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Asunto:[CeHuNews] 119/03 - About Israel
Fecha:Domingo, 1 de Junio, 2003  05:24:39 (-0300)
Autor:Humboldt <humboldt @............ar>

Bebida de limón

CeHuNews 119/03

 
ABOUT ISRAEL
 
Israel is a land and a people. The history of the Jewish people, and of its roots in the Land of Israel, spans some 35 centuries. In this land, its cultural, national and religious identity was formed; here, its physical presence has been maintained unbroken throughout the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile, With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost 2,000 years earlier, was renewed.

 


Location

Israel is located in the Middle East, along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. It lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.


Geography

Long and narrow in shape, the country is about 290 miles (470 km.) in length and 85 miles (135 km.) in width at its widest point.

Although small in size, Israel encompasses the varied topographical features of an entire continent, ranging from forested highlands and fertile green valleys to mountainous deserts and from the coastal plain to the semitropical Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Approximately half of the country's land area is semi-arid.


Climate

Israel's climate is characterized by much sunshine, with a rainy season from November to April. Total annual precipitation ranges from 20-30 inches (50-70 cm) in the north to less than an inch (2.5 cm) in the far south. Regional climatic conditions vary considerably: hot, humid summers and mild, wet winters on the coastal plain; dry, warm summers and moderately cold winters, with rain and occasional light snow, in the hill regions; hot, dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and semi-arid conditions, with warm to hot days and cool nights, in the south.


Flora and Fauna

The rich variety of Israel's plant and animal life reflects its geographical location as well as its varied topography and climate. Over 500 kinds of birds, some 200 mammal and reptile species, and 2,600 plant types (150 of which are endemic to Israel) are found within its borders. Over 150 nature reserves and 65 national parks, encompassing nearly 400 square miles (almost 1,000 sq. km.) have been established throughout the country.


Water

The scarcity of water in the region has generated intense efforts to maximize use of the available supply and to seek new resources. In the 1960s, Israel's freshwater sources were joined in an integrated grid whose main artery, the National Water Carrier, brings water from the north and center to the semi-arid south. Ongoing projects for utilizing new sources include cloud seeding, recycling of sewage water and the desalination of seawater.


Population

Israel is a country of immigrants. Since its inception in 1948, Israel's population has grown five-fold. Its 6.5 million inhabitants comprise a mosaic of people with varied ethnic backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, cultures and traditions. Today Jews comprise 77.2% of the country's population, while the country's non-Jewish citizens, mostly Arabs, number about 22.8%.


Lifestyle

About 91% of Israel's inhabitants live in some 200 urban centers, some of which are located on ancient historical sites. About 5% are members of unique rural cooperative settlements - the kibbutz and the moshav.


Main Cities

Jerusalem, Israel's capital (population 670,000), has stood at the center of the Jewish people's national and spiritual life since King David made it the capital of his kingdom some 3000 years ago. Today it is a flourishing, vibrant metropolis, the seat of the government and Israel's largest city.

Tel Aviv (population 359,400) which was founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city in modem times, is today the center of the country's industrial, commercial, financial and cultural life.

Haifa (population 272,000), a known coastal town since ancient times, is a major Mediterranean port and the industrial and commercial center of northern Israel.

Be'er Sheva (population 178,000), named in the Bible as an encampment of the patriarchs, is today the largest urban center in the south. It provides administrative, economic, health, education and cultural services for the entire southern region.


System of Government

Israel is a parliamentary democracy with legislative, executive and judicial branches. The head of the state is the president, whose duties are mostly ceremonial and formal; the office symbolizes the unity and sovereignty of the state. The Knesset, Israel's legislative authority, is a 120-member unicameral parliament which operates in plenary session and through 15 standing committees. Its members are elected every four years in universal nationwide elections. The Government (cabinet of ministers) is charged with administering internal and foreign affairs. It is headed by a prime minister and is collectively responsible to the Knesset.


Education and Science

School attendance is mandatory from age five and free through age 18. Almost all three- and four-year-olds attend some kind of preschool program.

Israel's institutions of higher education include universities, offering a wide range of subjects in science and humanities, and serving as research institutions of worldwide repute, colleges offering academic courses and vocational schools. The country's high level of scientific research and development and the application of R&D compensate for the country's lack of natural resources.


Health

The National Health Insurance Law, in effect from January 1995, provides for a standardized basket of medical services, including hospitalization, for all residents of Israel. All medical services continue to be supplied by the country's four health care organizations.

Life expectancy is 80.9 years for women and 76.7 years for men; the infant mortality rate is 5.4 per 1,000 live births. The ratio of physicians to population and the number of specialists compare favorably with those in most developed countries.


Social Welfare

The social service system is based on legislation which provides for workers' protection and a broad range of national and community services, including care of the elderly, assistance for single parents, programs for children and youth, adoption agencies, as well as prevention and treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse.

The National Insurance Institute provides all permanent residents (including non-citizens) with a broad range of benefits, including unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, survivors' benefits, matemity grants and allowances, child allowances, income support payments and more.


Economy

GDP $106.0 billion
($17,000 per capita)
Exports, goods and services $38.7 billion
Imports, goods and services $43.5 billion


Industry

Israel's industry concentrates on manufacturing products with a high added value that are primarily based on technological innovation. These include medical electronics, agro-technology, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, solar energy, food processing and fine chemicals.


Agriculture

Israel's agricultural successes are the result of a long struggle against harsh, adverse conditions and of making maximum use of scarce water and arable land. Today, agriculture represents some 2.5% of GNP and 3% of exports. Israel produces 93% of its own food requirements, supplemented by imports of grain, oil seeds, meat, coffee, cocoa and sugar, which are more than offset by the wide range of agricultural products for export.


Foreign Trade

Trade is conducted with countries on six continents. Some 42% of imports and 32% of exports are with Europe, boosted by Israel's free trade agreement with the EU (concluded in 1975). A similar agreement was signed with the United States (1985), whose trade with Israel accounts for 23% of Israel's imports and 32% of its exports.


Culture

Thousands of years of history, the ingathering of the Jews from over 70 countries, a society of multi-ethnic communities living side by side, and an unending flow of international input via satellite and cable have contributed to the development of an Israeli culture which reflects worldwide elements while striving for an identity of its own. Cultural expression through the arts is as varied as the people themselves, with literature, theater, concerts, radio and television programming, entertainment, museums and galleries for every interest and taste.

The official languages of the country are Hebrew and Arabic, but in the country's streets many other languages can be heard. Hebrew, the language of the Bible, long restricted to liturgy and literature, was revived a century ago, accompanying the renewal of Jewish life in the Land.

 


HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

 
 

 

 

17th-6th C. BCE BIBLICAL TIMES
(BCE - Before the Common Era)
c.17th century The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob - patriarchs of the Jewish people and bearers of a belief in one God - settle in the Land of Israel.
Famine forces Israelites to migrate to Egypt.
c.13th century Exodus from Egypt: Moses leads Israelites from Egypt, followed by 40 years of wandering in the desert.
Torah, including the Ten Commandments, received at Mount Sinai.
13th-12th
centuries
Israelites settle in the Land of Israel
c.1020 Jewish Monarchy established; Saul, first king.
c.1000 Jerusalem made capital of David's kingdom.
c.960 First Temple, the national and spiritual center of the Jewish people, built in Jerusalem by King Solomon.
c. 930 Divided kingdom: Judah and Israel
722-720 Israel crushed by Assyrians; 10 tribes exiled (Ten Lost Tribes).
586 Judah conquered by Babylonia; Jerusalem and First Temple destroyed; most Jews exiled to Babylonia.
 
536-142 PERSIAN AND HELLENISTIC PERIODS

 
 

 

 

 

538-515 Many Jews return from Babylonia; Temple rebuilt.
332 Land conquered by Alexander the Great; Hellenistic rule.
166-160 Maccabean (Hasmonean) revolt against restrictions on practice of Judaism and desecration of the Temple
142-129 Jewish autonomy under Hasmoneans.
129-63 Jewish independence under Hasmonean monarchy.
63 Jerusalem captured by Roman general, Pompey.
 

 
 

 

 

 


 
 

63 BCE-313
CE
ROMAN RULE
(CE - The Common Era)
63 BCE - 4 CE Herod, Roman vassal king, rules the Land of Israel;
Temple in Jerusalem refurbished
c. 20-33 Ministry of Jesus of Nazareth
66 Jewish revolt against the Romans
70 Destruction of Jerusalem and Second Temple.
73 Last stand of Jews at Masada.
132-135 Bar Kokhba uprising against Rome.
c. 210 Codification of Jewish oral law (Mishnah) completed.
 
313-636 BYZANTINE RULE
c. 390 Commentary on the Mishnah (Jerusalem Talmud) completed.
614 Persian invasion
 
636-1099 ARAB RULE
691 On site of First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, Dome of the Rock built by Caliph Abd el-Malik.
 
1099-1291 CRUSADER DOMINATION
(Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem)
 
1291-1516 MAMLUK RULE
 
1517-1917 OTTOMAN RULE
1564 Code of Jewish law (Shulhan Arukh) published.
1860 First neighborhood, Mishkenot Sha'ananim, built outside Jerusalem's walls.
1882-1903 First Aliyah (large-scale immigration), mainly from Russia.
1897 First Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl in Basel, Switzerland; Zionist Organization founded.

 
   
 

1904-14 Second Aliyah, mainly from Russia and Poland.
1909 First kibbutz, Degania, and first modern all-Jewish city, Tel Aviv, founded.
1917 400 years of Ottoman rule ended by British conquest;
British Foreign Minister Balfour pledges support for establishment of a "Jewish national home in Palestine".
 
1918-48 BRITISH RULE
1919-23 Third Aliyah, mainly from Russia
1920 Histadrut (Jewish labor federation) and Haganah (Jewish defense organization) founded.
Vaad Leumi (National Council) set up by Jewish community (yishuv)to conduct its affairs.
1921 First moshav (cooperative village), Nahalal, founded.
1922 Britain granted Mandate for Palestine (Land of Israel) by League of Nations; Transjordan set up on three-fourths of the area, leaving one-fourth for the Jewish national home
Jewish Agency representing Jewish community vis-a-vis Mandate authorities set up.

 
   
 

1924 Technion, first institute of technology, founded in Haifa.
1924-32 Fourth Aliyah, mainly from Poland.
1925 Hebrew University of Jerusalem opened on Mt. Scopus.
1929 Hebron Jews massacred by Arab militants.
1931 Etzel, Jewish underground organization, founded.
1933-39 Fifth Aliyah, mainly from Germany.
1936-39 Anti-Jewish riots instigated by Arab militants.
1939 Jewish immigration severely limited by British White Paper.
1939-45 World War II; Holocaust in Europe.
1941 Lehi underground movement formed; Palmach, strike force of Haganah, set up.
1944 Jewish Brigade formed as part of British forces.
1947 UN proposes the establishment of Arab and Jewish states in the Land.
 

 
 

 

 


 

 


 
 

1948 STATE OF ISRAEL
1948 End of British Mandate (14 May)
State of Israel proclaimed (14 May).
Israel invaded by five Arab states (15 May)
War of Independence (May 1948-July 1949)
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) established
1949 Armistice agreements signed with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon.
Jerusalem divided under Israeli and Jordanian rule.
First Knesset (parliament) elected.
Israel admitted to United Nations as 59th member.
1948-52 Mass immigration from Europe and Arab countries.
1956 Sinai Campaign
1962 Adolf Eichmann tried and executed in Israel for his part in the Holocaust.
1964 National Water Carrier completed, bringing water from Lake Kinneret in the north to the semi-arid south.
1967 Six-Day War, Jerusalem reunited.
1968-70 Egypt's War of Attrition against Israel
1973 Yom Kippur War
1975 Israel becomes an associate member of the European Common Market.
1977 Likud forms government after Knesset elections, end of 30 years of Labor rule.
Visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem.
1978 Camp David Accords include framework for comprehensive peace in the Middle East and proposal for Palestinian self-government.
1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty signed.
Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
1981 Israel Air Force destroys Iraqi nuclear reactor just before it is to become operative.
1982 Israel's three-stage withdrawal from Sinai completed.
Operation Peace for Galilee removes PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) terrorists from Lebanon.
1984 National unity government (Likud and Labor) formed after elections.
Operation Moses, immigration of Jews from Ethiopia.
1985 Free Trade Agreement signed with United States.
1987 Widespread violence (intifada) starts in Israeli-administered areas.
1988 Likud government in power following elections.

 
 
 
 

1989 Four-point peace initiative proposed by Israel.
Start of mass immigration of Jews from former Soviet Union.
1991 Israel attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during Gulf war.
Middle East peace conference convened in Madrid;
Operation Solomon, airlift of Jews from Ethiopia.
1992 Diplomatic relations established with China and India.
New government headed by Yitzhak Rabin of Labor party.
1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements for the Palestinians signed by Israel and PLO, as representative of the Palestinian people.

 
 

 

 


 
 

1994 Implementation of Palestinian self-government in Gaza Strip and Jericho area.
Full diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
Morocco and Tunisia interest offices set up.
Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty signed.
Rabin, Peres, Arafat awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
1995 Broadened Palestinian self-government implemented in West Bank and Gaza Strip; Palestinian Council elected.
Prime Minister Rabin assassinated at peace rally.
Shimon Peres becomes prime minister.
1996 Fundamentalist Arab terrorism against Israel escalates.
Operation Grapes of Wrath, retaliation for Hizbullah terrorists' attacks on northern Israel.
Trade representation offices set up in Oman and Qatar.
Likud forms government after Knesset elections.
Benjamin Netanyahu becomes prime minister.
Omani trade representation office opened in Tel Aviv.
1997 Hebron Protocol signed by Israel and the PA.

 
   

 

 

1998 Israel celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Israel and the PLO sign the Wye River Memorandum to facilitate implementation of the Interim Agreement.
1999 Ehud Barak (left-wing One Israel party) elected Prime Minister; forms coalition government.
Israel and the PLO sign the Sharm-el-Sheikh Memorandum.
2000 Visit of Pope Paul II.
Israel withdraws from the Security Zone in southern Lebanon.
Israel admitted to UN Western European and Others Group.
Al-Aqsa intifada (renewed violence) breaks out.
Prime Minister Barak resigns.
2001 Ariel Sharon (Likud) elected Prime Minister and forms broad-based unity government.
The Sharm-el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee issues a report (the Mitchell Report).
Palestinian-Israeli Security Implementation Work Plan (Tenet ceasefire plan).
Rechavam Ze'evy, Minister of Tourism, assassinated by Palestinian terrorists.
2002
Israel launches Operation Defensive Shield in response to massive Palestinian terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister Sharon disperses the Knesset, calling for new elections on Jan 28, 2003.