Since , Arab countries, concerned over Israeli plans to divert waters of the Jordan River into the coastal plain ,  had been trying to divert the headwaters to deprive Israel of water resources, provoking tensions between Israel on the one hand, and Syria and Lebanon on the other. Arab nationalists led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser refused to recognize Israel, and called for its destruction. Jordan, Syria and Iraq responded and attacked Israel. Following the war and the " Three No's " resolution of the Arab League and during the — War of Attrition , Israel faced attacks from the Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula, and from Palestinian groups targeting Israelis in the occupied territories, in Israel proper, and around the world.
Most important among the various Palestinian and Arab groups was the Palestinian Liberation Organization PLO , established in , which initially committed itself to "armed struggle as the only way to liberate the homeland". The Israeli government responded with an assassination campaign against the organizers of the massacre, a bombing and a raid on the PLO headquarters in Lebanon.
The war ended on 25 October with Israel successfully repelling Egyptian and Syrian forces but having suffered over 2, soldiers killed in a war which collectively took 10—35, lives in about 20 days.
Who Is an Israeli? – The Forward
Israeli commandos carried out an operation in which out of Israeli hostages were successfully rescued. The Knesset elections marked a major turning point in Israeli political history as Menachem Begin 's Likud party took control from the Labor Party. The PLO soon resumed its policy of attacks against Israel. In the next few years, the PLO infiltrated the south and kept up a sporadic shelling across the border.
Israel carried out numerous retaliatory attacks by air and on the ground. Meanwhile, Begin's government provided incentives for Israelis to settle in the occupied West Bank , increasing friction with the Palestinians in that area. No Israeli legislation has defined the territory of Israel and no act specifically included East Jerusalem therein. Several waves of Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel since the s, while between and , immigration from the post-Soviet states increased Israel's population by twelve percent.
Becoming a citizen not as part of the Law of Return
On 7 June , the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's sole nuclear reactor under construction just outside Baghdad , in order to impede Iraq's nuclear weapons program. An Israeli government inquiry—the Kahan Commission —would later hold Begin and several Israeli generals as indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre and hold Defense minister Ariel Sharon as bearing "personal responsibility" for the massacre  Sharon was forced to resign as Defense Minister.
Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in , but maintained a borderland buffer zone in southern Lebanon until , from where Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Hezbollah. The First Intifada , a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule,  broke out in , with waves of uncoordinated demonstrations and violence occurring in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Over the following six years, the Intifada became more organised and included economic and cultural measures aimed at disrupting the Israeli occupation. More than a thousand people were killed in the violence. Despite public outrage, Israel heeded American calls to refrain from hitting back and did not participate in that war. In , Yitzhak Rabin became Prime Minister following an election in which his party called for compromise with Israel's neighbors. Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu at the end of the s, Israel withdrew from Hebron ,  and signed the Wye River Memorandum , giving greater control to the Palestinian National Authority.
During the summit, Barak offered a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Some commentators contend that the uprising was pre-planned by Arafat due to the collapse of peace talks. During his tenure, Sharon carried out his plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and also spearheaded the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier ,  ending the Intifada.
In July , a Hezbollah artillery assault on Israel's northern border communities and a cross-border abduction of two Israeli soldiers precipitated the month-long Second Lebanon War. At the end of , Israel entered another conflict as a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel collapsed. The —09 Gaza War lasted three weeks and ended after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire.
Despite neither the rocket launchings nor Israeli retaliatory strikes having completely stopped, the fragile ceasefire remained in order. The Iranian—Israeli conflict gradually emerged from the declared hostility of post-revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran towards Israel since , into covert Iranian support of Hezbollah during the South Lebanon conflict — and essentially developed into a proxy regional conflict from With increasing Iranian involvement in the Syrian Civil War from the conflict shifted from proxy warfare into direct confrontation by early Israel is located in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent region.
The country is at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea , bounded by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank to the east, and Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the southwest. Despite its small size, Israel is home to a variety of geographic features, from the Negev desert in the south to the inland fertile Jezreel Valley , mountain ranges of the Galilee , Carmel and toward the Golan in the north.
The Israeli coastal plain on the shores of the Mediterranean is home to most of the nation's population. Unique to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula are makhteshim , or erosion cirques. This tectonic disposition leads to a relatively high seismic activity in the region. The entire Jordan Valley segment is thought to have ruptured repeatedly, for instance during the last two major earthquakes along this structure in and The most catastrophic known earthquakes occurred in 31 BCE, , , and CE, that is every ca.
Temperatures in Israel vary widely, especially during the winter. Coastal areas, such as those of Tel Aviv and Haifa , have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. The area of Beersheba and the Northern Negev have a semi-arid climate with hot summers, cool winters, and fewer rainy days than the Mediterranean climate. The Southern Negev and the Arava areas have a desert climate with very hot, dry summers, and mild winters with few days of rain. The highest temperature in the continent of Asia Four different phytogeographic regions exist in Israel, due to the country's location between the temperate and tropical zones, bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the desert in the east.
For this reason, the flora and fauna of Israel are extremely diverse. There are 2, known species of plants found in Israel. Of these, at least species are introduced and non-native. Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. Field of Anemone coronaria , national flower of Israel. Makhtesh Ramon , a type of crater unique to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula.
Defining Who Is an Israeli
As of , Israel's population was an estimated 9,,, of whom Exact figures are unknown, as many of them are living in the country illegally,  but estimates run from ,  to , Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people and is often referred to as a Jewish state.
The country's Law of Return grants all Jews and those of Jewish ancestry the right to Israeli citizenship. Three quarters of the population are Jews from a diversity of Jewish backgrounds. Jews who left or fled Arab and Muslim countries and their descendants, including both Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews,  form most of the rest of the Jewish population. In addition to the West Bank settlements, there were more than , Jews living in East Jerusalem ,  and 22, in the Golan Heights.
There are four major metropolitan areas: Gush Dan Tel Aviv metropolitan area; population 3,, , Jerusalem metropolitan area population 1,, , Haifa metropolitan area population , , and Beersheba metropolitan area population , Israel has 16 cities with populations over , In all, there are 77 Israeli localities granted "municipalities" or "city" status by the Ministry of the Interior,  four of which are in the West Bank.
Israel has one official language, Hebrew. Arabic had been an official language of the State of Israel;  in it was downgraded to having a 'special status in the state' with its use by state institutions to be set in law. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority, with Hebrew taught in Arab schools. As a country of immigrants , many languages can be heard on the streets. Due to mass immigration from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia some , Ethiopian Jews live in Israel ,   Russian and Amharic are widely spoken.
English was an official language during the Mandate period; it lost this status after the establishment of Israel, but retains a role comparable to that of an official language,    as may be seen in road signs and official documents. Many Israelis communicate reasonably well in English, as many television programs are broadcast in English with subtitles and the language is taught from the early grades in elementary school.
In addition, Israeli universities offer courses in the English language on various subjects. Making up The city of Jerusalem is of special importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians as it is the home of sites that are pivotal to their religious beliefs, such as the Old City that incorporates the Western Wall and the Temple Mount , the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Kababir , Haifa's mixed neighbourhood of Jews and Ahmadi Arabs is the only one of its kind in the country. Education is highly valued in the Israeli culture and was viewed as a fundamental block of ancient Israelites.
Israel has a school life expectancy of 16 years and a literacy rate of The public secular is the largest school group, and is attended by the majority of Jewish and non-Arab pupils in Israel. Most Arabs send their children to schools where Arabic is the language of instruction. Proficiency in core subjects such as mathematics, the Hebrew language , Hebrew and general literature, the English language , history, Biblical scripture and civics is necessary to receive a Bagrut certificate. This figure has remained stable in their already high levels of educational attainment over recent generations.
Israel has a tradition of higher education where its quality university education has been largely responsible in spurring the nations modern economic development.
Ariel University , in the West Bank , is the newest university institution, upgraded from college status, and the first in over thirty years. Israel is a parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage. A member of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority becomes the prime minister —usually this is the chair of the largest party. The prime minister is the head of government and head of the cabinet.
Israel is governed by a member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership of the Knesset is based on proportional representation of political parties ,  with a 3. The Basic Laws of Israel function as an uncodified constitution. In , the Knesset began to draft an official constitution based on these laws.
The president of Israel is head of state , with limited and largely ceremonial duties.
Israel has no official religion,    but the definition of the state as " Jewish and democratic " creates a strong connection with Judaism, as well as a conflict between state law and religious law. Interaction between the political parties keeps the balance between state and religion largely as it existed during the British Mandate. The bill ascribes "special status" to the Arabic language.
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The same bill gives Jews a unique right to national self-determination, and views the developing of Jewish settlement in the country as "a national interest," empowering the government to "take steps to encourage, advance and implement this interest. Israel has a three-tier court system. At the lowest level are magistrate courts, situated in most cities across the country.
Who is an Israeli resident?
Above them are district courts , serving as both appellate courts and courts of first instance ; they are situated in five of Israel's six districts. The third and highest tier is the Supreme Court , located in Jerusalem; it serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and the High Court of Justice. In the latter role, the Supreme Court rules as a court of first instance, allowing individuals, both citizens and non-citizens, to petition against the decisions of state authorities. Israel's legal system combines three legal traditions: English common law , civil law , and Jewish law.