The State of Israel (Medinat Yisraʾel) is a parliamentary Republic headed by an elected President. It is governed by a Prime Minister, who is traditionally the leader of the largest political bloc in the elected 120-member unicameral legislature called Knesset.
Israel is located near the Eastern tip of the Asian continent, just north of Africa, and right in the center of the most volatile region in the world, the Middle East. The country shares it borders with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Its land area of 20,330 sq. km (about one-tenth the size of Nebraska), makes it the 152nd largest country in the world.
The nation of 7.9 million is the only contemporary Jewish nation in existence, and 76% of its population is of direct Jewish origin. Citizens of Arab ancestry accounts for just a little over 20% of the populace. The CIA Annual World Fact Book estimates that 75.6% of the population is Jewish, while Muslims (16.9%), Christians (2%) and the unitarian Druze (1.7%) are the major minority religions here.
Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages, although English is widely spoken. Israel's technologically-driven economy is augmented by a vibrant tourism industry - both major sources of valuable foreign exchange. The temperate Mediterranean climate is relatively mild, but can get a little hot and humid during the summer.
The patriarch of the Jews and Arabs, and the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), was born as Abram son of Terach in the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in 1813BCE. He is believed to be a twentieth generation descendant of Adam.
Abram, born into a prosperous and respected merchant family in the city, had always struggled to fit in and was considered an eccentric figure by the townspeople for his rejection of the pagan worshipping culture practiced there. Abram always felt that there was something bigger and greater, an omniscient and omnipresent Creator that was responsible for all of life and existence.
In due course, his faith was vindicated when the Lord Himself spoke and commanded him to leave the city, to spread His words, and obey his Laws. In return, God promised Abraham that his children, who would number like the stars in the skies, would ultimately inherit His Kingdom in Heaven. Thus the pact was made, and the covenant sealed.
Abram, whom God would later rename Abraham (Father of Many), sired two sons. The first is Ishmael, the progenitor of the Arab race, from his relationship with Hagar, his Egyptian-born second wife and former handmaiden to his first wife, Sarah.
"And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."
In 1712BCE, Sarah, at the advance age of 91, bore his second son, Isaac (The Mirthful), who would eventually be chosen by God to become the heir to the covenant.
"And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him."
"But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year."
Isaac, and wife Rebecca, produced a pair of twin boys, Esau and Jacob, where the latter became the new heir to the covenant. Jacob was also given a new name, Israel (The Champion of God).
"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
Jacob would later go on to sire twelve sons, which became what is now known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, Levi, Judah, Zebulon, Issachar, Simeon, Dan, Reuven and Benyamin.)
In fact, the term 'Jew' is actually a corruption of the Hebrew word Yehudi, which was the term used to identify people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah, a nation whose ancestral lineage is believed to have originated from Jacob's fourth son, Judah.
Socioeconomic circumstances forced the tribes to move to Egypt, but their prodigious growth rate, increasing economic might and growing number of fighting men drew the attention of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who, fearful of this new threat on his rule, unilaterally declared them as slaves. What followed was four hundred and thirty years of persecution, forced labor and institutional slavery, enforced by a tyrannical and violent regime.
Their savior came in the form of one of the most renowned sons of Israel, Moshe Rabbeinu of the Levi tribe - or as he is more popularly known, Moses.
"And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites."
Sometime between 1400BCE to 1200BCE, Moses led over six hundred thousand Israelites out of Egypt (the Exodus) and traveled through the desert wasteland in search of the Promised Land. During a stopover at Mt. Sinai, God reaffirmed his covenant with the Israelites, before revealing the Torah to Moses and giving him the Ten Commandments in the form of stone tablets (three in total, after Moses broke the first one.
"And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children."
"Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty."
"And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit."
Nevertheless, as foretold, Moses did not survive the 40- year journey, and died peacefully at the age of 120 at the top of Mount Nebo, just east of the Jordan River, in the presence of God. Before dying, God showed him for the first and only time the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 34: 1-7
"And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."
Leadership of the Israelites fell unto the broad shoulders of the warrior-priest, Joshua, who dutifully brought the twelve tribes into the Promise Land of Israel, as per the covenant pledged to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses.
"Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest."
The arrival of the Israelites into the Promised Land (circa 1400-1200 BCE) heralded a new chapter in their chronicle, though it was far from a tranquil one. The new country, situated within the borders of the ancient nation of Canaan - which includes but are not limited to present day Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria - provided the backdrop to some of the most celebrated verses of the Bible. The accounts of David and Goliath, King Solomon, the construction of the first Temple of Jerusalem and the Biblical Judges (including the one-man army, Samson), are some of the most well-known ones.
However, the reign of the children of Israel came to an end at approximately 600 BCE when Jerusalem fell to the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar.
"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
The Babylonians was the first in a long line of foreign powers to conquer the land of Israel, either by force or treatise. The Persian, Greeks, Seleucids, Romans, Byzantine Empire (modern Romania), Muslim Arab (Omar), Seljuq Empire, Crusaders of Europe, Muslim Arab (Salahuddin), Mamluk Sultanate, Ottoman Empire, Russia (under the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca with the Ottoman Empire), Egypt, France (under a unilateral recognition by the Ottoman Empire) and British Empire, held dominion of the land of Israel, either part or in whole, over a period over 2,500 years.
This resulted in the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, a phenomenon now universally referred to as the Jewish Diaspora. . Nevertheless, this scattering has miraculously failed to significantly affect the Jewish culture, as evidenced by the fact that modern Jews in Israel maintain the same basic social, judicial, religious and linguistic culture of their ancient forefathers.
Israel’s history is the embodiment of the occupation of Jews within the State of Israel. Despite the country's’ inconsequential size at current (smaller than New Jersey), it has been host to a vast aggregate of international and religious influence resulting in an exodus of migration and consistent violent attacks.
Israel was influenced throughout the middle ages by multiple occupancies (The Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders and Mamluks) which resulted in the majority of Jews seeking asylum in neighboring countries throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East. During the Ottoman occupation of Israel in the 16th century, a small scale of individual Jewish migration to the land of Israel occurred which aimed to combat the ongoing persecution encountered predominantly within Russia. The origins for this movement were the result of on-going religious disputes between Jewish faith and it’s inconsistencies with the dominance of Islamic and Catholic faith in the global region. Jewish migrants occupied and established communities concentrated in the Four Holy Cities: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias. During this time, Safed became renowned for the establishment of Kabbalah, a Judaism principle that defined the teachings of mortal and finite universe.
The Ottoman Empire rejected the teachings of Kabbalah during the late 16th century during the Druze Revolt and destroyed Safed and Tiberias. As a response in 1666, Sabbatai Zevi (who proclaimed he was the Jewish Messiah) acquired a large number of followers to migrate to Istanbul. Throughout the 18th and 19th century, Jewish migrants who had abandoned Israel were the target of political conflict between western powers and Islamic states to the east. Notably Napoleon in 1799 invited Jewish migrants back into Israel to initiate a proclamation to generate a Jewish state within the Damascus Eyalet consisting of 200 villages. This movement was rejected by the Ottoman government before fruition following Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Acre.
During the early 19th century, Jews in Western Europe were granted citizenship, with over half the world’s Jews residing in Russia. The Russian empire granted the Jews land in the ‘Pale of Settlement’, which at the time covered Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. National groups within the Russian empire were currently fighting for independence and regarded the arrival of Jewish immigrants as ‘alien’ due to them being the only non-Christian minority in the region. During this time an independent Jewish movement occurred where the majority of Jews fled the empire and migrated to the USA to escape conflict.
In 1870, the remaining Jewish population with the assistance of Alliance Israelite Universelle (a French Jewish association) established Zionism, a movement for the reestablishment and development of the protection of Jews in Israel. This new migration supplemented through European donations enabled Jewish communities to settle in Israel within the Four Holy Cities. Despite poor living conditions and a dependency on foreign aid, the Jewish population flourished and Judaism became the prominent faith other Muslims and Arab Christians. The segmented migration back to Israel is known as “Aliyah” which during its first occurrence involved 35,000 Jews.
During the First World War, the majority of Jews supported the Germans as they were fighting against the Russians who had previously incited persecution prior to the Zionist movement. The British government valued support from the Jewish population for the war which resulted in engrossed anti-Semitic perceptions of ‘Jewish power’. This sparked American Jewish support for the US intervention on Britain’s behalf. During this time the Ottoman Empire was still in control of Israel. With powerful international influence, the British government set their sights on securing the region and establishing Palestine with the ideology that it would become the national home for the Jewish people. On the 28th of January 1915 the Sinai and Palestine Campaign commenced, a three year war within the Middle Eastern theater between the British and Ottoman Empire. The conflict commenced in the battle of Suez Canal in 1915 and ended with the Armistice of Mudros in 1918 which resulted in the British occupation of Ottoman Syria and Palestine. Britain shortly after signed a treaty in which the United States endorsed the terms of the current British mandate.
Between 1919 and 1923, 40,000 Jews arrived in Palestine (known as the Third Aliyah) to escape the Russia and Ukraine’s genocidal actions of the Jewish population throughout Europe. Under British rule, the Balfour Declaration was established which enabled Jewish migrants to enter Palestine and generate self-sustaining economies whilst under international protection.
On September the 1st 1939, World War 2 commenced with Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland. Nazi propaganda despised the Jewish population throughout Europe and attempted to purge all followers of the religion through the barbaric holocaust. Many Jewish citizens at the time had migrated to Germany and were responsible for much of the country’s military manufacturing capabilities. Targeting hatred for the Jews ‘impurity’ and control of industrial economy, the majority were imprisoned and later executed systematically. In Palestine there was a power conflict between Arab and Jewish support towards the Axis and Allied campaigns. Churchill demanded that the Jewish people fought alongside the Allies and that the numbers of recruits for combat surpassed Palestinian Arab recruits which had recently aligned with the German forces.
The majority of North Africa came under Nazi control during the war under Rommel’s dominant campaign. The Nazi’s goal was to ultimately invade Palestine and eliminate all Jewish occupation in the region. This however never came to fruition as the Nazi’s African campaign was seized at the battle of El Alamein which resulted in a stalemate. This conflict prevented the Axis advance on Alexandria, Cairo and the Suez Canal.
The aftermath of World War 2 resulted in the British Empire becoming severely weakened and consciously dependent of its dependence on Arab oil. In 1945 the Labour party in Britain (who had long been supporters of the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine), focused efforts on encouraging refugees to seek asylum in Palestine and replenish the war torn territory. The majority of migration at the time was illegal, with many Holocaust survivors smuggled through Mediterranean ports with Jews from Arab countries migrating overland. Despite efforts to control the Jewish population of Palestine, by the end of World War 2, Jews represented 33% of the total population. This caused an insurgency in the territory, with Zionists waging guerrilla war against the British in attempts to gain independency. The British responded with Operation Agatha in 1946, where 2700 Jews were arrested and included a raid on the Jewish Agency (the headquarters of the World Zionist Organization).
With increasing tension in Palestine, Britain eventually requested the intervention of the United Nations. On July 19th 1946, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine visited the region and met with Jews and Zionists to discuss their demands. The Arab Higher Committee were invited but boycotted the meetings. This resulted in the United Nations Partition Plan which was established on the 29th of November 1947 and effectively dissolved the British Mandate on the region. The British withdrawal was completed in May 1948.
The United Nations Partition Plan was favored by the Jewish community but with discontent amongst the Arab community, as many did not feel it was fair to label partitions of Israel as a Jewish state despite an affluent Muslim and Islamic presence at the time. This sparked the Arab-Israeli War, conceived when Arab states (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) marched their forces into the former British Mandate towards Palestine. The British called upon an arms embargo in the region to be enforced by the United Nations. This notion was accepted until Czechoslovakia violated this resolution by supplying the Jewish state with critical military hardware to aid in the conflict against the Arab nations. After an initial loss of territory by the Jewish state and its occupation by the Arab armies, the battle gradually turned to Israel’s favor as they pushed the Arab armies out and conquered some territory which had been included in the Arab state.
In early 1949 Israel signed armistices with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria causing a permanent ceasefire. Israel’s new borders were later known as the Green Line which encompasses East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula. Whilst the country still was in conflict with the occupation of Arab nations, the Green Line served as a short period of negotiations in efforts to reduce casualties. During 1947-1949 over 726,000 Palestinians had fled or were evicted by the Israelis, forcing Palestinian refugees into large and overcrowded camps scattered along the Green Line.
On May 1949, Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations prior to Socialist-Zionist parties’ (Mapai and Mapam) landslide victory in the country’s first general election. Mapai’s leader, David Ben-Gurion was appointed as prime minister. During 1948-1951, immigration skyrocketed and over 700,000 Jews settled in Israel during this period. Over 300,000 arrived from Asian and African nations as part of a mass exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, with the largest group migrating from Iraq. Between 1948 and 1958 the population of Israel rose from 800,000 to 2,000,000. The majority of migrants came with little possessions or money, thus small camps were set up to accommodate people during what is known as the Austerity Period. Israel was able to accomplish a stabilized migration through foreign aid and private donations (mainly from the United States).
During 1954-1955, Moshe Sharett became the prime minister of Israel, leading a left wing coalition. Tension quickly rose again during his reign with persistent clashes along Israel’s borders labeled as ‘arab terrorism’ and penultimate crumble of the 1949 ceasefire emerged. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) regularly embarked on counter raids into the Egyptian occupied Gaza. In 1955 Egypt responded by recruiting former Nazi rocket scientists to erect a missile program. Sharett’s government was brought down by the Lavon Affair, a disruptive plan to hinder the relations between the U.S. and Egypt involving the plantation of bombs on U.S. military sites in Egypt. The plan failed and Sharrett’s defense minister was held accountable. This incident led to Sharett’s resignation and the reinstatement of Ben-Gurion.
In 1956, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal and blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba, which resulted in the prevention of Israeli access to the Red Sea. Israel responded by planning military action against Egypt with French and British forces. Referred to as the ‘Suez Crisis’, Israeli forces attacked the Egyptian blockade on the 29th October 1956 with Britain and France offering a diplomatic plead to Egypt to allow both sides to control regions of the canal peacefully. Egypt refused and the allies commenced air strikes two days after the attack which resulted in the neutralization of the Egyptian air force. A demand for a ceasefire in the region was accepted on the 7th of November with a United Nations peacekeeping intervention occurring on the 15th.
During 1964; Egypt, Jordan and Syria developed a unified military command and further attempted to limit Israel’s incoming resources. Israel had recently completed work on a national water carrier, a large scale engineering project designed to transfer Israel’s allocation of the Jordan River’s waters to towards the south of the country. The Arab nations responded by trying to divert the headwaters from Jordan which ultimately increased the growing conflict between Israel and Syria. During 1966 Israel received an amassed supply of military foreign aid, with over 200 M48 tanks from the United States and further military arms from France in an attempt to cause the unified Arab states to be more reluctant to commence future attacks.
During the 1970’s, Israel elected Menachem Begin who historically led Israel under its first non-left wing government. Begin’s liberalization of the economy led Israel to hyperinflation which enabled Israel to receive U.S. financial aid (in addition to existing military support). In November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat broke nearly 30 years of hostility between the two nations by visiting Jerusalem. Sadat recognized Israel’s right to exist and established the basis for direct negotiations between both countries. This was later supported by Jimmy Carter who visited Israel a year later to establish an Egyptian-Israeli peace plan. Throughout this decade there was persistent terrorism attacks lead by Arab-Lebanese citizens residing in Palestine which raised tension between the two nations.
In June 1982, an attempted assassination of Shlomo Argov, the ambassador to Britain was used as a pretext for an Israeli invasion on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) encamped on the southern half of Lebanon. The PLO is a renowned terrorist network which fights for the liberation of Palestine. This was known as the ‘Lebanon War’ which resulted in PLO operatives retreating to Tunisia. In August 1982, Israel helped engineer the election of a new Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayel who agreed to recognize Israel and sign a peace treaty. These actions outraged Islamists in Iran and Syria which later lead to the formation of Hezbollah, a Shi’a Islamist militant group based in Lebanon.
During the 1990’s peace negotiations between the PLO and Israeli prime minister were overseen by the U.S. government during the Oslo Accords in 1993. This was an attempt to curb tension between Hezbollah and Israel. The Oslo accords stated that Palestinians were granted autonomy in regards to local political influence in Israel. In return the Palestinians promised to abstain from use of terrorism and changed the Palestinian National Covenant, which had called for the expulsion of all Jews who migrated after 1917 and the elimination of Israel.
In the 2000s and present, Israel's current leader Benjamin Netanyahu serves as prime minister. Israel is a constant target for terrorism from Hamas and Fatah, both are Palestinian Islamic resistance organizations responsible for current the conflict occurring on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas are currently in control of these regions which harbor over 4 million Palestinian refugees. The Israeli-Gaza conflict in 2008 has resulted in a blockade in the region in hopes that peace between the two nations can be established.
Israel hosts an extremely diverse society with vast cultural and political differences between its inhabitants. There are Jews from the Middle East and European descent which are split on secular and orthodox faiths and a further split between an overall Jewish Majority and Arab Palestinian minority. Israel has historically shifted from its left-leaning founders to a more liberal approach to democracy. This has caused economic prosperity whilst widening the gap between the highest and lowest incomes in the country. With mass protests currently demanding greater social justice, jobs and the ongoing peace process with Palestinians, current president Benjamin Netanyahu has a long road ahead to ensure stability in Israel. Currently the United States provides over $3 billion annually in military and financial aid in addition to diplomatic support, making Israel the largest recipient of foreign aid globally.
In regards to regional security, Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries that recognize the State of Israel. Israel’s relationship with Egypt faces a potential diplomatic encounter now that the nation has been replaced completely by an unpredictable government. In 2012 tensions rose as an Egyptian-Israeli border attack commenced on the Sinai Peninsula killing 16 soldiers in an attack on an Egyptian military base by the Israel Defense Forces. Israel responded by building a 5-meter high fence along the border to aid in the disruption of further attacks.
The relationship with the rest of the Arab world are incredibly hostile and fragile with Israel having few allies within the region. Israeli policy makers are concerned over Iran’s nuclear program and its links to Islamist militants in Lebanon and Gaza. For Israel to defend itself against nuclear threats alone would be goliath task which would involve flying through hostile airspace and bombing underground facilities. None of which would be possible without the assistance of a superior US military arsenal. In early 2011, Israel was hit considerably by the outbreak of ‘Arab Spring’, a series of anti-government uprisings in Arab countries. As of 2012, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen which leaves uncertainty towards the intentions of those nations’ new governments.
The future of the ongoing peace process looks endless despite both groups claiming to make progress on negotiations. The Palestinians are divided between the secular Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank and the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israelis naturally have distrust towards their Arab neighbors and rule out any major concessions to the Palestinians such as dismantling Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank or ending the blockade of Gaza. With growing Israeli disillusionment over the prospects for a peaceful agreement between Palestinians and the bordering Arab nations, it is a certainty that there will be more Jewish settlements constructed on occupied territories and a ongoing confrontation with Hamas.
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories has placed severe limitations on the success of its economic policies. With blockades currently on land, sea and air, Palestinian residents are heavily dependent on factors influenced by foreign nations. A complex network of checkpoints and roadblocks make it troublesome for Palestinians to travel within Palestinian Territories for jobs, to bank or to trade. Recently a report from the World Bank found that Israeli restrictions in the West Bank alone cost the Palestinian economy $3.4bn a year, or 35% of its GDP.
Israel’s dominant control of land in Palestinian Territories means that it can exert enormous influence over the livelihoods of Palestinians. For instance, it is estimated that Israeli authorities have uprooted over 800,000 olive trees since 1967. As a result, around 80,000 Palestinian families that are economically reliant on the olive harvest lose over $12m each year. Unemployment is exceptionally high in the West Bank and Gaza Strip where it is reported that 25% of adults are jobless. The International Labor Office states that 87,000 Palestinians aged over 15 are employed within Israel and its settlements. The majority of these employees work in the construction, manufacturing and agriculture sectors, all of which are characterized by insecurity. A study from Palestine’s main trade union revealed that over half of employees received less than the minimum wage and 65% had been exposed to toxic substances.
Palestinian authority is plagued with constant corruption inside many institutions. The latest report from the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability produced a multitude of corruption cases encountered within Palestine’s public bodies. Across six months the Corruption Crimes Court received 41 cases which included embezzlement, money laundering, fraud and exploitation of position for personal gain.
Currently, 4 in 5 Gazans are reliant on donations from international aid for their survival. In 2011 the single biggest donor to Palestine was the United States (281m). Despite expectations and stated commitments of over a $1bn in overall international aid, this figure fell short and the results were deeply felt.
Israeli blockades have resulted in illegal activity becoming essential for Palestine’s economic survival. Weapons, fuel, food, people and even vehicles flow through the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. However, due to the recent political turbulence in Egypt, these lucrative methods can no longer be relied upon to bolster the weak Palestinian economy.
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