History of Israel & Palestine

History of Israel & Palestine

Much of the following information was collected from Wikipedia.

Maps Israel History Israel History
Since 1948

Introduction and Photos

5 Photos

1 - Israel Timeline

The land of Israel has been populated by the Jewish people since 2000 BC. Here's the timeline, in case you didn't realize that it is their homeland, as designated by Yahweh.

1900 BC: Abraham chosen by God as the Father of the Jewish Nation.

1900 BC: Isaac, Abraham's son, rules over Israel.

1850 BC: Jacob, son of Issac, rules over Israel.

1400 BC: Moses leads the people out of Egypt and back to Israel.

1010 BC: King David unites the 12 tribes into one nation.

970 BC: King Solomon, son of David, builds the first temple structure in Jerusalem

930 BC: Israel is divided into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.

800s BC: The rise of the prophets, God's messengers.

722 BC: Kingdom of Israel is conquered by Assyrians.

605 BC: Kingdom Judah is conquered by the Babylonians.

586 BC: Solomon's Temple is destroyed by the Babylonians.

539 BC: Persians conquer the Babylonians and take control of Israel.

538 BC: The Jews return to Israel from exile.

520 BC: The Temple is rebuilt.

450 BC: Reforms made by Ezra and Nehemiah.

433 BC: Malachi is the end of the prophetic age.

432 BC: The last group of Jews return from exile.

333 BC: The Greeks conquer the Persian empire.

323 BC: The Egyptian and Syrian empire take over Israel.

167 BC: Hasmonean's recapture Israel, and the Jews are ruled independently.

70 BC: Romans conquer Israel.

20 BC: King Herod builds the "third" temple

6 BC: Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem

70 AD: Romans destroy the temple

After that, the people were captives to the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Crusaders. Through all of these events, the Jewish people continued to live in Israel. There were more or less of them, depending on the centuries, but there was never a time when the Jews didn't live in the land. They stayed, they built their communities, they raised their families, practiced their faith and they suffered at the hands of many outside rulers, but they always kept their faith. It is what sustains them, even now.

In 1948, the UN established the State of Israel, the nation of Jews. Don't buy the Palestinian lies that they are entitled to the land. It simply is not true. Yahweh will also provide a way for his chosen people to live in Israel, as He has for thousands of years. Pray for the people of Israel.


2 - Israel (Lion) - Palestine (Snake)

3 - Peace Is The Only Battle Worth Fighting For

4 - Rome Shows Support For Israel - Oct2023

This is the Arch of Titus in Rome, erected after AD 70 to celebrate the victory of Rome over the Jews in Judea, when the Temple was destroyed during what is called the Great Revolt (for Titus' triumph). The Temple Menorah is among the plundered objects depicted on it. But ironically, last night (it is morning there now), after 1950 years, it was lit up to express solidarity and support of Israel.

Am Ysrael Chai! The people of Israel live! They have survived and they are back in their ancient homeland, the one promised by God, to their forefathers. They speak Hebrew again!

On the other hand, no one except a few scholars, theologians and clerics still speak Latin, the language of Ancient Rome. The people of Israel are now faced with yet another existential threat, but they will prevail.

The prophetic Scriptures reveal that the Messiah will return to them, when faced with an even greater existential threat, at some point yet future, at the end of this age, when they call on His name and welcome Him. Then He will dwell among them and rule the earth from David's throne, on Zion's hill, even as it is written.

Meanwhile, for those of us in the nations, there is much to pray in this present hour and crisis.

Pray for the SHALOM of Jerusalem!

Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."

5 - Christ On The Cross


8 Photos

1 - Roman Empire Provinces - 210AD

2 - Crusader States - 1st And 2nd Crusades - 1135AD

3 - Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights

4 - Israel, Palestine - 1949

5 - Palestine - Land In Jewish Possession - 1944

6 - Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Trans-Jordan - 1947

7 - Palestine - UN Partition Plan - 1947

8 - Lebanon, Palestine, West Bank, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt

Israel History

Israel History

The history of Israel covers an area of the Southern Levant also known as Canaan, Palestine or the Holy Land, which is the geographical location of the modern states of Israel and Palestine. From a prehistory as part of the critical Levantine corridor, which witnessed waves of early humans out of Africa, to the emergence of Natufian culture c. 10th millennium BCE, the region entered the Bronze Age c. 2,000 BCE with the development of Canaanite civilization, before being vassalized by Egypt in the Late Bronze Age. In the Iron Age, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were established, entities that were central to the origins of the Jewish and Samaritan peoples as well as the Abrahamic faith tradition. This has given rise to Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, Islam, Druzism, Baha'ism, and a variety of other religious movements. Throughout the course of human history, the Land of Israel has come under the sway or control of various polities, and as a result, it has historically hosted a wide variety of ethnic groups.

In the following centuries, the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Empires conquered the region. The Ptolemies and the Seleucids vied for control over the region during the Hellenistic period. However, with the establishment of the Hasmonean dynasty, the local Jewish population maintained independence for a century before being incorporated into the Roman Republic.

As a result of the Jewish-Roman Wars in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, many Jews were killed, displaced or sold into slavery. Following the advent of Christianity, which was adopted by the Greco-Roman world under the influence of the Roman Empire, the region's demographics shifted towards newfound Christians, who replaced Jews as the majority of the population by the 4th century. However, shortly after Islam was consolidated across the Arabian Peninsula under Muhammad, Byzantine Christian rule over the Land of Israel was superseded by the Arab conquest of the Levant in the 7th century. From the 11th century to the 13th century, the Land of Israel became the centre for intermittent religious wars between Christian and Muslim armies as part of the Crusades. In the 13th century, the Land of Israel became subject to the Mongol invasions and conquests, though these were locally routed by the Mamluk Sultanate, under whose rule it remained until the 16th century. The Mamluks were eventually defeated by the Ottoman Empire, and the region became an Ottoman province until the 20th century.

The late 19th century saw the widespread consolidation of a Jewish nationalist movement known as Zionism, as part of which aliyah (Jewish return to the Land of Israel from the diaspora) increased. During World War I, the Sinai and Palestine campaign of the Allies led to the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. Britain was granted control of the region by League of Nations mandate, in what became known as Mandatory Palestine. The British government publicly committed itself to the creation of a Jewish homeland. Arab nationalism opposed this design, asserting Arab rights over the former Ottoman territories and seeking to prevent Jewish migration. As a result, Arab-Jewish tensions grew in the succeeding decades of British administration.

In 1948, the Israeli Declaration of Independence sparked the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which resulted in the 1948 Palestinian expulsion and flight and subsequently led to waves of Jewish emigration from other parts of the Middle East. Today, approximately 43 percent of the global Jewish population resides in Israel. In 1979, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty was signed, based on the Camp David Accords. In 1993, Israel signed the Oslo I Accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was followed by the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority. In 1994, the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed. Despite efforts to finalize the peace agreement, the conflict continues to play a major role in Israeli and international political, social, and economic life.

Israel - History Since 1948

Israel - History Since 1948
Wikipedia - History of Israel (1948-present)

In 1948, following the 1947-1948 civil war in Mandatory Palestine, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel sparked the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which resulted in the 1948 Palestinian expulsion and flight from the land that the State of Israel came to control and subsequently led to waves of Jewish immigration from other parts of the Middle East.

The latter half of the 20th century saw a series of further conflicts between Israel and its neighbouring Arab nations. In 1967, the Six-Day War erupted; in its aftermath, Israel captured and occupied the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. In 1973, the Yom Kippur War began with an attack by Egypt on the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula.

In 1979 the Egypt-Israel peace treaty was signed, based on the Camp David Accords. In 1993, Israel signed the Oslo I Accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was followed by the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority. In 1994, the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed. Despite efforts to finalize the peace agreement, the conflict continues to play a major role in Israeli and international political, social, and economic life.

Declaration of Independence

With the British Mandate of Palestine scheduled to come to an end on 15 May 1948, the governing body of the Jewish community, the Jewish National Council (JNC), on 2 March 1948 began work on the organization of a Jewish provisional government. On 12 April 1948 it formed the Minhelet HaAm (People's Administration), all of its members being drawn from Moetzet HaAm (People's Council), the temporary legislative body set up at the same time.

On 14 May 1948 - the day the last British forces left Haifa - the People's Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum and proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to serve as the homeland for the Jewish people, to be known as the State of Israel. The meeting was lead by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and soon to be first Prime Minister of Israel. The event is celebrated annually in Israel as Independence Day, a national holiday on 5 Iyar of every year according to the Hebrew calendar. After the Declaration, Minhelet HaAm became the Provisional government of Israel, whilst Moetzet HaAm became the Provisional State Council.

Paragraph 13 of the Declaration provides that the State of Israel would be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex. However, the Knesset maintains that the declaration is neither a law nor an ordinary legal document. The Supreme Court has ruled that the guarantees were merely guiding principles, and that the declaration is not a constitutional law making a practical ruling on the upholding or nullification of various ordinances and statutes.

The Arab-Israeli War

Immediately following the declaration of the new state, both superpower leaders, US President Harry S. Truman and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, recognized the new state. The Arab League members Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq refused to accept the UN partition plan and proclaimed the right of self-determination for the Arabs across the whole of Palestine. The Arab states marched their forces into what had, until the previous day, been the British Mandate for Palestine, starting the first Arab-Israeli War. The Arab states had heavy military equipment at their disposal and were initially on the offensive (the Jewish forces were not a state before 15 May and could not buy heavy arms). On 29 May 1948, the British initiated United Nations Security Council Resolution 50 declaring an arms embargo on the region. Czechoslovakia violated the resolution, supplying the Jewish state with critical military hardware to match the (mainly British) heavy equipment and planes already owned by the invading Arab states. On 11 June a month-long UN truce came into effect.

Following independence the Haganah became the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Palmach, Etzel and Lehi were required to cease independent operations and join the IDF. During the ceasefire, Etzel attempted to bring in a private arms shipment aboard a ship called "Altalena". When they refused to hand the arms to the government, Ben-Gurion ordered that the ship be sunk. Several Etzel members were killed in the fighting.

Large numbers of Jewish immigrants - many of them World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors - now began arriving in the new state of Israel, and many joined the IDF.

After an initial loss of territory by the Jewish state and its occupation by the Arab armies, from July the tide gradually turned in the Israelis' favour and they pushed the Arab armies out and conquered some of the territory that had been included in the proposed Arab state. At the end of November, tenuous local ceasefires were arranged between the Israelis, Syrians, and Lebanese. On 1 December King Abdullah announced the union of Transjordan with Arab Palestine west of the Jordan; only Britain recognized the annexation.

Armistice agreements

1949 Green Line

Israel signed armistices with Egypt (24 February), Lebanon (23 March), Jordan (3 April) and Syria (20 July). No actual peace agreements were signed. With permanent ceasefire coming into effect, Israel's new borders, later known as the Green Line, were established. These borders were not recognized by the Arab states as international boundaries. Israel was in control of the Galilee, Jezreel Valley, West Jerusalem, the coastal plain and the Negev. The Syrians remained in control of a strip of territory along the Sea of Galilee originally allocated to the Jewish state, the Lebanese occupied a tiny area at Rosh Hanikra, and the Egyptians retained the Gaza strip and still had some forces surrounded inside Israeli territory. Jordanian forces remained in the West Bank, where the British had stationed them before the war. Jordan annexed the areas it occupied while Egypt kept Gaza as an occupied zone.

Following the ceasefire declaration, Britain released over 2,000 Jewish detainees it was still holding in Cyprus and recognized the state of Israel. On 11 May 1949, Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations. Out of an Israeli population of 650,000, some 6,000 men and women were killed in the fighting, including 4,000 soldiers in the IDF (approximately 1% of the population).

Palestinian expulsion and flight

According to United Nations figures, 726,000 Palestinians had fled or were expelled by the Israelis between 1947 and 1949. The precise number of refugees, many of whom settled in refugee camps in neighboring states, is a matter of dispute but around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what became Israel (half of the Arab total of Mandatory Palestine) left or were expelled from their homes. Later, a series of laws passed by the first Israeli government prevented Arabs who had left from returning to their homes or claiming their property. They and many of their descendants remain refugees. Except in Jordan, the Palestinian refugees were settled in large refugee camps in poor, overcrowded conditions and denied citizenship by their host countries. In December 1949, the UN (in response to a British proposal) established an agency (UNRWA) to provide aid to the Palestinian refugees. It became the largest single UN agency and is the only UN agency that serves a single people.

Establishment years

A 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, met first in Tel Aviv, then moved to Jerusalem after the 1949 ceasefire. In January 1949, Israel held its first elections. The Socialist-Zionist parties Mapai and Mapam won the most seats (46 and 19 respectively). Mapai's leader David Ben-Gurion was appointed prime minister, and formed a coalition that did not include Mapam, who were Stalinist and loyal to the USSR (another Stalinist party, non-Zionist Maki won 4 seats). This was a significant decision because it signaled that Israel would not be in the Soviet bloc. The Knesset elected Chaim Weizmann as the first (largely ceremonial) president of Israel. Hebrew and Arabic were made the official languages of the new state. All governments have been coalitions-no party has ever won a majority in the Knesset. From 1948 until 1977 all governments were led by Mapai and the Alignment, predecessors of the Labour Party. In those years Labour Zionists, initially led by David Ben- Gurion, dominated Israeli politics and the economy was run on primarily socialist lines.

Immigration and the economy

From 1948 to 1951 immigration doubled the Jewish population of Israel and left an indelible imprint on Israeli society. Overall, 700,000 Jews settled in Israel during this period. Some 300,000 arrived from Asian and North African nations as part of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries. Among them, the largest group (over 100,000) was from Iraq. The rest of the immigrants were from Europe, including more than 270,000 from Eastern Europe, mainly Romania and Poland (over 100,000 each). Nearly all the Jewish immigrants could be described as refugees, but only 136,000 from Central Europe had international certification because they belonged to the 250,000 Jews registered by the allies as displaced after World War II and living in displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy.

In 1950 the Knesset passed the Law of Return, which granted to all Jews and those of Jewish ancestry (Jewish grandparent), and their spouses, the right to settle in Israel and gain citizenship. That year 50,000 Yemenite Jews (99%) were secretly flown to Israel. In 1951 Iraqi Jews were granted temporary permission to leave the country and 120,000 (over 90%) opted to move to Israel. Jews also fled from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

Menachem Begin addressing a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv against negotiations with Germany in 1952. Between 1948 and 1958 the population of Israel rose from 800,000 to two million. During this period, food, clothes and furniture had to be rationed in what became known as the Austerity Period (Tkufat haTsena). Immigrants were mostly refugees without money or possessions, and many were housed in temporary camps known as ma'abarot. By 1952 more than 200,000 immigrants were living in tents or prefabricated shacks built by the government. Israel received financial aid from private donations from outside the country (mainly the United States). The pressure on the new state's finances led Ben-Gurion to negotiate a controversial reparations agreement with West Germany. During the Knesset debate some 5,000 demonstrators gathered and riot police had to cordon the building.

In 1952, Israel and West Germany signed an agreement and over the next 14 years, West Germany paid Israel 3 billion marks (around 714 million USD according to 1953-1955 conversion rates. The reparations became a decisive part of Israel's income, comprising as high as 87.5% of Israel's income in 1956. In 1950, the Israeli government launched Israel Bonds for American and Canadian Jews to buy. In 1951, the final results of the bonds program exceeded $52 million. In 1957, bond sales amounted to 35% of Israel's special development budget. The proceeds from these sources were invested in industrial and agricultural development projects, which allowed Israel to become economically self-sufficient. Among the projects made possible by the aid was the Hadera power plant, the Dead Sea Works, the National Water Carrier, port development in Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat, desalination plants, and national infrastructure projects.

Education and culture

In 1949 education was made free and compulsory for all citizens until the age of 14. The state now funded the party-affiliated Zionist education system and a new body created by the Haredi Agudat Israel party. A separate body was created to provide education for the remaining Palestinian-Arab population. The major political parties now competed for immigrants to join their education systems. The government banned the existing educational bodies from the transit camps and tried to mandate a unitary secular socialist education under the control of "camp managers" who also had to provide work, food and housing for the immigrants. There were attempts to force orthodox Yemenite children to adopt a secular life style by teachers, including many instances of Yemenite children having their side-curls cut by teachers. The Yemenite Children Affair led to the first Israeli public inquiry (the Fromkin Inquiry), the collapse of the coalition, and an election in 1951, with little change in the results. In 1953 the party-affiliated education system was scrapped and replaced by a secular state education system and a state-run Modern Orthodox system. Agudat Israel were allowed to maintain their existing school system.

In the early 1950s, under the administration of Yaakov Dori, who had served as the Israel Defense Forces' first chief of staff, the Technion launched a campaign to recruit Jewish and pro-Israel scientists from abroad to establish research laboratories and teaching departments in the natural and exact sciences.

The first works of Hebrew literature in Israel were written by immigrant authors rooted in the world and traditions of European Jewry. Yosef Haim Brenner (1881-1921) and Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888-1970), are considered by many to be the fathers of modern Hebrew literature. Native-born writers who published their work in the 1940s and 1950s, often called the "War of Independence generation," brought a sabra mentality and culture to their writing. S. Yizhar, Moshe Shamir, Hanoch Bartov and Benjamin Tammuz vacillated between individualism and commitment to society and state.

International relations

In its early years Israel sought to maintain a non-aligned position between the super-powers. But in 1952 an antisemitic public trial was staged in Moscow in which a group of Jewish doctors were accused of trying to poison Stalin (the Doctors' plot), followed by a similar trial in Czechoslovakia (Slansky trial). This, and the failure of Israel to be included in the Bandung Conference (of non-aligned states), effectively ended Israel's pursuit of non'alignment. On 19 May 1950, in contravention of international law, Egypt announced that the Suez Canal would be closed to Israeli ships and commerce. In 1952 a military coup in Egypt brought Abdel Nasser to power. The United States pursued close relations with the new Arab states, particularly the Nasser-led Egyptian Free Officers Movement and Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. Israel's solution to diplomatic isolation was to establish good relations with newly independent states in Africa and with France, which was engaged in the Algerian War.

Mid-1950s to early 1960s


In the January 1955 elections Mapai won 40 seats and the Labour Party 10, Moshe Sharett became prime minister of Israel at the head of a left-wing coalition. Between 1953 and 1956, there were intermittent clashes along all of Israel's borders as Arab terrorism and breaches of the ceasefire resulting in Israeli counter-raids. Palestinian fedayeen attacks, often organized and sponsored by the Egyptians, were made from (Egyptian) occupied Gaza. Fedayeen attacks led to a growing cycle of violence as Israel launched reprisal attacks against Gaza. In 1954 the Uzi submachine gun first entered use by the Israel Defense Forces. In 1955 the Egyptian government began recruiting former Nazi rocket scientists for a missile program.

Sharett's government was brought down by the Lavon Affair, a crude plan to disrupt US-Egyptian relations, involving Israeli agents planting bombs at American sites in Egypt. The plan failed when 11 agents were arrested. Defense Minister Lavon was blamed despite his denial of responsibility. The Lavon affair led to Sharett's resignation and Ben-Gurion returned to the post of prime minister.

Suez Crisis

In 1955 Egypt concluded a massive arms deal with Czechoslovakia, upsetting the balance of power in the Middle East. In 1956, the increasingly pro-Soviet President Nasser of Egypt, announced the nationalization of the (French and British owned) Suez Canal, which was Egypt's main source of foreign currency. Egypt also blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba preventing Israeli access to the Red Sea. Israel made a secret agreement with the French at Sevres to co-ordinate military operations against Egypt. Britain and France had already begun secret preparations for military action. It has been alleged that the French also agreed to build a nuclear plant for the Israelis. Britain and France arranged for Israel to give them a pretext for seizing the Suez Canal. Israel was to attack Egypt, and Britain and France would then call on both sides to withdraw. When, as expected, the Egyptians refused, Anglo-French forces would invade to take control of the Canal.

Israeli tank column advancing toward the Mitla Pass during Operation Kadesh

Israeli forces, commanded by General Moshe Dayan, attacked Egypt on 29 October 1956. On 30 October Britain and France made their pre-arranged call for both sides to stop fighting and withdraw from the Canal area, and for them to be allowed to take up positions at key points on the Canal. Egypt refused and the allies commenced air strikes on 31 October aimed at neutralizing the Egyptian air force. By 5 November the Israelis had overrun the Sinai. The Anglo-French invasion began that day. There was uproar in the UN, with the US and USSR for once in agreement in denouncing the actions of Israel, Britain, and France. A demand for a ceasefire was reluctantly accepted on 7 November.

At Egypt's request the UN sent an Emergency Force (UNEF), consisting of 6000 peacekeeping troops from 10 nations to supervise the ceasefire - the first ever UN peacekeeping operation. From 15 November the UN troops marked out a zone across the Sinai to separate the Israeli and Egyptian forces. Upon receiving US guarantees of Israeli access to the Suez Canal, freedom of access out of the Gulf of Aqaba and Egyptian action to stop Palestinian raids from Gaza, the Israelis withdrew to the Negev. In practice the Suez Canal remained closed to Israeli shipping. The conflict marked the end of West-European dominance in the Middle East.

Nasser emerged as the victor in the conflict, having won the political battle, but the Israeli military learnt that it did not need British or French support to conquer Sinai and that it could conquer the Sinai peninsula in a few days. The Israeli political leadership learnt that Israel had a limited time frame within which to operate militarily after which international political pressure would restrict Israel's freedom of action.

Late 1950s

In 1956, two modern-orthodox (and religious-Zionist) parties, Mizrachi and Hapoel HaMizrachi, joined to form the National Religious Party. The party was a component of every Israeli coalition until 1992, usually running the Ministry of Education. Mapai was once again victorious in the 1959 elections, increasing its number of seats to 47, Labour had 7. Ben-Gurion remained prime minister.

In 1959 there were renewed skirmishes along Israel's borders that continued throughout the early 1960s. The Arab League continued to widener its economic boycott and there was a dispute over water rights in the River Jordan basin. With Soviet backing, the Arab states, particularly Egypt, were continuing to build up their forces. Israel's main military hardware supplier was France.

Early 1960s

In 1961 a Herut no-confidence motion over the resurfaced Lavon Affair led to Ben-Gurion's resignation. Ben-Gurion declared that he would only accept office if Lavon was fired from the position of the head of Histadrut, Israel's labour union organization. His demands were accepted and Mapai won the 1961 election (42 seats keeping Ben-Gurion as PM) with a slight reduction in its share of the seats. Menachem Begin's Herut party and the Liberals came next with 17 seats each. In 1962 the Mossad began assassinating German rocket scientists working in Egypt after one of them reported the missile program was designed to carry chemical warheads. This action was condemned by Ben-Gurion and led to the Mossad director, Isser Harel, resignation. In 1963 Ben-Gurion quit again over the Lavon affair. His attempts to make his party Mapai support him over the issue failed. Levi Eshkol became leader of Mapai and the new prime minister.

Ben-Gurion quit Mapai to form the new party Rafi, he was joined by Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan. Begin's Herut party joined with the Liberals to form Gahal. Mapai and Labour united for the 1965 elections, winning 45 seats and maintaining Levi Eshkol as Prime Minister. Ben-Gurion's Rafi party received 10 seats, Gahal gained 26 seats becoming the second largest party.

Trial of Adolf Eichmann

Rudolph Kastner, a minor political functionary, was accused of collaborating with the Nazis and sued his accuser. Kastner lost the trial and was assassinated two years later. In 1958 the Supreme Court exonerated him. In May 1960 Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief administrators of the Nazi Holocaust, was located in Argentina by the Mossad, later kidnapping him and bringing him to Israel. In 1961 he was put on trial, and after several months found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hanged in 1962 and is the only person ever sentenced to death by an Israeli court. Testimonies by Holocaust survivors at the trial and the extensive publicity that surrounded it has led the trial to be considered a turning point in public awareness of the Holocaust.

Renewed regional tensions

In 1963 Yigael Yadin began excavating Masada. In 1964 Egypt, Jordan, and Syria developed a unified military command. Israel completed work on a national water carrier, a huge engineering project designed to transfer Israel's allocation of the Jordan river's waters towards the south of the country in realization of Ben-Gurion's dream of mass Jewish settlement of the Negev desert. The Arabs responded by trying to divert the headwaters of the Jordan, leading to growing conflict between Israel and Syria.

Until 1966 Israel's principal arms supplier was France; but in 1966, following the withdrawal from Algeria, Charles de Gaulle announced France would cease supplying Israel with arms (and refused to refund money paid for 50 warplanes). On 5 February 1966, the US announced that it was taking over the former French and West German obligations, to maintain military "stabilization" in the Middle East. Included in the military hardware would be over 200 M48 tanks. In May of that year the US also agreed to provide A-4 Skyhawk tactical aircraft to Israel. In 1966 security restrictions placed on Arab-Israelis were eased and efforts made to integrate them into Israeli life.

In 1966, Black and white TV broadcasts began. On 15 May 1967 the first public performance of Naomi Shemer's classic song "Jerusalem of Gold" took place and over the next few weeks it dominated the Israeli airwaves. Two days later Syria, Egypt, and Jordan amassed troops along the Israeli borders, and Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. Nasser demanded that the UNEF leave Sinai, threatening escalation to a full war. Egyptian radio broadcasts talked of a coming genocide. On 26 May Nasser declared, "The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel". Israel considered the Straits of Tiran closure a Casus belli. Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq signed defence pacts and Iraqi troops began deploying to Jordan, Syria and Egypt. Algeria also announced that it would send troops to Egypt. Between 1963 and 1967 Egyptian troops had tested chemical weapons on Yemenite civilians as part of an Egyptian intervention in support of rebels.

Israel responded by calling up its civilian reserves, bringing much of the Israeli economy to a halt. The Israelis set up a national unity coalition, including for the first time Menachem Begin's party, Herut, in a coalition. During a national radio broadcast, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol stammered, causing widespread fear in Israel. To calm public concern Moshe Dayan (Chief of Staff during the Sinai war) was appointed Defence Minister.

Six-Day War

Gen. Uzi Narkiss, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Chief of staff Yitzhak Rabin and Gen. Rehavam Ze'evi in the Old City of Jerusalem, 7 June 1967

On the morning of 5 June 1967 the Israeli airforce launched pre-emptive attacks destroying first the Egyptian air force, and then later the same day destroying the air forces of Jordan and Syria. Israel then defeated (almost successively) Egypt, Jordan and Syria. By 11 June the Arab forces were routed and all parties had accepted the cease-fire called for by UN Security Council Resolutions 235 and 236. Israel gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the formerly Jordanian-controlled West Bank of the Jordan River. East Jerusalem was arguably annexed by Israel. Residents were given permanent residency status and the option of applying for Israeli citizenship. The annexation was not recognized internationally (the Jordanian annexation of 1950 was also unrecognized except for the UK, Iraq, and Pakistan). Other areas occupied remained under military rule (Israeli civil law did not apply to them) pending a final settlement. The Golan was also annexed in 1981.

The result of the 29 August 1967 Arab League summit was the Khartoum Resolution, which according to Abd al Azim Ramadan, left only one option - a war with Israel. On 22 November 1967, the Security Council adopted Resolution 242, the "land for peace" formula, which called for the establishment of a just and lasting peace based on Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 in return for the end of all states of belligerency, respect for the sovereignty of all states in the area, and the right to live in peace within secure, recognized boundaries. The resolution was accepted by both sides, though with different interpretations, and has been the basis of all subsequent peace negotiations.

Late 1960s to early 1970s

Late 1960s

By the late sixties, about 500,000 Jews had left Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Over the course of twenty years, some 850,000 Jews from Arab countries (99%) relocated to Israel (680,000), France and the Americas. The land and property left behind by the Jews (much of it in Arab city centres) is still a matter of some dispute. Today there are about 9,000 Jews living in Arab states, of whom 75% live in Morocco and 15% in Tunisia. Vast assets, approximately $150 billion worth of goods and property (before inflation) were left behind in these countries.

After 1967 the Soviet block (except Romania) broke off relations with Israel. Antisemitic purges encouraged the remnants of Polish Jewry to move to Israel. Increased Soviet antisemitism and enthusiasm generated by the 1967 victory led to a wave of Soviet Jews applying to emigrate to Israel. Most Jews were refused exit visas and persecuted by the authorities. Some were arrested, becoming known as Prisoners of Zion.

As a result Israel's victory in the Six-Day War, Jews could visit the Old City of Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall (the holiest site in Judaism) for the first time since the end of the British Mandate, to which they had been denied access by the Jordanians in contravention of the 1949 Armistice agreement. The four-meter-wide public alley beside the Wall was expanded into a massive plaza and worshippers were allowed to sit, or use other furniture, for the first time in centuries. In Hebron, Jews gained access to the Cave of the Patriarchs (the second most holy site in Judaism) for the first time since the 14th century (previously Jews were only allowed to pray at the entrance). A third Jewish holy site, Rachel's Tomb, in Bethlehem, also became accessible. The Sinai oil fields made Israel self-sufficient in energy.

In 1968 Moshe Levinger led a group of Religious Zionists who created the first Jewish settlement, a town near Hebron called Kiryat Arba. There were no other religious settlements until after 1974. Ben-Gurion's Rafi party merged with the Labour-Mapai alliance. Ben-Gurion remained outside as an independent. In 1968, compulsory education was extended until the age of 16 for all citizens (it had been 14) and the government embarked on an extensive program of integration in education. In the major cities children from mainly Sephardi/Mizrahi neighbourhoods were bused to newly established middle schools in better areas. The system remained in place until after 2000.

In March 1968 Israeli forces attacked the Palestinian militia, Fatah, at its base in the Jordanian town of Karameh. The attack was in response to land mines placed on Israeli roads. The Israelis retreated after destroying the camp, however the Israelis sustained unexpectedly high casualties and the attack was not viewed as a success. Despite heavy casualties, the Palestinians claimed victory, while Fatah and the PLO (of which it formed part) became famous across the Arab world.

In early 1969 Levi Eshkol died in office of a heart attack and Golda Meir became Prime Minister with the largest percentage of the vote ever won by an Israeli party, winning 56 of the 120 seats after the 1969 election. Meir was the first female prime minister of Israel and the first woman to have headed a Middle Eastern state in modern times. Gahal retained its 26 seats, and was the second largest party.

War of Attrition

Israeli forces in the Suez canal area during the War of Attrition, 1969

In early 1969 fighting broke out between Egypt and Israel along the Suez Canal. In retaliation for repeated Egyptian shelling of Israeli positions along the Suez Canal, Israeli planes made deep strikes into Egypt in the 1969-1970 "War of Attrition". In December 1969, Israeli naval commandos took five missile boats during the night from Cherbourg Harbour in France. Israel had paid for the boats but the French had refused to supply them. In July 1970 the Israelis shot down five Soviet fighters that were aiding the Egyptians in the course of the War of Attrition. Following this, the US worked to calm the situation and in August 1970 a cease fire was agreed.

The early 1970s

During 1971 violent demonstrations by the Israeli Black Panthers, made the Israeli public aware of resentment among Mizrahi Jews at ongoing discrimination and social gaps. In 1972 the US Jewish Mafia leader, Meyer Lansky, who had taken refuge in Israel, was deported to the United States.

Black September

In September 1970 King Hussein of Jordan drove the Palestine Liberation Organization out of his country. On 18 September 1970, Syrian tanks invaded Jordan, intending to aid the PLO. At the request of the US, Israel moved troops to the border and threatened Syria, causing the Syrians to withdraw. The centre of PLO activity then shifted to Lebanon, where the 1969 Cairo agreement gave the Palestinians autonomy within the south of the country. The area controlled by the PLO became known by the international press and locals as "Fatahland" and contributed to the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War. The event also led to Hafez al-Assad taking power in Syria. Egyptian President Nasser died of a heart attack immediately after and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat.

Munich massacre

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, two members of the Israeli team were killed and nine members taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists. A botched German rescue attempt led to the death of the rest along with five of the eight hijackers. The three surviving Palestinians were released by the West German authorities eight weeks later without charge, in exchange for the hostages of hijacked Lufthansa Flight 615. The Israeli government responded with an air raid, a raid on the PLO headquarters in Lebanon (led by future Prime Minister, Ehud Barak) and an assassination campaign against the organizers of the massacre.

Yom Kippur War

In 1972 the new Egyptian President Anwar Sadat expelled the Soviet advisers from Egypt. This and frequent invasion exercises by Egypt and Syria led to Israeli complacency about the threat from these countries. In addition the desire not to be held responsible for initiating conflict and an election campaign highlighting security, led to an Israeli failure to mobilize, despite receiving warnings of an impending attack.

143rd Division crossing the Suez Canal in the direction of Cairo during the Yom Kippur War, 15 October 1973

The Yom Kippur War (also known as the October War) began on 6 October 1973 (Yom Kippur being a day when adult Jews are required to fast). The Syrian and Egyptian armies launched a well-planned surprise attack against the unprepared Israeli Defense Forces. For the first few days there was a great deal of uncertainty about Israel's capacity to repel the invaders. Both the Soviets and the Americans (at the orders of Henry Kissinger) rushed arms to their allies. The Syrians were repulsed by the tiny remnant of the Israeli tank force on the Golan and, although the Egyptians captured a strip of territory in Sinai, Israeli forces crossed the Suez Canal, trapping the Egyptian Third Army in Sinai and were 100 kilometres from Cairo. The war cost Israel over 2,000 dead, resulted in a heavy arms bill (for both sides) and made Israelis more aware of their vulnerability. It also led to heightened superpower tension. Following the war, both Israelis and Egyptians showed greater willingness to negotiate. On 18 January 1974, extensive diplomacy by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger led to a Disengagement of Forces agreement with the Egyptian government and on 31 May with the Syrian government.

The war was the catalyst for the 1973 oil crisis, a Saudi-led oil embargo in conjunction with OPEC against countries trading with Israel. Severe shortages led to massive increases in the price of oil, and as a result, many countries broke off relations with Israel or downgraded relations, and Israel was banned from participation in the Asian Games and other Asian sporting events.

Following the war, prior to the December 1973 elections Gahal and a number of rightwing parties united to form the Likud (led by Begin). In the December 1973 elections, Labour won 51 seats, leaving Golda Meir as prime minister. The Likud won 39 seats.

In November 1974 the PLO was granted observer status at the UN and Yasser Arafat addressed the General Assembly. Later that year the Agranat Commission, appointed to assess responsibility for Israel's lack of preparedness for the war, exonerated the government of responsibility, and held the chief of staff and head of military intelligence responsible. Despite the report, public anger at the Government led to Golda Meir's resignation.

Mid to late 1970s

The rise of religious Zionism

In 1974 Religious Zionist followers of the teachings of Abraham Isaac Kook formed the Gush Emunim movement, and began an organized drive to settle the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In November 1975, the United Nations General Assembly, under the guidance of Austrian Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, adopted Resolution 3379, which asserted Zionism to be a form of racism. The General Assembly rescinded this resolution in December 1991 with Resolution 46/86. In March 1976 there was a massive strike by Israeli-Arabs in protest at a government plan to expropriate land in the Galilee.

Late 1970s

Following Meir's resignation Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister. In July 1976, Rabin ordered Operation Entebbe to rescue kidnapped Jewish passengers from an Air France flight hijacked by PFLP militants and German revolutionaries and flown to Uganda. In January 1977, French authorities arrested Abu Daoud, the planner of the Munich massacre, releasing him a few days later. In March 1977 Anatoly Sharansky, a prominent Refusenik and spokesman for the Moscow Helsinki Group, was sentenced to 13 years' hard labour.

Rabin resigned in April 1977 after it emerged that his wife maintained a dollar account in the US (illegal at the time), which had been opened while Rabin was Israeli ambassador. The incident became known as the Dollar Account affair. Shimon Peres informally replaced him as prime minister, leading the Alignment in the subsequent elections.

The rise of Likud

In a surprise result, the Likud led by Menachem Begin won 43 seats in the 1977 elections (Labour won 32 seats). This was the first time in Israeli history that the government was not led by the left. A key reason for the victory was anger among Mizrahi Jews at discrimination, which was to play an important role in Israeli politics for many years. Talented small town Mizrahi social activists, unable to advance in the Labour party, were readily embraced by Begin. Moroccan-born David Levy and Iranian-born Moshe Katzav were part of a group who won Mizrahi support for Begin. Many Labour voters voted for the Democratic Movement for Change (15 seats) in protest at high-profile corruption cases. The party joined in coalition with Begin and disappeared at the next election.

In addition to starting a process of healing the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi divide, Begin's government included Ultra-Orthodox Jews and was instrumental in healing the Zionist-Ultra-Orthodox rift.

Begin's liberalization of the economy led to hyper-inflation (around 150%) but enabled Israel to begin receiving US financial aid. Begin actively supported Gush Emunim's efforts to settle the West Bank and Jewish settlements in the occupied territories received government support, thus laying the grounds for intense conflict with the Palestinian population of the occupied territories.

In November 1977 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat broke 30 years of hostility with Israel by visiting Jerusalem at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Sadat's two-day visit included a speech before the Knesset and was a turning point in the history of the conflict. The Egyptian leader created a new psychological climate in the Middle East in which peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours seemed possible. Sadat recognized Israel's right to exist and established the basis for direct negotiations between Egypt and Israel. Following Sadat's visit, 350 Yom Kippur War veterans organized the Peace Now movement to encourage Israeli governments to make peace with the Arabs.

In March 1978 eleven armed Lebanese Palestinians reached Israel in boats and hijacked a bus carrying families on a day outing, killing 38 people, including 13 children. The attackers opposed the Egyptian-Israeli peace process. Three days later Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon beginning Operation Litani. After passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 425, calling for Israeli withdrawal and the creation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peace-keeping force, Israel withdrew its troops.

Camp David Accords

Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat celebrating the signing of the Camp David Accords

In September 1978 US president Jimmy Carter invited president Sadat and prime minister Begin to meet with him at Camp David; on 11 September they agreed on a framework for peace between Israel and Egypt, and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It set out broad principles to guide negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. It also established guidelines for a West Bank-Gaza transitional regime of full autonomy for the Palestinians residing in these territories, and for a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The treaty was signed 26 March 1979 by Begin and Sadat, with Carter signing as witness. Under the treaty, Israel returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt in April 1982. The Arab League reacted to the peace treaty by suspending Egypt from the organization and moving its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by Islamic fundamentalist members of the Egyptian army who opposed peace with Israel. Following the agreement, Israel and Egypt became the two largest recipients of US military and financial aid (Iraq and Afghanistan have now overtaken them).

In December 1978 the Israeli Merkava battle tank entered use with the IDF. In 1979 more than 40,000 Iranian Jews migrated to Israel to escape the Islamic Revolution.

Early to mid-1980s

On 30 June 1981 the Israeli air force destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor that France was building for Iraq. Three weeks later, Begin won again in the 1981 elections (48 seats Likud, 47 Labour), and Ariel Sharon was made defence minister. The new government annexed the Golan Heights and banned the national airline from flying on Shabbat. By the 1980s a diverse set of high-tech industries had developed in Israel.

1982 Lebanon War

Israeli Patton tanks during Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982

In the decades following the 1948 war, Israel's border with Lebanon was quiet compared with its borders with other neighbours. But the 1969 Cairo agreement gave the PLO a free hand to attack Israel from South Lebanon. The area was governed by the PLO independently of the Lebanese Government and became known as "Fatahland" (Fatah was the largest faction in the PLO). Palestinian irregulars constantly shelled the Israeli north, especially the town of Kiryat Shmona, which was a Likud stronghold inhabited primarily by Jews who had fled the Arab world. Lack of control over Palestinian areas was an important factor in causing civil war in Lebanon.

In June 1982 the attempted assassination of Shlomo Argov, the ambassador to Britain, was used as a pretext for an Israeli invasion aiming to drive the PLO out of the southern half of Lebanon. Sharon agreed with Chief of Staff Raphael Eitan to expand the invasion deep into Lebanon even though the cabinet had only authorized a 40-kilometre deep invasion. The invasion became known as the 1982 Lebanon War and the Israeli army occupied Beirut, the only time an Arab capital has been occupied by Israel. Some of the Shia and Christian population of South Lebanon welcomed the Israelis, as PLO forces had maltreated them, but Lebanese resentment of Israeli occupation grew over time and the Shia became gradually radicalized under Iranian guidance. Constant casualties among Israeli soldiers and Lebanese civilians led to growing opposition to the war in Israel.

In August 1982 the PLO withdrew its forces from Lebanon (moving to Tunisia). Bashir Gemayel was elected President of Lebanon, and reportedly agreed to recognize Israel and sign a peace treaty. However, Gemayal was assassinated before an agreement could be signed, and one day later Phalangist Christian forces led by Elie Hobeika entered two Palestinian refugee camps and massacred the occupants. The massacres led to the biggest demonstration ever in Israel against the war, with as many as 400,000 people (almost 10% of the population) gathering in Tel Aviv. In 1983, an Israeli public inquiry found that Israel's defence minister, Sharon, was indirectly but personally responsible for the massacres. It also recommended that he never again be allowed to hold the post (it did not forbid him from being Prime Minister). In 1983 the May 17 Agreement was signed between Israel and Lebanon, paving the way for an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory through a few stages. Israel continued to operate against the PLO until its eventual departure in 1985, and kept a small force stationed in Southern Lebanon in support of the South Lebanon Army until May 2000. 1983 Israel bank stock crisis

The bank stock crisis was a financial crisis that occurred in Israel in 1983, during which the stocks of the four largest banks in Israel collapsed. In previous episodes of share price weakness, the banks bought back their own stocks, creating the appearance of constant demand for the stock, and artificially supporting their values. By October 1983, the banks no longer had the capital to buy back shares and to support the prices causing share prices to collapse. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange closed for eighteen days beginning October 6, 1983

The immediate consequences of the crisis were the loss of a third of the public's investments in the banks, the acquisition of the banks by the government at a total cost of $6.9 billion (for reference, Israel's entire GDP in 1983 was about $27 billion), and the nationalization of the major banks (Leumi, Hapoalim, HaMizrachi, Discount, and Clali).

Executives of each of the banks were convicted of criminal charges. Raphael Recanati of Discount Bank and Mordechai Einhorn of Bank Leumi were both sentenced to 8-month prison terms. Recanati's sentence was suspended on appeal when one of five charges was quashed. As part of the settlement, the controlling interest in Discount Bank, as well as the other banks, was ceded to the government.

The mid-1980s

Anatoly Sharansky meeting then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres after his release from the Soviet Union In September 1983 Begin resigned and was succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister. The 1984 election was inconclusive, and led to a power sharing agreement between Shimon Peres of the Alignment (44 seats) and Shamir of Likud (41 seats). Peres was prime minister from 1984 to 1986 and Shamir from 1986 to 1988. In 1984, continual discrimination against Sephardi Ultra-Orthodox Jews by the Ashkenazi Ultra-Orthodox establishment led political activist Aryeh Deri to leave the Agudat Israel party and join former chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in forming Shas, a new party aimed at the non-Ashkenazi Ultra-Orthodox vote. The party won 4 seats in the first election it contested and over the next twenty years was the third largest party in the Knesset. Shas established a nationwide network of free Sephardi Orthodox schools.

In 1984, during a severe famine in Ethiopia, 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were secretly transported to Israel. By July 1985 Israel's inflation, buttressed by complex index linking of salaries, had reached 480% per annum and was the highest in the world. Peres introduced emergency control of prices and cut government expenditure successfully bringing inflation under control. The currency (known as the old Israeli shekel) was replaced and renamed the Israeli new shekel at a rate of 1,000 old shkalim = 1 new shekel. In October 1985 Israel responded to a Palestinian terrorist attack in Cyprus by bombing the PLO headquarters in Tunis. In 1986 Natan Sharansky, a famous Russian human rights activist and Zionist refusenik (denied an exit visa), was released from the Gulag in return for two Soviet spies.

South Lebanon conflict

Montage of Israeli troops in southern Lebanon

In June 1985 Israel partially withdrew from Lebanon, leaving a residual Israeli force and an Israeli-supported militia in southern Lebanon as a "security zone" and buffer against attacks on its northern territory. The partial withdrawal did not end the conflict, however, but drew the IDF back into a conflict in South Lebanon with the Shia organization Hezbollah, which became a growing threat to Israel. From 1985 to 2000, the protracted armed conflict saw fighting between the Christian-dominated South Lebanon Army (SLA) and Hezbollah-led Muslim guerrillas within the Israeli-occupied "Security Zone".

With no clear end-game in Lebanon, the Israeli military was unfamiliar with the type of warfare that Hezbollah waged, and while it could inflict losses on Hezbollah, there was no long-term strategy. With Hezbollah increasingly targeting the Galilee with rockets, the official purpose of the Security Zone — to protect Israel's northern communities—seemed contradictory. Hezbollah also excelled at psychological warfare, often recording their attacks on Israeli troops. Following the 1997 Israeli helicopter disaster, the Israeli public began to seriously question whether the military occupation of southern Lebanon was worth maintaining. The Four Mothers movement rose to the forefront of the public discourse, and played a leading role in swaying the public in favour of a complete withdrawal, which would be completed in 2000.

First Intifada

Israeli soldiers and protesters in Gaza during the Intifada

Growing Israeli settlement and continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip led to the 1987 First Intifada, motivated by collective Palestinian frustration over Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as it approached a twenty-year mark. The intifada began on 9 December 1987, when an Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) truck collided with a civilian car in the Jabalia refugee camp, killing four Palestinian workers. Palestinians charged that the collision was a deliberate reprisal killing, while Israel denied that the crash, which came at time of heightened tensions, was intentional or coordinated.

The Palestinian response was characterized by protests, civil disobedience, and violence. There was graffiti, barricading, and widespread throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails at the IDF and its infrastructure within the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These contrasted with civil efforts including general strikes, boycotts of Israeli Civil Administration institutions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, an economic boycott consisting of refusal to work in Israeli settlements on Israeli products, refusal to pay taxes, and refusal to drive Palestinian cars with Israeli licenses. Israel deployed some 80,000 soldiers in response. Israeli countermeasures, which initially included the use of live rounds frequently in cases of riots, were criticized as disproportionate. The IDF's rules of engagement were also criticized as too liberally employing lethal force. Israel argued that violence from Palestinians necessitated a forceful response. In the first 13 months, 332 Palestinians and 12 Israelis were illed. Images of soldiers beating adolescents with clubs then led to the adoption of firing semi-lethal plastic bullets.

In the intifada's first year, Israeli security forces killed 311 Palestinians, of which 53 were under the age of 17. Over six years the IDF killed an estimated 1,162-1,204 Palestinians. Among Israelis, 100 civilians and 60 IDF personnel were killed often by militants outside the control of the Intifada's UNLU, and more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 soldiers were injured. Intra-Palestinian violence was also a prominent feature of the Intifada, with widespread executions of an estimated 822 Palestinians killed as alleged Israeli collaborators (1988-April 1994). At the time Israel reportedly obtained information from some 18,000 Palestinians who had been compromised, although fewer than half had any proven contact with the Israeli authorities. Human rights abuses by Israeli troops led a group of Israelis to form B'Tselem, an organization devoted to improving awareness and compliance with human rights requirements in Israel.

The period of sustained protests and violent riots carried out by Palestinians in the Palestinian territories and Israel would last until the Madrid Conference of 1991, though some date its conclusion to 1993 and the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Late 1980s to early 2000s

Late 1980s

In September 1988 Israel launched an Ofeq reconnaissance satellite into orbit, using a Shavit rocket, thus becoming one of only eight countries possessing a capacity to independently launch satellites into space (two more have since developed this ability). The Alignment and Likud remained neck and neck in the 1988 elections (39:40 seats). Shamir successfully formed a national unity coalition with the Labour Alignment. In March 1990 Alignment leader Shimon Peres engineered a defeat of the government in a non-confidence vote and then tried to form a new government. He failed and Shamir became prime minister at the head of a right-wing coalition.

Gulf War

Aftermath of a Scud missile attack in Ramat Gan

In August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, triggering the Gulf War between Iraq and a large allied force, led by the United States. Iraq attacked Israel with 39 Scud missiles. Israel did not retaliate at request of the US, fearing that if Israel responded against Iraq, other Arab nations might desert the allied coalition. Israel provided gas masks for both the Palestinian population and Israeli citizens, while Netherlands and the United States deployed Patriot defence batteries in Israel as protection against the Scuds. In May 1991, during a 36-hour period, 15,000 Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews) were secretly airlifted to Israel. The coalition's victory in the Gulf War opened new possibilities for regional peace, and in October 1991 the US president, George H. W. Bush, and Soviet Union Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, jointly convened a historic meeting in Madrid of Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian leaders. Shamir opposed the idea but agreed in return for loan guarantees to help with absorption of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. His participation in the conference led to the collapse of his (right-wing) coalition. Soviet authorities finally permitted free emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. Prior to this, Jews trying to leave the USSR faced persecution; those who succeeded arrived as refugees. Over the next few years some one million Soviet citizens migrated to Israel. Although there was concern that some of the new immigrants had only a very tenuous connection to Judaism, and many were accompanied by non-Jewish relatives, this massive wave of migration slowly transformed Israel, bringing large numbers of highly educated Soviet Jews and creating a powerful Russian culture in Israel.

Oslo Accords

In the 1992 elections, the Labour Party, led by Yitzhak Rabin, won a significant victory (44 seats) promising to pursue peace while promoting Rabin as a "tough general" and pledging not to deal with the PLO in any way. The left Zionist party Meretz won 12 seats, and the Arab and communist parties a further 5, meaning that parties supporting a peace treaty had a full (albeit small) majority in the Knesset. Later that year, the Israeli electoral system was changed to allow for direct election of the prime minister. It was hoped this would reduce the power of small parties to extract concessions in return for coalition agreements. The new system had the opposite effect; voters could split their vote for prime minister from their (interest based) party vote, and as a result larger parties won fewer votes and smaller parties becoming more attractive to voters. It thus increased the power of the smaller parties. By the 2006 election the system was abandoned.

Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Yasser Arafat during the Oslo Accords signing ceremony at the White House on 13 September 1993

On 25 July 1993 Israel carried out a week-long military operation in Lebanon to attack Hezbollah positions. On 13 September 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords (a Declaration of Principles) on the South Lawn of the White House. The principles established objectives relating to a transfer of authority from Israel to an interim Palestinian Authority, as a prelude to a final treaty establishing a Palestinian state, in exchange for mutual recognition. The DOP established May 1999 as the date by which a permanent status agreement for the West Bank and Gaza Strip would take effect. In February 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a follower of the Kach party, killed 29 Palestinians and wounded 125 at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which became known as the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre. Kach had been barred from participation in the 1992 elections (on the grounds that the movement was racist). It was subsequently made illegal. Israel and the PLO signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement in May 1994, and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities in August, which began the process of transferring authority from Israel to the Palestinians. On 25 July 1994 Jordan and Israel signed the Washington Declaration, which formally ended the state of war that had existed between them since 1948 and on 26 October the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, witnessed by US president Bill Clinton.

Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 28 September 1995 in Washington. The agreement was witnessed by president Bill Clinton on behalf of the United States and by Russia, Egypt, Norway and the EU, and incorporates and supersedes the previous agreements, marking the conclusion of the first stage of negotiations between Israel and the PLO. The agreement allowed the PLO leadership to relocate to the occupied territories and granted autonomy to the Palestinians, with talks to follow regarding final status. In return the Palestinians promised to abstain from use of terror and changed the Palestinian National Covenant, which had called for the expulsion of all Jews who migrated after 1917 and the elimination of Israel.

The agreement was opposed by Hamas and other Palestinian factions, which launched suicide bomber attacks at Israel. Rabin had a barrier constructed around Gaza to prevent attacks. The growing separation between Israel and the "Palestinian Territories" led to a labour shortage in Israel, mainly in the construction industry. Israeli firms began importing labourers from the Philippines, Thailand, China and Romania; some of these labourers stayed on without visas. In addition, a growing number of Africans began illegally migrating to Israel. On 4 November 1995, a far-right-wing religious Zionist opponent of the Oslo Accords assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In February 1996 Rabin's successor, Shimon Peres, called early elections. In April 1996, Israel launched an operation in southern Lebanon as a result of Hezbollah's Katyusha rocket attacks on Israeli population centres along the border.

Late 1990s

The May 1996 elections were the first featuring direct election of the prime minister and resulted in a narrow election victory for Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu. A spate of suicide bombings reinforced the Likud position for security. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the bombings. Despite his stated differences with the Oslo Accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu continued their implementation, but his prime ministership saw a marked slow-down in the Peace Process. Netanyahu also pledged to gradually reduce US aid to Israel.

In September 1996, a Palestinian riot broke out against the creation of an exit in the Western Wall tunnel. Over the subsequent few weeks, around 80 people were killed as a result. In January 1997 Netanyahu signed the Hebron Protocol with the Palestinian Authority, resulting in the redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron and the turnover of civilian authority in much of the area to the Palestinian Authority.

In the election of July 1999, Ehud Barak of the Labour Party became Prime Minister. His party was the largest in the Knesset with 26 seats. In September 1999 the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that the use of torture in interrogation of Palestinian prisoners was illegal. On 21 March 2000, Pope John Paul II arrived in Israel for an historic visit.

Early 2000s

On 25 May 2000 Israel unilaterally withdrew its remaining forces from the "security zone" in southern Lebanon. Several thousand members of the South Lebanon Army (and their families) left with the Israelis. The UN Secretary-General concluded that, as of 16 June 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. Lebanon claims that Israel continues to occupy Lebanese territory called "Sheba'a Farms" (however this area was governed by Syria until 1967 when Israel took control). The Sheba'a Farms provided Hezbollah with a pretext to maintain warfare with Israel. The Lebanese government, in contravention of the UN Security Council resolution, did not assert sovereignty in the area, which came under Hezbollah control. In the Fall of 2000, talks were held at Camp David to reach a final agreement on the Israel/Palestine conflict. Ehud Barak offered to meet most of the Palestinian teams requests for territory and political concessions, including Arab parts of east Jerusalem; however, Arafat abandoned the talks without making a counterproposal.

Following its withdrawal from South Lebanon, Israel became a member of the Western European and Others Group at the United Nations. Prior to this Israel was the only nation at the UN which was not a member of any group (the Arab states would not allow it to join the Asia group), which meant it could not be a member of the Security Council or appoint anyone to the International Court and other key UN roles. Since December 2013 it has been a permanent member of the group.

In July 2000 Aryeh Deri was sentenced to three years in prison for bribe taking. Deri is regarded as the mastermind behind the rise of Shas and was a government minister at the age of 24. Political manipulation meant the investigation lasted for years. Deri subsequently sued a Police Officer who alleged that he was linked to the traffic-accident death of his mother-in-law (a key witness), who was run over in New York by a driver who had once been in the employ of an associate of Deri.

Second Intifada

Israeli tanks and APCs at the Mukataa in Ramallah during the Second Intifada, 2002

On 28 September 2000 Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa compound, or Temple Mount, the following day the Palestinians launched the al-Aqsa Intifada. David Samuels and Khaled Abu Toameh have stated that the uprising was planned much earlier. In October 2000, Palestinians destroyed Joseph's Tomb, a Jewish shrine in Nablus.

The Arrow missile, a missile designed to destroy ballistic missiles, including Scud missiles, was first deployed by Israel. In 2001, with the Peace Process increasingly in disarray, Ehud Barak called a special election for Prime Minister. Barak hoped a victory would give him renewed authority in negotiations with the Palestinians. Instead opposition leader Ariel Sharon was elected PM. After this election, the system of directly electing the Premier was abandoned.

The failure of the peace process, increased Palestinian terror and occasional attacks by Hezbollah from Lebanon, led much of the Israeli public and political leadership to lose confidence in the Palestinian Authority as a peace partner. Most felt that many Palestinians viewed the peace treaty with Israel as a temporary measure only. Many Israelis were thus anxious to disengage from the Palestinians. In response to a wave of suicide bomb attacks, culminating in the Passover massacre (see List of Israeli civilian casualties in the Second Intifada), Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield in March 2002, and Sharon began the construction of a barrier around the West Bank. Around the same time, the Israeli town of Sderot and other Israeli communities near Gaza became subject to constant shelling and mortar bomb attacks from Gaza.

Thousands of Jews from Latin America began arriving in Israel due to economic crises in their countries of origin. In January 2003 separate elections were held for the Knesset. Likud won the most seats (27). An anti-religion party, Shinui, led by media pundit Tommy Lapid, won 15 seats on a secularist platform, making it the third largest party (ahead of orthodox Shas). Internal fighting led to Shinui's demise at the next election. In 2004 the Black Hebrews were granted permanent residency in Israel. The group had begun migrating to Israel 25 years earlier from the United States, but had not been recognized as Jews by the state and hence not granted citizenship under Israel's Law of Return. They had settled in Israel without official status. From 2004 onwards, they received citizen's rights.

The Sharon government embarked on an extensive program of construction of desalinization plants that freed Israel of the fear of drought. Some of the Israeli desalinization plants are the largest of their kind in the world.

In May 2004 Israel launched Operation Rainbow in southern Gaza to create a safer environment for the IDF soldiers along the Philadelphi Route. On 30 September 2004, Israel carried out Operation Days of Penitence in northern Gaza to destroy the launching sites of Palestinian rockets which were used to attack Israeli towns. In 2005, all Jewish settlers were evacuated from Gaza (some forcibly) and their homes demolished. Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on 12 September 2005. Military disengagement from the northern West Bank was completed ten days later.

In 2005 Sharon left the Likud and formed a new party called Kadima, which accepted that the peace process would lead to creation of a Palestinian state. He was joined by many leading figures from both Likud and Labour.

Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, the first and only genuinely free Palestinian elections. Hamas' leaders rejected all agreements signed with Israel, refused to recognize Israel's right to exist, refused to abandon terror, and occasionally claimed the Holocaust was a Jewish conspiracy. The withdrawal and Hamas victory left the status of Gaza unclear, as Israel asserted it was no longer an occupying power but continued to control air and sea access to Gaza although it did not exercise sovereignty on the ground. Egypt insisted that it was still occupied and refused to open border crossings with Gaza, although it was free to do so.

In April 2006 Ariel Sharon was incapacitated by a severe hemorrhagic stroke and Ehud Olmert became Prime Minister.

Late 2000s and 2010s

Late 2000s

In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president of Iran and the Israel-Iran proxy conflict intensified. Ehud Olmert was then elected Prime Minister after his party, Kadima, won the most seats (29) in the 2006 Israeli legislative election.

On 14 March 2006 Israel carried out an operation in the Palestinian Authority prison of Jericho to capture Ahmad Sa'adat and several Palestinian Arab prisoners located there who assassinated Israeli politician Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001. The operation was conducted as a result of the expressed intentions of the newly elected Hamas government to release these prisoners. On 25 June 2006, a Hamas force crossed the border from Gaza and attacked a tank, capturing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, sparking clashes in Gaza.

Nahal Brigade soldiers returning after the 2006 Lebanon War

On 12 July Hezbollah attacked Israel from Lebanon, shelled Israeli towns and attacked a border patrol, taking two dead or badly wounded Israeli soldiers. These incidents led Israel to initiate the Second Lebanon War, which lasted through August 2006. Israeli forces entered some villages in Southern Lebanon, while the air force attacked targets all across the country. Israel only made limited ground gains until the launch of Operation Changing Direction 11, which lasted for three days with disputed results. Shortly before a UN ceasefire came into effect, Israeli troops captured Wadi Saluki. The war concluded with Hezbollah evacuating its forces from Southern Lebanon, while the IDF remained until its positions could be handed over to the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL.

In 2007 education was made compulsory until the age of 18 for all citizens (it had been 16). Refugees from the genocide in Darfur, mostly Muslim, arrived in Israel illegally, with some given asylum. Illegal immigrants arrived mainly from Africa in addition to foreign workers overstaying their visas. The numbers of such migrants are not known, and estimates vary between 30,000 and over 100,000.

An American billionaire casino owner, Sheldon Adelson, set up a free newspaper Israel Hayom with the express intention of reducing the influence of the dominant (centre-left) newspaper Yediot Ahronot and accelerating a rightward shift in Israeli politics by supporting Netanyahu.

In June 2007 Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in the course of the Battle of Gaza, seizing government institutions and replacing Fatah and other government officials with its own. Following the takeover, Egypt and Israel imposed a partial blockade, on the grounds that Fatah had fled and was no longer providing security on the Palestinian side, and to prevent arms smuggling by terrorist groups. On 6 September 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria. On 28 February 2008, Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza in response to the constant firing of Qassam rockets by Hamas militants. On 16 July 2008, Hezbollah swapped the bodies of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, kidnapped in 2006, in exchange for the Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, four Hezbollah prisoners, and the bodies of 199 Palestinian Arab and Lebanese fighters.

Olmert came under investigation for corruption and this led him to announce on 30 July 2008, that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister following election of a new leader of the Kadima party in September 2008. Tzipi Livni won the election, but was unable to form a coalition and Olmert remained in office until the general election. Israel carried out Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 in response to rocket attacks from Hamas militants.

In the 2009 legislative election Likud won 27 seats and Kadima 28; however, the right-wing camp won a majority of seats, and President Shimon Peres called on Netanyahu to form the government. Russian immigrant-dominated Yisrael Beiteinu came third with 15 seats, and Labour was reduced to fourth place with 13 seats. In 2009, Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva announced the discovery of huge natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel.

Early 2010s

On 31 May 2010 an international incident broke out in the Mediterranean Sea when foreign activists trying to break the maritime blockade over Gaza, clashed with Israeli troops. During the struggle, nine Turkish activists were killed. In late September 2010 took place direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians without success. As a defensive countermeasure to the rocket threat against Israel's civilian population, at the end of March 2011 Israel began to operate the advanced mobile air defence system "Iron Dome" in the southern region of Israel and along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Protest in Tel Aviv on 6 August 2011

On 14 July 2011 the largest social protest in the history of Israel began in which hundreds of thousands of protesters from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds in Israel protested against the continuing rise in the cost of living (particularly housing) and the deterioration of public services in the country (such as health and education). The peak of the demonstrations took place on 3 September 2011, in which about 400,000 people demonstrated across the country.

In October 2011 a deal was reached between Israel and Hamas, by which the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinians and Arab-Israeli prisoners. In March 2012, Secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi, a senior PRC member and two additional Palestinian militants were assassinated during a targeted killing carried out by Israeli forces in Gaza. The Palestinian armed factions in the Gaza Strip, led by the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, fired a massive amount of rockets towards southern Israel in retaliation, sparking five days of clashes along the Gaza border.

In May 2012 prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement with the Head of Opposition Shaul Mofaz for Kadima to join the government, thus cancelling the early election supposed to be held in September. However, in July, the Kadima party left Netanyahu's government due to a dispute concerning military conscription for ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel.

In June 2012 Israel transferred the bodies of 91 Palestinian suicide bombers and other militants as part of what Mark Regev, spokesman for Netanyahu, described as a "humanitarian gesture" to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to help revive the peace talks, and reinstate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. On 21 October 2012, United States and Israel began their biggest joint air and missile defence exercise, known as Austere Challenge 12, involving some 3500 US troops in the region along with 1,000 IDF personnel, expected to last three weeks. Germany and Britain also participated. In response to over a hundred rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities, Israel began an operation in Gaza on 14 November 2012, with the targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari, chief of Hamas military wing, and airstrikes against twenty underground sites housing long-range missile launchers capable of striking Tel Aviv. In January 2013, construction of the barrier on the Israeli-Egyptian border was completed in its main section.

Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister again after the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu alliance won the most seats (31) in the 2013 legislative election and formed a coalition government with secular centrist Yesh Atid party (19), rightist The Jewish Home (12) and Livni's Hatnuah (6), excluding Haredi parties. Labour came in third with 15 seats. In July 2013, as a "good will gesture" to restart peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom had been in jail since before the 1993 Oslo Accords, including militants who had killed Israeli civilians. In April 2014, Israel suspended peace talks after Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a unity government.

2014 Gaza War

Israeli paratroopers operating against Hamas tunnels during the 2014 Gaza War

Following an escalation of rocket attacks by Hamas, Israel started an operation in the Gaza Strip on 8 July 2014, which included a ground incursion aimed at destroying the cross-border tunnels. Differences over the budget and a "Jewish state" bill triggered early elections in December 2014. After the 2015 Israeli elections, Netanyahu renewed his mandate as Prime Minister when Likud obtained 30 seats and formed a right-wing coalition government with Kulanu (10), The Jewish Home (8), and Orthodox parties Shas (7) and United Torah Judaism (6), the bare minimum of seats required to form a coalition. The Zionist Union alliance came second with 24 seats. A wave of lone-wolf attacks by Palestinians took place in 2015 and 2016, particularly stabbings.

Late 2010s

On 6 December 2017 president Donald Trump formally announced United States recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which was followed by the United States recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel on 25 March 2019. In March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza initiated "the Great March of Return," a series of weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border.


The COVID-19 pandemic began in Israel with the first case detected in February 2020 and the first death being that of a Holocaust survivor in March 2020. Israel Shield was the government's program to combat against the virus. Nationwide lockdowns and mask mandates were present throughout the country for much of 2020 into 2021, with the vaccination campaign beginning in December 2020 along with green passes.

In late 2020 Israel normalised relations with four Arab League countries: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September (known as the Abraham Accords), Sudan in October, and Morocco in December. In May 2021, after tensions escalated in Jerusalem, Israel and Hamas traded blows in Gaza for eleven days.

The 2019-2022 political crisis featured political instability in Israel leading to five elections to the Knesset over four years. The April 2019 and September 2019 elections saw no party able to form a coalition leading to the March 2020 election. This election again looked to result in deadlock, but due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, Netanyahu, and Blue and White leader, Benny Gantz, were able to establish a unity government with a planned rotating prime ministership where Netanyahu would serve first and later be replaced by Gantz. The coalition failed by December due to a dispute over the budget and new elections were called for March 2021.

Following the March 2021 election, Naftali Bennett signed a coalition agreement with Yair Lapid and different parties opposed to Netanyahu on the right, center and left whereby Bennett would serve as Prime Minister until September 2023 and then Lapid would assume the role until November 2025. An Israeli Arab party, Ra'am, was included in the government coalition for the first time in decades. In June 2022, following several legislative defeats for the governing coalition, Bennett announced the introduction of a bill to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections to be held in November. Yair Lapid became the new interim Prime Minister. After the 2022 elections, Netanyahu was able to return as Prime Minister under a coalition that included Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Religious Zionist Party, Otzma Yehudit and Noam, in what was described as the most right-wing government in the country's history. A number of the right-wing coalitions have been controversial, both domestically and internationally, with its attempts at judicial reform leading to the 2023 Israeli judicial reform protests. Military actions such as the July 2023 Jenin incursion, alongside a rise in Palestinian political violence, have meanwhile resulted in an uptick in violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict, producing a death toll in 2023 that is the highest in the conflict since 2005.



The region of Palestine/Land of Israel was among the earliest in the world to see human habitation, agricultural communities and civilization. In the Bronze Age, the Canaanites established independent city-states that were influenced by the surrounding civilizations, among them Egypt, which ruled the area in the Late Bronze Age.

During the Iron Age, two related Israelite kingdoms, Israel and Judah, controlled much of Palestine, while the Philistines occupied its southern coast. The Assyrians conquered the region in the 8th century BCE, then the Babylonians in c. 601 BCE, followed by the Persians who conquered the Babylonian Empire in 539 BCE. Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire in the late 330s BCE, beginning a long period of Hellenization in the region. In the late 2nd century BCE, the Hasmonean Kingdom conquered most of Palestine and parts of neighboring regions but the kingdom gradually became a vassal of Rome, which annexed the area in 63 BCE. Roman Judea was troubled by large-scale Jewish revolts, which Rome answered with by destroying Jerusalem and the Second Jewish Temple.

In the 4th century, as the Roman Empire christened, Palestine became a center of Christianity, attracting pilgrims, monks and scholars. Following the Muslim conquest of the Levant in 636-641, several Muslim ruling dynasties succeeded each other as they wrestled control of Palestine: the Rashiduns; the Umayyads, who built the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem; the Abbasids; the semi-independent Tulunids and the Ikhshidids; the Fatimids; and the Seljuks.

In 1099, the Crusaders established the Kingdom of Jerusalem in Palestine, which the Ayyubid Sultanate reconquered in 1187. Following the invasion of the Mongol Empire, the Egyptian Mamluks reunified Palestine under its control before the Ottoman Empire conquered the region in 1516 and ruled it as Ottoman Syria largely undisrupted through to the 20th century.

During World War I the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, favoring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. The British captured Palestine from the Ottomans shortly thereafter. The League of Nations gave Britain mandatory power over Palestine in 1922. British colonial rule and Arab efforts to prevent Jewish migration into Palestine led to growing sectarian violence between Arabs and Jews, eventually causing the British government to announce its intention to terminate the Mandate in 1947.

The United Nations General Assembly recommended partitioning Palestine into two states; one Arab and one Jewish. However, the situation in Palestine had deteriorated into a civil war between Arabs and Jews. The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan, the Jews ostensibly accepted it, declaring the independence of the State of Israel in May 1948 upon the termination of the British mandate. Nearby Arab countries invaded Palestine, but Israel not only prevailed but also conquered far more territory of the Mandate than envisioned by the Partition Plan. During the war, 700,000, or about 80% of all Palestinians fled or were driven out of the territory that Israel conquered, and were not allowed to return, in an event that became known as the Nakba ("Catastrophe") to the Palestinians. Starting in the late 1940s and continuing for decades thereafter, about 850,000 Jews from the Arab world immigrated ("made Aliyah") to Israel.

After the war, only two parts of Palestine remained in Arab control: the West Bank (and East-Jerusalem), annexed by Jordan, and the Gaza Strip (occupied by Egypt), which were conquered by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Despite international objections, Israel started to establish settlements in these occupied territories. Meanwhile, the Palestinian national movement gradually gained international recognition, largely thanks to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO, founded in 1965) under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. In 1993, the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the PLO established the Palestinian National Authority (PA) as an interim body to run parts of Gaza and the West Bank (but not East Jerusalem) pending a permanent solution to the conflict. Further peace developments were not ratified and/or implemented, and in recent history, relations between Israel and Palestinians have been marked by repeated military conflicts, especially with the Islamist group Hamas, which also rejects the PA. In 2007, Hamas won control of Gaza from the PA, now limited to the West Bank. In November 2012, the State of Palestine (the name used by the PA) became a non-member observer state in the UN, allowing it to take part in General Assembly debates and improving its chances of joining other UN agencies.

Egyptian dominance

Map of the Ancient Near East during the Amarna Period, showing the great powers of the day: Egypt (orange), Hatti (blue), the Kassite kingdom of Babylon (black), Middle Assyrian Empire (yellow), and Mitanni (brown). The extent of the Achaean/Mycenaean civilization is shown in purple.

During 1550-1400 BCE, the Canaanite city-states became vassals to the New Kingdom of Egypt, which expanded into the Levant under Ahmose I and Thutmose I. Political, commercial and military events towards the end of this period (1450-1350 BCE) were recorded by ambassadors and Canaanite proxy rulers for Egypt in 379 cuneiform tablets known as the Amarna Letters. These refer to local chieftains, such as Biridiya of Megiddo, Lib'ayu of Shechem and Abdi-Heba in Jerusalem. Abdi-Heba is a Hurrian name, and enough Hurrians lived in Canaan at that time to warrant contemporary Egyptian texts naming the locals as Ḫurru.

Photo Missing: Statue of Ramesses III, unearthed in Beit She'an. Together with the Egyptian Stelae in the Levant, such evidence shows that Egyptian rule in Canaan was maintained until about the middle of the 12th century BCE

In the first year of his reign, the pharaoh Seti I (c. 1294-1290 BCE) waged a campaign to resubordinate Canaan to Egyptian rule, thrusting north as far as Beit She'an, and installing local vassals to administer the area in his name. The Egyptian Stelae in the Levant, most notably the Beisan steles, and a burial site yielding a scarab bearing the name Seti found within a Canaanite coffin excavated in the Jezreel Valley, attests to Egypt's presence in the area.

Early Israelites and Philistines

After the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Canaan became home to the Israelites and the Philistines. The first record of the name Israel is documented in the Merneptah stele, established by Pharaoh Merneptah around 1209 BCE. The Israelites settled the central highlands, a loosely defined highland region stretching from the Judean hills in the south to the Samarian hills in the north. Based on the archaeological evidence, they did not overtake the region by force, but instead branched out of the indigenous Canaanite peoples. The population, at most forty-five thousand, were poor and lived relatively isolated from the Canaanite city-states that occupied the plains and the coastal regions. In contrast to the Philistines, the Israelites did not eat pork, preferred plain pottery, and circumcised their boys.

Sometime in the 12th century, the Philistines, who had immigrated from the Aegean region, settled in the southern coast of Palestine. Traces of Philistines appeared at about the same time as the Israelites. The Philistines are credited with introducing iron weapons, chariots, and new ways of fermenting wine to the local population. Over time, the Philistines integrated with the local population and they, like other people in Palestine, were engulfed by first the Assyrian empire and later the Babylonian empire. In the 6th century, they disappeared from written history.

Photo Missing: Philistine captives of the Egyptians, from a graphic wall relief at Medinet Habu, in about 1185-52 BCE, during the reign of Ramesses III

Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Two related Israelite kingdoms, Israel and Judah, emerged during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Israel was the more prosperous of the kingdoms and developed into a regional power. By the 8th century BCE, the Israelite population had grown to some 160,000 individuals over 500 settlements.

Photo Missing: Kingdoms of the Southern Levant during the Iron Age (c. 830 BCE)

Israel and Judah continually clashed with the kingdoms of Ammon, Edom and Moab, located in modern-day Jordan, and with the kingdom of Aram-Damascus, located in modern-day Syria. The northwestern region of the Transjordan, known then as Gilead, was also settled by the Israelites. Hebrew flourished as a spoken language in the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah during the period from about 1200 to 586 BCE.

The Omride dynasty greatly expanded the northern kingdom of Israel. In the mid-9th century, it stretched from the vicinity of Damascus in the north to the territory of Moab in the south, ruling over a large number of non-Israelites. In 853 BCE, the Israelite king Ahab led a coalition of anti-Assyrian forces at the Battle of Qarqar that repelled an invasion by King Shalmaneser III of Assyria. Some years later, King Mesha of Moab, a vassal of Israel, rebelled against it, destroying the main Israelite settlements in the Transjordan.

In the 830s BCE, king Hazael of Aram Damascus conquered the fertile and strategically important northern parts of Israel which devastated the kingdom. He also destroyed the Philistine city of Gath. During the late 9th century BCE, Israel under King Jehu became a vassal to Assyria and was forced to pay tribute.

Jewish-Roman wars

Photo Missing: Arch of Titus in Rome commemorates Titus' victory in the First Jewish-Roman War

Photo Missing: Coinage of the Bar Kochba Revolt (c. 132-135 CE)

Tensions in Judea grew after direct Roman rule was reestablished. The upper class favored the Romans because it guaranteed their privileged position, but the rural class did not and their yearning for independence and revolution grew. Vivid memories of the Hasmonean kings, fueled by eschatological and messianic expectations, created dangerous delusions about the prospects of rebelling.

In 66 CE, the First Jewish-Roman War, also known as the Great Jewish Revolt, erupted. The war lasted for four years and was crushed by the Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus. In 70 CE, the Romans captured the city of Jerusalem and destroyed both the city and the Second Temple. The events were described by the Jewish historian Josephus, who writes that 1,100,000 Jews perished during the revolt, while a further 97,000 were taken captive. The Fiscus Judaicus was imposed on Jews all across the Roman Empire as part of reparations.

It was during this period that the split of early Christianity and Judaism occurred. The Jewish Pharisee movement, led by Yochanan ben Zakai, made peace with Rome and survived. Following the Great Revolt, Jews continued to live in Palestine in significant numbers, and were allowed to practice their religion. An estimated 2/3 of the population in the Galilee and 1/3 of the coastal region were Jewish. Jews again revolted against Rome in 132 CE. The causes for the revolt are unknown; one theory holds that a ban on circumcision (which the Romans saw as genital mutilation) sparked it, another that the emperor's decision in 130 CE to re-found Jerusalem, still in ruins after its destruction in 70 CE, as a Roman colony, complete with a pagan temple, offended pious Jews enough to revolt. The Bar Kokhba Revolt took three years to put down and incurred massive costs on both sides. Consequently, the center of Palestinian Jewish life moved to the Galilee, which had mostly stayed out of the revolt. The Bar Kokhba revolt saw a major shift in the population of Palestine. The sheer scale and scope of the overall destruction is described in a late epitome of Dio Cassius's Roman History, where he states that Roman war operations in the country had left some 580,000 Jews dead, with many more dying of hunger and disease, while 50 of their most important outposts and 985 of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. "Thus," writes Dio Cassius, "nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate."

Early Muslim period

Photo Missing: The expansion of the caliphate under the Umayyads. Photo Missing: Expansion under Muhammad, 622-632 Photo Missing: Expansion during the Rashidun Caliphate, 632-661

Photo Missing: Map of Bilad al-Sham (Syria) and its provinces

In the late 6th century, a new monotheistic religion called Islam was founded by its prophet Muhammad, whose followers became known as Muslims. Muhammad united the tribes of Arabia into a religious polity, a caliphate, whose domains he and his successors extended into a vast empire through holy war (jihad). They conquered Palestine in 636 to 640.

Society in the caliphate formed a pyramid with five layers. Arabs were at the top, followed by converts to Islam (mawali) (this distinction disappeared after the Abbasids seized power). Below them stood dhimmis, followed by non-Muslim free men and slaves at the bottom. The dhimmi (meaning "protected person") were Christians, Jews, and Samaritans, who the Muslims designated as "peoples of the Book" (ahl al-kitab), meaning that they, like the Muslims, based their worship on a book God had given to them, which, in its essence, was identical to the Koran. Unlike the previous rulers, the Muslims allowed them to practice their religions in peace. However, non-Muslim men had to pay a special tax (jizya) and they had to be submissive to Muslims. Dress regulations were imposed on non-Muslims, but it is uncertain whether they were ever enforced in Palestine. Muslim men were permitted to marry non-Muslim women even if the latter choose to remain in their faith. Muslim women, however, could not marry non-Muslim men, unless they first converted to Islam. The Muslims also lifted the Romans' centuries-long ban on Jews in Jerusalem.

The Muslims organized the territory of the Byzantine Dioceses Orientes (Syria) into five military districts, or provinces (jund, pl. ajnad). The territory of Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Tertia became Jund Filastin and stretched from Aqaba in the south to the lower Galilee in the north and from Arish in the west to Jericho in the east. The Tulunids later expanded the borders of the province eastwards and southwards to include regions in modern-day southern Jordan and north-western Saudi Arabia. The newly founded city Ramla became Jund Filastin's administrative capital and most important city. Jund al-Urdunn corresponded with Palaestina Secunda, covering most of the Galilee, the western part of Peraea in Transjordan, and the coastal cities Acre and Sur (Tyre). Tabariyyah (Tiberias) replaced Scythopolis as the province's capital.

Throughout the period, Palestine was a sort of gold mine for the caliphate and among its most prosperous and fertile provinces. Palestine's wealth derived from its strategic location as a hub for international trade, the influx of pilgrims, its excellent agricultural produce, and from a number of local crafts. Products manufactured or traded in Palestine included building materials from marble and white-stone quarries, spices, soaps, olive oil, sugar, indigo, Dead Sea salts, and silk. Palestinian Jews were expert glassmakers whose wares became known as "Jewish glass" in Europe. Palestine was also known for its book production and scribal work.

The Muslims invested much effort in developing a fleet and in restoring seaports, creating shipyards, fortifying coastal cities, and in establishing naval bases in Palestine. Acre became their chief naval base from which a fleet set out to conquer Cyprus in 647. Jaffa came to replace Caesarea as Palestine's main port due to its proximity with Ramla.

Though Palestine was now under Muslim control, the Christian world's affection for the Holy Land continued to grow. Christian kings made generous donations to Jerusalem's holy sites, and helped facilitate the ever increasing pilgrimage traffic. Pilgrims ventured for the adventure, but also to expiate sin. Many pilgrims were attacked by highwaymen which would later be cited by the Crusaders as a reason to "liberate" Jerusalem from the Muslims.

Crusader period

The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Crusader states with their strongholds in the Holy Land at their height, between the First and the Second Crusade (1135) Generally, the Crusades (1095-1291) refer to the European Christian campaigns in the Holy Land sponsored by the Papacy against Muslims in order to reconquer the region of Palestine. While Palestine was a far away land, pilgrimage had nurtured a special bond between the region and the Europeans who considered it a holy land. Impediments to the pilgrimage traffic to Palestine, of which there were many in the late 11th century, were cause for serious concern. Meanwhile, a doctrine of holy war developed under which warfare to aid Christians or to defend Christianity was seen as virtuous. Additionally, relations between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity - which had been chilly schisms - were improving. These factors meant that when the Byzantines called for help against the Muslims, the western Europeans obliged and launched the first of a number of military expeditions, known as "the Crusades".

The First Crusade captured the entire eastern Mediterranean coast, from modern-day Turkey in the north to the Sinai in the south. Crusader states were organized in the captured territory, one of which was the Kingdom of Jerusalem, founded in 1100, encompassing most of Palestine and modern-day Lebanon. More crusades followed as the Latins and the Muslims battled for control over Palestine.

Photo Missing: Belvoir Castle, also known as the Kochav HaYarden, built by the Knights Hospitaller starting in 1168

In 1187, Palestine, including Jerusalem, was captured by the Egyptian-based Ayyubid dynasty. However, the Ayyubids failed to take Tyre and the crusader states in the north. This allowed the crusaders to launch another crusade that by 1192 had occupied most of the Palestinian coast down to Jaffa, but, crucially, it failed to retake Jerusalem. Negotiations between the Latins and the Ayyubids resulted in a treaty, securing unfettered access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem for Christian pilgrims, but the holy city would remain in Ayyubid hands and the True Cross would not be returned.

This state of affairs, with the Kingdom of Jerusalem reduced to a sliver of coastal land, would remain for most of the 13th century. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth, as well as a thin strip of land connecting the cities to the coast, was awarded the kingdom in 1229 following negotiations that concluded the Sixth Crusade. Ten years earlier, the Ayyubids had destroyed Jerusalem's city walls to prevent the Latins from capturing a fortified city. In 1244, Jerusalem was captured by Khwarizmians who went on to burn churches and to massacre the Christian population. The shock of the atrocities goaded the Latins into action. The Latin nobility pooled all the resources they had together into the largest field army amassed in the East since the late 12 century. Strengthened by troops from dissident Muslim rulers, they met the Ayyubid-Khwarizmian coalition at the Battle of La Forbie north-east of Gaza. There, they suffered a disastrous defeat, marking the end of Latin influence in southern and central Palestine. In 1291, the Mamluks destroyed Acre, the Kingdom of Jerusalem's capital and last stronghold.

The Europeans interest in crusading gradually waned over time. New ideas about what a "good Christian life" meant emerged and seeking redemption for sins through action became less central. To boot, "heretical" beliefs within Europe became a major issue for Latin Christianity, taking focus away from Palestine.

Military orders made up of pious knights, combining monastic discipline with martial skill, were organized in the crusader states. The duties of these were to defend strategic areas and to serve in the crusader armies. The most famous orders was the Knights Templar, named after their headquarter in the al-Aqsa mosque which they called the Temple of Solomon. The nearby Dome of the Rock was used as a church.

Another famous order were the Hospitallers, renowned for caring for the poor and sick. In Palestine, where crusades came and went, the orders provided stability otherwise impossible to maintain.

Under the Crusader rule, fortifications, castles, towers and fortified villages were built, rebuilt and renovated across Palestine largely in rural areas. A notable urban remnant of the Crusader architecture of this era is found in Acre's old city.

During the period of Crusader control, it has been estimated that Palestine had only 1,000 poor Jewish families. Jews fought alongside the Muslims against the Crusaders in Jerusalem in 1099 and Haifa in 1100.

British Mandate period

Photo Missing: Zones of French and British influence and control proposed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement

Photo Missing: Southern Palestine in 1924

The new era in Palestine.

Photo Missing: The arrival of Sir Herbert Samuel, H.B.M. High Commissioner with Col. Lawrence, Emir Abdullah, Air Marshal Salmond and Sir Wyndham Deedes, 1920.

Following the First World War and the occupation of the region by the British, the principal Allied and associated powers drafted the mandate, which was formally approved by the League of Nations in 1922. Great Britain administered Palestine on behalf of the League of Nations between 1920 and 1948, a period referred to as the "British Mandate". The preamble of the mandate declared:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Not all were satisfied with the mandate. The League of Nations' objective with the mandate system was to administer the parts of the former Ottoman Empire, which the Middle East had controlled since the 16th century, "until such time as they are able to stand alone". Some of the Arabs felt that Britain was violating the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence and the understanding of the Arab Revolt. Some wanted unification with Syria: in February 1919, several Muslim and Christian groups from Jaffa and Jerusalem met and adopted a platform endorsing unity with Syria and opposition to Zionism (this is sometimes called the First Palestinian National Congress). A letter was sent to Damascus authorizing Faisal to represent the Arabs of Palestine at the Paris Peace Conference. In May 1919 a Syrian National Congress was held in Damascus, and a Palestinian delegation attended its sessions.

In April 1920, violent Arab disturbances against the Jews in Jerusalem occurred, which came to be known as the 1920 Palestine riots. The riots followed rising tensions in Arab-Jewish relations over the implications of Zionist immigration. The British military administration's erratic response failed to contain the rioting, which continued for four days. As a result of the events, trust among the British, Jews, and Arabs eroded. One consequence was that the Jewish community increased moves towards an autonomous infrastructure and security apparatus parallel to that of the British administration.

In April 1920, the Allied Supreme Council (the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan) met at Sanremo and formal decisions were taken on the allocation of mandate territories. The United Kingdom obtained a mandate for Palestine and France obtained a mandate for Syria. The boundaries of the mandates and the conditions under which they were to be held were not decided. The Zionist Organization's representative at Sanremo, Chaim Weizmann, subsequently reported to his colleagues in London:

There are still important details outstanding, such as the actual terms of the mandate and the question of the boundaries in Palestine. There is the delimitation of the boundary between French Syria and Palestine, which will constitute the northern frontier and the eastern line of demarcation, adjoining Arab Syria. The latter is not likely to be fixed until the Emir Feisal attends the Peace Conference, probably in Paris.

Photo Missing: Churchill and Abdullah (with Herbert Samuel) during their negotiations in Jerusalem, March 1921

In July 1920, the French drove Faisal bin Husayn from Damascus, ending his already negligible control over the region of Transjordan, where local chiefs traditionally resisted any central authority. The sheikhs, who had earlier pledged their loyalty to the Sharif of Mecca, asked the British to undertake the region's administration. Herbert Samuel asked for the extension of the Palestine government's authority to Transjordan, but at meetings in Cairo and Jerusalem between Winston Churchill and Emir Abdullah in March 1921 it was agreed that Abdullah would administer the territory (initially for six months only) on behalf of the Palestine administration. In the summer of 1921 Transjordan was included within the Mandate, but excluded from the provisions for a Jewish National Home. On 24 July 1922, the League of Nations approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine and Transjordan. On 16 September the League formally approved a memorandum from Lord Balfour confirming the exemption of Transjordan from the clauses of the mandate concerning the creation of a Jewish national home and Jewish settlement. With Transjordan coming under the administration of the British Mandate, the mandate's collective territory became constituted of 23% Palestine and 77% Transjordan. The mandate for Palestine, while specifying actions in support of Jewish immigration and political status, stated, in Article 25, that in the territory to the east of the Jordan River, Britain could 'postpone or withhold' those articles of the Mandate concerning a Jewish National Home. Transjordan was a very sparsely populated region (especially in comparison with Palestine proper) due to its relatively limited resources and largely desert environment.

Palestine and Transjordan were incorporated (under different legal and administrative arrangements) into the "Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan Memorandum" issued by the League of Nations to Great Britain on 29 September 1923

In 1923, an agreement between the United Kingdom and France confirmed the border between the British Mandate of Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria. The British handed over the southern Golan Heights to the French in return for the northern Jordan Valley. The border was re-drawn so that both sides of the Jordan River and the whole of the Sea of Galilee, including a 10-metre-wide strip along the northeastern shore, were made a part of Palestine, with the provisions that Syria have fishing and navigation rights in the lake.

Rachel's Tomb on a 1927 British Mandate stamp. "Palestine" is shown in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, the latter includes the acronym for Eretz Yisrael

The first reference to the Palestinians, without qualifying them as Arabs, is to be found in a document of the Permanent Executive Committee, composed of Muslims and Christians, presenting a series of formal complaints to the British authorities on 26 July 1928.


The most important Palestinian leader in Mandatory Palestine was Haj Amin al-Husayni. He was appointed "Grand Mufti of Palestine" by the British and used his position to lead the Palestinians' unsuccessful struggle for independence. He fled Palestine in 1937 to avoid being arrested for leading the Great Revolt but would still lead the Palestinians in his exile.

In 1921, the British created the institution the Muslim Higher Council to provide religious leadership. They proceeded to recognize it as representing the Arabs of Palestine, in spite of the existing nationalist Executive Arab Committee that already sought that role. The council's duties included administration of religious endowments and appointment of religious judges and local muftis. Haj Amin was chosen to head the institution and members of his family were given precedence on the council. The rival family, the Nashashibis, were directed towards municipal positions. This was in line with the British strategy to nurture rivalries among the Palestinian elite. They succeeded and the schism created would hamper the growth of modern forms of national organization for decades to come.

Al-Istiqlal, the Arab Independence Party, was established officially in 1932 but existed unofficially as early as 1930. The Arab Higher Committee (al-Lajna al-'Arabiyya al-'Ulya), consisting of members of the Husaynis and Nashashibis, was established shortly after the outbreak of the Great Revolt in 1936.

Demographics and Jewish immigration

Against the wishes of the Palestinians, the British facilitated Zionist settlement of Palestine by upholding liberal immigration policies and allowing Jewish mass immigration. The immigration caused a major demographic shift and alarmed the Arabs. In the census conducted in 1922 the population of Palestine was 763,550 of which 89 percent were Arabs and 11 percent Jews. By the end of 1947 the Jewish share of the population had risen to 31 percent.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, and the Haavara agreement between the Zionist Federation and the Third Reich was to facilitate the emigration of German Jews. Jewish immigration dramatically increased during the mid-1930s. In 1935, 62,000 Jews entered Palestine, the highest number since the mandate began in 1920.

Between 1922 and 1947, the annual growth rate of the Jewish sector of the economy was 13.2%, mainly due to immigration and foreign capital, while that of the Arab was 6.5%. Per capita, these figures were 4.8% and 3.6% respectively. By 1936, the Jewish sector had eclipsed the Arab one, and Jewish individuals earned 2.6 times as much as Arabs. In terms of human capital, there was a huge difference. For instance, the literacy rates in 1932 were 86% for the Jews against 22% for the Arabs, although Arab literacy was steadily increasing. Palestine continued to develop economically during World War II, with increased industrial and agricultural outputs and the period was considered an "economic Boom". In terms of Arab-Jewish relations, these were relatively quiet times.

Starting in 1939 and throughout World War II, Britain reduced the number of Jewish immigrants allowed into Palestine, following the publication of the White Paper of 1939. Once the 15,000 annual quota was exceeded, Jews fleeing Nazi persecution were placed in detention camps or deported to places such as Mauritius. The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry's findings published in 1946 divested the White Paper and caused Britain to ease restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine.

1936-1939 Revolt - Arab revolt in Palestine

Photo Missing: British soldiers frisk a Palestinian man in Jerusalem in the late 1930s, photo by Khalil Raad.

The revolt of 1936-1939, also known as the Great Palestinian Revolt, is one of the formative events of Palestinian nationalism. Driven by resentment with British rule and with the Zionist settlement of Palestine, the revolt began as a general strike but evolved into an armed insurrection. The British response to the revolt was harsh and it expanded its military force in Palestine, deploying over 100,000 troops. Imprisonment without charges or trial, curfews, whip lashings, house demolitions, and collective punishment against villages and families were some of the practices it employed to quell the revolt. An estimated 10 percent of the adult Palestinian male population were killed, wounded, deported, or imprisoned

The revolt was a disaster for the Palestinians and it failed to achieve its two goals; the uprooting of the Zionist settlement and the termination of the British Mandate. Due to the British crackdown, the Palestinians were left without a local leadership, as most of their leaders either fled the country or were deported by the authorities. Infighting between rival families deepened rifts in Palestinian society causing irreparable damage, all while the Zionists mobilized and British-Zionist cooperation increased.

General strike

In November 1935 the guerilla leader Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam was killed in a shootout with British police in the hills near Jenin. Thousands attended his funeral which turned into demonstrations. His death became a rallying call for others.

Al-Istiqlal called a general strike in April 1936 and the Palestinian leadership gave its blessing. The strike ended after a few months when Arab leaders instructed the Palestinians to desist in exchange for negotiations with the British on the future of Palestine. Meanwhile, volunteers led by Fawzi al-Qawiqji entered the country and engaged in unsuccessful guerilla warfare. The British destroyed much of al-Qawiqji's forces and by mid-October it left the country.

Peel Commission

In 1937, the Peel Commission recommended dividing Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jews would receive Tel Aviv, the coastal plain, the northern valleys, and parts of the Galile, while the Arabs would receive the West Bank of the river Jordan, central Palestine and the southern desert. Britain would retain Jerusalem and a narrow corridor linking it to the sea. Importantly, the commission envisaged a population exchange similar to the exchanges between Turkey and Greece in the 1920s; thousands of Arabs who had their homes within the territory of the Jewish state would be forcibly removed.

The Zionist leadership supported partition in principle, but expressed reservations about the commission's findings and some opponents thought that the territory allotted to the Jewish state was too small. Ben-Gurion saw it as the first step in a plan to gradually claim the entire country on both sides of Jordan. He was especially pleased with the commission's recommendation of forced population transfer; a "really Jewish" state is about to become reality, he wrote in his diary.

The Palestinians led by the mufti opposed dividing Palestine, but a minority, led by the Nashashibis, supported it. This led to animosity between Husayni's and Nashashibi's supporters as the former accused the latter of treason.

Escalation and disintegration

The revolt escalated in the latter half of 1937 and numerous rebel bands emerged. The rebels not only attacked British and Jewish targets, but also Palestinians who were accused of collaborating with the enemy. At the same time, the British enacted oppressive emergency regulations causing strife for the civilians. Popular support for the rebels declined.

The revolt waned in the fall 1938 as the British organized the rebels' opponents in armed groups called "peace bands," headed by Fakhri al-Nashashibi and Fakhri 'Abd al-Hadi, previously Qawiqji's deputy. Aided by these, the British effectively exposed the rebels' hiding places and by late 1939 all rebel activity had ceased.

Zionist mobilization

The Haganah (Hebrew for "defense"), a Jewish paramilitary organization, actively supported British efforts to quell the revolt. Although the British administration did not officially recognize the Haganah, the British security forces cooperated with it by forming the Jewish Settlement Police and Special Night Squads. A splinter group of the Haganah, called the Irgun (or Etzel) adopted a policy of violent retaliation against Arabs for attacks on Jews; the Hagana has adopted a policy of restraint. In a meeting in Alexandria in July 1937 between Irgun founder Ze'ev Jabotinsky, commander Col. Robert Bitker and chief-of-staff Moshe Rosenberg, the need for indiscriminate retaliation due to the difficulty of limiting operations to only the "guilty" was explained. The Irgun launched attacks against public gathering places such as markets and cafes.

World War II

Photo Missing: Jewish Brigade headquarters under both Union Flag and Jewish flag

When the Second World War broke out, the Jewish population sided with Britain. David Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency, defined the policy with what became a famous motto: "We will fight the war as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no war." While this represented the Jewish population as a whole, there were exceptions.

As in most of the Arab world, there was no unanimity among the Palestinian Arabs as to their position regarding the combatants in World War II. A number of leaders and public figures saw an Axis victory as the likely outcome and a way of securing Palestine back from the Zionists and the British. Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, spent the rest of the war in Nazi Germany and the occupied areas. About 6,000 Palestinian Arabs and 30,000 Palestinian Jews joined the British forces.

On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on the British Commonwealth and sided with Germany. Within a month, the Italians attacked Palestine from the air, bombing Tel Aviv and Haifa.

In 1942, there was a period of anxiety for the Yishuv, when the forces of German General Erwin Rommel advanced east in North Africa towards the Suez Canal and there was fear that they would conquer Palestine. This event was the direct cause for the founding, with British support, of the Palmach - a highly trained regular unit belonging to Haganah (which was mostly made up of reserve troops).

On 3 July 1944, the British government consented to the establishment of a Jewish Brigade with hand-picked Jewish and also non-Jewish senior officers. The brigade fought in Europe, most notably against the Germans in Italy from March 1945 until the end of the war in May 1945. Members of the Brigade played a key role in the Berihah's efforts to help Jews escape Europe for Palestine. Later, veterans of the Jewish Brigade became key participants of the new State of Israel's Israel Defense Forces.

In 1944 Menachem Begin assumed the Irgun's leadership, determined to force the British government to remove its troops entirely from Palestine. Citing that the British had reneged on their original promise of the Balfour Declaration, and that the White Paper of 1939 restricting Jewish immigration was an escalation of their pro-Arab policy, he decided to break with the Haganah. Soon after he assumed command, a formal 'Declaration of Revolt' was publicized, and armed attacks against British forces were initiated. Lehi, another splinter group, opposed cessation of operations against the British authorities all along. The Jewish Agency, which opposed those actions and the challenge to its role as government in preparation responded with "The Hunting Season" - severe actions against supporters of the Irgun and Lehi, including turning them over to the British.

End of the British Mandate 1945-1948

Map showing Jewish-owned land as of 31 December 1944, including land owned in full, shared in undivided land and State Lands under concession. This constituted 6% of the total land area, of which more than half was held by the JNF and PICA

Photo Missing: Arab autobus after an attack by Irgun, 29 December 1947

In the years following World War II, Britain's control over Palestine became increasingly tenuous. This was caused by a combination of factors, including:

The costs of maintaining an army of over 100,000 men in Palestine weighed heavily on a British economy suffering from post-war depression, and was another cause for British public opinion to demand an end to the Mandate. Rapid deterioration due to the actions of the Jewish paramilitary organizations (Hagana, Irgun and Lehi), involving attacks on strategic installations (by all three) as well as on British forces and officials (by the Irgun and Lehi). This caused severe damage to British morale and prestige, as well as increasing opposition to the mandate in Britain itself, public opinion demanding to "bring the boys home". The U.S. Congress was delaying a loan necessary to prevent British bankruptcy. The delays were in response to the British refusal to fulfill a promise given to Truman that 100,000 Holocaust survivors would be allowed to emigrate to Palestine. In early 1947 the British Government announced their desire to terminate the Mandate, and asked the United Nations General Assembly to make recommendations regarding the future of the country. The British Administration declined to accept the responsibility for implementing any solution that wasn't acceptable to both the Jewish and the Arab communities, or to allow other authorities to take over responsibility for public security prior to the termination of its mandate on 15 May 1948.

UN partition and the 1948 Palestine War - 1948 Arab-Israeli War

UN partition plan, 1947

On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly, voting 33 to 13 in favour with 10 abstentions, adopted Resolution 181 (II) (though not legally binding) recommending a partition with the Economic Union of Mandatory Palestine to follow the termination of the British Mandate. The plan was to partition Palestine into an "Independent Arab state alongside a Jewish States, and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem". Jerusalem was to encompass Bethlehem. Zionist leaders (including the Jewish Agency), accepted the plan, while Palestinian Arab leaders rejected it and all independent Muslim and Arab states voted against it. Almost immediately, sectarian violence erupted and spread, killing hundreds of Arabs, Jews and British over the ensuing months.

The UN resolution was the catalyst for a full scale civil war. For four months, under continuous Arab provocation and attack, the Yishuv was usually on the defensive while occasionally retaliating. Arab volunteers of the Arab Liberation Army entered Palestine to fight alongside the Palestinians, but the April-May offensive of Yishuv forces defeated the Arab forces and Arab Palestinian society collapsed. By the time the armistice was signed, some 700,000 Palestinians caught up in the turmoil fled or were driven from their homes.

Photo Missing: David Ben-Gurion proclaiming independence beneath a large portrait of Theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism

On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion and the Jewish People's Council declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel (The Land of Israel), to be known as the State of Israel. The neighbouring Arab states intervened to prevent the partition and support the Palestinian Arab population. While Transjordan and Egypt took control of territory designated for the future Arab State, Syrian and Iraqi expeditionary forces attacked Israel without success. The most intensive battles were waged between the Jordanian and Israeli forces over the control of Jerusalem.

On June 11, a truce was accepted by all parties. Israel used the lull to undertake a large-scale reinforcement of its army. In a series of military operations, during the war it conquered the whole of the Galilee region, both the Lydda and Ramle areas, and the Negev. It also managed to secure, in the Battles of Latrun, a road linking Jerusalem to Israel. However, the neighboring Arab countries signed the 1949 Armistice Agreements that ended the war, and have recognized de facto the new borders of Israel. In this phase, 350,000 more Arab Palestinians fled or were expelled from the conquered areas.

Partition of former Mandatory territory

The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan while the Jews ostensibly accepted it. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the area allocated to the Palestinian Arabs and the international zone of Jerusalem were occupied by Israel and the neighboring Arab states in accordance with the terms of the 1949 Armistice Agreements. In addition to the UN-partitioned area allotted to the Jewish state, Israel captured and incorporated a further 26% of the British Mandate territory. Jordan retained possession of about 21% of the former Mandate territory. Jerusalem was divided, with Jordan taking the eastern parts, including the Old City, and Israel taking the western parts. In addition, Syria held on to small slivers of the former Mandate territory to the south and east of the Sea of Galilee, which had been allocated in the UN partition plan to the Jewish state. For a description of the massive population movements, Arab and Jewish, at the time of the 1948 war and over the following decades, see Palestinian exodus and Jewish exodus from Arab lands.

Palestinian governorship in Egyptian-controlled Gaza

On the same day that the State of Israel was announced, the Arab League announced that it would set up a single Arab civil administration throughout Palestine.

The All-Palestine Government was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was soon recognized by all Arab League members, except Jordan. Though jurisdiction of the Government was declared to cover the whole of the former Mandatory Palestine, its effective jurisdiction was limited to the Gaza Strip. The Prime Minister of the Gaza-seated administration was named Ahmed Hilmi Pasha, and the President was named Hajj Amin al-Husseini, former chairman of the Arab Higher Committee.

The All-Palestine Government is regarded by some as the first attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state. It was under official Egyptian protection, but, on the other hand, it had no executive role, but rather mostly political and symbolic. Its importance gradually declined, especially due to relocation of seat of government from Gaza to Cairo following Israeli incursions in late 1948. Though Gaza Strip returned under Egyptian control later on through the war, the All-Palestine Government remained in-exile in Cairo, managing Gazan affairs from outside.

In 1959, the All-Palestine Government was officially merged into the United Arab Republic, coming under formal Egyptian military administration, with the appointment of Egyptian military administrators in Gaza. Egypt, however, both formally and informally denounced any and all territorial claims to Palestinian territory, in contrast to the government of Transjordan, which declared its annexation of the Palestinian West Bank. The All-Palestine Government's credentials as a bona fide sovereign state were questioned by many, particularly due to the effective reliance upon not only Egyptian military support, but Egyptian political and economic power.

Annexation of the West Bank of Jordan

Shortly after the proclamation of All-Palestine Government in Gaza, the Jericho Conference named King Abdullah I of Transjordan, "King of Arab Palestine". The Congress called for the union of Arab Palestine and Transjordan and Abdullah announced his intention to annex the West Bank. The other Arab League member states opposed Abdullah's plan.

The New Historians, like Avi Shlaim, hold that there was an unwritten secret agreement between King Abdullah of Transjordan and Israeli authorities to partition the territory between themselves, and that this translated into each side limiting their objectives and exercising mutual restraint during the 1948 war.

The presence of a large number of immigrants and refugees from the now dissolved Mandate of Palestine fueled the regional ambitions of King Abdullah I, who sought control over what had been the British Jerusalem and Samaria districts on the West Bank of the Jordan River. Towards this goal the king granted Jordanian citizenship to all Arab holders of the Palestinian Mandate identity documents in February 1949, and outlawed the terms "Palestinian" and "Transjordanian" from official usage, changing the country's name from the Emirate of Trans-Jordan to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The area east of the river became known as al-Ḍiffah al-Sharqiyya, or "The East Bank". In April 1950, with the formal annexation of the positions held by the Jordanian Army since 1948, the area became known as al-Ḍiffah al-Gharbiyya or "The Western Bank". With the formal union of the East and West Banks in 1950, the number of Palestinians in the kingdom rose by another 720,000, of whom 440,000 were West Bank residents and 280,000 were refugees from other areas of the former Mandate then living on the West Bank. Palestinians became the majority in Jordan although most believed their return to what was now the state of Israel was imminent.

Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories

Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War

The region today: Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights

In the course of the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel captured the rest of the area that had been part of the British Mandate of Palestine, taking the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Following military threats by Egypt and Syria, including Egyptian president Nasser's demand of the UN to remove its peace-keeping troops from the Egyptian-Israeli border, in June 1967 Israeli forces went to action against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. As a result of that war, the Israel Defense Forces conquered the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula bringing them under military rule. Israel also pushed Arab forces back from East Jerusalem, which Jews had not been permitted to visit during the prior Jordanian rule. East Jerusalem was allegedly annexed by Israel as part of its capital, though this action has not been recognized internationally. Israel also started building settlements on the occupied land.

The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242, promoting the "land for peace" formula, which called for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967, in return for the end of all states of belligerency by the aforementioned Arab League nations. Palestinians continued longstanding demands for the destruction of Israel or made a new demand for self-determination in a separate independent Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip similar to but smaller than the original Partition area that Palestinians and the Arab League had rejected for statehood in 1947.

In the course of 1973 Yom Kippur War, military forces of Egypt crossed the Suez canal and Syria to regain the Golan heights. The attacking military forces of Syria were pushed back. After a cease fire, Egyptian President Sadat Anwar Sadat started peace talks with the U.S. and Israel. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt as part of the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel.

First Intifada, Oslo Accords and the State of Palestine

From 1987 to 1993, the First Palestinian Intifada against Israel took place. Attempts at the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were made at the Madrid Conference of 1991.

Following the historic 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Palestinians and Israel (the "Oslo Accords"), which gave the Palestinians limited self-rule in some parts of the occupied territories through the Palestinian Authority, and other detailed negotiations, proposals for a Palestinian state gained momentum. They were soon followed in 1993 by the Israel-Jordan peace treaty.

Second Intifada and later

After few years of on-and-off negotiations, the Palestinians began an uprising against Israel. This was known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada. The events were highlighted in world media by Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel that killed many civilians, and by Israeli Security Forces full-fledged invasions into civilian areas along with some targeted killings of Palestinian militant leaders and organizers. Israel began building a complex security barrier to block suicide bombers crossing into Israel from the West Bank in 2002.

Also in 2002, the Road map for peace calling for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was proposed by a "quartet": the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations. U.S. President George W. Bush in a speech on 24 June 2002, called for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace. Bush was the first U.S. president to explicitly call for such a Palestinian state.

Following Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004, it withdrew all settlers and most of the military presence from the Gaza strip, but maintained control of the air space and coast. Israel also dismantled four settlements in northern West Bank in September 2005.

Gaza-West Bank split

On 25 January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections were held in order to elect the second Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas won the election, securing 74 of the 132 seats while its rival Fatah only won 45 seats. The outcome of the election shocked the world and meant that Hamas would take over most of PA's institutions. Hamas tried to form a unity government with Fatah, but the offer was rebuffed. Meanwhile, Israel and the US imposed sanctions on the PA in order to destabilize the Palestinian government so that it would fail and new elections would be called. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful but lead to a rift between Hamas and Fatah.

In June 2006, Palestinian militants affiliated with Hamas carried out a cross-border raid from Gaza into Israel through a tunnel dug for the purpose of attacking Israel. An Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was captured and taken to Gaza by the militants. He would be held for five years until he was released in 2011 in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners imprisoned by Israel. The raid caused Israel to large several large-scale invasions of Gaza in the summer and autumn of 2006 attempting to rescue their captured soldier. Over 500 Palestinians and 11 Israelis were killed during the hostilities but ultimately they were unsuccessful in retrieving Shalit.

Relations between Hamas and Fatah deteriorated further as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attempted to dismiss the Hamas-led coalition government in June 2007. Hamas objected to this move being illegal and street battles between Hamas and Fatah members broke out in what came to be known as the 2007 Battle of Gaza. Hamas emerged victorious and took control of the Gaza Strip.

From that point on, governance of the Palestinian territories were split between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas, branded an Islamist terror organization by the EU and several Western countries, in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank.

As of July 2009, approximately 305,000 Israelis lived in 121 settlements in the West Bank. The 2.4 million West Bank Palestinians (according to Palestinian evaluations) live primarily in four blocs centered in Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, and Jericho.

Observer status of State of Palestine - International recognition of the State of Palestine and Palestine Liberation Organization

On 23 September 2011, President Mahmoud Abbas on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organisation submitted an application for membership of Palestine in the United Nations. The campaign, dubbed "Palestine 194", was formally backed by the Arab League in May, and was officially confirmed by the PLO on 26 June. The decision was labelled by the Israeli government as a unilateral step, while the Palestinian government countered that it is essential to overcoming the current impasse. Several other countries, such as Germany and Canada, have also denounced the decision and called for a prompt return to negotiations. Many others, however, such as Norway and Russia, have endorsed the plan, as has Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who stated, "UN members are entitled whether to vote for or against the Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN."

In July 2012, it was reported that Hamas Government in Gaza was considering declaring the independence of the Gaza Strip with the help of Egypt. In August 2012, Foreign Minister of the PNA Riyad al-Malki told reporters in Ramallah that PNA would renew effort to upgrade the Palestinian (PLO) status to "full member state" at the U.N. General Assembly on 27 September 2012. By September 2012, with their application for full membership stalled due to the inability of Security Council members to "make a unanimous recommendation", Palestine had decided to pursue an upgrade in status from "observer entity" to 'non-member observer state'. On November 27, it was announced that the appeal had been officially made, and would be put to a vote in the General Assembly on November 29, where their status upgrade was expected to be supported by a majority of states. In addition to granting Palestine "non-member observer state status", the draft resolution "expresses the hope that the Security Council will consider favourably the application submitted on 23 September 2011 by the State of Palestine for admission to full membership in the United Nations, endorses the two state solution based on the pre-1967 borders, and stresses the need for an immediate resumption of negotiations between the two parties".

On 29 November 2012, in a 138-9 vote (with 41 abstaining), General Assembly resolution 67/19 passed, upgrading Palestine to "non-member observer state" status in the United Nations. The new status equates Palestine's with that of the Holy See. The change in status was described by The Independent as "de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine".

The UN has permitted Palestine to title its representative office to the UN as "The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations", and Palestine has started to re-title its name accordingly on postal stamps, official documents and passports, whilst it has instructed its diplomats to officially represent "The State of Palestine", as opposed to the "Palestine National Authority". Additionally, on 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon decided that "the designation of "State of Palestine" shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents", thus recognising the PLO-proclaimed State of Palestine as being sovereign over the territories Palestine and its citizens under international law.

By February 2013, 131 (67.9%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations had recognised the State of Palestine. Many of the countries that do not recognise the State of Palestine nevertheless recognise the PLO as the "representative of the Palestinian people".

History of Israel & Palestine