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Israel geography :

 

 

Israel is on the eastern Mediterranean, bordered by Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic to the north, the Palestine National Authority (West Bank) and Jordan to the east, and Egypt to the south. Gaza, a small coastal strip between Israel and Egypt, is administered by the Palestine National Authority. Although only the size of Wales or Massachusetts, Israel contains a great variety of terrain and four climate zones. The north of the country is the fertile hill region of Galilee, rising to Mount Hermon and Golan in the northeast. The fertile Plain of Sharon runs along the coast, while inland, parallel to the coast, is a range of hills and uplands with relatively barren stony areas to the east. The country stretches southwards through the Negev Desert to Eilat, a resort town on the Red Sea. The Great Rift Valley begins beyond the sources of the River Jordan in the north and extends south through the Dead Sea (the lowest point in the world), into the Red Sea, continuing on into Eastern Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel - overview:

 

 

Known by millions around the world as ‘the Holy Land’, Israel is an exceptional country. The story of this land and its people is truly like nowhere else on earth. 

The first five books of the Bible itself are about the origins and cosmology of the ‘people of Israel’, the Jews, from around 2000BC.

Fleeing slavery to conquer and settle in Canaan (broadly the same land as modern Israel), Jewish culture evolved around worship at their Temple in Jerusalem, built around 1000BC. Several attempts by foreign powers to eradicate Israel ended in failure, until in AD135, after some 70 years of war with Jewish rebels, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, expelled the Jews, and renamed Israel as ‘Palestine’. The subsequent Jewish diaspora continues to the present day. Nineteenth-century pogroms in Eastern Europe sparked the Zionist movement that aimed to re-establish the Jewish nation in Palestine, which had become part of the Ottoman Empire. From 1882 onwards, waves of Jewish immigration began. After WW1, the Ottoman Empire was broken up and the British Mandate took control. In 1947 the League of Nations voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas, a plan accepted by the Zionists but rejected by the Arab League.

The Jewish leaders inaugurated the State of Israel in May 1948, bringing an immediate full-scale war by the Arab states. Much of the history of the region since that time has been one of this continuing conflict. Following the ‘Six Day War’ of 1967, Jerusalem came under Jewish rule for the first time since the Roman expulsion. The West Bank was occupied, and its Arab residents, adopting the name Palestinians and represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) became the forefront of the struggle against Israel.  Israel has since made peace with former foes including Egypt and Jordan. A peace process began with the Palestinians in the early 1990s after years of uprising or intifada. The Palestinian National Authority was set up in 1993 to take over the Palestinian areas. However, the election in January 2006 of militant Islamist organization Hamas, which claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombings in Israel, made peace less likely. Lebanon’s militant Islamist group Hezbollah launched a war on Israel in August 2006.

Despite these problems, Israel remains buoyant and positive, with a ‘can-do’ attitude. It is a world-class destination with outstanding cultural, archaeological and religious attractions, spas and beach resorts, as well as a unique ancient-and-modern atmosphere.