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Coordinates: 31°N 35°E / 31°N 35°E / 31; 35

State of Israel
מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל‎ (Hebrew)
دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل‎ (Arabic)
Anthem: הַתִּקְוָה (
Ethnic groups
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
• President
Isaac Herzog
Benjamin Netanyahu
Amir Ohana
Esther Hayut
Independence out of British Palestine
14 May 1948
11 May 1949
• Total
20,770–22,072 km2 (8,019–8,522 sq mi)[a] (149th)
• Water (%)
2.71 (as of 2015)[12]
• 2023 estimate
9,695,360[13][fn 4] (91st)
• 2008 census
7,412,200[14][fn 4]
• Density
439/km2 (1,137.0/sq mi) (29th)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $496.84 billion[15] (49th)
• Per capita
Increase $52,173[15] (29th)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $527.18 billion[15] (28th)
• Per capita
Increase $55,359[15] (14th)
Gini (2018)34.8[fn 4][16]
HDI (2021)Increase 0.919[17]
very high · 22nd
CurrencyNew shekel () (ILS)
Time zoneUTC+2:00 (IST)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3:00 (IDT)
Date format
  • יי-חח-שששש (AM)
  • dd-mm-yyyy (CE)
Driving sideright
Calling code+972
ISO 3166 codeIL
  1. ^ 20,770 km2 is Israel within the Green Line. 22,072 km2 includes the Golan Heights (c. 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi)) and East Jerusalem (c. 64 km2 (25 sq mi)), which Israel effectively annexed but are widely recognized as occupied territory.

Israel (

Arabic: إِسْرَائِيل ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel (מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl [mediˈnat jisʁaˈʔel]; دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل Dawlat Isrāʾīl), is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the Southern Levant, it is bordered by Lebanon to the north, by Syria to the northeast, by Jordan to the east, by the Red Sea to the south, by Egypt to the southwest, by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, and by the Palestinian territories — the West Bank along the east and the Gaza Strip along the southwest. Tel Aviv is the economic and technological center of the country, while its seat of government is in its proclaimed capital of Jerusalem, although Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem is unrecognized internationally.[18][fn 5]

Israel and the

Zionist movement. After World War I, the allied powers assigned the Mandate for Palestine to Britain, which during the war made a declaration of support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Following World War II and the Holocaust, the newly formed United Nations adopted the Partition Plan for Palestine, recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, and placing Jerusalem under international control

After a

settlements within the occupied territories, though these actions have been rejected as illegal by the international community. While Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and has normalized relations with a number of other Arab countries, it remains formally at war with Syria and Lebanon, and efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
have thus far stalled.

The country has a parliamentary system, proportional representation, and universal suffrage. The prime minister serves as head of government, and is elected by the Knesset, Israel's unicameral legislature.[23] Israel is a developed country and an OECD member,[24] with a population of over 9 million people as of 2021.[25] It has the world's 28th-largest economy by nominal GDP,[15] and ranks twenty-second in the Human Development Index.[15][26]


biblical archeologists
translate a set of hieroglyphs as "Israel," the first instance of the name in the record.

Under the

Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett.[30]

The names

entire Jewish people respectively.[31] The name 'Israel' (Hebrew: Yisraʾel, Isrāʾīl; Septuagint Greek: Ἰσραήλ, Israēl, 'El (God) persists/rules', though after Hosea 12:4 often interpreted as 'struggle with God')[32][33][34][35] in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he successfully wrestled with the angel of the Lord.[36] Jacob's twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations, lasting 430 years,[37] until Moses, a great-great-grandson of Jacob,[38] led the Israelites back into Canaan during the "Exodus". The earliest known archaeological artefact to mention the word "Israel" as a collective is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE).[39]




anatomically modern humans found outside Africa are the Skhul and Qafzeh hominins, who lived in the area that is now northern Israel 120,000 years ago.[41] Around the 10th millennium BCE, the Natufian culture existed in the area.[42]



Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BCE), large parts of Canaan formed vassal states paying tribute to the New Kingdom of Egypt.[44] As a result of the Late Bronze Age collapse, Canaan fell into chaos, and Egyptian control over the region collapsed completely.[45][46] There is evidence that urban centers such as Hazor, Beit She'an, Megiddo, Ekron, Ashdod and Ashkelon were damaged or destroyed.[47]

A people named Israel appear for the first time in the Merneptah Stele, an ancient Egyptian inscription which dates to about 1200 BCE.[48][49][50][51] Ancestors of the Israelites are thought to have included ancient Semitic-speaking peoples native to this area.[52]: 78–79  According to the modern archaeological account, the Israelites and their culture branched out of the Canaanite peoples and their cultures through the development of a distinct monolatristic—and later monotheistic—religion centered on Yahweh.[53][54][55] They spoke an archaic form of the Hebrew language, known as Biblical Hebrew.[56] Around the same time, the Philistines settled on the southern coastal plain.[57][58]


the conquest of Canaan described in the Book of Joshua, and instead views the narrative as constituting the Israelites' national myth.[59] However, some elements of these traditions do appear to have historical roots.[60][61][62]

There is debate about the earliest existence of the

Omride dynasty, it controlled Samaria, Galilee, the upper Jordan Valley, the Sharon and large parts of the Transjordan.[70] Samaria, the capital, was home to one of the largest Iron Age structures in the Levant.[71][72]

The Kingdom of Israel was destroyed around 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the

Iron Age II.[73] In 587/6 BCE, the Babylonians conquered Judah. King Nebuchadnezzar II besieged and destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple,[74][75] and exiled much of the Judean elite to Babylon.[76] The defeat was also recorded in the Babylonian Chronicles.[77][78] The Babylonian captivity ended around 538 BCE under the rule of the Medo-Persian Cyrus the Great after he captured Babylon.[79][80]

Second Temple period

Portion of the Temple Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, written during the Second Temple period


Yehud,[81] which had a population of around 30,000 people in the 5th to 4th centuries BCE.[65]
: 308 

In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great of Macedon conquered the region as part of his campaign against the Persian Empire. After his death, the area was controlled by the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires as a part of Coele-Syria. During that period, the region underwent a process of Hellenization, which heightened tensions between Greeks, Hellenized Jews, and observant Jews. Several centuries of religious tolerance under Hellenistic rule came to an end when Antiochus IV consecrated the temple, outlawed Jewish customs, and forcibly imposed Hellenistic standards on the Jews. As a result, the Maccabean Revolt erupted in 167 BCE, and eventually led to the establishment of the independent Hasmonean Kingdom of Judea, which exploited the Seleucid Empire's weakening to expand over much of modern Israel and portions of Lebanon and Transjordan.[82][83][84]


Roman province of Judaea, a period that heralded tensions with Roman rule, and led to a series of Jewish–Roman wars, resulting in widespread destruction. The First Jewish-Roman War (66–73 CE) resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple and a sizable portion of the population being killed or displaced.[85]

Late antiquity and the medieval period

As a result of the

Roman Paganism as an external influence.[98]

With the

conversion of Constantine in the 4th century, the situation for the Jewish majority in Palestine "became more difficult".[94] Many Jews had emigrated to flourishing Diaspora communities,[99] while locally there was both Christian immigration and local conversion. By the middle of the 5th century, there was a Christian majority.[100][101] Towards the end of the 5th century, Samaritan revolts erupted, continuing until the late 6th century and resulting in a large decrease in the Samaritan population.[102] After the Persian conquest and the installation of a short-lived Jewish Commonwealth in 614 CE, the Byzantine Empire reconquered the country in 628.[103]

In 634–641 CE, the

Modern period and the emergence of Zionism

In 1516, the region was conquered by the

Muhammad Ali. Although the revolt was suppressed, Muhammad Ali's army retreated and Ottoman rule was restored with British support in 1840.[115] Shortly after, the Tanzimat
reforms were implemented across the Ottoman Empire.

Since the existence of the earliest Jewish diaspora, many Jews have aspired to return to "Zion" and the "Land of Israel",[116] though the amount of effort that should be spent towards such an aim was a matter of dispute.[117] During the 16th century, Jewish communities struck roots in the Four Holy CitiesJerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed—and in 1697, Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid led a group of 1,500 Jews to Jerusalem.[118] In the second half of the 18th century, Eastern European opponents of Hasidism, known as the Perushim, settled in Palestine.[119][120]

The first wave of modern Jewish migration to

Orthodox Jews,[125] although the Second Aliyah included socialist groups who established the kibbutz movement.[126] Though the immigrants of the Second Aliyah largely sought to create communal agricultural settlements, the period also saw the establishment of Tel Aviv in 1909. This period also saw the emergence of Jewish armed militias, the first being Bar-Giora, a guard founded in 1907. Two years later, larger Hashomer
organization was founded as its replacement.

British Mandate

In 1917, during World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent the Balfour Declaration to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, that stated that Britain intended for the creation of a Jewish "national home" in Palestine.[127][128]

In 1918, the

Lehi paramilitaries later split off.[133] In 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain the Mandate for Palestine under terms which included the Balfour Declaration with its promise to the Jews, and with similar provisions regarding the Arab Palestinians.[134] The population of the area at this time was predominantly Arab and Muslim, with Jews accounting for about 11%,[135] and Arab Christians about 9.5% of the population.[136]


Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, a clandestine movement known as Aliyah Bet was organized to bring Jews to Palestine. By the end of World War II, the Jewish population of Palestine had increased to 31% of the total population.[140]

After World War II, the UK found itself facing a Jewish guerrilla campaign over Jewish immigration restrictions, as well as continued conflict with the Arab community over limit levels. The Haganah joined Irgun and Lehi in an armed struggle against British rule.[141] At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors and refugees sought a new life far from their destroyed communities in Europe. The Haganah attempted to bring these refugees to Palestine in a programme called Aliyah Bet in which tens of thousands of Jewish refugees attempted to enter Palestine by ship. Most of the ships were intercepted by the Royal Navy and the refugees rounded up and placed in detention camps in Atlit and Cyprus by the British.[142][143]

On 22 July 1946, Irgun

General Assembly of the United Nations resolved that the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine be created "to prepare for consideration at the next regular session of the Assembly a report on the question of Palestine."[150] In the Report of the Committee dated 3 September 1947 to the General Assembly,[151] the majority of the Committee in Chapter VI proposed a plan to replace the British Mandate with "an independent Arab State, an independent Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem [...] the last to be under an International Trusteeship System."[152] Meanwhile, the Jewish insurgency continued and peaked in July 1947, with a series of widespread guerrilla raids culminating in the Sergeants affair
, in which the Irgun took two British sergeants hostage as attempted leverage against the planned execution of three Irgun operatives. Irgun killed the officers after the executions were carried out.

In September 1947, the British cabinet decided that the Mandate was no longer tenable, and to evacuate Palestine. According to Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones, four major factors led to the decision to evacuate Palestine: the inflexibility of Jewish and Arab negotiators who were unwilling to compromise on their core positions over the question of a Jewish state in Palestine, the economic pressure that stationing a large garrison in Palestine to deal with the Jewish insurgency and the possibility of a wider Jewish rebellion and the possibility of an Arab rebellion put on a British economy already strained by World War II, the "deadly blow to British patience and pride" caused by the hangings of the sergeants, and the mounting criticism the government faced in failing to find a new policy for Palestine in place of the White Paper of 1939.[153]

On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted

a number of factors.[165]

Early years of the State of Israel

Raising of the Ink Flag on 10 March 1949, marking the end of the 1948 war

On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate,

Syria, Transjordan and Iraq—entered into parts of what had been British Mandatory Palestine, launching the 1948 Arab–Israeli War;[169][170][171] contingents from Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan joined the war.[172][173] The apparent purpose of the invasion was to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state at inception, and some Arab leaders talked about "driving the Jews into the sea".[174][158][175] According to Benny Morris, Jews were worried that the invading Arab armies held the intent to slaughter them.[176] The Arab league stated the invasion was to restore law and order and to prevent further bloodshed.[177]

After a year of fighting, a

expelled by or fled from advancing Israeli forces during the conflict—what would become known in Arabic as the Nakba ("catastrophe").[179] Some 156,000 remained and became Arab citizens of Israel.[180]


Jordanian government.[182] In the early years of the state, the Labor Zionist movement led by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion dominated Israeli politics.[183][184]

Immigration to Israel during the late 1940s and early 1950s was aided by the Israeli Immigration Department and the non-government sponsored Mossad LeAliyah Bet (lit. "Institute for Immigration B") which organized illegal and clandestine immigration.[185] Both groups facilitated regular immigration logistics like arranging transportation, but the latter also engaged in clandestine operations in countries, particularly in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, where the lives of Jews were believed to be in danger and exit from those places was difficult. Mossad LeAliyah Bet was disbanded in 1953.[186] The immigration was in accordance with the One Million Plan. The immigrants came for differing reasons: some held Zionist beliefs or came for the promise of a better life in Israel, while others moved to escape persecution or were expelled.[187][188]


reparations agreement with West Germany that triggered mass protests by Jews angered at the idea that Israel could accept monetary compensation for the Holocaust.[194]

U.S. newsreel on the trial of Adolf Eichmann

During the 1950s, Israel was frequently

Israeli civilian court.[206] During the spring and summer of 1963 Israel was engaged in a diplomatic standoff with the United States due to the Israeli nuclear programme.[207][208]

Territory held by Israel:
  before the Six-Day War
  after the war
The Sinai Peninsula
was returned to Egypt in 1982.

Since 1964, Arab countries, concerned over Israeli plans to divert waters of the

Arab nationalists led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser refused to recognize Israel and called for its destruction.[22][210][211] By 1966, Israeli-Arab relations had deteriorated to the point of actual battles taking place between Israeli and Arab forces.[212] In May 1967, Egypt massed its army near the border with Israel, expelled UN peacekeepers, stationed in the Sinai Peninsula since 1957, and blocked Israel's access to the Red Sea.[213][214][215] Other Arab states mobilized their forces.[216] Israel reiterated that these actions were a casus belli and, on 5 June, launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt. Jordan, Syria and Iraq responded and attacked Israel. In a Six-Day War, Israel captured and occupied the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.[217] Jerusalem's boundaries were enlarged, incorporating East Jerusalem, and the 1949 Green Line became the administrative boundary between Israel and the occupied territories.[citation needed

Following the 1967 war and the "

raid on the PLO headquarters in Lebanon

On 6 October 1973, as Jews were observing

better source needed] In July 1976, an airliner was hijacked during its flight from Israel to France by Palestinian guerrillas and landed at Entebbe International Airport, Uganda. Israeli commandos carried out an operation
in which 102 out of 106 Israeli hostages were successfully rescued.

Further conflict and peace process


Anwar El Sadat made a trip to Israel and spoke before the Knesset in what was the first recognition of Israel by an Arab head of state.[225] In the two years that followed, Sadat and Begin signed the Camp David Accords (1978) and the Egypt–Israel peace treaty (1979).[226] In return, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and agreed to enter negotiations over an autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[226]

On 11 March 1978, a PLO guerilla raid from Lebanon led to the Coastal Road massacre. Israel responded by launching an invasion of southern Lebanon to destroy the PLO bases south of the Litani River. Most PLO fighters withdrew, but Israel was able to secure southern Lebanon until a UN force and the Lebanese army could take over. 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.

better source needed

Meanwhile, Begin's government provided incentives for Israelis to

immigration from the post-Soviet states increased Israel's population by twelve percent.[233]

On 7 June 1981, during the

Defense minister Ariel Sharon as bearing "personal responsibility" for the massacre.[235] Sharon was forced to resign as Defense Minister.[236] In 1985, Israel responded to a Palestinian terrorist attack in Cyprus by bombing the PLO headquarters in Tunisia. Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1986, but maintained a borderland buffer zone in southern Lebanon until 2000, from where Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Hezbollah. The First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule,[237] broke out in 1987, with waves of uncoordinated demonstrations and violence occurring in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Over the following six years, the Intifada became more organized and included economic and cultural measures aimed at disrupting the Israeli occupation. More than a thousand people were killed in the violence.[238] During the 1991 Gulf War, the PLO supported Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Scud missile attacks against Israel. Despite public outrage, Israel heeded American calls to refrain from hitting back and did not participate in that war.[239][240]

Shimon Peres (left) with Yitzhak Rabin (center) and King Hussein of Jordan (right), prior to signing the Israel–Jordan peace treaty
in 1994.

In 1992,

better source needed] In 1994, the Israel–Jordan peace treaty was signed, making Jordan the second Arab country to normalize relations with Israel.[245] Arab public support for the Accords was damaged by the continuation of Israeli settlements[246] and checkpoints, and the deterioration of economic conditions.[247] Israeli public support for the Accords waned as Israel was struck by Palestinian suicide attacks.[248] In November 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated as he left a peace rally by Yigal Amir, a far-right Jew who opposed the Accords.[249]

Under the leadership of

Suicide bombings have been a recurring feature of the Intifada, causing Israeli civilian life to become a battlefield.[253] Some commentators contend that the Intifada was pre-planned by Arafat due to the collapse of peace talks.[254][255][256][257] Sharon became prime minister in a 2001 special election. 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,[258] ending the Intifada.[259][260] Between 2000 and 2008, 1,063 Israelis, 5,517 Palestinians and 64 foreign citizens had been killed.[261]

In 2006, a Hezbollah artillery assault on Israel's northern border communities and a

Second Lebanon War.[262][263] In 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria. In 2008, Israel entered another conflict as a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel collapsed. The 2008–2009 Gaza War lasted three weeks and ended after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire.[264][265] Hamas announced its own ceasefire, with its own conditions of complete withdrawal and opening of border crossings. Despite neither the rocket launchings nor Israeli retaliatory strikes having completely stopped, the fragile ceasefire remained in order.[266] In what Israel described as a response to more than a hundred Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities,[267] Israel began an operation in the Gaza Strip in 2012, lasting eight days.[268] Israel started another operation in Gaza following an escalation of rocket attacks by Hamas in July 2014.[269] In May 2021, another round of fighting took place in Gaza and Israel, lasting eleven days.[270]

By the 2010s, the increasing regional cooperation between Israel and Arab League countries have been established, culminating in the signing of the Abraham Accords. The Israeli security situation shifted from the traditional Arab–Israeli conflict towards the Iran–Israel proxy conflict and direct confrontation with Iran during the Syrian civil war.

Geography and environment

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. It lies between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 34° and 36° E.

The sovereign territory of Israel (according to the demarcation lines of the 1949 Armistice Agreements and excluding all territories captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War) is approximately 20,770 square kilometers (8,019 sq mi) in area, of which two percent is water.[271] However Israel is so narrow (100 km at its widest, compared to 400 km from north to south) that the exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean is double the land area of the country.[272] The total area under Israeli law, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, is 22,072 square kilometers (8,522 sq mi),[273] and the total area under Israeli control, including the military-controlled and partially Palestinian-governed territory of the West Bank, is 27,799 square kilometers (10,733 sq mi).[274]

Despite its small size, Israel is home to a variety of geographic features, from the

Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests, Southern Anatolian montane conifer and deciduous forests, Arabian Desert, and Mesopotamian shrub desert.[279] It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 4.14/10, ranking it 135th globally out of 172 countries.[280]

Tectonics and seismicity

The Jordan Rift Valley is the result of tectonic movements within the Dead Sea Transform (DSF) fault system. The DSF forms the transform boundary between the African Plate to the west and the Arabian Plate to the east. The Golan Heights and all of Jordan are part of the Arabian Plate, while the Galilee, West Bank, Coastal Plain, and Negev along with the Sinai Peninsula are on the African Plate. 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 749 and 1033. The deficit in slip that has built up since the 1033 event is sufficient to cause an earthquake of Mw ~7.4.[281]

The most catastrophic known earthquakes occurred in 31 BCE,

363, 749, and 1033 CE, that is every ca. 400 years on average.[282] Destructive earthquakes leading to serious loss of life strike about every 80 years.[283] While stringent construction regulations are currently in place and recently built structures are earthquake-safe, as of 2007 the majority of the buildings in Israel were older than these regulations and many public buildings as well as 50,000 residential buildings did not meet the new standards and were "expected to collapse" if exposed to a strong earthquake.[283]


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 world outside Africa and North America as of 2021, 54 °C (129 °F), was recorded in 1942 in the Tirat Zvi kibbutz in the northern Jordan River valley.[284][285]

At the other extreme, mountainous regions can be windy and cold, and areas at elevation of 750 metres (2,460 ft) or more (same elevation as Jerusalem) will usually receive at least one

better source needed] Israelis also take advantage of the considerable sunlight available for solar energy, making Israel the leading nation in solar energy use per capita—practically every house uses solar panels for water heating.[290]

There are four different

phytogeographic regions 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 2,867 known species of plants found in Israel. Of these, at least 253 species are introduced and non-native.[291] There are 380 Israeli nature reserves.[292]

The Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection has reported that climate change "will have a decisive impact on all areas of life, including: water, public health, agriculture, energy, biodiversity, coastal infrastructure, economics, nature, national security, and geostrategy", and will have the greatest effect on vulnerable populations such as the poor, the elderly, and the chronically ill.[293]


As of 31 December 2022[update], Israel's population was an estimated 9,656,000. In 2022, the civil government recorded 73.6% of the population as

OECD in 2016 estimated the average life expectancy of Israelis at 82.5 years, making it the 6th-highest in the world.[303] Israeli Arab life expectancy lags behind by 3 to 4 years,[304][305] still highest among Arabs or Muslims in the world.[306][307]

Immigration to Israel
in the years 1948–2015. The two peaks were in 1949 and 1990.

Israel was established as a

Israeli citizenship.[308] Retention of Israel's population since 1948 is about even or greater, when compared to other countries with mass immigration.[309] Jewish emigration from Israel (called yerida in Hebrew), primarily to the United States and Canada, is described by demographers as modest,[310] but is often cited by Israeli government ministries as a major threat to Israel's future.[311][312]

Approximately 80% of

Russian descendants of Jewish origin or family who are not Jewish according to rabbinical law, but were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.[318][319][320]

The total number of

Israeli Arabs (including the Arab population of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights) comprise 21.1% of the population or 1,995,000 people.[325] In a 2017 telephone poll, 40% of Arab citizens of Israel identified as "Arab in Israel" or "Arab citizen of Israel", 15% identified as "Palestinian", 8.9% as "Palestinian in Israel" or "Palestinian citizen of Israel", and 8.7% as "Arab"; 60% of Israeli Arabs have a positive view of the state.[326][327] According to Sammy Smooha, "The identity of 83.0% of the Arabs in 2019 (up from 75.5% in 2017) has an Israeli component and 61.9% (unchanged from 60.3%) has a Palestinian component. However, when these two components were presented as competitors, 69.0% of the Arabs in 2019 chose exclusive or primary Palestinian identity, compared with 29.8% who chose exclusive or primary Israeli Arab identity."[328]

Major urban areas

Israel has four major metropolitan areas:

Jerusalem metropolitan area (population 1,253,900), Haifa metropolitan area (population 924,400), and Beersheba metropolitan area (population 377,100).[329]

Israel's largest municipality, in population and area, is Jerusalem with 966,210 residents in an area of 125 square kilometres (48 sq mi).[330] Israeli government statistics on Jerusalem include the population and area of East Jerusalem, which is widely recognized as part of the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation.[331] Tel Aviv and Haifa rank as Israel's next most populous cities, with populations of 467,875 and 282,832, respectively.[330] The (mainly

Haredi) city of Bnei Brak is the most densely populated city in Israel and one of the 10 most densely populated cities in the world.[332]

Israel has 16

planned city to be built in the Negev, and Harish, originally a small town that is being built into a large city since 2015.[335]

^a This number includes East Jerusalem and West Bank areas, which had a total population of 573,330 inhabitants in 2019.[336] Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem is internationally unrecognized.


Israel's sole official language is Hebrew. Until 2018, Arabic was also one of two official languages of the State of Israel;[8] in 2018 it was downgraded to having a 'special status in the state' with its use by state institutions to be set in law.[9][10] Hebrew is the primary language of the state and is spoken every day by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority, with Hebrew taught in Arab schools.

As a country of

better source needed


     Jewish ·      Muslim ·      Christian ·      Druze ·      Other.
Until 1995, figures for Christians also included Others.[346]

Israel comprises a major part of the Holy Land, a region of significant importance to all Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Samaritanism, the Druze Faith and the Baháʼí Faith.


Dati (religious) and 9% as Haredi (ultra-Orthodox).[347] Haredi Jews are expected to represent more than 20% of Israel's Jewish population by 2028.[348]

immigrants from the former Soviet Union, about 300,000 are considered not Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.[351]

The city of


Education is highly valued in the Israeli culture and was viewed as a

OECD members (after Canada and Japan) for the percentage of 25–64 year-olds that have attained tertiary education with 49% compared with the OECD average of 35%.[363] In 2012, the country ranked third in the world in the number of academic degrees per capita (20 percent of the population).[364]

Israel has a

Bagrut matriculation exams. 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.[367]

Israel's Jewish population maintains a relatively high level of educational attainment where just under half of all Israeli Jews (46%) hold post-secondary degrees. This figure has remained stable in their already high levels of educational attainment over recent generations.

former Soviet Union, the bagrut pass rate is higher amongst those families from European FSU states at 62.6% and lower amongst those from Central Asian and Caucasian FSU states.[376] In 2014, 61.5% of all Israeli twelfth graders earned a matriculation certificate.[377]

Israel has a tradition of higher education where its quality university education has been largely responsible in spurring the nation's modern economic development.

Technion,[381][382] houses the National Library of Israel, the world's largest repository of Judaica and Hebraica.[383] The Technion and the Hebrew University consistently ranked among world's 100 top universities by the prestigious ARWU academic ranking.[384] Other major universities in the country include the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Bar-Ilan University, the University of Haifa and the Open University of Israel. Ariel University, in the West Bank
, is the newest university institution, upgraded from college status, and the first in over thirty years.

Government and politics

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.[385][386]

Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the

better source needed] with a 3.25% electoral threshold, which in practice has resulted in coalition governments. Residents of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are eligible to vote[388] and after the 2015 election, 10 of the 120 MKs (8%) were settlers.[389] Parliamentary elections are scheduled every four years, but unstable coalitions or a no-confidence vote by the Knesset can dissolve a government earlier.[23] The first Arab-led party was established in 1988 and the main Arab bloc, the Joint List, holds about 10% of the parliament's seats.[390]


constitution based on these laws.[271][392]

The president of Israel is head of state, with limited and largely ceremonial duties.[385]

Israel has no official religion,[393][394][395] 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.[396]

On 19 July 2018, the Knesset passed a Basic Law that characterizes the State of Israel as principally a "Nation State of the Jewish People", and Hebrew as its official language. The bill ascribes "special status" to the Arabic language. 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."[397]

Legal system

Israel has a

better source needed

Israel's legal system combines three legal traditions:

Enclave law", large portions of Israeli civil law are applied to Israeli settlements and Israeli residents in the occupied territories.[402]

Administrative divisions

The State of Israel is divided into six main administrative districts, known as mehozot (Hebrew: מחוזות; singular: mahoz) – Center, Haifa, Jerusalem, North, South, and Tel Aviv districts, as well as the Judea and Samaria Area in the West Bank. All of the Judea and Samaria Area and parts of the Jerusalem and Northern districts are not recognized internationally as part of Israel. Districts are further divided into fifteen sub-districts known as nafot (Hebrew: נפות; singular: nafa), which are themselves partitioned into fifty natural regions.[403]

District Capital Largest city Population, 2021[322]
Jews Arabs Total note
Jerusalem Jerusalem 66% 32% 1,209,700 a
North Nof HaGalil Nazareth 42% 54% 1,513,600
Haifa Haifa 67% 25% 1,092,700
Center Ramla Rishon LeZion 87% 8% 2,304,300
Tel Aviv Tel Aviv 92% 2% 1,481,400
South Beersheba Ashdod 71% 22% 1,386,000
Judea and Samaria Area
Modi'in Illit 98% 0% 465,400 b
^a Including 361,700 Arabs and 233,900 Jews in East Jerusalem, as of 2020.[323]
^b Israeli citizens only.

Israeli-occupied territories

Overview of administration and sovereignty in Israel and the Palestinian territories
Area Administered by Recognition of governing authority Sovereignty claimed by Recognition of claim
Gaza Strip Palestinian National Authority (de jure) Controlled by Hamas (de facto) Witnesses to the Oslo II Accord State of Palestine 137 UN member states
West Bank Palestinian enclaves Palestinian National Authority and Israeli military
Area C Israeli enclave law (Israeli settlements) and Israeli military (Palestinians under Israeli occupation)
East Jerusalem Israeli administration Honduras, Guatemala, Nauru, and the United States China, Russia
West Jerusalem Russia, Czech Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, Nauru, and the United States United Nations as an international city along with East Jerusalem Various UN member states and the European Union; joint sovereignty also widely supported
Golan Heights United States Syria All UN member states except the United States
Israel (proper) 163 UN member states Israel 163 UN member states

In 1967, as a result of the

Security Belt. Since Israel's capture of these territories, Israeli settlements
and military installations have been built within each of them, except Lebanon.


status of East Jerusalem in any future peace settlement has at times been a difficult issue in negotiations
between Israeli governments and representatives of the Palestinians, as Israel views it as its sovereign territory, as well as part of its capital.

The West Bank excluding East Jerusalem is known in Israeli law as the

cities have been under the internal jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has on several occasions redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration during periods of unrest. In response to increasing attacks during the Second Intifada, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier.[411] When completed, approximately 13% of the barrier will be constructed on the Green Line or in Israel with 87% inside the West Bank.[412][413]

Area C of the West Bank, controlled by Israel under Oslo Accords
, in blue and red, in December 2011

The Gaza Strip is considered to be a "foreign territory" under Israeli law; however, since Israel operates a land, air, and sea

border with Egypt, and an agreement between Israel, the European Union, and the PA governed how border crossing would take place (it was monitored by European observers).[420] The application of democracy to its Palestinian citizens, and the selective application of Israeli democracy in the Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories, has been criticized.[421][422]


excessive detail?

The international community widely regards Israeli settlements in the occupied territories illegal under international law.[454] United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, passed on 23 December 2016 in a 14–0 vote by members of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) with the United States abstaining. The resolution states that Israel's settlement activity constitutes a "flagrant violation" of international law, has "no legal validity" and demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.[455]

Israel's treatment of the Palestinians within the occupied territories has drawn

B'tselem, and other international organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, with the criticism extending to its treatment of Palestinians within Israel as well.[456][457] Amnesty's report was criticized by politicians and government representatives from Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Germany, while it was welcomed by Palestinians, representatives from other states, and organizations such as the Arab League.[458][459][460][461][462][463] A 2021 survey of academic experts on the Middle East found an increase from 59%[464] to 65% of these scholars describing Israel as a "one-state reality akin to apartheid".[465] In 2022, Michael Lynk, a Canadian law professor appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council said that the situation met the legal definition of apartheid.[466] Subsequent reports from his successor, Francesca Albanese and from Permanent United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Israel Palestine conflict chair Navi Pillay echoed this opinion.[467] [468]

Foreign relations

Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 164 

1994, respectively, but Israel remains formally in a state of war with Syria, a status that dates back uninterrupted to 1948. It has been in a similarly formal state of war with Lebanon since the end of the Lebanese Civil War
in 2000, with the Israel–Lebanon border remaining unagreed by treaty.

In late 2020, Israel normalized relations with four more Arab countries: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September (known as the

2008–09 Gaza War, Mauritania, Qatar, Bolivia, and Venezuela suspended political and economic ties with Israel,[478] though Bolivia renewed ties in 2019.[479] China maintains good ties with both Israel and the Arab world.[480]

Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat at the signing ceremony of the Oslo Accords with then US President Bill Clinton


reparations to the Israeli state and individual Israeli Holocaust survivors.[491] Israel is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.[492]

Although Turkey and Israel did not establish full diplomatic relations until 1991,[493] Turkey has cooperated with the Jewish state since its recognition of Israel in 1949. Turkey's ties to other Muslim-majority nations in the region have at times resulted in pressure from Arab and Muslim states to temper its relationship with Israel.[494] Relations between Turkey and Israel took a downturn after the 2008–09 Gaza War and Israel's raid of the Gaza flotilla.[495] Relations between Greece and Israel have improved since 1995 due to the decline of Israeli–Turkish relations.[496] The two countries have a defense cooperation agreement and in 2010, the Israeli Air Force hosted Greece's Hellenic Air Force in a joint exercise at the Uvda base. The joint Cyprus-Israel oil and gas explorations centered on the Leviathan gas field are an important factor for Greece, given its strong links with Cyprus.[497] Cooperation in the world's longest subsea electric power cable, the EuroAsia Interconnector, has strengthened relations between Cyprus and Israel.[498]

Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest military partner of India after Russia.[504] Ethiopia is Israel's main ally in Africa due to common political, religious and security interests.[505] Israel provides expertise to Ethiopia on irrigation projects and thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel

Israel has a history of providing emergency

OECD nations, spending less than 0.1% of its GNI on development assistance.[citation needed] The UN has set a target of 0.7%. In 2015 six nations reached the UN target.[518] The country ranked 38th in the 2018 World Giving Index.[519]


F-35 fighter jets of the Israeli Air Force