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Location of Israel
Map of Israel

Israel (/ˈɪzriəl, ˈɪzrəl/; Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל‎; Arabic: إِسْرَائِيل‎), officially known as the State of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל‎, 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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Sharon in 2002

Ariel Sharon (Hebrew: אֲרִיאֵל שָׁרוֹן‎; IPA: [aʁiˈ(ʔ)el ʃaˈʁon] (About this soundlisten), Ariʼēl Sharōn, also known by his diminutive Arik, אָרִיק‎, born Ariel Scheinermann, אֲרִיאֵל שַׁיינֶרְמָן‎; 26 February 1928 – 11 January 2014) was an Israeli general and politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006.

Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its creation in 1948. As a soldier and then an officer, he participated prominently in the 1948 Palestine war, becoming a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and taking part in many battles, including Operation Bin Nun Alef. He was an instrumental figure in the creation of Unit 101 and the reprisal operations, as well as in the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. Yitzhak Rabin has called Sharon "the greatest field commander in our history". Read more...
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A block of four of the 1948 3 mils value from the first series of Israeli stamps.

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Itzhak Abergil, center, escorted by Israeli forces at Ben Gurion airport, Israel, 12 January 2011

The Abergil crime family (Hebrew: משפחת הפשע אברג'יל‎) is a crime organization based in Israel, and located around the world, founded by Ya'akov Abergil. The group was headed by Ya'akov Abergil (Hebrew: יעקב אברג'יל‎) until his death in 2002, and is now run under the auspices of Itzhak (Itzik) Abergil (Hebrew: יצחק (איציק) אברג'יל‎), and his brothers Meir Abergil (Hebrew: מאיר אברג'יל‎) and Avraham (Ibi) Abergil (Hebrew: אייבי אברג'יל‎). Its illicit activities include drug trafficking, both in Israel and the US, murder, extortion, embezzlement, money laundering, the control of illegal casinos and other crimes. Considered one of the six major organized-crime cells in Israel, and one of the world's top 40 biggest drug importers to the United States, the Abergils have been arrested and detained multiple times worldwide.

Avraham Abergil is currently incarcerated on a slew of drug and attempted murder charges.

On 12 January 2011 Itzhak and Meir Abergil and three associates were extradited to the United States. In a 77-page 32-count indictment filed on 13 July 2008 at federal court in Los Angeles, the Abergil family is considered one of the most powerful crime families in Israel, deriving that power, in part, “because of its propensity for violence in Israel and around the world.” They were charged with murder, laundering millions of US dollars obtained from embezzlement at Israel Trade Bank, extortion of business people, and operating an ecstasy-distribution network for millions of ecstasy pills. The Abergils and their three associates have denied all charges. According to Israeli police sources, their crime organization has continued to operate in Israel after their extradition. Read more...

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Gefilte fish topped with slices of carrot

Gefilte fish (/ɡəˈfɪltə fɪʃ/; from Yiddish: געפֿילטע פֿיש‎, "stuffed fish") is a dish made from a poached mixture of ground deboned fish, such as carp, whitefish, or pike. It is traditionally served as an appetizer by Ashkenazi Jewish households. Historically it consisted of a minced-fish forcemeat stuffed inside the intact fish skin. By the 16th century, cooks had started omitting the labor-intensive stuffing step, and the seasoned fish is most commonly formed into patties similar to quenelles or fish balls. These are popular on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays such as Passover, although they may be consumed throughout the year.

In Poland, gefilte fish, referred to as karp po żydowsku ("carp Jewish-style"), is a traditional dish in most Polish homes (more commonly in the northern regions near the Baltic Sea), served on Christmas Eve (for Twelve-dish supper) and on Holy Saturday. Read more...

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23 October 2020 – Israel–Sudan normalization agreement, Israel–Sudan relations
Israel and Sudan agree to establish diplomatic relations. (BBC)
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)

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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".