Albert of Aachen, the Jewish residents of
Haifa were the
main fighting force of the city, and "mixed with Saracen [Fatimid]
troops", they fought bravely for close to a month until forced into
retreat by the Crusader fleet and land army. However, Joshua
Prawer expressed doubt over the story, noting that Albert did not
attend the Crusades and that such a prominent role for the
Jews is not
mentioned by any other source.[undue weight? – discuss]
Jerusalem and prayed on the Temple Mount,
in the "great, holy house." In 1141 the Spanish-Jewish poet
Yehuda Halevi issued a call for
Jews to migrate to the Land of Israel,
a journey he undertook himself. In 1187 Sultan Saladin, founder of the
Ayyubid dynasty, defeated the
Crusaders in the
Battle of Hattin
Battle of Hattin and
Jerusalem and almost all of Palestine. In time,
Saladin issued a proclamation inviting
Jews to return and settle in
Jerusalem, and according to Judah al-Harizi, they did: "From the
Arabs took Jerusalem, the
Israelites inhabited it."
Al-Harizi compared Saladin's decree allowing
Jews to re-establish
Jerusalem to the one issued by the Persian king Cyrus
the Great over 1,600 years earlier.
Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem
In 1211, the Jewish community in the country was strengthened by the
arrival of a group headed by over 300 rabbis from
England, among them Rabbi Samson ben Abraham of Sens.
Nachmanides (Ramban), the 13th-century Spanish rabbi and recognised
leader of Jewry greatly praised the land of
Israel and viewed its
settlement as a positive commandment incumbent on all Jews. He wrote
"If the gentiles wish to make peace, we shall make peace and leave
them on clear terms; but as for the land, we shall not leave it in
their hands, nor in the hands of any nation, not in any
In 1260, control passed to the Mamluk sultans of Egypt. The
country was located between the two centres of Mamluk power,
Damascus, and only saw some development along the postal road
connecting the two cities. Jerusalem, although left without the
protection of any city walls since 1219, also saw a flurry of new
construction projects centred around the
Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on
the Temple Mount. In 1266 the Mamluk Sultan
Baybars converted the Cave
of the Patriarchs in
Hebron into an exclusive Islamic sanctuary and
banned Christians and
Jews from entering, which previously would be
able to enter it for a fee. The ban remained in place until Israel
took control of the building in 1967.
Jews at the Western Wall, 1870s
In 1470, Isaac b. Meir Latif arrived from
Italy and counted 150 Jewish
families in Jerusalem. Thanks to
Joseph Saragossi who had arrived
in the closing years of the 15th century,
Safed and its environs had
developed into the largest concentration of
Jews in Palestine. With
the help of the Sephardic immigration from Spain, the Jewish
population had increased to 10,000 by the early 16th century.
In 1516, the region was conquered by the Ottoman Empire; it remained
under Turkish rule until the end of the First World War, when Britain
defeated the Ottoman forces and set up a military administration
across the former Ottoman Syria. In 1920 the territory was divided
between Britain and
France under the mandate system, and the
British-administered area which included modern day
Israel was named
Zionism and British Mandate
Main articles: Zionism, Yishuv, Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, and
Balfour Declaration and Intercommunal conflict in
Theodor Herzl, visionary of the Jewish state
Since the existence of the earliest Jewish diaspora, many
aspired to return to "Zion" and the "Land of Israel", though the
amount of effort that should be spent towards such an aim was a matter
of dispute. The hopes and yearnings of
Jews living in exile
are an important theme of the Jewish belief system. After the
Jews were expelled from
Spain in 1492, some communities settled in
Palestine. During the 16th century, Jewish communities struck
roots in the Four Holy Cities—Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and
Safed—and in 1697, Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid led a group of 1,500 Jews
to Jerusalem. In the second half of the 18th century, Eastern
European opponents of Hasidism, known as the Perushim, settled in
"Therefore I believe that a wonderous generation of
Jews will spring
into existence. The Maccabaeans will rise again. Let me repeat once
more my opening words: The
Jews wish to have a State, and they shall
have one. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die
peacefully in our own home. The world will be freed by our liberty,
enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we
attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare will react with
beneficent force for the good of humanity."
Theodor Herzl (1896). A Jewish State.
The first wave of modern Jewish migration to Ottoman-ruled Palestine,
known as the First Aliyah, began in 1881, as
Jews fled pogroms in
Eastern Europe. Although the Zionist movement already existed in
practice, Austro-Hungarian journalist
Theodor Herzl is credited with
founding political Zionism, a movement which sought to establish
Jewish state in the Land of Israel, thus offering a solution to the
Jewish question of the European states, in conformity with
the goals and achievements of other national projects of the
time. In 1896, Herzl published
Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State),
offering his vision of a future Jewish state; the following year he
presided over the First Zionist Congress.
Aliyah (1904–14), began after the Kishinev pogrom; some
Jews settled in Palestine, although nearly half of them left
eventually. Both the first and second waves of migrants were
mainly Orthodox Jews, although the Second
socialist groups who established the kibbutz movement. During
World War I, British Foreign Secretary
Arthur Balfour sent the Balfour
Declaration of 1917 to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron
Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, that stated
that Britain intended for the creation of a Jewish "national home"
within the Palestinian Mandate.
In 1918, the Jewish Legion, a group primarily of Zionist volunteers,
assisted in the British conquest of Palestine. Arab opposition to
British rule and Jewish immigration led to the 1920 Palestine riots
and the formation of a Jewish militia known as the
"The Defense" in Hebrew), from which the
Irgun and Lehi, or the Stern
Gang, paramilitary groups later split off. In 1922, the League of
Nations granted Britain a mandate over Palestine under terms which
Balfour Declaration with its promise to the Jews, and
with similar provisions regarding the Arab Palestinians. The
population of the area at this time was predominantly Arab and Muslim,
Jews accounting for about 11%, and
Arab Christians at about
9.5% of the population.
The Third (1919–23) and Fourth Aliyahs (1924–29) brought an
Jews to Palestine. The rise of Nazism and the
increasing persecution of
Jews in 1930s Europe led to the Fifth
Aliyah, with an influx of a quarter of a million Jews. This was a
major cause of the Arab revolt of 1936–39 during which the British
Mandate authorities alongside the Zionist militias of
Irgun killed 5,032
Arabs and wounded 14,760, resulting in
over ten percent of the adult male
Palestinian Arab population killed,
wounded, imprisoned or exiled. The British introduced
restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine with the White Paper
of 1939. With countries around the world turning away Jewish refugees
fleeing the Holocaust, a clandestine movement known as
Aliyah Bet was
organized to bring
Jews to Palestine. By the end of World War II,
the Jewish population of Palestine had increased to 33% of the total
After World War II
United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, 1948
Palestine war, and Israeli Declaration of Independence
After World War II, Britain found itself in intense conflict with the
Jewish community over Jewish immigration limits, as well as continued
conflict with the Arab community over limit levels. The
Irgun and Lehi in an armed struggle against British rule. At the
same time, hundreds of thousands of Jewish
Holocaust survivors and
refugees sought a new life far from their destroyed communities in
Yishuv attempted to bring these refugees to Palestine but
many were turned away or rounded up and placed in detention camps in
Cyprus by the British.
UN Map, "Palestine plan of partition with economic union"
On 22 July 1946,
Irgun attacked the British administrative
headquarters for Palestine, which was housed in the southern wing
King David Hotel
King David Hotel in Jerusalem. A total of 91
people of various nationalities were killed and 46 were injured.
The hotel was the site of the Secretariat of the Government of
Palestine and the Headquarters of the British Armed Forces in
Palestine and Transjordan. The attack initially had the
approval of the Haganah. It was conceived as a response to Operation
Agatha (a series of widespread raids, including one on the Jewish
Agency, conducted by the British authorities) and was the deadliest
directed at the British during the Mandate era. It was
characterized as one of the "most lethal terrorist incidents of the
twentieth century." In 1947, the British government announced it
would withdraw from Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a
solution acceptable to both
Arabs and Jews.
On 15 May 1947, the General Assembly of the newly formed United
Nations resolved that the
Special Committee on
Palestine be created "to prepare for consideration at the next regular
session of the Assembly a report on the question of Palestine."
In the Report of the Committee dated 3 September 1947 to the General
Assembly, the majority of the Committee in Chapter VI proposed a
plan to replace the British Mandate with "an independent Arab State,
an independent Jewish State, and the City of
Jerusalem ... the last to
be under an International Trusteeship System." On 29 November
1947, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (II) recommending
the adoption and implementation of the Plan of Partition with Economic
Union. The plan attached to the resolution was essentially that
proposed by the majority of the Committee in the report of 3
September. The Jewish Agency, which was the recognized representative
of the Jewish community, accepted the plan. The Arab League
Arab Higher Committee
Arab Higher Committee of Palestine rejected it, and indicated that
they would reject any other plan of partition. On the
following day, 1 December 1947, the
Arab Higher Committee
Arab Higher Committee proclaimed a
three-day strike, and Arab gangs began attacking Jewish targets.
Jews were initially on the defensive as civil war broke out, but
in early April 1948 moved onto the offensive. The Arab
Palestinian economy collapsed and 250,000 Palestinian
Arabs fled or
David Ben-Gurion proclaiming the Israeli Declaration of Independence
on 14 May 1948
On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate,
David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared "the
establishment of a
Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the
State of Israel." The only reference in the text of the
Declaration to the borders of the new state is the use of the term
Eretz-Israel ("Land of Israel"). The following day, the armies of
four Arab countries—Egypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq—entered
what had been British Mandatory Palestine, launching the 1948
Arab–Israeli War; contingents from Yemen, Morocco, Saudi
Arabia and Sudan joined the war. The apparent purpose of the
invasion was to prevent the establishment of the
Jewish state at
inception, and some Arab leaders talked about driving the
the sea. According to Benny Morris,
Jews felt that the
invading Arab armies aimed to slaughter the Jews. The Arab league
stated that the invasion was to restore law and order and to prevent
Raising of the Ink Flag, marking the end of the 1948 Arab–Israeli
After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary
borders, known as the Green Line, were established. Jordan
annexed what became known as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,
Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. The
United Nations estimated
that more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled by or fled from
advancing Israeli forces during the conflict—what would become known
in Arabic as the Nakba ("catastrophe"). Some 156,000 remained and
became Arab citizens of Israel.
Early years of the State of Israel
Further information: Arab–Israeli conflict
Israel was admitted as a member of the
United Nations by majority vote
on 11 May 1949. Both
Jordan were genuinely interested
in a peace agreement but the British acted as a brake on the Jordanian
effort in order to avoid damaging British interests in Egypt. In
the early years of the state, the Labor Zionist movement led by Prime
David Ben-Gurion dominated Israeli politics. The
kibbutzim, or collective farming communities, played a pivotal role in
establishing the new state.
Israel during the late 1940s and early 1950s was aided
by the Israeli Immigration Department and the non-government sponsored
Aliyah Bet ("Institution for Illegal Immigration"). Both
groups facilitated regular immigration logistics like arranging
transportation, but the latter also engaged in clandestine operations
in countries, particularly in the
Middle East and Eastern Europe,
where the lives of
Jews were believed to be in danger and exit from
those places was difficult.
Aliyah Bet was disbanded in
1953. The immigration was in accordance with the One Million
Plan. The immigrants came for differing reasons. Some held Zionist
beliefs or came for the promise of a better life in Israel, while
others moved to escape persecution or were expelled.
An influx of
Holocaust survivors and
Jews from Arab and Muslim
Israel during the first three years increased the number
Jews from 700,000 to 1,400,000. By 1958, the population of Israel
rose to two million. Between 1948 and 1970, approximately
Jewish refugees relocated to Israel. Some new
immigrants arrived as refugees with no possessions and were housed in
temporary camps known as ma'abarot; by 1952, over 200,000 people were
living in these tent cities.
Jews of European background were
often treated more favorably than
Jews from Middle Eastern and North
African countries—housing units reserved for the latter were often
re-designated for the former, with the result that
Jews newly arrived
from Arab lands generally ended up staying in transit camps for
longer. Tensions that developed between the two groups over such
discrimination persist to the present day. During this period,
food, clothes and furniture had to be rationed in what became known as
the austerity period. The need to solve the crisis led Ben-Gurion to
sign a reparations agreement with West
Germany that triggered mass
Jews angered at the idea that
Israel could accept monetary
compensation for the Holocaust.
U.S. newsreel on the trial of Adolf Eichmann
During the 1950s,
Israel was frequently attacked by Palestinian
fedayeen, nearly always against civilians, mainly from the
Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip, leading to several Israeli
counter-raids. In 1956, Great Britain and
France aimed at regaining
control of the Suez Canal, which the Egyptians had nationalized. The
continued blockade of the
Suez Canal and
Straits of Tiran
Straits of Tiran to Israeli
shipping, together with the growing amount of Fedayeen attacks against
Israel's southern population, and recent Arab grave and threatening
Israel to attack Egypt.
Israel joined a secret alliance with Great Britain and
Sinai Peninsula but was pressured to withdraw by the
United Nations in return for guarantees of Israeli shipping rights in
Red Sea via the
Straits of Tiran
Straits of Tiran and the Canal[citation
needed]. The war, known as the Suez Crisis, resulted in
significant reduction of Israeli border
infiltration. In the early 1960s,
Nazi war criminal
Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and brought him to
Israel for trial. The trial had a major impact on public
awareness of the Holocaust. Eichmann remains the only person
Israel by conviction in an Israeli civilian court.
Territory held by Israel:
before the Six-Day War
after the war
Sinai Peninsula was returned to
Egypt in 1982.
Since 1964, Arab countries, concerned over Israeli plans to divert
waters of the
Jordan River into the coastal plain, had been
trying to divert the headwaters to deprive
Israel of water resources,
provoking tensions between
Israel on the one hand, and
Lebanon on the other. Arab nationalists led by Egyptian President
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser refused to recognize Israel, and called for its
destruction. By 1966, Israeli-Arab relations had
deteriorated to the point of actual battles taking place between
Israeli and Arab forces. In May 1967,
Egypt massed its army near
the border with Israel, expelled UN peacekeepers, stationed in the
Sinai Peninsula since 1957, and blocked Israel's access to the Red
Sea. Other Arab states mobilized their forces.
Israel reiterated that these actions were a casus belli and, on 5
June, launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt. Jordan,
Iraq responded and attacked Israel. In a Six-Day War,
Jordan and captured the West Bank, defeated
Egypt and captured the
Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, and defeated
Syria and captured the
Golan Heights. Jerusalem's boundaries were enlarged,
incorporating East Jerusalem, and the 1949 Green Line became the
administrative boundary between
Israel and the occupied territories.
Following the 1967 war and the "three nos" resolution of the Arab
League, during the 1967–1970
War of Attrition
War of Attrition
Israel faced attacks
from the Egyptians in the Sinai, and from Palestinian groups targeting
Israelis in the occupied territories, in
Israel proper, and around the
world. Most important among the various Palestinian and Arab groups
Palestinian Liberation Organization
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), established in
1964, which initially committed itself to "armed struggle as the only
way to liberate the homeland". In the late 1960s and early
1970s, Palestinian groups launched a wave of attacks against
Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, including a massacre
of Israeli athletes at the
1972 Summer Olympics
1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The Israeli
government responded with an assassination campaign against the
organizers of the massacre, a bombing and a raid on the PLO
headquarters in Lebanon.
On 6 October 1973, as
Jews were observing Yom Kippur, the Egyptian and
Syrian armies launched a surprise attack against Israeli forces in the
Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights, that opened the
Yom Kippur War. The
war ended on 25 October with
Israel successfully repelling Egyptian
and Syrian forces but having suffered over 2,500 soldiers killed in a
war which collectively took 10–35,000 lives in about 20 days.
An internal inquiry exonerated the government of responsibility for
failures before and during the war, but public anger forced Prime
Golda Meir to resign. In July 1976 an airliner was
hijacked during its flight from
France by Palestinian
guerrillas and landed at Entebbe, Uganda. Israeli commandos carried
out an operation in which 102 out of 106 Israeli hostages were
Further conflict and peace process
Further information: Israeli–Palestinian peace process
See also: One-state solution, Two-state solution, Three-state
solution, and Lieberman Plan
Knesset elections marked a major turning point in Israeli
political history as Menachem Begin's
Likud party took control from
the Labor Party. Later that year, Egyptian President Anwar El
Sadat made a trip to
Israel and spoke before the
Knesset in what was
the first recognition of
Israel by an Arab head of state. In the
two years that followed, Sadat and Begin signed the Camp David Accords
(1978) and the Israel–
Egypt Peace Treaty (1979). In return,
Israel withdrew from the
Sinai Peninsula and agreed to enter
negotiations over an autonomy for Palestinians in the
West Bank and
the Gaza Strip.
On 11 March 1978, a PLO guerilla raid from
Lebanon led to the Coastal
Israel responded by launching an invasion of southern
Lebanon to destroy the PLO bases south of the Litani River. Most PLO
fighters withdrew, but
Israel was able to secure southern Lebanon
until a UN force and the Lebanese army could take over. The PLO soon
resumed its policy of attacks against Israel. In the next few years,
the PLO infiltrated the south and kept up a sporadic shelling across
Israel carried out numerous retaliatory attacks by air and
on the ground.
Israel's 1980 law declared that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is
the capital of Israel."
Meanwhile, Begin's government provided incentives for
settle in the occupied West Bank, increasing friction with the
Palestinians in that area. The Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of
Israel, passed in 1980, was believed by some to reaffirm Israel's 1967
Jerusalem by government decree, and reignited
international controversy over the status of the city. No Israeli
legislation has defined the territory of
Israel and no act
specifically included East
Jerusalem therein. The position of the
majority of UN member states is reflected in numerous resolutions
declaring that actions taken by
Israel to settle its citizens in the
West Bank, and impose its laws and administration on East Jerusalem,
are illegal and have no validity. In 1981
Israel annexed the
Golan Heights, although annexation was not recognized
internationally. Israel's population diversity expanded in the
1980s and 1990s. Several waves of Ethiopian
Jews immigrated to Israel
since the 1980s, while between 1990 and 1994, immigration from the
post-Soviet states increased Israel's population by twelve
On 7 June 1981, the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's sole nuclear
reactor under construction just outside Baghdad, in order to impede
Iraq's nuclear weapons program. Following a series of PLO attacks in
Lebanon that year to destroy the bases from which
the PLO launched attacks and missiles into northern Israel. In
the first six days of fighting, the
Israelis destroyed the military
forces of the PLO in
Lebanon and decisively defeated the Syrians. An
Israeli government inquiry—the Kahan Commission—would later hold
Begin, Sharon and several Israeli generals as indirectly responsible
for the Sabra and Shatila massacre. In 1985,
Israel responded to a
Palestinian terrorist attack in
Cyprus by bombing the PLO headquarters
Israel withdrew from most of
Lebanon in 1986, but
maintained a borderland buffer zone in southern
Lebanon until 2000,
from where Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Hezbollah. The
First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule,
broke out in 1987, with waves of uncoordinated demonstrations and
violence occurring in the occupied
West Bank and Gaza. Over the
following six years, the Intifada became more organised and included
economic and cultural measures aimed at disrupting the Israeli
occupation. More than a thousand people were killed in the
violence. During the 1991 Gulf War, the PLO supported Saddam
Hussein and Iraqi Scud missile attacks against Israel. Despite public
Israel heeded American calls to refrain from hitting back and
did not participate in that war.
Shimon Peres (left) with
Yitzhak Rabin (center) and King Hussein of
Jordan (right), prior to signing the Israel–
Jordan peace treaty in
Yitzhak Rabin became Prime Minister following an election in
which his party called for compromise with Israel's
neighbors. The following year,
Shimon Peres on behalf of
Mahmoud Abbas for the PLO, signed the Oslo Accords, which
Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority the right to govern parts of
West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The PLO also recognized
Israel's right to exist and pledged an end to terrorism. In 1994,
Jordan peace treaty was signed, making
Jordan the second
Arab country to normalize relations with Israel. Arab public
support for the Accords was damaged by the continuation of Israeli
settlements and checkpoints, and the deterioration of economic
conditions. Israeli public support for the Accords waned as
Israel was struck by Palestinian suicide attacks. In November
1995, while leaving a peace rally,
Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by
Yigal Amir, a far-right-wing Jew who opposed the Accords.
The site of the 2001
Tel Aviv Dolphinarium discotheque massacre, in
Israelis were killed.
Under the leadership of
Benjamin Netanyahu at the end of the 1990s,
Israel withdrew from Hebron, and signed the Wye River Memorandum,
giving greater control to the Palestinian National Authority.
Ehud Barak, elected Prime Minister in 1999, began the new millennium
by withdrawing forces from Southern
Lebanon and conducting
Palestinian Authority Chairman
Yasser Arafat and
Bill Clinton at the 2000 Camp David Summit. During the
summit, Barak offered a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian
state. The proposed state included the entirety of the
Gaza Strip and
over 90% of the
West Bank with
Jerusalem as a shared capital.
Each side blamed the other for the failure of the talks. After a
controversial visit by
Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount,
Second Intifada began. Some commentators contend that the uprising
was pre-planned by Arafat due to the collapse of peace
talks. Sharon became prime minister in a 2001
special election. During his tenure, Sharon carried out his plan to
unilaterally withdraw from the
Gaza Strip and also spearheaded the
construction of the Israeli
West Bank barrier, ending the
Intifada. By this time 1,100
Israelis had been killed,
mostly in suicide bombings. The Palestinian fatalities, from 2000
to 2008, reached 4,791 killed by Israeli security forces, 44 killed by
Israeli civilians, and 609 killed by Palestinians.
In July 2006, a
Hezbollah artillery assault on Israel's northern
border communities and a cross-border abduction of two Israeli
soldiers precipitated the month-long Second
Lebanon War. On
6 September 2007, the
Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force destroyed a nuclear reactor in
Syria. At the end of 2008,
Israel entered another conflict as a
Israel collapsed. The 2008–09 Gaza War
lasted three weeks and ended after
Israel announced a unilateral
Hamas announced its own ceasefire, with its own
conditions of complete withdrawal and opening of border crossings.
Despite neither the rocket launchings nor Israeli retaliatory strikes
having completely stopped, the fragile ceasefire remained in
order. In what
Israel described as a response to more than a
hundred Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities,
Israel began an operation in Gaza on 14 November 2012, lasting eight
Israel started another operation in Gaza following an
escalation of rocket attacks by
Hamas in July 2014.
Geography and environment
Geography of Israel
Geography of Israel and Wildlife of Israel
Geography of Israel
Satellite images of
Israel and neighboring territories during the day
(left) and night (right)
Israel is located in the
Levant area of the
Fertile Crescent region.
The country is at the eastern end of the
Mediterranean Sea, bounded by
Lebanon to the north,
Syria to the northeast,
Jordan and the West Bank
to the east, and
Egypt and the
Gaza Strip to the southwest. It lies
between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 34° and 36° E.
The sovereign territory of
Israel (according to the demarcation lines
1949 Armistice Agreements
1949 Armistice Agreements and excluding all territories
Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War) is approximately
20,770 square kilometers (8,019 sq mi) in area, of which
two percent is water. However
Israel is so narrow that the
exclusive economic zone in the
Mediterranean is double the land area
of the country. The total area under Israeli law, including East
Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, is 22,072 square kilometers
(8,522 sq mi), and the total area under Israeli
control, including the military-controlled and partially
Palestinian-governed territory of the West Bank, is 27,799 square
kilometers (10,733 sq mi).
Despite its small size,
Israel is home to a variety of geographic
features, from the
Negev desert in the south to the inland fertile
Jezreel Valley, mountain ranges of the Galilee, Carmel and toward the
Golan in the north. The
Israeli coastal plain
Israeli coastal plain on the shores of the
Mediterranean is home to most of the nation's population. East of
the central highlands lies the
Jordan Rift Valley, which forms a small
part of the 6,500-kilometer (4,039 mi) Great Rift Valley. The
Jordan River runs along the
Jordan Rift Valley, from Mount Hermon
Hulah Valley and the
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, the
lowest point on the surface of the Earth. Further south is the
Arabah, ending with the Gulf of Eilat, part of the Red Sea. Unique to
Israel and the
Sinai Peninsula are makhteshim, or erosion
cirques. The largest makhtesh in the world is
Ramon Crater in the
Negev, which measures 40 by 8 kilometers (25 by 5 mi).
A report on the environmental status of the
Mediterranean Basin states
Israel has the largest number of plant species per square meter
of all the countries in the basin.
Tectonics and seismicity
Further information: List of earthquakes in the Levant
Jordan Rift Valley is the result of tectonic movements within the
Dead Sea Transform (DSF) fault system. The DSF forms the transform
boundary between the
African Plate to the west and the Arabian Plate
to the east. The
Golan Heights and all of
Jordan are part of the
Arabian Plate, while the Galilee, West Bank, Coastal Plain, and Negev
along with the
Sinai Peninsula are on the African Plate. This tectonic
disposition leads to a relatively high seismic activity in the region.
Jordan Valley segment is thought to have ruptured
repeatedly, for instance during the last two major earthquakes along
this structure in 749 and 1033. The deficit in slip that has built up
since the 1033 event is sufficient to cause an earthquake of
The most catastrophic known earthquakes occurred in 31 BCE, 363, 749,
and 1033 CE, that is every ca. 400 years on average. Destructive
earthquakes leading to serious loss of life strike about every 80
years. While stringent construction regulations are currently in
place and recently built structures are earthquake-safe, as of
2007[update] the majority of the buildings in
Israel were older than
these regulations and many public buildings as well as 50,000
residential buildings did not meet the new standards and were
"expected to collapse" if exposed to a strong quake.
Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification map of Israel
Israel vary widely, especially during the winter.
Coastal areas, such as those of
Tel Aviv and Haifa, have a typical
Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers.
The area of
Beersheba and the Northern
Negev have a semi-arid climate
with hot summers, cool winters, and fewer rainy days than the
Mediterranean climate. The Southern
Negev and the Arava areas have a
desert climate with very hot, dry summers, and mild winters with few
days of rain. The highest temperature in the continent of Asia
(54.0 °C or 129.2 °F) was recorded in 1942 at Tirat Zvi
kibbutz in the northern
Jordan River valley.
At the other extreme, mountainous regions can be windy and cold, and
areas at elevation of 750 meters or more (same elevation as Jerusalem)
will usually receive at least one snowfall each year. From May to
September, rain in
Israel is rare. With scarce water
Israel has developed various water-saving technologies,
including drip irrigation.
Israelis also take advantage of the
considerable sunlight available for solar energy, making
leading nation in solar energy use per capita (practically every house
uses solar panels for water heating).
Four different phytogeographic regions exist in Israel, due to the
country's location between the temperate and tropical zones, bordering
Mediterranean Sea in the west and the desert in the east. For this
reason, the flora and fauna of
Israel are extremely diverse. There are
2,867 known species of plants found in Israel. Of these, at least 253
species are introduced and nonnative. There are 380 Israeli
Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee
Field of Anemone coronaria, national flower of Israel
Makhtesh Ramon, a type of crater unique to
Israel and the Sinai
Snow in Galilee
Flowers of Israel
Demographics of Israel
Demographics of Israel and Israelis
In 2018, Israel's population was an estimated
8,839,100 people, of whom 74.7% were recorded by the civil
government as Jews.
Arabs comprised 20.8% of the population, while
Arab Christians and people who have no religion listed in the
civil registry made up 4.5%. Over the last decade, large numbers of
migrant workers from Romania, Thailand, China, Africa, and South
America have settled in Israel. Exact figures are unknown, as many of
them are living in the country illegally, but estimates run in
the region of 203,000. By June 2012, approximately 60,000 African
migrants had entered Israel. About 92% of
Israelis live in urban
Israel in the years 1948–2015. The two peaks were in
1949 and 1990.
Israel was established as a homeland for the
Jewish people and is
often referred to as a Jewish state. The country's Law of Return
Jews and those of Jewish ancestry the right to Israeli
citizenship. Retention of Israel's population since 1948 is about
even or greater, when compared to other countries with mass
immigration. Jewish emigration from
Israel (called yerida in
Hebrew), primarily to the
United States and Canada, is described by
demographers as modest, but is often cited by Israeli government
ministries as a major threat to Israel's future.
Three quarters of the population are
Jews from a diversity of Jewish
backgrounds. Approximately 77% of
Israeli Jews are born in Israel, 16%
are immigrants from Europe and the Americas, and 7% are immigrants
from Asia and Africa (including the Arab world).
Jews from Europe
and the former
Soviet Union and their descendants born in Israel,
including Ashkenazi Jews, constitute approximately 50% of Jewish
Jews who left or fled Arab and Muslim countries and their
descendants, including both Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews, form most
of the rest of the Jewish population. Jewish
intermarriage rates run at over 35% and recent studies suggest that
the percentage of
Israelis descended from both Sephardi and Ashkenazi
Jews increases by 0.5 percent every year, with over 25% of school
children now originating from both communities. Around 4% of
Israelis (300,000), ethnically defined as "others", are Russian
descendants of Jewish origin or family who are not Jewish according to
rabbinical law, but were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the
Law of Return.
The total number of Israeli settlers beyond the Green Line is over
600,000 (≈10% of the Jewish Israeli population). In
Israelis lived in
West Bank settlements,
including those that predated the establishment of the State of Israel
and which were re-established after the Six-Day War, in cities such as
Gush Etzion bloc. In addition to the
West Bank settlements,
there were more than 200,000
Jews living in East Jerusalem, and
20,000 in the Golan Heights. Approximately 7,800
in settlements in the Gaza Strip, known as Gush Katif, until they were
evacuated by the government as part of its 2005 disengagement
Major urban areas
For a more comprehensive list, see List of cities in Israel.
Park Tzameret residential neighborhood in Tel Aviv.
There are four major metropolitan areas:
Gush Dan (Tel Aviv
metropolitan area; population 3,854,000),
Jerusalem metropolitan area
Haifa metropolitan area (population 924,400),
Beersheba metropolitan area (population 377,100).
Israel's largest municipality, in population and area, is Jerusalem
with 882,652 residents in an area of 125 square kilometres
(48 sq mi). Israeli government statistics on Jerusalem
include the population and area of East Jerusalem, which is widely
recognized as part of the
Palestinian territories under Israeli
Tel Aviv and
Haifa rank as Israel's next most
populous cities, with populations of 438,818 and 279,591,
Israel has 15 cities with populations over 100,000. In all, there are
77 municipalities granted "city" status by the Ministry of Interior.
Two more cities are planned: Kasif, a planned city to be built in the
Negev, and Harish, originally a small town currently being built into
a large city.
Largest cities in Israel
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
^a This number includes East
West Bank areas.
Israeli sovereignty over East
Jerusalem is internationally
Main article: Languages of Israel
Road sign in Hebrew, Arabic, and English
Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the
primary language of the state and is spoken every day by the majority
of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority, with Hebrew
taught in Arab schools.
As a country of immigrants, many languages can be heard on the
streets. Due to mass immigration from the former
Soviet Union and
Ethiopia (some 130,000 Ethiopian
Jews live in Israel),
Amharic are widely spoken. More than one million
Russian-speaking immigrants arrived in
Israel from the post-Soviet
states between 1990 and 2004. French is spoken by around 700,000
Israelis, mostly originating from
France and North Africa (see
Maghrebi Jews). English was an official language during the Mandate
period; it lost this status after the establishment of Israel, but
retains a role comparable to that of an official
language, as may be seen in road signs and official
Israelis communicate reasonably well in English, as
many television programs are broadcast in English with subtitles and
the language is taught from the early grades in elementary school. In
addition, Israeli universities offer courses in the English language
on various subjects.
Religion in Israel
Religion in Israel and Abrahamic religions
Religion in Israel
Until 1995, figures for Christians also included Others.
Israel comprises a major part of the Holy Land, a region of
significant importance to all Abrahamic religions – Judaism,
Druze and Bahá'í Faith.
The religious affiliation of
Israeli Jews varies widely: a social
survey indicates that 49% self-identify as
Hiloni (secular), 29% as
Masorti (traditional), 13% as
Dati (religious) and 9% as Haredi
Jews are expected to represent more than
20% of Israel's Jewish population by 2028.
Making up 17.6% of the population, Muslims constitute Israel's largest
religious minority. About 2% of the population is Christian and 1.6%
is Druze. The Christian population primarily comprises Arab
Christians, but also includes post-Soviet immigrants, the foreign
laborers of multinational origins, and followers of Messianic Judaism,
considered by most Christians and
Jews to be a form of
Christianity. Members of many other religious groups, including
Buddhists and Hindus, maintain a presence in Israel, albeit in small
numbers. Out of more than one million immigrants from the former
Soviet Union, about 300,000 are considered not Jewish by the Chief
Rabbinate of Israel.
Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall, Jerusalem.
The city of
Jerusalem is of special importance to Jews, Muslims and
Christians as it is the home of sites that are pivotal to their
religious beliefs, such as the Old City that incorporates the Western
Wall and the Temple Mount, the
Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre. Other locations of religious importance in Israel
Nazareth (holy in
Christianity as the site of the
Safed (two of the
Four Holy Cities
Four Holy Cities in Judaism),
the White Mosque in
Ramla (holy in
Islam as the shrine of the prophet
Saleh), and the Church of
Saint George in
Lod (holy in Christianity
Islam as the tomb of
Saint George or Al Khidr). A number of other
religious landmarks are located in the West Bank, among them Joseph's
Tomb in Nablus, the birthplace of Jesus and
Rachel's Tomb in
Bethlehem, and the
Cave of the Patriarchs
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The
administrative center of the
Bahá'í Faith and the Shrine of the Báb
are located at the
Bahá'í World Centre
Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa; the leader of the
faith is buried in Acre. Apart from maintenance staff, there is no
Bahá'í community in Israel, although it is a destination for
pilgrimages. Bahá'í staff in
Israel do not teach their faith to
Israelis following strict policy. A few miles south of
Bahá'í World Centre
Bahá'í World Centre is Mahmood Mosque affiliated with the
reformist Ahmadiyya movement. Kababir, Haifa's mixed neighbourhood of
Jews and Ahmadi
Arabs is the only one of its kind in the
Main article: Education in Israel
Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University
Education is highly valued in the Israeli culture and was viewed as a
fundamental block of ancient Israelites. Jewish communities in
Levant were the first to introduce compulsory education for which
the organized community, not less than the parents was
responsible. Many international business leaders such as
Bill Gates have praised
Israel for its high quality
of education in helping spur Israel's economic development and
technological boom. In 2015, the country ranked third
OECD members (after
Canada and Japan) for the percentage of
25–64 year-olds that have attained tertiary education with 49%
compared with the
OECD average of 35%. In 2012, the country ranked
third in the world in the number of academic degrees per capita (20
percent of the population).
Israel has a school life expectancy of 16 years and a literacy rate of
97.8%. The State Education Law, passed in 1953, established five
types of schools: state secular, state religious, ultra orthodox,
communal settlement schools, and Arab schools. The public secular is
the largest school group, and is attended by the majority of Jewish
and non-Arab pupils in Israel. Most
Arabs send their children to
schools where Arabic is the language of instruction. Education is
Israel for children between the ages of three and
eighteen. Schooling is divided into three tiers –
primary school (grades 1–6), middle school (grades 7–9), and high
school (grades 10–12) – culminating with
exams. Proficiency in core subjects such as mathematics, the Hebrew
language, Hebrew and general literature, the English language,
history, Biblical scripture and civics is necessary to receive a
Bagrut certificate. Israel's Jewish population maintains a
relatively high level of educational attainment where just under half
Israeli Jews (46%) hold post-secondary degrees. This figure has
remained stable in their already high levels of educational attainment
over recent generations.
Israeli Jews (among those ages 25
and older) have average of 11.6 years of schooling making them one of
the most highly educated of all major religious groups in the
world. In Arab, Christian and
Druze schools, the exam on
Biblical studies is replaced by an exam on Muslim, Christian or Druze
heritage. Maariv described the Christian
Arabs sectors as "the
most successful in education system", since Christians fared the
best in terms of education in comparison to any other religion in
Israel. Israeli children from Russian-speaking families have a
higher bagrut pass rate at high-school level. Although amongst
immigrant children born in the Former Soviet Union, the bagrut pass
rate is highest amongst those families from European FSU states at
62.6%, and lower amongst those from Central Asian and Caucasian FSU
states. In 2014, 61.5% of all Israeli twelfth graders earned a
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Israel has a tradition of higher education where its quality
university education has been largely responsible in spurring the
nations modern economic development.
Israel has nine public
universities that are subsidized by the state and 49 private
colleges. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel's
second-oldest university after the Technion, houses the
National Library of Israel, the world's largest repository of Judaica
and Hebraica. The
Technion and the Hebrew University consistently
ranked among world's 100 top universities by the prestigious ARWU
academic ranking. Other major universities in the country include
the Weizmann Institute of Science,
Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion
University of the Negev, Bar-Ilan University, the University of Haifa
and the Open University of Israel. Ariel University, in the West Bank,
is the newest university institution, upgraded from college status,
and the first in over thirty years.
Government and politics
Politics of Israel
Politics of Israel and Israeli system of government
See also: Criticism of the Israeli government
Knesset chamber, home to the Israeli parliament
Israel is a parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage. A member
of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority becomes the prime
minister—usually this is the chair of the largest party. The prime
minister is the head of government and head of the cabinet.
Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset.
Membership of the
Knesset is based on proportional representation of
political parties, with a 3.25% electoral threshold, which in
practice has resulted in coalition governments. Parliamentary
elections are scheduled every four years, but unstable coalitions or a
no-confidence vote by the
Knesset can dissolve a government earlier.
Basic Laws of Israel
Basic Laws of Israel function as an uncodified constitution. In
Knesset began to draft an official constitution based on
these laws. The president of
Israel is head of state, with
limited and largely ceremonial duties.
Israel has no official religion, but the definition of
the state as "Jewish and democratic" creates a strong connection with
Judaism, as well as a conflict between state law and religious law.
Interaction between the political parties keeps the balance between
state and religion largely as it existed during the British
Judiciary of Israel
Judiciary of Israel and Israeli law
Supreme Court of Israel, Givat Ram, Jerusalem
Israel has a three-tier court system. At the lowest level are
magistrate courts, situated in most cities across the country. Above
them are district courts, serving as both appellate courts and courts
of first instance; they are situated in five of Israel's six
districts. The third and highest tier is the Supreme Court, located in
Jerusalem; it serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and
the High Court of Justice. In the latter role, the Supreme Court rules
as a court of first instance, allowing individuals, both citizens and
non-citizens, to petition against the decisions of state
Israel supports the goals of the
International Criminal Court, it has not ratified the Rome Statute,
citing concerns about the ability of the court to remain free from
Israel's legal system combines three legal traditions: English common
law, civil law, and Jewish law. It is based on the principle of
stare decisis (precedent) and is an adversarial system, where the
parties in the suit bring evidence before the court. Court cases are
decided by professional judges rather than juries. Marriage and
divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts: Jewish,
Muslim, Druze, and Christian. The election of judges is carried out by
a committee of two
Knesset members, three Supreme Court justices, two
Israeli Bar members and two ministers (one of which, Israel's justice
minister, is the committee's chairman). The committee's members of the
Knesset are secretly elected by the Knesset, and one of them is
traditionally a member of the opposition, the committee's Supreme
Court justices are chosen by tradition from all Supreme Court justices
by seniority, the Israeli Bar members are elected by the bar, and the
second minister is appointed by the Israeli cabinet. The current
justice minister and committee's chairwoman is Ayelet
Shaked. Administration of Israel's courts (both the
"General" courts and the Labor Courts) is carried by the
Administration of Courts, situated in Jerusalem. Both General and
Labor courts are paperless courts: the storage of court files, as well
as court decisions, are conducted electronically. Israel's Basic Law:
Human Dignity and Liberty seeks to defend human rights and liberties
Main article: Districts of Israel
Districts of Israel
The State of
Israel is divided into six main administrative districts,
known as mehozot (מחוזות; singular: mahoz) – Center,
Haifa, Jerusalem, North, South, and
Tel Aviv districts, as well as the
Samaria Area in the West Bank. All of the
Judea and Samaria
Area and parts of the
Jerusalem and Northern districts are not
recognized internationally as part of Israel. Districts are further
divided into fifteen sub-districts known as nafot (נפות; singular:
nafa), which are themselves partitioned into fifty natural
Judea and Samaria
^a Including over 200,000
Jews and 300,000
Arabs in East
^b Israeli citizens only.
Main article: Israeli-occupied territories
Israel showing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan
In 1967, as a result of the Six-Day War,
Israel captured and occupied
the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the
Gaza Strip and the Golan
Israel also captured the Sinai Peninsula, but returned it to
Egypt as part of the 1979 Egypt–
Israel Peace Treaty. Between
1982 and 2000,
Israel occupied part of southern Lebanon, in what was
known as the Security Belt. Since Israel's capture of these
Israeli settlements and military installations have been
built within each of them, except Lebanon.
Israel has applied civilian
law to the
Golan Heights and East
Jerusalem and granted their
inhabitants permanent residency status and the ability to apply for
citizenship. The West Bank, outside of the
Israeli settlements within
the territory, has remained under direct military rule, and
Palestinians in this area cannot become Israeli citizens. Israel
withdrew its military forces and dismantled the
Israeli settlements in
Gaza Strip as part of its disengagement from Gaza though it
continues to maintain control of its airspace and waters.
The UN Security Council has declared the annexation of the Golan
Heights and East
Jerusalem to be "null and void" and continues to view
the territories as occupied. The International Court of
Justice, principal judicial organ of the United Nations, asserted, in
its 2004 advisory opinion on the legality of the construction of the
West Bank barrier, that the lands captured by
Israel in the
Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territory.
The status of East
Jerusalem in any future peace settlement has at
times been a difficult issue in negotiations between Israeli
governments and representatives of the Palestinians, as
it as its sovereign territory, as well as part of its capital. Most
negotiations relating to the territories have been on the basis of
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which emphasises "the
inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war", and calls on
Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in return for
normalization of relations with Arab states, a principle known as
"Land for peace".
According to some observers,[weasel words]
Israel has engaged in
systematic and widespread violations of human rights in the occupied
territories, including the occupation itself and war crimes
against civilians. The allegations include
violations of international humanitarian law by the United
Nations Human Rights Council, with local residents having
"limited ability to hold governing authorities accountable for such
abuses" by the U.S. State Department, mass arbitrary arrests,
torture, unlawful killings, systemic abuses and impunity by Amnesty
International and others and a denial of
the right to Palestinian self-determination.
In response to such allegations, Prime Minister Netanyahu has defended
the country's security forces for protecting the innocent from
terrorists and expressed contempt for what he describes as a lack
of concern about the human rights violations committed by "criminal
killers". Some observers, such as Israeli officials,
United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki
Haley and UN secretary-generals Ban Ki-moon and Kofi
Annan, also assert that the UN is disproportionately concerned
with Israeli misconduct.[excessive detail?]
West Bank barrier separating
Israel and the West Bank
West Bank was occupied and annexed by
Jordan in 1950, following
the Arab rejection of the UN decision to create two states in
Palestine. Only Britain recognized this annexation and
since ceded its claim to the territory to the PLO. The population are
mainly Palestinians, including refugees of the 1948 Arab–Israeli
War. From their occupation in 1967 until 1993, the Palestinians
living in these territories were under Israeli military
administration. Since the Israel–PLO letters of recognition, most of
the Palestinian population and cities have been under the internal
jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli
military control, although
Israel has on several occasions redeployed
its troops and reinstated full military administration during periods
of unrest. In response to increasing attacks during the Second
Intifada, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West
Bank barrier. When completed, approximately 13% of the barrier
will be constructed on the Green Line or in
Israel with 87% inside the
Gaza Strip was occupied by
Egypt from 1948 to 1967 and then by
Israel after 1967. In 2005, as part of Israel's unilateral
Israel removed all of its settlers and forces from
Israel does not consider the
Gaza Strip to be occupied
territory and declared it a "foreign territory". That view has been
disputed by numerous international humanitarian organizations and
various bodies of the United Nations.
Following the 2007 Battle of Gaza, when
Hamas assumed power in the
Israel tightened its control of the Gaza crossings
along its border, as well as by sea and air, and prevented persons
from entering and exiting the area except for isolated cases it deemed
humanitarian. Gaza has a border with
Egypt and an agreement
between Israel, the European Union and the PA governed how border
crossing would take place (it was monitored by European
Foreign relations of Israel
Foreign relations of Israel and International
recognition of Israel
Diplomatic relations suspended
Former diplomatic relations
No diplomatic relations, but former trade relations
No diplomatic relations
Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 158 countries and has 107
diplomatic missions around the world; countries with whom they
have no diplomatic relations include most Muslim countries. Only
three members of the
Arab League have normalized relations with
Jordan signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994,
respectively, and Mauritania opted for full diplomatic relations with
Israel in 1999. Despite the peace treaty between
Israel and Egypt,
Israel is still widely considered an enemy country among
Egyptians. Under Israeli law, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq,
Iran, Sudan, and
Yemen are enemy countries, and Israeli citizens
may not visit them without permission from the Ministry of the
Iran had diplomatic relations with
Israel under the
Pahlavi dynasty but withdrew its recognition of
Israel during the
Islamic Revolution. As a result of the 2008–09 Gaza War,
Mauritania, Qatar, Bolivia, and Venezuela suspended political and
economic ties with Israel.
United States and the
Soviet Union were the first two countries to
recognize the State of Israel, having declared recognition roughly
simultaneously. Diplomatic relations with the
Soviet Union were
broken in 1967, following the Six-Day War, and renewed in October
United States regards
Israel as its "most reliable
partner in the Middle East," based on "common democratic values,
religious affinities, and security interests". The United States
has provided $68 billion in military assistance and
$32 billion in grants to
Israel since 1967, under the Foreign
Assistance Act (period beginning 1962), more than any other
country for that period until 2003. The United Kingdom
is seen as having a "natural" relationship with
Israel on account of
the British Mandate for Palestine. Relations between the two
countries were also made stronger by former prime minister Tony
Blair's efforts for a two state resolution. By 2007[update], Germany
had paid 25 billion euros in reparations to the Israeli state and
individual Israeli Holocaust survivors.
Israel is included in the
European Neighbourhood Policy
European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims at
bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.
Israel did not establish full diplomatic relations
Turkey has cooperated with the
Jewish state since its
Israel in 1949. Turkey's ties to the other
Muslim-majority nations in the region have at times resulted in
pressure from Arab and Muslim states to temper its relationship with
Israel. Relations between
Israel took a downturn after
the 2008–09 Gaza War and Israel's raid of the Gaza flotilla.
Israel have improved since 1995 due to
the decline of Israeli-Turkish relations. The two countries have
a defense cooperation agreement and in 2010, the Israeli Air Force
Hellenic Air Force
Hellenic Air Force in a joint exercise at the Uvda
base. The joint Cyprus-
Israel oil and gas explorations centered on the
Leviathan gas field
Leviathan gas field are an important factor for Greece, given its
strong links with Cyprus. Cooperation in the world's longest
sub-sea electric power cable, the EuroAsia Interconnector, has
strengthened relations between
Cyprus and Israel.
Azerbaijan is one of the few majority Muslim countries to develop
bilateral strategic and economic relations with Israel. Azerbaijan
Israel with a substantial amount of its oil needs, and Israel
has helped modernize the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. India established
full diplomatic ties with
Israel in 1992 and has fostered a strong
military, technological and cultural partnership with the country
since then. According to an international opinion survey
conducted in 2009 on behalf of the
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
India is the most pro-
Israel country in the world. India is
the largest customer of the Israeli military equipment and
the second-largest military partner of India after Russia.
Ethiopia is Israel's main ally in Africa due to common political,
religious and security interests.
Israel provides expertise to
Ethiopia on irrigation projects and thousands of Ethiopian
International humanitarian efforts
Israeli foreign aid ranks low among
OECD nations, spending less than
0.1% of its GNI on development assistance, as opposed to the
recommended 0.7%. The country also ranked 43rd in the 2016 World
Giving Index. However,
Israel has a history of providing
emergency aid and humanitarian response teams to disasters across the
world. Israel's humanitarian efforts officially began in 1957,
with the establishment of Mashav, the Israel's Agency for
International Development Cooperation. There are additional
Israeli humanitarian and emergency response groups that work with the
Israel government, including IsraAid, a joint programme run by 14
Israeli organizations and North American Jewish groups,
ZAKA, The Fast Israeli Rescue and Search Team (FIRST),
Israeli Flying Aid (IFA),
Save a Child's Heart (SACH) and
Between 1985 and 2015,
Israel sent 24 delegations of IDF search and
rescue unit, the Home Front Command, to 22 countries. In Haiti,
immediately following the 2010 earthquake,
Israel was the first
country to set up a field hospital capable of performing surgical
Israel sent over 200 medical doctors and personnel to
start treating injured Haitians at the scene. At the conclusion
of its humanitarian mission 11 days later, the Israeli delegation
had treated more than 1,110 patients, conducted 319 successful
surgeries, delivered 16 births and rescued or assisted in the rescue
of four individuals. Despite radiation concerns,
one of the first countries to send a medical delegation to Japan
following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. Israel
dispatched a medical team to the tsunami-stricken city of
2011. A medical clinic run by an IDF team of some 50 members featured
pediatric, surgical, maternity and gynecological, and otolaryngology
wards, together with an optometry department, a laboratory, a pharmacy
and an intensive care unit. After treating 200 patients in two weeks,
the departing emergency team donated its equipment to the
Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces
Further information: List of wars involving Israel, List of the Israel
Defense Forces operations, and
Israel and weapons of mass destruction
Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces is the sole military wing of the Israeli
security forces, and is headed by its Chief of General Staff, the
Ramatkal, subordinate to the Cabinet. The IDF consist of the army, air
force and navy. It was founded during the
1948 Arab–Israeli War
1948 Arab–Israeli War by
consolidating paramilitary organizations—chiefly the Haganah—that
preceded the establishment of the state. The IDF also draws upon
the resources of the Military Intelligence Directorate (Aman), which
Mossad and Shabak. The
Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces have been
involved in several major wars and border conflicts in its short
history, making it one of the most battle-trained armed forces in the
Squad commanders exercise at
Eliakim training base in 2012
Israelis are drafted into the military at the age of 18. Men
serve two years and eight months and women two years. Following
mandatory service, Israeli men join the reserve forces and usually do
up to several weeks of reserve duty every year until their forties.
Most women are exempt from reserve duty. Arab citizens of Israel
(except the Druze) and those engaged in full-time religious studies
are exempt from military service, although the exemption of yeshiva
students has been a source of contention in Israeli society for many
years. An alternative for those who receive exemptions on
various grounds is Sherut Leumi, or national service, which involves a
program of service in hospitals, schools and other social welfare
frameworks. As a result of its conscription program, the IDF
maintains approximately 176,500 active troops and an additional
Iron Dome is the world's first operational anti-artillery rocket
The nation's military relies heavily on high-tech weapons systems
designed and manufactured in
Israel as well as some foreign imports.
The Arrow missile is one of the world's few operational anti-ballistic
missile systems. The Python air-to-air missile series is often
considered one of the most crucial weapons in its military
history. Israel's Spike missile is one of the most widely
exported ATGMs in the world. Israel's
Iron Dome anti-missile air
defense system gained worldwide acclaim after intercepting hundreds of
Qassam, 122 mm Grad and
Fajr-5 artillery rockets fire by Palestinian
militants from the Gaza Strip. Since the
Yom Kippur War,
Israel has developed a network of reconnaissance satellites. The
success of the
Ofeq program has made
Israel one of seven countries
capable of launching such satellites.
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons as well as
chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
and maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity toward its nuclear
capabilities. The Israeli Navy's Dolphin submarines are believed
to be armed with nuclear
Popeye Turbo missiles, offering second-strike
capability. Since the
Gulf War in 1991, when
Israel was attacked
by Iraqi Scud missiles, all homes in
Israel are required to have a
reinforced security room, Merkhav Mugan, impermeable to chemical and
Since Israel's establishment, military expenditure constituted a
significant portion of the country's gross domestic product, with peak
of 30.3% of GDP spent on defense in 1975. In 2016,
5th in the world by defense spending as a percentage of GDP, with
5.6%, and 15th by total military expenditure, with $18
billion. Since 1974, the
United States has been a particularly
notable contributor of military aid to Israel. Under a memorandum
of understanding signed in 2016, the U.S. is expected to provide the
country with $3.8 billion per year, or around 20% of Israel's
defense budget, from 2018 to 2028.
Israel ranked 7th globally for
arms exports in 2016. The majority of Israel's arms exports are
unreported for security reasons.
Israel is consistently rated low
in the Global Peace Index, ranking 144th out of 163 nations for
peacefulness in 2017.
Main article: Economy of Israel
Diamond Exchange District
Diamond Exchange District in Ramat Gan
Israel is considered the most advanced country in
Southwest Asia and
Middle East in economic and industrial development.
Israel's quality university education and the establishment of a
highly motivated and educated populace is largely responsible for
spurring the country's high technology boom and rapid economic
development. In 2010, it joined the OECD. The country is
ranked 16th in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness
Report and 54th on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business
index. It has the second-largest number of startup companies in
the world after the United States, and the third-largest number
of NASDAQ-listed companies after the U.S. and China.
also ranked 4th in the world by share of people in high-skilled
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Its building is optimized for computer
trading, with systems located in an underground bunker to keep the
exchange active during emergencies.
Despite limited natural resources, intensive development of the
agricultural and industrial sectors over the past decades has made
Israel largely self-sufficient in food production, apart from grains
and beef. Imports to Israel, totaling $57.9 billion in 2016,
include raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough
diamonds, fuels, grain, and consumer goods. Leading exports include
machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural
products, chemicals, and textiles and apparel; in 2016, Israeli
exports reached $51.61 billion.
Bank of Israel
Bank of Israel holds $97.22 billion of foreign-exchange
reserves. Since the 1970s,
Israel has received military aid from
the United States, as well as economic assistance in the form of loan
guarantees, which now account for roughly half of Israel's external
Israel has one of the lowest external debts in the developed
world, and is a lender in terms of net external debt (assets vs.
liabilities abroad), which in 2015[update] stood at a surplus of
Israel has an impressive record for creating
profit driven technologies making the country a top choice for many
business leaders and high technology industry giants. Intel and
Microsoft built their first overseas research and development
facilities in Israel, and other high-tech multi-national corporations,
such as IBM, Google, Apple, HP, Cisco Systems,
Facebook and Motorola
have opened R&D centres in the country. In 2007, American investor
Warren Buffett's holding company
Berkshire Hathaway bought an Israeli
company, Iscar, its first acquisition outside the United States, for
Days of working time in
Israel are Sunday through Thursday (for a
five-day workweek), or Friday (for a six-day workweek). In observance
of Shabbat, in places where Friday is a work day and the majority of
population is Jewish, Friday is a "short day", usually lasting till
14:00 in the winter, or 16:00 in the summer. Several proposals have
been raised to adjust the work week with the majority of the world,
and make Sunday a non-working day, while extending working time of
other days or replacing Friday with Sunday as a work day.
Science and technology
Science and technology in Israel
Science and technology in Israel and List of Israeli
inventions and discoveries
Matam high-tech park in Haifa
Israel's development of cutting-edge technologies in software,
communications and the life sciences have evoked comparisons with
Israel ranks 10th in the Bloomberg
Innovation Index, and is 2nd in the world in expenditure on
research and development as a percentage of GDP.
140 scientists, technicians, and engineers per 10,000 employees, the
highest number in the world (in comparison, the same is 85 for the
Israel has produced six Nobel Prize-winning
scientists since 2004 and has been frequently ranked as one of
the countries with the highest ratios of scientific papers per capita
in the world.
Israel has led the world in stem-cell
research papers per capita since 2000. Israeli universities are
ranked among the top 50 world universities in computer science
Tel Aviv University), mathematics (Hebrew University of
Jerusalem) and chemistry (Weizmann Institute of Science).
Israel was ranked ninth in the world by the Futron's Space
Competitiveness Index. The
Israel Space Agency
Israel Space Agency coordinates all
Israeli space research programs with scientific and commercial goals,
and have indigenously designed and built at least 13 commercial,
research and spy satellites. Some of Israel's satellites are
ranked among the world's most advanced space systems.
Shavit is a
space launch vehicle produced by
Israel to launch small satellites
into low Earth orbit. It was first launched in 1988, making
Israel the eighth nation to have a space launch capability. In 2003,
Ilan Ramon became Israel's first astronaut, serving as payload
specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of the Space Shuttle
The ongoing shortage of water in the country has spurred innovation in
water conservation techniques, and a substantial agricultural
modernization, drip irrigation, was invented in Israel.
Israel is also
at the technological forefront of desalination and water recycling.
Sorek desalination plant
Sorek desalination plant is the largest seawater reverse osmosis
(SWRO) desalination facility in the world. By 2014, Israel's
desalination programs provided roughly 35% of Israel's drinking water
and it is expected to supply 40% by 2015 and 70% by 2050. As of
2015, more than 50 percent of the water for Israeli households,
agriculture and industry is artificially produced. The country
hosts an annual Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition
& Conference (WATEC) that attracts thousands of people from across
the world. In 2011, Israel's water technology industry was
worth around $2 billion a year with annual exports of products and
services in the tens of millions of dollars. As a result of
innovations in reverse osmosis technology,
Israel is set to become a
net exporter of water in the coming years.
The world's largest solar parabolic dish at the Ben-Gurion National
Solar Energy Center.
Israel has embraced solar energy; its engineers are on the cutting
edge of solar energy technology and its solar companies work on
projects around the world. Over 90% of Israeli homes use
solar energy for hot water, the highest per capita in the
world. According to government figures, the country saves 8%
of its electricity consumption per year because of its solar energy
use in heating. The high annual incident solar irradiance at its
geographic latitude creates ideal conditions for what is an
internationally renowned solar research and development industry in
Israel had a modern electric car
infrastructure involving a countrywide network of charging stations to
facilitate the charging and exchange of car batteries. It was thought
that this would have lowered Israel's oil dependency and lowered the
fuel costs of hundreds of Israel's motorists that use cars powered
only by electric batteries. The Israeli model was being
studied by several countries and being implemented in
Australia. However, Israel's trailblazing electric car company
Better Place shut down in 2013.
Main article: Transport in Israel
Reception hall at Ben Gurion Airport
Israel has 19,224 kilometres (11,945 mi) of paved roads, and
3 million motor vehicles. The number of motor vehicles per
1,000 persons is 365, relatively low with respect to developed
Israel has 5,715 buses on scheduled routes,
operated by several carriers, the largest of which is Egged, serving
most of the country. Railways stretch across 1,277 kilometres
(793 mi) and are operated solely by government-owned Israel
Railways. Following major investments beginning in the early to
mid-1990s, the number of train passengers per year has grown from
2.5 million in 1990, to 53 million in 2015; railways are
also transporting 7.5 million tons of cargo, per year.
Israel is served by two international airports, Ben Gurion Airport,
the country's main hub for international air travel near Tel Aviv, and
Ovda Airport, which serves the southernmost port city of Eilat. There
are several small domestic airports as well. Ben Gurion, Israel's
largest airport, handled over 15 million passengers in 2015.
Mediterranean coast, the Port of
Haifa is the country's oldest
and largest port, while
Ashdod Port is one of the few deep water ports
in the world built on the open sea. In addition to these, the
Port of Eilat
Port of Eilat is situated on the Red Sea, and is used mainly
for trading with Far East countries.
Main article: Tourism in Israel
Ein Bokek resort on the shore of the Dead Sea
Tourism, especially religious tourism, is an important industry in
Israel, with the country's temperate climate, beaches, archaeological,
other historical and biblical sites, and unique geography also drawing
tourists. Israel's security problems have taken their toll on the
industry, but the number of incoming tourists is on the rebound.
In 2017, a record of 3.6 million tourists visited Israel, yielding a
25 percent growth since 2016 and contributed NIS 20 billion to the
Main article: Energy in Israel
In 2009, a natural gas reserve, Tamar was found near the coast of
Israel. A second natural gas reserve, Leviathan, was discovered in
Ketura Sun is Israel’s first commercial solar field. Built in early
2011 by the
Arava Power Company
Arava Power Company on
Ketura Sun covers
twenty acres and is expected to produce green energy amounting to 4.95
megawatts. The field consists of 18,500 photovoltaic panels made by
Suntech, which will produce about 9 gigawatt-hours of electricity per
year. In the next twenty years, the field will spare the
production of some 125,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The
field was inaugurated on June 15, 2011.
On May 22, 2012
Arava Power Company
Arava Power Company announced that it had reached
financial close on an additional 58.5 MW for 8 projects to be built in
the Arava and the
Negev valued at 780 million NIS or approximately
Main article: Culture of Israel
Israel's diverse culture stems from the diversity of its population:
Jews from diaspora communities around the world have brought their
cultural and religious traditions back with them, creating a melting
pot of Jewish customs and beliefs.
Israel is the only country in
the world where life revolves around the Hebrew calendar. Work and
school holidays are determined by the Jewish holidays, and the
official day of rest is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Israel's
substantial Arab minority has also left its imprint on Israeli culture
in such spheres as architecture, music, and cuisine.
Main article: Israeli literature
Shmuel Yosef Agnon, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Israeli literature is primarily poetry and prose written in Hebrew, as
part of the renaissance of Hebrew as a spoken language since the
mid-19th century, although a small body of literature is published in
other languages, such as English. By law, two copies of all printed
matter published in
Israel must be deposited in the National Library
Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2001, the law was
amended to include audio and video recordings, and other non-print
media. In 2015, 85 percent of the 7,843 books transferred to
the library were in Hebrew. The
Hebrew Book Week
Hebrew Book Week is held each
June and features book fairs, public readings, and appearances by
Israeli authors around the country. During the week, Israel's top
literary award, the Sapir Prize, is presented.
Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Shmuel Yosef Agnon shared the
Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature with
German Jewish author Nelly Sachs. Leading Israeli poets have been
Yehuda Amichai, Nathan Alterman, Leah Goldberg, and Rachel Bluwstein.
Internationally famous contemporary Israeli novelists include Amos Oz,
Etgar Keret and David Grossman. The Israeli-Arab satirist Sayed Kashua
(who writes in Hebrew) is also internationally known.
Israel has also been the home of two leading Palestinian poets and
writers: Emile Habibi, whose novel The Secret Life of Saeed: The
Pessoptimist, and other writings, won him the
Israel prize for Arabic
literature; and Mahmoud Darwish, considered by many to be "the
Palestinian national poet." Darwish was born and raised in
northern Israel, but lived his adult life abroad after joining the
Palestine Liberation Organization.
Music and dance
Music of Israel
Music of Israel and Dance in Israel
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta
Israeli music contains musical influences from all over the world;
Mizrahi and Sephardic music, Hasidic melodies, Greek music, jazz, and
pop rock are all part of the music scene. Among Israel's
world-renowned orchestras is the
Orchestra, which has been in operation for over seventy years and
today performs more than two hundred concerts each year. Itzhak
Pinchas Zukerman and
Ofra Haza are among the internationally
acclaimed musicians born in Israel.
participated in the
Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision Song Contest nearly every year since
1973, winning the competition three times and hosting it
Eilat has hosted its own international music
Jazz Festival, every summer since 1987.
Israel is home to many Palestinian musicians, including an oud group
Le Trio Joubran
Le Trio Joubran and singer Amal Murkus. The
Jerusalem Academy of Music
and Dance has an advanced degree program in Arabic music, headed by
oud virtuoso Taiseer Elias.
Celebrated Israeli ballet dancers Valery and Galina Panov, who founded
the Ballet Panov, in Ashdod
The nation's canonical folk songs, known as "Songs of the Land of
Israel," deal with the experiences of the pioneers in building the
Jewish homeland. The Hora circle dance introduced by early Jewish
settlers was originally popular in the kibbutzim and outlying
communities. It became a symbol of the Zionist reconstruction and of
the ability to experience joy amidst austerity. It now plays a
significant role in modern
Israeli folk dancing
Israeli folk dancing and is regularly
performed at weddings and other celebrations, and in group dances
throughout Israel. Modern dance in
Israel is a
flourishing field, and several Israeli choreographers such as Ohad
Barak Marshall and many others, are considered[by whom?]
to be among the most versatile and original international creators
working today. Famous Israeli companies include the Batsheva Dance
Company and the
Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.
Cinema and theatre
Main article: Cinema of Israel
Ten Israeli films have been final nominees for Best Foreign Language
Film at the
Academy Awards since the establishment of Israel. The 2009
movie Ajami was the third consecutive nomination of an Israeli
film. Palestinian Israeli filmmakers have made a number of films
dealing with the Arab-
Israel conflict and the status of Palestinians
within Israel, such as Mohammed Bakri's 2002 film
Jenin, Jenin and The
Syrian Bride.
Continuing the strong theatrical traditions of the
Yiddish theatre in
Israel maintains a vibrant theatre scene. Founded in
Habima Theatre in
Tel Aviv is Israel's oldest repertory theater
company and national theater.
Main article: Media of Israel
The 2017 Freedom of the Press annual report by
Freedom House ranked
Israel as the
Middle East and North Africa's most free country, and
64th globally. In the 2017
Press Freedom Index
Press Freedom Index by Reporters
Israel (including "
Israel extraterritorial" since
2013 ranking) was placed 91st of 180 countries, first in the
Middle East and North Africa region.
For a more comprehensive list, see List of Israeli museums.
Shrine of the Book, repository of the
Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem
Israel Museum in
Jerusalem is one of Israel's most important
cultural institutions and houses the
Dead Sea Scrolls, along
with an extensive collection of
Judaica and European art.
Israel's national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, is the world central
archive of Holocaust-related information.
Beit Hatfutsot ("The
Diaspora House"), on the campus of
Tel Aviv University, is an
interactive museum devoted to the history of Jewish communities around
the world. Apart from the major museums in large cities, there
are high-quality artspaces in many towns and kibbutzim. Mishkan
LeOmanut in kibbutz Ein Harod Meuhad is the largest art museum in the
north of the country.
Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world.
Several Israeli museums are devoted to Islamic culture, including the
Rockefeller Museum and the L. A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art, both
in Jerusalem. The Rockefeller specializes in archaeological remains
from the Ottoman and other periods of
Middle East history. It is also
the home of the first hominid fossil skull found in Western Asia
Galilee Man. A cast of the skull is on display at the
Main article: Israeli cuisine
A meal including falafel, hummus,
French fries and Israeli salad
Israeli cuisine includes local dishes as well as Jewish cuisine
brought to the country by immigrants from the diaspora. Since the
establishment of the state in 1948, and particularly since the late
1970s, an Israeli fusion cuisine has developed. Israeli cuisine
has adopted, and continues to adapt, elements of the Mizrahi,
Sephardi, and Ashkenazi styles of cooking. It incorporates many foods
traditionally eaten in the Levantine, Arab, Middle Eastern and
Mediterranean cuisines, such as falafel, hummus, shakshouka, couscous,
and za'atar. Schnitzel, pizza, hamburgers, French fries, rice and
salad are also common in Israel.
Roughly half of the Israeli-Jewish population attests to keeping
kosher at home.
Kosher restaurants, though rare in the
1960s, make up around 25% of the total as of 2015[update], perhaps
reflecting the largely secular values of those who dine out.
Hotel restaurants are much more likely to serve kosher food. The
non-kosher retail market was traditionally sparse, but grew rapidly
and considerably following the influx of immigrants from the
post-Soviet states during the 1990s. Together with non-kosher
fish, rabbits and ostriches, pork—often called "white meat" in
Israel—is produced and consumed, though it is forbidden by both
Judaism and Islam.
Main article: Sport in Israel
Teddy Stadium of Jerusalem
The most popular spectator sports in
Israel are association football
and basketball. The
Israeli Premier League
Israeli Premier League is the country's
premier football league, and the Israeli
Basketball Premier League is
the premier basketball league. Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv,
Tel Aviv and Beitar
Jerusalem are the largest football clubs.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi
Haifa and Hapoel
Tel Aviv have competed in
UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League and Hapoel
Tel Aviv reached the
Israel hosted and won the 1964 AFC Asian Cup; in 1970
Israel national football team
Israel national football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup,
the only time it participated in the World Cup. The 1974 Asian Games
held in Tehran, were the last Asian Games in which Israel
participated, and was plagued by the Arab countries which refused to
compete with Israel.
Israel was excluded from the
1978 Asian Games
1978 Asian Games and
since then has not competed in Asian sport events. In 1994, UEFA
agreed to admit
Israel and its soccer teams now compete in
Europe. Maccabi
Tel Aviv B.C. has won the European
championship in basketball six times. In 2016, the country was
chosen as a host for the EuroBasket 2017.
Boris Gelfand, chess Grandmaster
Chess is a leading sport in
Israel and is enjoyed by people of all
ages. There are many Israeli grandmasters and Israeli chess players
have won a number of youth world championships.
Israel stages an
annual international championship and hosted the World Team Chess
Championship in 2005. The Ministry of Education and the World Chess
Federation agreed upon a project of teaching chess within Israeli
schools, and it has been introduced into the curriculum of some
schools. The city of
Beersheba has become a national chess
center, with the game being taught in the city's kindergartens. Owing
partly to Soviet immigration, it is home to the largest number of
chess grandmasters of any city in the world. The Israeli
chess team won the silver medal at the 2008
Chess Olympiad and
the bronze, coming in third among 148 teams, at the 2010 Olympiad.
Boris Gelfand won the
Chess World Cup 2009
and the 2011 Candidates Tournament for the right to challenge the
world champion. He only lost the World
Chess Championship 2012 to
reigning world champion Anand after a speed-chess tie breaker.
Israel has won nine Olympic medals since its first win in 1992,
including a gold medal in windsurfing at the 2004 Summer
Israel has won over 100 gold medals in the Paralympic
Games and is ranked 20th in the all-time medal count. The 1968 Summer
Paralympics were hosted by Israel. The Maccabiah Games, an
Olympic-style event for Jewish and Israeli athletes, was inaugurated
in the 1930s, and has been held every four years since then. Israeli
Shahar Pe'er ranked 11th in the world on 31 January
2011. Krav Maga, a martial art developed by Jewish ghetto
defenders during the struggle against fascism in Europe, is used by
Israeli security forces
Israeli security forces and police. Its effectiveness and
practical approach to self-defense, have won it widespread admiration
and adherence around the world.
Index of Israel-related articles
Outline of Israel
Israel – book
^ Recognition by other UN member states: the United States, the
Czech Republic, Guatemala, and Vanuatu.
Jerusalem Law states that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is
the capital of Israel" and the city serves as the seat of the
government, home to the President's residence, government offices,
supreme court, and parliament.
United Nations Security Council
Resolution 478 (20 August 1980; 14–0, U.S. abstaining) declared the
Jerusalem Law "null and void" and called on member states to withdraw
their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem. The
United Nations and all
member nations refuse to accept the
Jerusalem Law (see Kellerman 1993,
p. 140) and maintain their embassies in other cities such as Tel
Aviv, Ramat Gan, and
Herzliya (see the CIA Factbook and Map of
Israel). The U.S. Congress subsequently adopted the
Act, which said that the U.S. embassy should be relocated to Jerusalem
and that it should be recognized as the capital of Israel. However,
the US Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel concluded that the
provisions of the act "invade exclusive presidential authorities in
the field of foreign affairs and are unconstitutional". Since passage
of the act, all presidents serving in office have determined that
moving forward with the relocation would be detrimental to U.S.
national security concerns and opted to issue waivers suspending any
action on this front. The
Palestinian Authority sees East
the capital of a future Palestinian state. The city's final status
awaits future negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinian
Authority (see "Negotiating Jerusalem," Palestine–
See Positions on
Jerusalem for more information.
^ a b The majority of the international community (including the UN
General Assembly, the
United Nations Security Council, the European
Union, the International Criminal Court, and the vast majority of
human rights organizations) considers
Israel to be occupying Gaza, the
West Bank and East Jerusalem. Gaza is still considered to be
"occupied" by the United Nations, international human rights
organisations, and the majority of governments and legal commentators,
despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza, due to various forms
of ongoing military and economic control.
The government of
Israel and some supporters have, at times, disputed
this position of the international community. For more details of this
terminology dispute, including with respect to the current status of
the Gaza Strip, see International views on the Israeli-occupied
territories and Status of territories captured by Israel.
For an explanation of the differences between an annexed but disputed
territory (e.g., Tibet) and a militarily occupied territory, please
see the article Military occupation.
^ (פלשתינה (א״י in Hebrew (translation: Palestine (Eretz
^ Trump Recognizes
Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Orders U.S.
Embassy to Move, The New York Times, 6 December 2017
Czech Republic announces it recognizes West
Jerusalem as Israel's
Jerusalem Post, 6 December 2017. Text from the Foreign
Ministry statement: “The
Czech Republic currently, before the peace
Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes
Jerusalem to be in
fact the capital of
Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from
1967.” The Ministry also said that it would only consider relocating
its embassy based on "results of negotiations."
Guatemala se suma a EEUU y también trasladará su embajada en
Israel a Jerusalén" ("
Guatemala joins US, will also move embassy to
Jerusalem"), Infobae, 24 December 2017. (in Spanish) Guatemala's
embassy was located in
Jerusalem until the 1980s, when it was moved to
^ Island nation
Jerusalem as Israel's capital
^ a b c "Latest Population Statistics for Israel". Jewish Virtual
Library. American–Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. January 2017.
Retrieved 20 February 2017.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Israel". The World Factbook. Central
Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
^ a b "Home page".
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 20
^ Population Census 2008 (PDF) (Report).
Israel Central Bureau of
Statistics. 2008. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
^ a b "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". International
Monetary Fund. October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
^ "Distribution of family income – Gini index". The World Factbook.
Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
^ a b
Human Development Index
Human Development Index and its components (Report). United
Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
^ "Palestinian Territories". State.gov. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 26
^ Skolnik 2007, pp. 132–232
^ "GaWC – The World According to GaWC 2008". Globalization and
World Cities Research Network. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
^ The Controversial Sovereignty over the City of
Jerusalem (June 22,
2015, The National Catholic Reporter) "No U.S. president has ever
officially acknowledged Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem
(...) The refusal to recognize
Jerusalem as Israeli territory is a
near universal policy among Western nations."
^ "UN General Assembly Resolution 181 recommended the creation of an
international zonea, or corpus separatum, in
Jerusalem to be
administered by the UN for a 10-year period, after which there would
be referendum to determine its future. This approach applies
equally to West and East
Jerusalem and is not affected by the
occupation of East jerusalem in 1967. To a large extent it is
this approach that still guides the diplomatic behaviour of states and
thus has greater force in international law" (Susan M. Akram, Michael
Dumper, Michael Lynk,
Iain Scobbie (eds.), International Law and
the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Rights-Based Approach to Middle
East Peace, Routledge, 2010 p.119. )
^ Jerusalem: Opposition to mooted Trump
grows"Israeli sovereignty over
Jerusalem has never been recognised
Jerusalem (Lapidot) page 17: "Israeli control in west
Jerusalem since 1948 was illegal and most states have not recognized
its sovereignty there"
^ V. Kattan: "Competing claims, Contested City: The Sovereignty of
Jerusalem under International Law" (page 2) : "No state
recognizes Israel's sovereignty over
Jerusalem in neither its eastern
nor western half"
^ a b c d e Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001). The
Bible unearthed : archaeology's new vision of ancient
the origin of its stories (1st Touchstone ed.). New York: Simon &
Schuster. ISBN 0-684-86912-8.
^ a b The Pitcher Is Broken: Memorial Essays for Gosta W. Ahlstrom,
Steven W. Holloway, Lowell K. Handy, Continuum, 1 May 1995 Quote: "For
Israel, the description of the battle of Qarqar in the Kurkh Monolith
of Shalmaneser III (mid-ninth century) and for Judah, a
Tiglath-pileser III text mentioning (Jeho-) Ahaz of Judah (IIR67 = K.
3751), dated 734-733, are the earliest published to date."
^ a b Broshi, Maguen (2001). Bread, Wine, Walls and Scrolls.
Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 174. ISBN 1-84127-201-9.
^ a b "British Museum – Cuneiform tablet with part of the Babylonian
Chronicle (605–594 BCE)". Archived from the original on 30 October
2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
^ Jon L. Berquist (2007). Approaching Yehud: New Approaches to the
Study of the Persian Period. Society of Biblical Lit. pp. 195–.
^ a b c Peter Fibiger Bang; Walter Scheidel (31 January 2013). The
Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and
Mediterranean. OUP USA. pp. 184–187.
^ Abraham Malamat (1976). A History of the Jewish People. Harvard
University Press. pp. 223–239.
^ Yohanan Aharoni (15 September 2006). The Jewish People: An
Illustrated History. A&C Black. pp. 99–.
^ Erwin Fahlbusch; Geoffrey William Bromiley (2005). The Encyclopedia
of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 15–.
^ a b "Resolution 181 (II). Future government of Palestine". United
Nations. 29 November 1947. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
^ a b Morris 2008, p. 66: at 1946 "The League demanded
independence for Palestine as a "unitary" state, with an Arab majority
and minority rights for the Jews.", p. 67: at 1947 "The League's
Political Committee met in Sofar, Lebanon, on 16–19 September, and
urged the Palestine
Arabs to fight partition, which it called
"aggression," "without mercy." The League promised them, in line with
Bludan, assistance "in manpower, money and equipment" should the
United Nations endorse partition.", p. 72: at December 1947 "The
League vowed, in very general language, "to try to stymie the
partition plan and prevent the establishment of a
Jewish state in
^ a b Morris 2008, p. 75: "The night of 29–30 November passed
in the Yishuv’s settlements in noisy public rejoicing. Most had sat
glued to their radio sets broadcasting live from Flushing Meadow. A
collective cry of joy went up when the two-thirds mark was achieved: a
state had been sanctioned by the international community."
^ a b c Morris 2008, p. 396: "The immediate trigger of the 1948
War was the November 1947 UN partition resolution. The Zionist
movement, except for its fringes, accepted the proposal.", "The Arab
war aim, in both stages of the hostilities, was, at a minimum, to
abort the emergence of a
Jewish state or to destroy it at inception.
The Arab states hoped to accomplish this by conquering all or large
parts of the territory allotted to the
Jews by the United Nations. And
some Arab leaders spoke of driving the
Jews into the sea and ridding
Palestine "of the Zionist plague." The struggle, as the
Arabs saw it,
was about the fate of Palestine/ the Land of Israel, all of it, not
over this or that part of the country. But, in public, official Arab
spokesmen often said that the aim of the May 1948 invasion was to
"save" Palestine or "save the Palestinians," definitions more
agreeable to Western ears."
^ a b "Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel". Israel
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 14 May 1948. Archived from the original
on 17 March 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
^ a b Gilbert 2005, p. 1
^ "The status of Jerusalem" (PDF). The Question of Palestine & the
United Nations Department of Public Information. East
Jerusalem has been considered, by both the General Assembly and the
Security Council, as part of the occupied Palestinian territory.
^ "Analysis: Kadima's big plans". BBC News. 29 March 2006. Retrieved
10 October 2010.
^ Kessner, BC (2 April 2006). "Israel's Hard-Learned Lessons".
Homeland Security Today. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
^ Kumaraswamy, P. R. (5 June 2002). "The Legacy of Undefined Borders".
Tel Aviv Notes. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
Sanger, Andrew (2011). M.N. Schmitt; Louise Arimatsu; Tim McCormack,
eds. "The Contemporary Law of Blockade and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla".
Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law 2010. Springer Science
& Business Media. 13: 429. doi:10.1007/978-90-6704-811-8_14.
Israel claims it no longer occupies the Gaza
Strip, maintaining that it is neither a Stale nor a territory occupied
or controlled by Israel, but rather it has 'sui generis' status.
Pursuant to the Disengagement Plan,
Israel dismantled all military
institutions and settlements in Gaza and there is no longer a
permanent Israeli military or civilian presence in the territory.
However the Plan also provided that
Israel will guard and monitor the
external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, will continue to maintain
exclusive authority in Gaza air space, and will continue to exercise
security activity in the sea off the coast of the
Gaza Strip as well
as maintaining an Israeli military presence on the Egyptian-Gaza
border. and reserving the right to reenter Gaza at will.
Israel continues to control six of Gaza's seven land crossings, its
maritime borders and airspace and the movement of goods and persons in
and out of the territory.
Egypt controls one of Gaza's land crossings.
Troops from the Israeli Defence Force regularly enter pans of the
territory and/or deploy missile attacks, drones and sonic bombs into
Israel has declared a no-go buffer zone that stretches deep into
Gaza: if Gazans enter this zone they are shot on sight. Gaza is also
dependent on israel for inter alia electricity, currency, telephone
networks, issuing IDs, and permits to enter and leave the territory.
Israel also has sole control of the Palestinian Population Registry
through which the Israeli Army regulates who is classified as a
Palestinian and who is a Gazan or West Banker. Since 2000 aside from a
limited number of exceptions
Israel has refused to add people to the
Palestinian Population Registry.
It is this direct external control over Gaza and indirect control over
life within Gaza that has led the United Nations, the UN General
Assembly, the UN Fact Finding Mission to Gaza, International human
rights organisations, US Government websites, the UK Foreign and
Commonwealth Office and a significant number of legal commentators, to
reject the argument that Gaza is no longer occupied.
Scobbie, Iain (2012). Elizabeth Wilmshurst, ed. International Law and
the Classification of Conflicts. Oxford University Press. p. 295.
ISBN 9780199657759. Even after the accession to power of Hamas,
Israel's claim that it no longer occupies Gaza has not been accepted
by UN bodies, most States, nor the majority of academic commentators
because of its exclusive control of its border with Gaza and crossing
points including the effective control it exerted over the Rafah
crossing until at least May 2011, its control of Gaza's maritime zones
and airspace which constitute what Aronson terms the 'security
envelope' around Gaza, as well as its ability to intervene forcibly at
will in Gaza.
Gawerc, Michelle (2012). Prefiguring Peace: Israeli-Palestinian
Peacebuilding Partnerships. Lexington Books. p. 44.
ISBN 9780739166109. While
Israel withdrew from the immediate
Israel still controlled all access to and from Gaza through
the border crossings, as well as through the coastline and the
airspace. ln addition, Gaza was dependent upon
Israel for water
electricity sewage communication networks and for its trade (Gisha
2007. Dowty 2008). ln other words, while
Israel maintained that its
occupation of Gaza ended with its unilateral disengagement
Palestinians – as well as many human right organizations and
international bodies – argued that Gaza was by all intents and
purposes still occupied.
^ See for example:
* Hajjar, Lisa (2005). Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court
System in the
West Bank and Gaza. University of California Press.
p. 96. ISBN 0520241940. The Israeli occupation of the West
Bank and Gaza is the longest military occupation in modern
* Anderson, Perry (July–August 2001). "Editorial: Scurrying Towards
Bethlehem". New Left Review. 10. ...longest official military
occupation of modern history—currently entering its thirty-fifth
* Makdisi, Saree (2010). Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.
W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393338447.
...longest-lasting military occupation of the modern age
* Kretzmer, David (Spring 2012). "The law of belligerent occupation in
the Supreme Court of Israel" (PDF). International Review of the Red
Cross. 94 (885): 207–236. doi:10.1017/S1816383112000446. This is
probably the longest occupation in modern international relations, and
it holds a central place in all literature on the law of belligerent
occupation since the early 1970s
* Alexandrowicz, Ra'anan (24 January 2012), The Justice of Occupation,
The New York Times,
Israel is the only modern state that has held
territories under military occupation for over four decades
* Weill, Sharon (2014). The Role of National Courts in Applying
International Humanitarian Law. Oxford University Press. p. 22.
ISBN 9780199685424. Although the basic philosophy behind the law
of military occupation is that it is a temporary situation modem
occupations have well demonstrated that rien ne dure comme le
provisoire A significant number of post-1945 occupations have lasted
more than two decades such as the occupations of Namibia by South
Africa and of East Timor by Indonesia as well as the ongoing
occupations of Northern
Turkey and of Western Sahara by
Morocco. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, which
is the longest in all occupation's history has already entered its
* Azarova, Valentina. 2017, Israel's Unlawfully Prolonged Occupation:
Consequences under an Integrated Legal Framework, European Council on
Foreign Affairs Policy Brief: "June 2017 marks 50 years of Israel’s
belligerent occupation of Palestinian territory, making it the longest
occupation in modern history."
^ "Israel". Freedom in the World. Freedom House. 2008. Retrieved 20
^ Augustus Richard Norton (2001). Civil society in the Middle East. 2
(2001). BRILL. p. 193. ISBN 90-04-10469-0.
^ Rummel 1997, p. 257. "A current list of liberal democracies
includes: Andorra, Argentina, ..., Cyprus, ..., Israel, ..."
^ "Global Survey 2006:
Middle East Progress Amid Global Gains in
Freedom". Freedom House. 19 December 2005. Retrieved 20 March
^ a b "Israel's accession to the OECD". Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
^ a b Education at a Glance:
Israel (Report). Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 18
^ "WHO: Life expectancy in
Israel among highest in the world".
Haaretz. 24 May 2009.
^ "Popular Opinion". The Palestine Post. Jerusalem. 7 December 1947.
p. 1. Archived from the original on 15 August 2012.
^ "On the Move". Time. New York. 31 May 1948. Archived from the
original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2007.
^ Levine, Robert A. (7 November 2000). "See
Israel as a Jewish
Nation-State, More or Less Democratic". The New York Times. Retrieved
19 January 2011.
^ William G. Dever, Did God Have a Wife?:
Archaeology and Folk
Religion in Ancient Israel, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 p.186.
^ Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 'Israel,' in International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia: E-J,Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1995 p.907.
^ R. L. Ottley, The Religion of Israel: A Historical Sketch, Cambridge
University Press, 2013 pp.31–2 note 5.
^ Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow,
England: Longman. p. 381. ISBN 0-582-05383-8. entry
^ "And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel:
for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast
prevailed." (Genesis, 32:28, 35:10). See also Hosea 12:5.
^ Exodus 12:40–41
^ Exodus 6:16–20
^ Barton & Bowden 2004, p. 126. "The
Merneptah Stele ... is
arguably the oldest evidence outside the Bible for the existence of
Israel as early as the 13th century BCE."
^ Noah Rayman (29 September 2014). "Mandatory Palestine: What It Was
and Why It Matters". TIME. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
^ Tchernov, Eitan (1988). "The Age of '
Ubeidiya Formation (Jordan
Valley, Israel) and the Earliest Hominids in the Levant". Paléorient.
14 (2): 63–65. doi:10.3406/paleo.1988.4455. Retrieved 4 January
^ Rincon, Paul (14 October 2015). "Fossil teeth place humans in Asia
'20,000 years early'". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
^ Bar-Yosef, Ofer (7 December 1998). "The Natufian Culture in the
Levant, Threshold to the Origins of Agriculture" (PDF). Evolutionary
Anthropology. 6 (5): 159–177.
Retrieved 4 January 2017.
^ Dever, William (2001). What Did the Biblical Writers Know, and When
Did They Know It?. Eerdmans. pp. 98–99.
ISBN 3-927120-37-5. After a century of exhaustive investigation,
all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any
context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or
Jacob credible "historical
figures" [...] archaeological investigation of
Moses and the Exodus
has similarly been discarded as a fruitless pursuit.
^ Miller, James Maxwell; Hayes, John Haralson (1986). A History of
Israel and Judah. Westminster John Knox Press.
^ Tubb, 1998. pp. 13–14
^ Mark Smith in "The Early History of God:
Yahweh and Other Deities of
Ancient Israel" states "Despite the long regnant model that the
Israelites were people of fundamentally different
culture, archaeological data now casts doubt on this view. The
material culture of the region exhibits numerous common points between
Israelites and Canaanites in the Iron I period (c.
1200–1000 BCE). The record would suggest that the Israelite
culture largely overlapped with and derived from Canaanite culture...
In short, Israelite culture was largely Canaanite in nature. Given the
information available, one cannot maintain a radical cultural
separation between Canaanites and
Israelites for the Iron I period."
(pp. 6–7). Smith, Mark (2002) "The Early History of God:
Other Deities of Ancient Israel" (Eerdman's)
^ Rendsberg, Gary (2008). "
Israel without the Bible". In Frederick E.
Greenspahn. The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. NYU Press,
^ Gnuse 1997, pp.28,31[title missing]
^ McNutt 1999, p. 35.
^ Bloch-Smith, Elizabeth (2003). "Israelite Ethnicity in Iron I:
Archaeology Preserves What Is Remembered and What Is Forgotten in
Israel's History". Journal of Biblical Literature. 122 (3): 401–425.
doi:10.2307/3268384. ISSN 0021-9231. JSTOR 3268384.
^ Lehman in Vaughn 1992, pp. 156–62.[full citation needed]
^ McNutt 1999, p. 70.
^ Miller 2012, p. 98.
^ McNutt 1999, p. 72.
^ Miller 2012, p. 99.
^ Miller 2012, p. 105.
^ Lipschits, Oded (2014). "The
History of Israel
History of Israel in the Biblical
Period". In Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Marc Zvi. The Jewish Study Bible
(2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199978465.
^ a b Kuhrt, Amiele (1995). The Ancient Near East. Routledge.
p. 438. ISBN 978-0415167628.
^ a b Wright,
Jacob L. (July 2014). "David, King of Judah (Not
Israel)". The Bible and Interpretation.
^ K. L. Noll,
Israel in Antiquity: A Textbook on History
and Religion, A&C Black, 2012, rev.ed. pp.137ff.
^ Thomas L. Thompson, Early History of the Israelite People: From the
Written & Archaeological Sources, BRILL, 2000 pp. 275–76: 'They
are rather a very specific group among the population of Palestine
which bears a name that occurs here for the first time that at a much
later stage in Palestine's history bears a substantially different
^ The personal name "Israel" appears much earlier, in material from
Ebla. Hasel, Michael G. (1994-01-01). "
Israel in the Merneptah Stela".
Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (296): 45–61.
doi:10.2307/1357179. JSTOR 1357179. ; Bertman, Stephen
(2005-07-14). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. OUP USA.
ISBN 9780195183641. and Meindert Dijkstra (2010). "Origins
Israel between history and ideology". In Becking, Bob; Grabbe,
Lester. Between Evidence and Ideology Essays on the History of Ancient
Israel read at the Joint Meeting of the Society for Old Testament
Study and the
Oud Testamentisch Werkgezelschap Lincoln, July 2009.
Brill. p. 47. ISBN 9789004187375. As a West Semitic personal
name it existed long before it became a tribal or a geographical name.
This is not without significance, though is it rarely mentioned. We
learn of a maryanu named ysr"il (*Yi¡sr—a"ilu) from Ugarit living
in the same period, but the name was already used a thousand years
before in Ebla. The word
Israel originated as a West Semitic personal
name. One of the many names that developed into the name of the
ancestor of a clan, of a tribe and finally of a people and a
^ Jonathan M Golden,Ancient
Canaan and Israel: An Introduction, OUP
USA, 2009 pp. 3–4.
^ Lemche, Niels Peter (1998). The
Israelites in History and Tradition.
Westminster John Knox Press. p. 35.
^ See http://www.livius.org/cg-cm/chronicles/abc5/jerusalem.html
reverse side, line 12.
^ a b "
Second Temple Period (538 BCE. to 70 CE) Persian Rule".
Biu.ac.il. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
^ Harper's Bible Dictionary, ed. by Achtemeier, etc., Harper &
Row, San Francisco, 1985, p.103
^ Grabbe, Lester L. (2004). A History of the
Judaism in the
Second Temple Period: Yehud – A History of the Persian Province of
Judah v. 1. T & T Clark. p. 355.
^ Oppenheimer, A'haron and Oppenheimer, Nili. Between Rome and
Babylon: Studies in Jewish Leadership and Society. Mohr Siebeck, 2005,
^ Cohn-Sherbok, Dan (1996). Atlas of Jewish History. Routledge.
p. 58. ISBN 978-0-415-08800-8.
^ Lehmann, Clayton Miles (18 January 2007). "Palestine". Encyclopedia
of the Roman Provinces. University of South Dakota. Archived from the
original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
^ Morçöl 2006, p. 304
Judaism in late antiquity,
Jacob Neusner, Bertold Spuler, Hady R
Idris, BRILL, 2001, p. 155
^ Gil, Moshe (1997). A History of Palestine, 634–1099. Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59984-9.
^ Allan D. Cooper (2009). The geography of genocide. University Press
of America. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-7618-4097-8. Retrieved 1
^ Carmel, Alex. The History of
Haifa Under Turkish Rule. Haifa:
Pardes, 2002 (ISBN 965-7171-05-9), pp. 16–17
^ Moshe Gil (1992). A History of Palestine, 634–1099. Cambridge
University Press. p. 829. ISBN 9780521404372. Retrieved 17
Haifa was taken [...] in August 1100 or June 1101, according
to Muslim sources which contradict one another.
Albert of Aachen does
not mention the date in a clear manner either. From what he says, it
appears that it was mainly the Jewish inhabitants of the city who
defended the fortress of Haifa. In his rather strange Latin style, he
mentions that there was a Jewish population in Haifa, and that they
fought bravely within the walls of the city. He explains that the Jews
there were protected people of the Muslims (the Fatimids). They fought
side by side with units of the Fatimid army, striking back at
Tancred's army from above the walls of the citadel (... Judaei civis
comixtis Sarracenorum turmis) until the
Crusaders overcame them and
they were forced to abandon the walls. The Muslims and the
managed to escape from the fortress with their lives, while the rest
of the population fled the city en masse. Whoever remained was
slaughtered, and huge quantities of spoils were taken. [...] [Note #3:
Albert of Aachen (Albericus, Albertus Aquensis), Historia
Hierosolymitanae Expeditionis, in: RHC (Occ.), IV. p. 523; etc.]
^ Irven M. Resnick (1 June 2012). Marks of Distinctions: Christian
Jews in the High Middle Ages. CUA Press.
pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-0-8132-1969-1. citizens of the Jewish
race, who lived in the city by the favour and consent of the king of
Egypt in return for payment of tribute, got on the walls bearing arms
and put up a very stubborn defence, until the Christians, weighed down
by various blows over the period of two weeks, absolutely despaired
and held back their hands from any attack. [...] the Jewish citizens,
mixed with Saracen troops, at once fought back manfully,... and
counter-attacked. [Albert of Aachen, Historia Ierosolimitana 7.23, ed.
and transl. Susan B. Edgington (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 516
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^ Morris 2008, p. 187: "A week before the armies marched, Azzam
told Kirkbride: "It does not matter how many [ Jews] there are. We
will sweep them into the sea." … Ahmed Shukeiry, one of Haj Amin
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Palestine Liberation Organization), simply described the aim as "the
elimination of the Jewish state." … al-Quwwatli told his people:
"Our army has entered … we shall win and we shall eradicate
^ Morris 2008, p. 198: "the
Jews felt that the
Arabs aimed to
reenact the Holocaust and that they faced certain personal and
collective slaughter should they lose"
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^ Clive Jones, Emma Murphy, Israel: Challenges to Identity, Democracy,
and the State,
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Jews were often reallocated to European Jewish immigrants;
Jews to the privations of ma'aborot (transit
camps) for longer periods."
^ Segev 2007, pp. 155–157
^ Shindler 2002, pp. 49–50
^ Kameel B. Nasr (1 December 1996). Arab and Israeli Terrorism: The
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pp. 40–. ISBN 978-0-7864-3105-2. Fedayeen to
attack...almost always against civilians
^ Gilbert 2005, p. 58
^ Isaac Alteras (1993). Eisenhower and Israel: U.S.-Israeli Relations,
1953–1960. University Press of Florida. pp. 192–.
ISBN 978-0-8130-1205-6. the removal of the Egyptian blockade of
Straits of Tiran
Straits of Tiran at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba. The
blockade closed Israel's sea lane to East Africa and the Far East,
hindering the development of Israel's southern port of
Eilat and its
hinterland, the Nege. Another important objective of the Israeli war
plan was the elimination of the terrorist bases in the Gaza Strip,
from which daily fedayeen incursions into
Israel made life unbearable
for its southern population. And last but not least, the concentration
of the Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula, armed with the newly
acquired weapons from the Soviet bloc, prepared for an attack on
Israel. Here, Ben-Gurion believed, was a time bomb that had to be
defused before it was too late. Reaching the
Suez Canal did not figure
at all in Israel's war objectives.
^ Dominic Joseph Caraccilo (January 2011). Beyond Guns and Steel: A
War Termination Strategy. ABC-CLIO. pp. 113–.
ISBN 978-0-313-39149-1. The escalation continued with the
Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran, and Nasser's
nationalization of the
Suez Canal in July 1956. On October 14, Nasser
made clear his intent:"I am not solely fighting against
My task is to deliver the
Arab world from destruction through Israel's
intrigue, which has its roots abroad. Our hatred is very strong. There
is no sense in talking about peace with Israel. There is not even the
smallest place for negotiations." Less than two weeks later, on
Egypt signed a tripartite agreement with
Syria and Jordan
placing Nasser in command of all three armies. The continued blockade
Suez Canal and
Gulf of Aqaba
Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, combined with
the increased fedayeen attacks and the bellicosity of recent Arab
statements, prompted Israel, with the backing of Britain and France,
Egypt on October 29, 1956.
^ Alan Dowty (20 June 2005). Israel/Palestine. Polity.
pp. 102–. ISBN 978-0-7456-3202-5. Gamal Abdel Nasser, who
declared in one speech that "
Egypt has decided to dispatch her heroes,
the disciples of Pharaoh and the sons of
Islam and they will cleanse
the land of Palestine....There will be no peace on Israel's border
because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel's death."...The
level of violence against Israelis, soldiers and civilians alike,
seemed to be rising inexorably.
^ "The Jewish Virtual Library, The Sinai-Suez Campaign: Background
& Overview". In 1955, Egyptian President
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser began
to import arms from the Soviet Bloc to build his arsenal for the
confrontation with Israel. In the short-term, however, he employed a
new tactic to prosecute Egypt's war with Israel. He announced it on
August 31, 1955:
Egypt has decided to dispatch her heroes, the
disciples of Pharaoh and the sons of
Islam and they will cleanse the
land of Palestine....There will be no peace on Israel's border because
we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel's death. These "heroes"
were Arab terrorists, or fedayeen, trained and equipped by Egyptian
Intelligence to engage in hostile action on the border and infiltrate
Israel to commit acts of sabotage and murder.
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pp. 300, 301. ISBN 978-0-307-78805-4. (p. 300) In exchange
(for Israeli withdrawal) the United states had indirectly promised to
guarantee Israel's right of passage through the straits (to the Red
sea) and its right to self defense if the Egyptian closed them....(p
301) The 1956 war resulted in a significant reduction of...Israeli
Egypt refrained from reactivating the Fedaeen,
Jordan made great effort to curb infiltration
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Israelis were wounded and 101 killed. In 1956 alone, as a result of
this aspect of Egyptian aggression, 28
Israelis were killed and 127
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UNEF from the Straits nor of what
Israel would do if they were closed
to Israeli shipping. The next day Nasser announced to an astonished
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