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Location of Israel
Map of Israel

Israel (; Hebrew: ?‎; Arabic: ‎), officially known as the State of Israel (Hebrew: ?‎, Medinat Yisra'el), is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although recognition of the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem is limited.

Israel has evidence of the earliest migration of hominids out of Africa. Canaanite tribes are archaeologically attested since the Middle Bronze Age, while the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged during the Iron Age. The Neo-Assyrian Empire destroyed Israel around 720 BCE. Judah was later conquered by the Babylonian, Persian and Hellenistic empires and had existed as Jewish autonomous provinces. The successful Maccabean Revolt led to an independent Hasmonean kingdom by 110 BCE, which in 63 BCE however became a client state of the Roman Republic that subsequently installed the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE, and in 6 CE created the Roman province of Judea. Judea lasted as a Roman province until the failed Jewish revolts resulted in widespread destruction, the expulsion of the Jewish population and the renaming of the region from Iudaea to Syria Palaestina. Jewish presence in the region has persisted to a certain extent over the centuries. In the 7th century CE, the Levant was taken from the Byzantine Empire by the Arabs and remained in Muslim control until the First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Ayyubid conquest of 1187. The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt extended its control over the Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. During the 19th century, national awakening among Jews led to the establishment of the Zionist movement followed by immigration to Palestine.

In 1947, the United Nations (UN) adopted a Partition Plan for Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency, and rejected by Arab leaders. The following year, the Jewish Agency declared the independence of the State of Israel, and the subsequent 1948 Arab-Israeli War saw Israel's establishment over most of the former Mandate territory, while the West Bank and Gaza were held by neighboring Arab states. Israel has since fought several wars with Arab countries, and since the Six-Day War in June 1967 held occupied territories including the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip (still considered occupied after the 2005 disengagement, although some legal experts dispute this claim). Subsequent legislative acts have resulted in the full application of Israeli law within the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, as well as its partial application in the West Bank via "pipelining" into Israeli settlements. Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is internationally considered to be the world's longest military occupation in modern times. Efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have not resulted in a final peace agreement, while Israel has signed peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan.

In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state and the nation state of the Jewish people. The country has a liberal democracy (one of only two in the Middle East and North Africa region, the other being Tunisia), with a parliamentary system, proportional representation, and universal suffrage. The prime minister is head of government and the Knesset is the legislature. With a population of around 9 million as of 2019, Israel is a developed country and an OECD member. It has the world's 31st-largest economy by nominal GDP, and is the most developed country currently in conflict. It has the highest standard of living in the Middle East, and ranks among the world's top countries by percentage of citizens with military training, percentage of citizens holding a tertiary education degree, research and development spending by GDP percentage, women's safety, life expectancy, innovativeness, and happiness.

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2018 United Nations map of the area, showing the Israeli occupation arrangements.

East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem (Arabic: ?al-Quds al-Sharqit; Hebrew: ? ?mizra? yerushalayim) is the sector of Jerusalem that was occupied by Jordan during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, as opposed to the western sector of the city, West Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel. Since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, East Jerusalem has been considered occupied by Israel by the international community.

This area includes Jerusalem's Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, such as the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as well as a number of adjacent neighbourhoods. Israeli and Palestinian definitions of it differ. The Palestinian official position is based on the 1949 Armistice Agreements, while the Israeli position is based mainly on the current municipality boundaries of Jerusalem. These were determined by a series of administrative enlargements decided by Israeli municipal authorities since the June 1967 Six-Day War. Despite its name, East Jerusalem includes neighborhoods to the north, east and south of the Old City and, in the wider definition of the term, even on all these sides of West Jerusalem. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to be illegal under international law. Israel disputes this interpretation. Read more...

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Jaffa Road in the 19th century

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Aerial photo of Isdud, 1935

Operation Pleshet (Hebrew: ? ‎, Mivtza Pleshet, lit. "Operation Philistia"), named after the geographical region where it took place, was an Israeli military operation during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was carried out from May 29 to June 3, 1948, in the Isdud/Ad Halom area of the southern front, against the Egyptian Army. The aim of the operation was to capture Isdud and stop the Egyptian advance northwards. While only the June 2-3 engagements are officially named Operation Pleshet, the events immediately preceding are historiographically joined with it.

The preceding events consisted of an aerial bombardment, followed by small-scale Israeli harassment of the Egyptian lines, and later a ground assault (Operation Pleshet). The original plan was to attack on June 1-2, but this was canceled due to an impending ceasefire, and re-attempted on June 2-3. The Israelis, under the Givati Brigade's umbrella command, attacked in two main forces: one from the north (3 companies) and one from the south (4 reinforced companies). The Israelis had little intelligence on their enemy and were forced to retreat. They failed to capture territory, and suffered heavy casualties. However, following the operation, Egypt changed its strategy from offensive to defensive, thus halting their advance northwards. Read more...

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Matzah balls (Yiddish: kneydlekh pl., singular kneydl; with numerous other transliterations) or matzo balls are Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumplings made from a mixture of matzah meal, beaten eggs, water, and a fat, such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat. Matzah balls are traditionally served in chicken soup and are a staple food on the Jewish holiday of Passover.

The texture of matzah balls may be light or dense, depending on the recipe. Matzah balls made from some recipes float in soup; others sink. Read more...

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16 October 2020 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Israel, COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns
The government agrees to ease a month-long second nationwide lockdown on October 18, after a significant decline in the number of new cases. On that day, people will be permitted to go more than one kilometer from their homes for non-essential purposes, nurseries will reopen, and restaurants will be able to serve takeaway food. (BBC)
14 October 2020 -
Protesters gather outside the Israel Supreme Court and call for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be investigated for a scandal surrounding a $2 billion submarine deal with Germany. (Washington Post)
12 October 2020 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Israel

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  1. ^ Butcher, Tim. Sharon presses for fence across Sinai, Daily Telegraph, December 07, 2005.
  2. ^ cite web| title=11 Jan, 2010; from google (Israel-Egypt barrier construction began) result 8|url=https://www.rt.com/politics/israel-approves-democratic-barrier/}}
  3. ^ "November 22, 2010; from google (Israel-Egypt barrier construction began) result 10".


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