Israel Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Israel

Language: Hebrew, Arabic

Currency: Shekel (ILS)

Calling code: 972

Israel (Hebrew: מדינת ישראל, Medinát Jisra'él) is a country in the Middle East. It is located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, and Egypt to the southwest in the Sinai Peninsula region. The West Bank in the southwest and the Gaza Strip belong to the Palestinian Authority and extend from the Jordan Valley to the west in the shape of the letter "L" like a mirror. At its southernmost point, there is a small entrance to the Red Sea.

This tiny state, founded in 1948, is one of the most controversial destinations and a place where the most opposing views clash. Located in the fertile crescent of the Middle East, the region has a history dating back to prehistoric times and has been the scene of clashes between different forces and interests for thousands of years, from ancient times to the present. This is reflected not only in the abundance of archaeological sites, but also in the still smoldering conflicts between neighboring countries and Israel.

Extreme diversity and the most varied aspects presented to the outside observer constitute the nation and its inhabitants. For Jews, the state, founded in 1948, is the first home in centuries where they can live their own language and culture, protected from persecution. For many residents of neighboring countries, it is a stumbling block, a state that is still denied the right to exist by certain circles. In Israel, people coexist in a way that relegates the conflict to the background in their daily lives, in contrast to the extremes of both sides, which are used for propaganda purposes.

One aspect of this is that religion is very important by European standards: Jews, Muslims, and Christians have holy sites in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, the historical center, and visiting them is often a reason to travel to Israel. Conflicts over this have triggered armed conflict more than once in the past. The call of the muezzin, mingling with the familiar sound of church bells to Central Europeans at about the same time that orthodox Jews rush to the synagogue for prayers, is a typical testament to coexistence in Israel. Another aspect is the diversity of the country's inhabitants, their appearance and customs. Not only the ultra-Orthodox Jews with black coats, fur hats, and side curls familiar from the illustrations, but also the IT specialists working in the high-tech blacksmith stores of Israel's "Silicon Valley," the stores and restaurants of Israeli Arabs with Muslim and Christian backgrounds, the northern Israelis and Golan s Druze, and Bedouins who travel by camel and off-road vehicle in the Negev are also on the streets. - Because of the immigration of Jews from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, the streets often do not differ much from those familiar to the people of central Europe. There are also significant geographical differences: the Mediterranean coast with its beaches, the forested hills of Shefera and northern Israel, the vast agricultural areas crisscrossed by highways, and the deserts of the south. It is only a few hours' drive from the beaches of the Red Sea, where snorkeling is possible in winter, to the ski slopes of Mount Hermon, and only an hour from the date palm plantations of the Dead Sea to the cool hills around Jerusalem. The cultural treasures are as different as the landscapes and the world of flora and fauna in the nature reserves that make up most of the uninhabited country. Canaanites, Israelites, Hellenistic Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, various Muslim ruling dynasties, Christian Crusaders, Ottoman sultans, and finally the British Mandate powers.

As a center among the most diverse peoples, cultures, and nationalities, Israel often attracts media attention. Often contradictory portrayals of the country based on different perspectives and different perceptions are portrayed in the press and media. Therefore, first-time visitors to Israel may be surprised and relieved to find that the country also has a normal, everyday life that transcends conflict and orthodoxy: traffic jams, work, café-hopping, beach life, and the party scene. It is precisely this colorful diversity, the very contradictions that are often seen, that make the country an interesting destination for the unbiased.

For German-speaking travelers, the reason for visiting Israel is often a pilgrimage in the broad sense of the word, centered on visiting Christian sites. However, a full program of organized excursions can only showcase a fraction of the variety of sights and cultural treasures that the country actually has to offer. A short, one-week tour of Israel will impress you with the country's diversity.



Israel, which is small in terms of area - it is about the size of Hesse - is also a country of contrasts in terms of its geography, its regions are diverse and varied in terms of landscape: on its small area you can find both mountainous landscapes and larger, intensively used agricultural plains, some Areas are relatively green all year round, with much of the country in the south being an inhospitable-looking desert area. In winter you can go swimming on the Israeli coast of the Red Sea, while at the same time winter sports are practiced on the ski slopes of Mount Hermon in the north of the Golan Heights. With the Sea of Galilee, Israel has a large freshwater lake, it has access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea and borders the Dead Sea. Rural and sparsely populated areas contrast with the vibrant metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv (the so-called “Gush Dan”) and Jerusalem.


Regions in the north

Western Galilee includes the coastal strip along the Mediterranean Sea from the Lebanese border through the ancient Crusader city of Acre to Haifa.
Mount Carmel is a mountain range south/east of Haifa that stretches along the Mediterranean coast.
Upper Galilee extends from Dan at the foot of Mount Hermon to the Bet HaKerem valley in the south and from the Western Galilee in the west to the Golan and the Sea of Galilee in the east; here are the highest elevations of the Israeli heartland and Safed, the city of Jewish mysticism.
Lower Galilee with the important Christian pilgrimage destination of Nazareth is a hilly landscape between the Upper Galilee in the north and the Jezreel plain in the south; to the east the region touches the areas of the Sea of Galilee and around Bet She'an.
The Sea of Galilee is the country's most famous and largest freshwater lake; on its banks are well-known Christian pilgrimage sites and the Jewish city of Tiberias.
The Jezreel Plain is associated with the end-time battle of the Biblical apocalypse of Armageddon; the wide, rural valley inland east of the Carmel Mountains covers the area from Haifa to the Jordan Valley at Beth-She'an.
The Bet She'an valley extends around the city of the same name with its important excavations; the valley is the heart of the Jordan Valley south of the Sea of Galilee.
The Golan Heights are a range of hills and a plateau in the extreme northeast of the country. Mount Hermon in the very north rises to over 2000m at the border triangle. Israel conquered the area in the Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981 (the annexation of the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria under international law, was accepted by most states, including the surrounding Arab states and also not recognized by the EU, in contrast to the recognition by the USA in 2019; the Golan Heights can be traveled without any problems without border controls, problems can arise at the immediate border with Syria, a buffer zone is monitored by the UNDOF peacekeeping forces of the UN).


Regions in the middle

The Sharon Plain is the agriculturally intensively used stretch of coast between the Carmel Mountains in the north, the mountains of Samaria (West Bank) in the east and the region around Tel Aviv in the south.
Gush Dan is the country's largest metropolitan area around the city of Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem and its incorporated districts is the official capital of Israel and the country's main tourist destination. Jerusalem is connected to the Israeli heartland by a relatively narrow corridor with the main transport routes, and it is surrounded by the Palestinian Authority to the north and south. The Arab-populated East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1980, which is not recognized by the international community; until the Six Day War it was occupied by Jordan.
The southern coastal plain with the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon stretches from Tel Aviv to the Gaza Strip (Palestinian Autonomous Region).
Shefela is the name for the fertile, hilly hinterland between the southern coastal plain and the highlands of Judea (in the West Bank).


Regions in the south

The Negev is the desert area that from Be'er Sheva covers practically the entire southern half of Israel down to the Red Sea.
On the Israeli coastal sections, the country has access to the Dead Sea at En Bokek and En Gedi (which is also undisputed under international law); Geographically, the northern region with the mountain fortress of Masada belongs to the Judean Desert (West Bank).



Just like the country, the cities in Israel are characterized by an often contrasting variety. Historically, cities and towns have often been inhabited by a relatively homogeneous population of just one population group. The Bible speaks of the cities of the Israelites, the Philistines and the Samaritans. At the turn of the century, the Romans lived in Caesarea, and the Jewish population in Jerusalem hardly ever set foot in a Roman city; under Muslim rule in the Ottoman Empire, the Jews' freedom of settlement was restricted to individual cities, where Jewish culture then flourished. In the cities, different living quarters of the different population groups have survived until modern times, villages and settlements still often have a uniform character; a practiced visitor can soon distinguish a kibbutz with orthodox Jewish residents from a liberal agricultural settlement, a village of Arab Israelis or Druze.

Due to religious customs and political exclusion, individual population groups in "their cities" often kept to themselves and lived side by side until modern times; which may seem strange to the Central European visitor who is used to nation states with fixed borders and a mixed population in the cities.

Jerusalem is one of the most important travel destinations in Israel for many tourists, especially because of its status as a "holy city" and because of the countless sights. Officially, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the Knesset meets here, the Israeli parliament and West Jerusalem is the seat of many national institutions. However, Jerusalem is only recognized as the capital of the USA and Honduras; Due to the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980, Jerusalem is not recognized as the capital by most of the world community and the UN. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are demanding recognition of East Jerusalem, or undivided Jerusalem, as the capital of their independent state - and the visitor quickly realizes the explosive nature of this situation.
The city consists of Jewish West Jerusalem, Arabic-Muslim East Jerusalem and in between the Old City, which was taken by Jordan in the War of Independence and recaptured by the Israelis in the Six Day War. With the four old town districts, each of which forms its own microcosm with a different population and in which the holy sites of Judaism (Western Wall on the Temple Mount), Christians (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and Muslims (Dome of the Rock, Al Aksa Mosque) are located in a very small area , the Old City of Jerusalem is a destination for a wide variety of pilgrim and visitor groups.

Tel Aviv: Israel's most important metropolitan area, the densely populated area around the secular city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, the so-called "Gush Dan", has a completely different character. Tel Aviv itself is the city of social life, party life, business and most of the embassies are also located here. Vibrant Tel Aviv is known as the “city that never sleeps”, and Ben Gurion Airport, as the most important international airport, is the gateway to Israel for many visitors.
Founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city, Tel Aviv is known for its Art Nouveau buildings, ancient sites and biblical pilgrimage destinations. Jaffa, which was united with Tel Aviv in 1950, offers much more historical background. Founded at the beginning of the 20th century on the pristine beach north of Yaffa (Yafo), today Jaffa, with its historic port and buildings from the Ottoman and Mandate periods, feels like an old city quarter in the south of Tel Aviv.

The port and industrial city of Haifa is the most important city in the north due to its size and economic importance. The most important sight of the city are the geometrically designed gardens of the Baha'i, the holy site of another world religion stretches up the eastern slope to the Carmel massif. With its large commercial port and university, Haifa has retained the character of a pragmatic working-class city in which religion plays a comparatively minor role.

Even as a tourist, the differences between the country's three largest cities will not go unnoticed. It is probably no coincidence that an often-quoted saying characterizes the three cities as follows: "Prayers in Jerusalem, work in Haifa, lives in Tel Aviv".

Many other cities also have their own character due to their history and development.

Acre or Akko on the northern Mediterranean coast has retained its oriental character with its massive Crusader-era walls, mosques and Arabic market.
The town of Nahariya, a few kilometers south of the Lebanese border, is a popular seaside resort on the northern Mediterranean coast.
As the birthplace of Jesus, Nazareth is another popular pilgrimage destination for Christian tour groups and has a Muslim and Christian-Arab population.
In Galilee, Tiberias with its rabbi tombs and the promenade on the Sea of Galilee and in the north on a hilltop city of Safed (Hebrew: Zefat) as a city of Jewish (Kabbalah) mysticism and art and galleries are cities with a centuries-old Jewish tradition.
Netanya, one of the most famous seaside resorts on Israel's Mediterranean coast, is just north of Tel Aviv.
In the center of the country, in the Gush Dan, lies Bnei-Brak, which despite its proximity to Tel Aviv is an orthodox-Jewish city. The orthodox Jews, who make up the majority of the residents, have little sympathy for the way of life of secular Israelis or curious tourists.

Since the south of Israel consists mainly of desert areas, the population there is sparse.
Be'er Sheva in the north of the Negev desert has developed from an Ottoman provincial town on the railway line to Sinai into a city with over 200,000 inhabitants, close by are the largest Bedouin settlements of Israel.
Eilat at the southernmost tip of the country with its port on the Red Sea is now the city of seaside tourism and, thanks to its status as a duty-free zone, is increasingly being visited by tourists from liberal Arab countries and Eastern Europeans on shopping trips. Due to the extreme desert location, there are hardly any rainy days in Eilat, while at the same time swimming in the sea is possible all year round.


Travel Destination in Israel

 large number of sights also attract visitors outside of the cities, depending on the focus and interests, the selection of destinations varies, but there is still much, much to see for all visitors. For nature lovers, Israel offers many nature parks: bizarre desert landscapes with oases that are visited by wild animals to drink at night or protected areas in the Upper Galilee and on the edge of the Golan Heights with Mediterranean and sometimes rare endemic plants. History buffs will find an enormous number of archaeological sites in the country; Because of changing histories and being at the crossroads of various trade routes and at the focal point between different cultures, we have left their mark on so many ancient cultures that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between prehistoric, Canaanite, Israelite, Hellenistic - Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Mediterranean - to distinguish between medieval settlement traces and fortress walls. Buildings from the times of the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, and the Ottomans come from the Muslim-Arab period, and German engineers they called in. Architects from the Franciscans, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the British mandate government characterize the picture.

Some Israelis are convinced (with a wink) that if you dig a hole somewhere in Israel, you will find traces of a Roman temple... - this is true, as archaeological traces are unearthed during the excavation of any road or tram project .

Finally, Christians frequently visit the country for the multitude of sites associated with the biblical accounts of Jesus' ministry. Little is likely to be authentic, much is the object of centuries of veneration and at some sights the greed for relics and visits to sites of biblical events may have been exploited by enterprising local residents for almost 2000 years - where traces of fourth-century pilgrims were found park today still the coaches of Christian and Jewish groups of pilgrims.

Christian sites, these are mainly located around the Sea of Galilee and in Jerusalem
The "Transfiguration of Jesus" is said to have taken place on Mount Tabor; the quite high semi-circular mountain lies east of Afula and offers a great view over the Jezreel plain.
The Mount of Beatitudes is considered the site of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee is mentioned several times in the Bible; the ruins of a house believed to be the house of Peter has been visited for centuries.
Tabgha , also on the Sea of Galilee, is believed to be the place where the feeding of the five thousand reported in the Bible took place
Yardenit Baptismal Site. Christians are baptized in the Jordan at the baptismal site of Jardenit at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. The baptismal site of Qasr el-Jahud near Jericho, which probably comes much closer to the site of the work of John the Baptist, is now accessible again.

National and nature parks have been placed under protection, the Israeli national and nature parks are maintained by the National Parks Authority and can usually be visited for an entrance fee. The Israel Pass is worthwhile for tourists, with which all parks can be visited within two weeks. The Israel Pass & Ride variant includes a credit card for buses in the form of a Rav Nav.

The most important historical sites and excavations
Avdat was an important Nabatean city; the excavations are south of Be'er Sheva.
Belvoir Castle is a former Crusader castle whose ruins lie between Bet She'an and Tiberias on the slopes above the Jordan.
Bet She'arim was an important Jewish necropolis near Kiryat Tiv'on on the edge of the Jezreel plain; Parts of the catacombs can be visited today.
In Bet She'an is one of the most important archaeological sites with relics from Roman and Byzantine times (including the remains of the main streets and the amphitheater).
Caesarea, with its Roman, Byzantine and Crusader relics, was the seat of Roman governors in ancient times.
Hamat Gader is located southeast of the Sea of Galilee right on the Jordanian border; the place was already known in ancient times for its thermal springs.
Masada, the fortified rocky plateau within sight of the Dead Sea, is considered the site of the legendary battle of Jewish rebels against a great Roman superiority, which ended in the collective suicide of the besieged rebels.
Megiddo is an archaeological site in the western Jezreel plain, which is mainly characterized by an ingenious water supply system from the 9th century BC. Chr. with a more than 100 meter long tunnel.


The city of Aphek or Afek is located 15 km from Tel Aviv on a road 483. Its name is derived from a Hebrew word for "springs" as it was the main strategic feature of the town.

Appolonia Ruins of ancient Apollonia in Israel are situated on a beaches of the sea.

Ashkelon contains ruins from the Bronze Age to medieval Crusader fortifications.

Beit Alpha Synagogue hold some of the best preserved mosaics in the Middle East.

Ruins of ancient Scythopolis at Beth Shean in Israel will take a whole day to explore.

Bethlehem in Israel harbors Rachel's tomb and claims as a birth town of Jesus Christ.

Ein Avdat National Park is an oasis of protected wild life in a vast Israeli desert.

Ein Gedi National Park is an oasis to the West of the Dead Sea in close proximity to Masada plateau and Qumran caves.

Ancient ruins of Eleutheropolis are situated not far from the Jerusalem.

Christian Orthodox monastery at Ein Fara is merely a small portion of a huge monastic community that once existed here.

Ein Karem was found during the Bronze Era, but it is particularly famous as a birth place of John the Baptist.

Gorny Monastery is a Russian Orthodox Monastery in Ein Karem, 7 km to the South West of Jerusalem.

Herodium is and ancient castle built by Herod the Great and his final resting place.

Jericho is probably the oldest site that was continually inhabitant by humans.

Jezreel Valley is a large valley in the south region of the Lower Galilee in Israel.

Mar Saba Monastery is one of the earliest Christian monasteries in the World. It is located 17 km (11 mi) East of Bethlehem in Israel.

Abandoned underground city of Maresha is probably more impressive than what is left above ground.

Nebi Musa according to the Muslim tradition is the resting place of Moses who died on the border of the Holy Land.

Massive medieval Nimrod Fortress holds strategic location on top of the mountain.

 Qumran is a home to an ancient Jewish groups that latter influences monastic movement in Europe.

Hippos/Sussita is an ancient archaeological site in Israel situated on the bank of Sea of Galilee.

Judaean Desert stretches from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Despite its barren appearance it has one of the most historic buildings it the Holy Land.


History of the founding of the State of Israel

History of naming

The territory of the modern State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is one of the longest inhabited areas in the world. Ancient trade routes crisscrossed the region, and for centuries there was a constant struggle for spheres of control and influence between the northern, southern, and northeastern powers. This is reflected in the dispute over the name, which is still hotly contested today. Eretz Israel" is what the Jewish inhabitants call "Eretz Israel" based on the Greek transcription of "the land of the Philistines." The term "Syria palaestina" was coined after the suppression of the last Jewish uprising by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. By "Damnatio memoriae" the Roman Empire tried to erase the transmitted name of the Jewish state by erasing its memory. In modern times, the term "Palestine" came back into use among the Zionists, led by Th.Herzl; in the 19th century, the name "Palestine" was used again by the Zionists around Herzl and spread with the naming of the British Mandate of Cisjordan. Since its founding, Jews have preferred the designation "Israel," while Muslim and Christian Arabs prefer "Palestine. This designation sometimes refers to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are under the control of the Palestinian Authority, but often implicitly encompasses the entire region.



Prehistory ranges from the earliest human traces to the beginnings of a broader written tradition. Some of Homo erectus left Africa approximately 2 million years ago. The oldest traces identified in Israel date back to 1.4 million years ago and were found south of the Sea of Galilee in the territory of Israel and Jordan. Later, another wave of migration occurred 600,000 years ago. Neanderthals appeared in the region at least 250,000 years ago (masonry techniques by them are documented), and others may have come from Europe during the colder times and lived here at the same time as the ancient Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens, considered the direct ancestor of the present humans, originated in East Africa at least 200,000 years ago and can be traced back to Palestine 110,000 years ago. Anatomically, some of the present humans are thought to have left Africa 130,000 years ago. However, they disappeared from Israel again 80,000 years ago and reappeared 50,000 years ago. Once again they coexisted with Neanderthals in the same area, perhaps with common descendants. Neanderthals disappeared between 45,000 and 28,000 years ago. A lake in the Jordan Valley, 200 km long and 2000 km² in area, was created 70,000 years ago and lasted until 12,000 BC. It existed in B.C. People continued to make a living by hunting large beasts, and small game and fishing became as important as gathering activities.

By about 18,000 B.C.. By the 4th century B.C., there was increasing evidence of more permanent camps (village-like structures have also been identified) and limited food production, grinding and burning wild barley. The main prey was gazelle, and camps were set up along gazelle hiking trails. c. 12,000 B.C. Clay structures appeared in semicircular stone houses as late as c. 11,000 B.C. Grain was planted in the first century B.C. Traces of rituals and sacrifices increased, the dead were usually buried in a shrunken position, and sometimes the skulls were buried separately. The previously highly abstract art was supplemented by more realistic depictions, and these are considered the oldest visual documents in the Near East.

Between 9500 and 8800 BC. Agriculture was practiced in the 4th century B.C., but the production of clay pots was not yet known. The most important site is Jericho, which stands out with an area of 4 hectares in a settlement that was mostly less than half a hectare in size. Around 8000 B.C. Perhaps 3,000 people lived in the city, which was surrounded by a 3-meter-high wall, from 7700 to 7220 B.C. By the 1st century B.C. it was uninhabited. After 8300 B.C. Around 7600 B.C., grain production, previously limited to the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights, spread further. In the 1st century B.C., there was an intense expansion of the settlement areas with migration and population growth. Most of the older settlements were abandoned.

Jericho was rebuilt around 7220 BC and remained in use until 6400 BC. Inhabited. The migration pattern of the pre "mega-village" period resumed around 7000, and permanent settlements continued to exist. Only at this stage did stabilization occur, the prerequisites for urban structures were established, and pottery came into use. Sha'ar Hagolan, a 20-hectare site, is considered the largest city that existed between 6400 and 6000 BC. Long-distance trade is recorded as far away as Anatolia and the Nile, and migration probably took place there. Between 5500 and 4500 BC. There was no contact with Egypt in the 4th century B.C., probably due to worsening climatic conditions. Between 4400 and 4000 B.C. In the 1st century B.C., the type of livestock farming and agriculture there again points to a Palestinian origin. During the Golden Stone Age, Tereilat Ghassul in the Jordan Valley was one of the largest settlements, with an area of 20 hectares. There was a spacious dwelling and temple measuring 3.5 meters by 12 meters. Between 3500 and 3300 B.C. There was a dramatic cultural collapse in the first century B.C., but no traces of violence have yet been recorded.

This was followed by the Bronze Age, known as the "Early City," during which Palestine maintained trading relations far beyond its borders, especially with Egypt. Egyptians can be found in the settlement networks along the trade routes to Palestine. Centralized under the pharaohs, Egypt attempted to gain control of the raw materials between Sinai and Lebanon, sometimes by force of arms. The existence of numerous fortified settlements is probably closely related to these battles. In Western Palestine during this period, particularly in Galilee, Samaria, and Judea alone, more than 260 settlements are known, with a total population of perhaps 150,000. Of these, Beth Yerah and Yarmut were the largest, at 20 hectares and 16 hectares respectively, with some cities having walls as much as eight meters thick, and Beth Yerah probably had between 4,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. Castle gates and large temple complexes such as Megiddo were also constructed. At the end of the Early Bronze Age, urban culture collapsed and pastoral agriculture became dominant. At the same time, the "Asiatics" repeatedly attacked the Nile Delta until the Semitic Hyksos invaded and took power there after 1700 BC.


Development from the appearance of the Israelites in Canaan to the 19th century

The first archaeologically proven traces of early or proto-Israelite settlement in the Mashreq region date back to the 12th and 11th centuries BC. BC (cf. Israelites' conquest of land). According to biblical tradition, Jerusalem was founded around 1000 BC. Conquered by David from the Jebusites in 400 BC and chosen as the capital of his empire; After the death of his heir to the throne Solomon, this divided into two empires. The northern kingdom of Israel collapsed in 722 BC. BC in the fight against the Assyrians, the southern kingdom of Judah was founded in 587 BC. Conquered by Babylon in BC. The country subsequently became part of the Persian Empire, then the Empire of Alexander the Great, and finally the Seleucid Empire.

The Revolt of the Maccabees in 165 B.C. BC brought Israel state independence again for around 100 years. 63 B.C. The period of Roman supremacy began in the 1st century BC. The Romans divided the area into two provinces: Syria in the north and Judea in the south. In the Jewish War, Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Temple were completely destroyed in 70 AD. The last Jewish revolt in Israel against Roman rule (Bar Kokhba Revolt) was suppressed in 135 AD. Part of the Jewish population was expelled. The country itself has since been called “Palestine”. The country was given this name, which goes back to the Philistines, who had already absorbed into the neighboring peoples at the time, as a result of a decree from Emperor Hadrian in order to erase the memory of the Judean residents, whose rebellion he suppressed. Nevertheless, Palestine remained a center of Judaism - alongside Rome and its provinces in Europe and North Africa, as well as Mesopotamia (Babylonia); Until the Middle Ages, both the Babylonian and the Palestinian rabbis were pioneers in the development of the Jewish religion and way of life outside of these areas.

In the course of Islamic expansion, the area came under Arab rule in 636. Since then, Palestine has been inhabited by a majority of Arabs. The Crusaders ruled what they called the “Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem” from 1099 to 1291. This was followed by the Mamluks from 1291 to 1517 and then Ottoman rule from 1517 to 1918. None of these authorities had provided for Palestine to have its own administration or viewed the area as an independent geographical unit. The region was also part of Syria for the Ottomans, probably going back to the Roman name Syria. The country was divided into three districts.


Zionist movement


The Eastern European collection movement Chibbat Zion (“Love of Zion”), which emerged around 1880, is considered to be the beginning or forerunner of the Zionist movement. Their local associations were represented in numerous Russian and Romanian cities. Members of the Chibbat Zion called themselves Chowewe Zion (“Friends of Zion”). They collected around 3,000 people willing to emigrate for joint settlement projects in Palestine. During Ottoman rule, Palestine was sparsely populated and economically stagnated. The arrival of the first Jewish immigrants in 1880 gave impetus to the country's economic development. In the following decades, many more people, Jews and Arabs, immigrated to Palestine - also for this reason.

The first major immigration movement (Aliyah) of Jews to Palestine took place around 1882. In the summer of 1882, a six-member Russian group reached Palestine and, with financial and logistical support from Baron Edmond de Rothschild, built the settlement of Rishon LeZion (“First in Zion”). Between 1880 and 1895, Edmond de Rothschild financed the establishment of more than 30 additional colonies in Palestine, including the important moshavot (settlements) of Petah Tikva, Zikhron Ya'akov, Rosh Pina, Hadera, and Yesod ha-Ma'aleh. Since then, Baron Edmond de Rothschild has been considered the “father of the colonization of Palestine”. In 1891, the German-Jewish Zionist Baron Maurice de Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association, which from 1899 received extensive financial support from Baron de Edmond de Rothschild. In 1898, according to the Jewish Colonization Association, 5,200 Jews lived in model agricultural settlements in Palestine.

Between 1890 and 1914 Cologne was considered the capital of Zionism. In Cologne in 1893, the two important Zionist officials Max I. Bodenheimer and David Wolffsohn founded the Cologne Association for the Promotion of Agriculture and Crafts in Palestine. Bodenheimer also founded the National Jewish Club Zion Cologne, was chairman of the Zionist Association for Germany and set up the Jewish National Fund from his apartment on Cologne's Neumarkt from 1905 to 1914.


Delegates to the First World Zionist Congress in Basel, 1897

The key and leading figure of political Zionism became Theodor Herzl. In 1896, during the Dreyfus affair in France, Herzl wrote the book The Jewish State - Attempt at a Modern Solution to the Jewish Question. In it, Herzl explained his idea of a sovereign state organization in order to give the haphazard and scattered emigration of European Jews a common goal and to secure the Jewish settlement project under international law. Herzl hardly based his idea on religious motives, but rather on the failure of Jewish emancipation, especially in the civilized countries of Europe. Until then, Herzl had seen France in particular as a haven of social and cultural progress. Now he judged that anti-Semitism would never disappear and that all efforts by Jews to assimilate would only increase it. Only the gathering of Jews in their own country could be the way out.

In contrast to the writings of his ideological predecessors, Herzl's book received a lot of attention and provided the impetus for the international unification of existing national Jewish associations. On August 29, 1897, 200 delegates elected by their associations met in Basel for the first Zionist Congress. There, Herzl called for the first time to establish a Jewish state in Palestine that would be legalized under international law. The World Zionist Organization (WZO) was then founded with the maxim: “Zionism strives to create a homeland in Palestine that is protected by public law for the Jewish people.” Herzl wrote in his diary: “In Basel I have it Jewish state founded… Maybe in five years, at least in fifty everyone will see it.”

In 1901, the World Zionist Organization founded the Jewish National Fund at the 5th Zionist Congress in Basel in order to specifically promote Jewish settlements in Palestine for the first time. The second Aliyah was triggered by pogroms and the failure of the Russian Revolution in 1905. By 1914, around 40,000 mostly young Russian Jews emigrated to Palestine. The Jewish population there grew to around 85,000 people by 1914. In 1907, at the 8th Zionist Congress, the World Zionist Organization established the Office of Palestine in Jaffa, and David Wolffsohn was elected President of the World Zionist Organization. With a loan from the Jewish National Fund, he made it possible to build the first houses in Ahuzat Bayit, later Tel Aviv, and thus laid the foundation for the first Hebrew city founded in 1909. By 1938, Tel Avi's population grew to 150,000.



In the middle of the First World War, the most important chapter in the founding of Israel followed: On November 2, 1917, on the initiative of the British diplomat Lord Milner, the British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration named after him in a letter to the committed British Zionist Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild off. The British government then viewed the “establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine” with favor and would “make the greatest efforts to facilitate the achievement of this goal.” This declaration adopted the goal formulation of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). This was the first time that a European state had recognized the Zionist goal of a Jewish state in Palestine. The rights of the local non-Jewish population should be protected.

The British victory in the First World War ended Ottoman rule in Palestine in 1917. Following the Sanremo Conference in 1920, the League of Nations gave Great Britain the mandate for Palestine in 1922, including the territory now occupied jointly by Israel and Jordan. The conditions of the mandate included that the British should enable the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, but that it should not affect the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. The mandated power was called upon to enable Jewish immigration, to settle these Jewish immigrants as a group and to use the former Ottoman state land for this purpose. Express care should be taken that “nothing should be done which could prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

In July 1922, the British divided Palestine into two administrative districts, Palestine and Transjordan, which comprised about three-quarters of the Mandatory territory. Initially, Transjordan and Palestine were still viewed as an administrative unit with uniform mandate laws, the same currency and the same mandate passports (see also: White Paper of 1939), but Jews were only allowed to settle west of the Jordan. In the eastern part, in Transjordan, today's Jordan, the British installed the Hashemite ruler Abdallah, who had been expelled from the Arabian Peninsula.

Baron Edmond de Rothschild founded the Palestine-Jewish Colonization Association (PICA) in 1924 and appointed his son James Armand de Rothschild to be the organization's director. The fourth Aliyah followed between 1924 and 1932. When the NSDAP came to power on January 30, 1933, the nationwide persecution of Jews began in Germany. The Nazi regime's first measures were the Jewish boycott of April 1, as well as the law to restore the professional civil service and the law on admission to the legal profession of April 7, 1933, as a result of which many German Jews lost their property, profession and social status. On August 25, 1933, the Ha'avara Agreement between the Jewish Agency, the Zionist Association for Germany and the German Reich Ministry of Economic Affairs came into force to facilitate the emigration of German Jews to Palestine. During the fifth Aliyah, 250,000 German Jews emigrated to other countries from 1933 to the start of the war in 1939. From 1933 to 1941, around 55,000 Jews from the German Reich reached Palestine - around a quarter of all Jewish immigrants. The Nazi persecution of Jews significantly accelerated the influx of European Jews into Palestine from 1935 onwards. Since refugees were allowed to take up to 1,000 English pounds with them, Palestine experienced an economic boom, which in turn increased the influx of Arabs there. 75 percent of the financial transactions required for emigration from Germany to Palestine were processed by the Palestine Trust Office for Advice on German Jews GmbH (Paltreu). Paltreu was founded after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 by Max M. Warburg, his Hamburg M.M.Warburg & CO bank, the Berlin bank A.E. Wassermann and the Anglo-Palestine Bank created by Theodor Herzl.

After the Arab uprising against Palestinian Jews began in 1936, the British refused to implement the Balfour Declaration. Instead, the British Peel Commission presented the first partition plan in July 1937. Accordingly, a large part of Palestine should be allocated to the Arabs, the smaller part with the most Jewish settlements to the Jews. Jerusalem and a coastal strip were to remain a British mandate. Chaim Weizmann, who led the WZO since 1935, spoke at the 20th Zionist Congress in favor of adopting this plan in order to save as many persecuted Jews as possible. The newly immigrated Jews were immediately enthusiastic, but the Arab representatives rejected the plan and demanded that the whole of Palestine be made an Arab state. The plan failed.

In the White Paper of 1939, the British government unilaterally stated that the Balfour Declaration had already been implemented. A maximum of 75,000 Jews would be allowed to immigrate to Palestine within the next five years. At a conference in London in August 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried to persuade WZO representatives to renounce a Jewish state in Palestine. Chamberlain's attempts were unsuccessful.

German Oriental policy resulted in fraternization with Arab nationalists in the common fight against the British and Jews. In 1941, Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem and influential leader of the Arab national movement, appointed by the British, was received by Adolf Hitler in Berlin. From Berlin he is said to have planned the murder of Jews living in the Arab world with Adolf Eichmann.

With the attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Shoah began with organized mass murders of Soviet Jews and deportations of German and Eastern European Jews to ghettos and camps in Eastern Europe. The most important decisions to expand the extermination of Jews were made between July and October 1941: the construction of extermination camps began and German Jews were ordered to wear the Jewish Star throughout the Reich. The ongoing Holocaust became known outside Germany in the fall of 1941, but this did not lead to any targeted countermeasures. At the Biltmore Conference convened in New York City in 1942, the US delegates to the World Zionist Organization and a group led by the future founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, called for the first time to “open the gates of Palestine” in order to establish a Jewish commonwealth with a democratic constitution there based on the European model. The British government rejected this and banned the publication of the Biltmore program in Great Britain and Palestine.

Since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in January 1943, the number of Jewish refugees grew again. The British government increasingly raided Jewish settlements in Palestine, arrested illegal immigrants and banned Zionist newspapers. In 1944, the Zionist underground organizations Irgun and Lechi expanded their attacks against the British. At the same time, around 100,000 of the 500,000 Palestinian Jews fought with the Allies in Europe against the Germans. In the final months of the war, the Allies liberated some of the Nazi extermination camps, including the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945. After the end of the war on May 8, 1945, no European state except France and Sweden agreed to take in the surviving Jews. The World Zionist Organization demanded that at least the surviving concentration camp prisoners be allowed to immigrate. US President Harry S. Truman called on the British to immediately admit 100,000 Jewish immigrants, but British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin maintained the low monthly quota. Since February 1946, around 175,000 Polish Jews expelled by the Nazi regime from the Soviet Union were deported to their home country, but were rejected there by the local Poles, who had often taken over their property. 95,000 of them then fled to Palestine via Western Europe. The Hagana, the Jewish brigade of the British army, and the Mossad now jointly organized the illegal immigration of Shoah survivors, the so-called Bericha.

The British had 50,000 of them returned to displaced persons camps in the American occupation zone in Germany in 1945/46; others were interned in Cyprus. During a raid on June 29, 1946, the British army captured all Jewish Agency members and leading Zionists found in Palestine and detained them for weeks in a camp in Lod, about 20 kilometers east of Tel Aviv.

In 1946, attacks by the terrorist underground organization Irgun steadily increased, particularly on British railway lines. Paramilitary troops from the Hagana, which has now split off from the British, blew up ten bridges between May 16th and 17th. In response to the terrorist attacks, the British elected officials arrested all Zionist leaders on June 29th, whereupon on July 22nd Irgun, led by the later Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Menachem Begin, blew up a wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, where the British headquarters were located . There were numerous deaths; the number of victims varies between 91 and 176.

The escalation of unrest continued throughout 1947 - until on November 29th the United Nations General Assembly voted by a two-thirds majority in favor of the UN partition plan for Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state, with the greater Jerusalem area as a corpus separatum international control should be placed. With the UN decision and the start of the British withdrawal, Arab unrest and attacks increased again. The day after the UN partition plan was announced on November 30, 1947, the initially guerrilla-like Israeli-Arab civil war, the Palestine War, began. There were attacks by Arab irregulars on Jewish settlements and residential areas and counterattacks by Jewish paramilitary associations. The British mandate government kept a low profile when it came to protecting the population and sometimes even prevented opposing troops from intervening, for example on April 13, 1947, during the attack on a medical convoy to Hadassah Hospital. Shortly afterwards, the Arab population began to flee and be expelled from the areas now allocated to Israel, sometimes accompanied by the destruction of their villages, buildings and documents. As a result, proof of the existence of the Palestinian population and thus their legal claim was often lost. As a result, the Arab population rejected Israel's right to exist, which continues to have consequences for the region to this day. Likewise, Jewish residents were also expelled from what were now Palestinian territories. There were high numbers of refugees and deaths on both sides.


History of the State of Israel

1948: Establishment of the State of Israel

Since the British mandate for Palestine was due to end at midnight on May 14, 1948, a Friday, the Jewish National Council met in the house of former mayor Dizengoff in Tel Aviv at 4 p.m. before sunset and thus before the start of the Sabbath. Under a portrait of the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the State of Israel in the Declaration of Independence “by virtue of the natural and historical right of the Jewish people and on the basis of the decision of the UN General Assembly”. Eleven minutes later, the United States of America recognized the new state through US President Harry S. Truman, the Soviet Union followed on May 16th and Czechoslovakia on May 18th.

The anniversary of the founding of the state, Yom haAtzma'ut, is celebrated on the 5th of Iyyar according to the Jewish calendar (approximately from April 20th to May 20th according to the Gregorian calendar).


1948: War of Independence

On the night it was founded, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria declared war on the new state. This was followed by the Israeli War of Independence (First Arab-Israeli War), which lasted from May 1948 to January 1949 and which brought Israel significant territorial gains compared to the partition plan - especially in the western Galilee around Acre and in the northern Negev. In 1949 a ceasefire agreement was signed with the Arab attackers. Iraq withdrew from the West Bank without such an agreement. The areas designated for the Palestinians under the partition plan came under Jordanian (West Bank including East Jerusalem) and Egyptian (Gaza Strip) occupation.

Around 850,000 Arabs fled Palestine during the war. Some of these refugees were driven out by Israeli forces, others were evacuated by Arab forces for strategic reasons. As a result of this decline in the Arab population, the majority of the State of Israel has since then been made up of Jews.

In the first election for a constituent assembly on January 25, 1949, the socialist-Zionist Mapei party emerged as the winner, followed by the left-wing socialist Mapam. David Ben-Gurion became prime minister. In the following years there were changing coalitions of Zionist-Socialist, religious and Arab parties.

After the nationalization of the Suez Canal, which Egypt carried out against existing law, France, Great Britain and Israel decided on the Suez Campaign in 1956. After an Israeli attack, the two former great powers were supposed to intervene as seemingly neutral forces and occupy the canal area. On October 29, 1956, Israeli troops advanced into the Gaza Strip and Sinai, and on November 5, European troops began to land, but the campaign had to be ended. Under pressure from the United States and the UN, the three attackers withdrew from the occupied territories by March 1957. However, the Israeli-Egyptian border was subsequently secured by UN peacekeepers and access to the Gulf of Aqaba was free for Israeli shipping to the Israeli port of Eilat. The United States committed to Israel to keep this international waterway open.


1967: Six-Day War

In 1966 the number of attacks by Arab terrorists had risen to 41, and in the first four months of 1967 there were 37 attacks. Egyptian forces occupied the Sinai Demilitarized Zone on May 15, 1967 (the anniversary of Israel's Declaration of Independence). They were supported by exiled Palestinian combat units. On May 16, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser called on the UN troops stationed since 1956 to leave the border area with Israel. On May 18, Syrian troops prepared for combat operations in the Golan Heights and UN Secretary-General Sithu U Thant complied with Nasser's request without resistance and withdrew UN troops. Radio Cairo reported on May 18: “As of today, there are no longer any international peacekeepers protecting Israel. Our patience is running out. We will no longer complain about Israel to the United Nations. From now on there will be total war against Israel, and it will lead to the extinction of Zionism,” and from Syria, Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad said on May 20: “Our armed forces are absolutely equipped not only to repel aggression, but also to repel aggression To launch a liberation strike and blast the Zionist presence out of our Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united... as a military I firmly believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”

On May 22, the Egyptian army again closed the Strait of Tiran (the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba) to Israeli shipping. On May 30, Jordan also concluded a military pact with Egypt. Nasser then announced: “The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon have marched on the borders of Israel...they will accept the challenge. Behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the entire Arab world. This will amaze the whole world. Today she will realize that the Arabs are ready to fight. The hour of decision is here. The time for explanations is over, the time for action has come.”

On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and Iraqi President Abd ar-Rahman Arif commented: “The existence of Israel is a mistake that must be corrected. This is the opportunity to erase the shame that has been inflicted on us since 1948. Our goal is clear: to wipe Israel off the map.”

The Six Day War began on June 5, 1967. Israel forestalled the emerging joint attack by Egypt, Syria and Jordan with a pre-emptive strike and, after military success, controlled the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and finally the Golan Heights. The ceasefire was signed on June 11th. On June 19, the Israeli cabinet decided to return the territories through peace negotiations. On September 1, the Arab states passed the Khartoum Resolution, which stipulated that they would not negotiate with Israel. UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967 called for Israel to withdraw from areas captured in the Six-Day War. In return, Israel should be guaranteed territorial integrity.

More than 175,000 Palestinians fled their homeland. After the war, Israel began building Jewish settlements to increase Israel's strategic depth and better control the occupied territories.

Between 1968 and 1970, the “War of Attrition” took place between Israel and Egypt. From 1969 to 1974, Golda Meir was the first woman to hold the office of Prime Minister of Israel.


1973: Yom Kippur War

On October 6, 1973, the Jewish holiday of atonement Yom Kippur, Syria and Egypt attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

The attack surprised the unprepared Israelis and initially brought the attackers initial military successes. From the Israeli perspective, the surprise attack did not have a negative impact on the draft, contrary to what Arab strategists had thought. On the contrary, the call-up of the reservists was exceptionally quick, despite the initial surprise and some confusion in the mobilization depots. During the highest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, public life was almost completely at a standstill, meaning that no road traffic hindered military transport and the reservists could be quickly located in their homes and synagogues. Less than 24 hours after the start of hostilities, the first parts of two reserve divisions under Avraham Adan and Ariel Sharon reached the towns of Baluza and Tasa, each 250 kilometers from their home bases.

The Syrians penetrated the Golan Heights with over 1,400 tanks, the Egyptians broke through the Israeli defenses and crossed the Suez Canal. With the exception of a small area around Port Said on the Mediterranean coast, the Egyptians managed to capture the Bar Lev Line and occupy a strip parallel to the Suez Canal.

However, the Israelis managed to repel the attackers relatively quickly. In the north, the counteroffensive led to a defeat for the Syrian army, which was defeated in just a few days - by October 10th - and had to leave behind 870 tanks and thousands of vehicles and guns. The Syrians were pushed back to 32 kilometers from Damascus and the Syrian capital was massively bombed, resulting in many civilian casualties. However, the Israeli troops were unable to break through the Syrian front.

In the Sinai Peninsula, Israeli troops also pushed back the Egyptians and crossed the Suez Canal on October 16. South of the Bitter Lakes, the Israelis, led by General Ariel Sharon, managed to encircle the Egyptian 3rd Army that remained on the eastern bank. The Israeli army was now across the Suez Canal, 120 km from Cairo.

On October 22, the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 338, called on all parties to cease fire following pressure from the United States. When the ceasefire came into force on October 22nd (Northern Front) and October 24th (Southern Front), the Syrians were defeated; the surrounded and unprovided Egyptian 3rd Army was facing annihilation.

After the ceasefire began, negotiations to disengage troops between the warring parties began in a tent at milepost 101 on the Cairo-Sues road. These negotiations dragged on for months.

Losses were heavy on both sides. More than 2,600 Israeli soldiers died, 7,500 were wounded and 300 were taken prisoner. The Israeli Air Force suffered heavy losses due to the use of Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles. On the Arab side there were over 8,500 deaths.

The war traumatized the Israeli public, which had hardly noticed the foreign policy threat because the Israeli army had until then been considered invincible. The allegations of massive losses forced Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir to resign in April 1974.

For the Arab world, the war was a political success. The war signaled to Israel that the Arab world was an enemy that should not be underestimated militarily.

The Yom Kippur War triggered the oil price crisis in 1973.


1977: Start of the peace process

In May 1977, the 9th Knesset election changed the country's political landscape. While left-wing governments had always dominated the country since the founding of the state, there was now a conservative majority in parliament for the first time; Menachem Begin became prime minister of a coalition of conservative, liberal and religious parties.

On November 9, 1977, Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat announced a peace initiative in the Egyptian parliament, as he had done in 1971. To what extent there was a real desire for reconciliation with Israel from the start or simply the goal of getting back the Suez Canal and the Sinai cannot be fully understood, since the 1971 initiative was followed by the attack on Israel (Yom Kippur War). . The fact is: On President Sadat's initiative, a peace process got underway in 1977 and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty (see also Camp David Accords) was signed, which, among other things, regulated the return of Sinai by 1982.

Immediately after the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli legislation was extended to the occupied eastern part of Jerusalem. On July 30, 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, declaring Jerusalem the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel. However, the annexation of East Jerusalem and the annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 are not internationally recognized or condemned.

During the First Gulf War between Iraq and Iran, Israeli aircraft bombed and destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in June 1981 (Operation Opera). This operation was justified by the nuclear threat to Israel from Iraq.

From the 1980s onwards, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians increased.

The first Lebanon War began in June 1982 due to PLO attacks against Israel. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had Israeli forces attack Lebanon, as the PLO coordinated their actions from Beirut. After the Israeli occupation of Beirut, the PLO withdrew from Lebanon. The war ended in September of the same year and, according to estimates, 10,000 people died. Israel occupied southern Lebanon until 1985, after which Israel established a security zone with the SLA until 2000. Syria de facto occupied Lebanon until 2005.


1987: First Intifada

In 1987, violent riots broke out among Palestinians, the so-called First Intifada. The following years were dominated by this conflict, but also by peace negotiations that led to the introduction of Palestinian self-government for the areas of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Interim progress was offset by setbacks and serious crises - for example the murder of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist and repeated suicide attacks by Palestinian terrorists. The so-called Oslo peace process initially reached its greatest standstill after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO leader Yasser Arafat were unable to reach an agreement at Camp David in 2000 under the mediation of then US President Bill Clinton. The main points of contention were the return of Palestinian refugees, the division of Jerusalem and the abandonment of areas that Israel had conquered in the Six-Day War. Even relatively far-reaching concessions by the Israelis, such as giving up 95% of the disputed areas, could not prevent the negotiations from collapsing.

There are different, controversial views when assessing the negotiations and the reasons for their failure.


2000: Second Intifada

Just a few months later, in September 2000, the Second Intifada broke out, during which peace negotiations were broken off. Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military actions, such as the invasion of Arab cities, claimed the lives of several thousand people on both sides by the beginning of 2005. The Al-Aqsa Intifada ended with the Sharm El Sheikh Agreement, signed on February 8, 2005 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II of Jordan .

After the success of the radical Islamic terrorist organization and party Hamas in the parliamentary elections in the Palestinian autonomous areas and of the Israeli party Kadima in the 2006 Knesset elections, from which Ehud Olmert emerged as the new prime minister, the domestic political situation in Israel worsened dramatically. The situation escalated in the summer of 2006 when Israel responded to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hamas with attacks in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Second Lebanon War began with Hezbollah's solidarity with Hamas by kidnapping more Israeli soldiers.

After years of obstacles, the diplomatic rapprochement between the Vatican and Israel appears to be becoming more concrete. The issue is an old law that is still valid in Israel and denies churches permission to own property. The Holy See wants to get back its historical properties that were “stolen” by the state. These include, for example, the pilgrim house in the seaside city of Caesarea.

On December 28, 2008, the Israeli army began Operation Cast Lead, a series of heavy airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip after short-range rockets were fired at Israeli towns. On January 3, 2009, the operation was expanded into a ground offensive.

On May 31, 2010, the Ship-to-Gaza incident occurred in which a number of ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip were intercepted by the Israeli military. Nine activists were killed. Relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated massively since then. Turkey had already distanced itself from Israel under the Erdogan government, becoming an advocate for Hamas and seeking solidarity with Iran, whose president he described as his “best friend”.

In July 2014, after a murder of three Jewish religious students and a yet-unsolved revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager, a renewed conflict broke out between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli army launched Operation Protective Edge and began the invasion of Gaza. On August 26th the fighting ended with a ceasefire.

After a government crisis broke out between Likud and the liberal parties in November 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed his Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni from their positions on December 2nd. New elections were held in March 2015 and Netanyahu's party won.

Since October 2015 there have been repeated knife attacks by Palestinian terrorists on passers-by and security forces. In this new wave of violence, 34 Israelis and at least 220 Palestinians as well as a tourist from the USA have been killed (as of July 1, 2016). Most of the Palestinians were shot by security forces in attacks and attempted attacks on Israelis. The perpetrators often act alone and without an overarching structure. The Israeli authorities blame this on radical incitement by Palestinians.


From 2020

The beginning of the 2020s was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel, mass protests against judicial reform and a Hamas attack on Israel in 2023.


Getting here

Entry requirements

When you enter the country, you get a three-month tourist visa (B-2 visa), which is no longer stamped in your passport, but is inserted into the passport as a kind of insert sheet with a picture, and with duty-free shopping, with tax-free payment must be presented to the accommodation as a tourist and upon departure; when you leave the country, you will receive a similarly designed exit confirmation. A fee-based extension of the period of stay can be applied for in Israel. The Population & Immigration Authority field offices (short code ☎ 3450) are normally open Sun-Thurs. 8.00-12.00.

There are special visa requirements for German citizens who were born before January 1, 1928. You have to apply for a visa in advance, which the Israeli embassy issues free of charge and for the period of validity of the passport, provided that the applicant has not been proven to be deeply involved in National Socialism. With the “right of return”, Jews automatically have Israeli citizenship and the right to permanent residence, but may have to prove this with appropriate documents. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides an overview of other types of visas on its website.
The Israeli government automatically considers all foreign-born children of Israelis as its citizens. They must enter with an Israeli passport and are subject to conscription.

Detailed visa information can be found on the website of the relevant Israeli embassy (Berlin, Vienna (tel. information Mon.-Fri. 12.30-4.30 p.m.: ☎ 01 476 46-587) and Bern (tel. information Mon.-Fri. 12.00-14.00 : ☎ 031 356 35 87).

Germans and Austrians aged 18-30 can apply for a working holiday visa. During the one-year stay, you can work for a maximum of three months per employer. Anyone who feels betrayed by the boss can get help from the Kav LaOved Worker's Hotline (☎ +972 3 688 376). Regarding volunteering etc. below are links to kibbutz etc. For this one needs the “Volunteer Visa” which can be applied for at the relevant department of the Ministry of the Interior.

An Israeli stamp in the passport means that certain countries (especially the Arab countries, e.g. Syria, Lebanon and Iran) will refuse entry, even if a visa has been issued for these countries. On the website of the Federal Foreign Office and the foreign ministries, the travel advice for the individual countries usually indicates if an Israeli stamp leads or can lead to problems. If you are planning a trip to an Arab country after visiting Israel, you should definitely check in detail whether entry is possible there with an Israeli stamp. Since 2014, the passport is no longer stamped without asking, but an entry visa with a passport photo is inserted.

German citizens can apply for a second passport if, after visiting Israel, they want to visit other countries in the Middle East that would refuse entry with an Israeli stamp. Whether you receive the document is at the "dutiful discretion" of the local registration office.

Conversely, stamps from Arab countries or an “Arabic-sounding” family name in the passport mean that the controls and interviews before departure for Israel are more stringent. The government of the Federal Republic of Germany allows employees of the Israeli state security organs to carry out appropriate interrogations on German soil before departure. Therefore, you should be at the airport for significantly more than 4 hours than usual.

If you have acquaintances with Arabic-sounding names in Israel or especially in a place in the West Bank with whom you would like to live, you will be subjected to security interviews upon entry, which can lead to delays of several hours.



The importation of pornography and fresh meat is prohibited. Vegetables, plants, seeds, etc. are subject to restrictions that must be clarified in advance. Firearms require a permit, and (smaller) knives that are not everyday items for sports or cooking are also viewed with suspicion.

Dogs, cats and birds require a health certificate, which will usually be in the form of the EU pet passport. All dogs older than three months must be vaccinated against rabies, younger ones are not allowed into the country. Planned entry must be notified to Ramla Quarantine Station by fax (+972-8-9229906) at least 48 hours prior to arrival. Please state the animal species, name of the owner, flight number and expected arrival time.

Allowances (from 18)
1 liter of liquor or 2 liters of wine
250 grams of tobacco products or 200 cigarettes
250ml perfume
Gifts for a maximum of US$ 200

When leaving the country by land, an exit fee must be paid. When crossing the border at the Allenby Bridge, each person older than two years has to pay ₪ 177 (as of 2019). Other border crossings are a bit cheaper (fees overview as of January 1st, 2019). The fee can also be paid in euros or dollars or in advance at the Postbank.

When traveling by air, the fee is automatically included in the ticket price.



Airplane is the mode of transport most commonly chosen to travel to Israel. This is not least due to the fact that Israel can only be reached by road with difficulty and not at all by rail.

Israel has only one major international airport: Ben Gurion Airport (IATA: TLV) near Tel Aviv Airport (Sde-Dov) (IATA: SDV), which is described in a separate article (currently closed). It is by far the country's most important airport in terms of international traffic, it is located in the center of the country and is also served by many international airlines. It is also very well connected to the road network and can also be easily reached by public transport.

Since April 2019, there is only Ramon Airport Eilat (IATA: ETM) for visiting the south of the country on the Red Sea, which is also frequented by European low-cost airlines and charter flights; the old city airport of Eilat and that of Ovda are no longer served.

The main Israeli airlines are the national, now privatized El Al, its subsidiary and charter airline Sun d'Or, and the cheaper private companies Arkia Airlines and Israir. Most of the world's major airlines fly to Israel from a variety of airports. Due to the political situation, it is currently not possible to fly directly to Israel from Arab countries.

When flying to Israel, you have to reckon with increased security precautions. El Al flights in particular are often specially secured; At Munich Airport, for example, they are processed at a separate security terminal with a large police presence. You should be at the airport three hours before your flight as you will be subjected to a pre-departure security interview and your luggage may be searched thoroughly. As part of the survey, questions about the reason for the trip, but e.g. B. also according to whether you packed your suitcase yourself or whether someone gave you something to take with you to Israel or whether the luggage was left unattended. In some cases, some of the passengers and their hand luggage are routinely checked again at the gate. There are usually security officers on site who can conduct the interview in the local language (or in the language of the destination country on the return flight), but interviews can always be conducted in English.


Bus/ car/ motorcycle/ bicycle

If you want to travel by car or bus, you can only do that from Egypt or Jordan; There are no border crossings open to civilians between Lebanon and Israel and between Syria and Israel. Traveling overland from Central Europe has now become practically impossible. The green insurance card is valid in Israel.

There are three crossings on the border with Jordan. Details can be found in the country article Jordan. From Egypt, one enters Israel via the Taba border crossing, and the Rafah border crossing leads to Gaza.

Entry by land is similar to entry via an airport. You have to go through passport and security checks and your luggage will be screened just like at the airport. Departure tax charged. If you enter the country by land, the Israeli authorities will also ask you questions, so that the entry procedure can take hours.

The Israel Ministry of Tourism provides some brief information on border crossings on its website. More detailed information on the individual border crossings can be found in the country article Jordan or on the website of the Israel Airports Authority, which is also responsible for border crossings.



It is currently very difficult to enter Israel by car by ferry. The port fees are high, as is the bureaucracy. Grimaldi Lines no longer sails from Salerno to Israel. Salamis Shipping transports (Sept. 2018) only vehicles, no foot passengers, once a week between Athens-Lavrio and Haifa.

Cruise Cyprus offers excursions from Limassol to Haifa and Ashdod in 2019. The two ports mentioned are also used by cruise ships that are traveling in the eastern Mediterranean.


Sports sailor

Entry by yacht is allowed in the ports of Ashkelon, Eilat, Haifa and Herzliya, but not Tel Aviv. In any case, you should find out about the restricted zones off the Israeli coast. Among other things, the Navy rigorously enforces the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip by force of arms. Before calling Eilat, it is advisable to register at least 48 hours in advance at and fill out the IMOT form (for Israelis on board) if necessary, to avoid problems with the Coast Guard. At sea, however, one is almost always stopped far off the coast. Insurance is not required by law, but is regularly required in ports. Mooring fees are calculated based on the length of the ship.

Clearing in is subject to a fee per boat and per person; Night (4pm-8/9am) and weekend surcharge on Friday and Saturday is double the rate. Security and customs controls are precise but correct, sometimes drug and explosives wipe tests are carried out.

The facilities at the Herzliya Marina, six nautical miles north of Tel Aviv, which also has good landside transport connections, are universally praised.


Local transport

Getting around in Israel is easy with both public transport and rental cars. Public transport in Israel is still largely handled by buses, which go to almost every corner of the country. Taxis (speshel) are everywhere, and their drivers do not receive tips. Licensed taxis can be identified by the last two digits of the number plate: 25 or 26. They all have taximeters. Between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. the night rate is a quarter more expensive. Large pieces of luggage and a third and fourth passenger cost a surcharge, as do telephone orders.

In the metropolitan regions, each with a zone system, all local transport has been switched to electronic tickets. You have to buy the Rav Kav chip card, which works on a credit basis, for 5 ₪ and then load it at the ticket machine. Personalized variants of Rav Kav with photo are relevant only for season tickets and special discounts. Available (also in combination): single trips, multiple trips (2, 10, 20), weekly ticket and monthly ticket. There is also an all-Israel all-day pass for 60 ₪ (2019), the code on the machine is 950. Bus drivers now only sell a Rav Kav with the charged amount for a single trip, the Rav Kav must be purchased each time when boarding a bus or tram at corresponding vending machines can be validated contactlessly, after validation has been completed, a green light lights up on the validation machine and Go lights up on the display, fare evasion is punished with 180 NIS.
Almost all city buses are now wheelchair accessible.

The Israeli railways have massively expanded and improved their offer in recent years, so that many larger cities can now also be reached by train. You can also use the Rav Kav to pay for your tickets at the barriers to the platform. Bicycles are not permitted during peak times, 6am-9am and 3pm-7pm.

The road network is dense and in good condition; the country's main traffic arteries are often developed into multi-lane motorways, along with many motorway-like roads and simple country roads. There is a ban on alcohol at the wheel (0.0-0.1 ‰). Rental cars are only allowed to be driven into the West Bank in very few cases, and insurance coverage is generally refused in the event of stones thrown and willful damage. You can tell whether a vehicle is registered in Israel, East Jerusalem or the Palestinian Territory by its license plate. Israeli vehicles have yellow (!) number plates, vehicles from East Jerusalem or the PAA have white or green ones. Traffic signs largely follow the pattern used in Europe.

A toll is collected electronically on Highway 6, the license plate is scanned and the amount is charged to the credit card. Rental car drivers pay a handling fee of the equivalent of approx. 5 € for the settlement via the car rental company.

Long-distance buses don't go too far, the longest route is from Eilat to Akko, 474km. However, most inner-city connections are less than two hundred kilometers. Reservations are not common, except to Eilat. You can pay at the counter in the bus station or in cash from the driver. There are three categories: normal (me'asef) stops at every milk can, express and directly from A to B. In rural areas, bus stops only have route numbers and usually no timetables (Google Maps usually lists the right ones), man must make sure (or check with the driver) that you board the bus in the right direction. Departure displays with electronic displays are used in Jerusalem and increasingly in the major cities. In the cities, the intercity buses run from a "Central Bus Station". Bus stops for changing trains in the countryside are usually located at the intersections of the highways (which also have names), to continue you have to cross the road at the zebra crossing and go to the bus stop for the next line. Not all companies offer discounts on return tickets, when they do, 15% is common. Bicycles can be taken along free of charge.

The largest bus company that also operates the Jerusalem public transport system is Egged. Dan drives in the greater Tel Aviv area.

A good 120km of cycle paths are designated in the Tel Aviv city area.


Mobility situation on weekends and public holidays

If you are traveling in Israel, you should always bear in mind the completely different mobility situation on Shabbat, which ultimately affects all means of transport. During Shabbat, i.e. between Friday evening and Saturday evening, practically all public transport is closed; there are no trains and normally no buses from the big bus companies. There are exceptions in Haifa and where Arab bus companies serve lines (e.g. around Nazareth). It is therefore not possible, for example, to take a bus or a train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Saturday morning: neither one runs - you have to rely on a taxi or shared taxi.

Therefore, if you can arrange it without problems, the easiest way is to plan a stay in one place for the period from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening and then travel on. Alternatively, one could - at least to a limited extent - use the "Sheruts" or Sherut taxis (Monít Scherút, Hebrew מונית שירות, composed of Sherut equals "service" or "service" and Monit equals "taxi"). This means of transport is rather unusual for Central Europeans: The Sheruts are large-capacity or shared taxis that sometimes run on the route of important bus lines or connect the airport with various large Israeli cities. Unlike the airport Sheruts, the shared taxis that run parallel to bus lines often have a sign with the line number on the windshield and have fixed departure and arrival points. Since the shared taxis also run on Shabbat, you can take them to other cities or parts of the city, at least to a limited extent. However, the prices are slightly higher than for the buses. Normal taxis also run all the time, but are much more expensive.

If you are traveling by car, you are less affected by the Shabbat at first. On the contrary, the volume of traffic is then much lower than during weekdays and it is faster to travel on the expressways of the big cities. However, streets (even larger ones) may be closed in residential areas with a high proportion of religious Jews. While secular Jews naturally drive on Shabbat, orthodox Jews see it as strictly forbidden. Objects have been thrown at moving cars on Shabbat as they drive through Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

In principle, the instructions for the Shabbat also apply to the high Jewish holidays: Even then, the means of transport stop operating on the evening before the holiday. The situation is even more difficult for travelers on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, the highest annual Jewish holiday (around the end of September/beginning of October). This holiday is also observed by most secular Jews; therefore, even private transport is closed on this day, and there are no taxis either. If you miss your destination on the eve of Yom Kippur, prepare to spend a day where you are.


By train

Many larger cities in Israel can now also be reached by trains operated by the Israel Railways (רכבת ישראל, Rakévet Jisra'él). Only since the 1990s has the railway offered good alternatives to the still widespread bus. Since then, the train connections have multiplied and the network has been renovated or newly built in many areas. In the coming years, the offers will be further improved and more routes will be put into operation.

The route network (map) is still comparatively small and essentially limited to the coastal strip. The trains of the Israel Railways serve the greater Tel Aviv area in particular with a service similar to the S-Bahn. There are important connections outside of this area

from Tel Aviv north via Haifa and Akko to Nahariya (to Haifa 2-3 trains/hour, beyond that 1-2 trains/hour)
from Haifa branch lines lead to Karmi'el and through the Yesreel plain to Bet She'an
Jerusalem-Yitzhak-Navon ↔ Tel Aviv-HaShalom fast trains (connecting at Ben Gurion Airport until electrification is complete) have been running the route in 51 minutes since 2018 and are doing
the historic route via Bet Shemesh to Jerusalem-Malcha (to Bet Shemesh every hour, beyond that usually only every 2 hours) is no longer served continuously.
from Tel Aviv south via Ashdod to Ashkelon (1-2 trains/hr) and
to Be'er Sheva (every hour).

There are no connections to neighboring countries; the routes that used to be z. B. to Egypt and Lebanon were interrupted after the founding of the State of Israel.

The trains are modern and air-conditioned throughout, the ticket prices are low, and there is a fare calculator on the train's English website.

The network's main interchange stations are in Tel Aviv. Israel Railways recommends the northernmost (Tel Aviv University) and southernmost (Tel Aviv haHagana) stations as transfer stations. You can also change trains at Tel Aviv main station "Tel Aviv Merkaz (or Center) - Savidor". Various regional and national bus lines also stop at the main station.

In Tel Aviv, you can walk from Tel Aviv haHagana train station to the New Central Bus Station in about five minutes (from the train station, head west, follow haHagana and Levinsky streets for 400m).

Other important interchange stations are Haifa Central Station (Haifa Center HaShmona), Binyamina (exchange option from the Haifa-Tel Aviv intercity line to the Tel Aviv suburban line to the north) and Lod for some lines coming from the south. Important transfer stations in the bus network in Haifa are the train stations "Hof haCarmel" and "Lev haMifrats," both of which are in the immediate vicinity of the bus stations of the same name.

Since the railroad in the area of the Mandate of Palestine was never as important as a mode of transport as it is in Europe, the train stations are small and manageable. Most train stations only have two sorting tracks, so it's hard to get lost. It makes traveling easier that the signs with the names of the stations are not only in Hebrew, but also in Arabic and, above all, in English. Unfortunately, most of the other inscriptions and announcements are only in Hebrew, but it is usually easy to find nice people who can translate them into English.

Unfortunately, the train stations are often relatively far away from the city centers, which is why it may be useful to take a look at the city map beforehand. You will often have to travel a little further by bus at your destination, sometimes it even makes more sense to take the bus straight away. Traveling by train is worthwhile due to the frequency and the good connections, especially between Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and thanks to the opening of the new Jerusalem rapid transit line.

Purchased tickets are valid to a destination specified at the time of purchase. The ticket is required to enter via a barrier and to leave the destination station - also via a barrier - and should therefore not be lost during the journey. The ticket is only valid for the selected destination station; if you get off at another station, the turnstile will refuse you to leave the station. However, if you've gone a few stops too far, you can return without buying another ticket.

The fairly rigid security checks at every train station, which sometimes include screening or scanning luggage, take some getting used to. It can also happen that the passport is required.


By bus

The main form of public transport in Israel is the bus. Although rail transport has gained in importance in recent years, the bus is still an extremely important mode of transport, allowing you to travel large parts of the country relatively comfortably and quickly.

On many national routes, an amazingly tight schedule is offered in bus services. A frequency of 15 to 60 minutes is normal between larger cities. The tight schedule makes traveling by bus very pleasant, because at least on the more important routes you don't have to wait too long for the next bus. When changing trains, the waiting times are often short. In addition, national lines often only stop at stops along the main roads or in large towns, so that you can get on relatively quickly. A special feature are also express buses, which only serve a few stops along the route (sometimes only at the start and destination) and otherwise drive through.

The heart of bus transportation are the Central Bus Stations in the cities, known in Hebrew as Tachaná Merkazít (תחנה מרכזית, the "z" is pronounced as a voiced "s") and in English as "Central Bus Station" (often abbreviated to CBS). be designated. The bus stations are served by national, regional and local bus lines, making it easy to transfer to other buses. In some cases, there are also transfer options to the Israeli railways at the central bus stations. At the "CBS" you can usually get snacks and drinks and sometimes you can also buy small things. The central bus stations are not always in the immediate vicinity of the city center, but they are in any case well connected to the city center by city buses.
Luggage storage is only offered at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Be'er Sheva and Hof HaCarmel (Haifa) bus stations due to widespread bomb fears.

Traveling by bus in Israel is less confusing the first time when you have some basic information about bus travel. This initially affects the bus stations: they usually have a large number of bus platforms (רציף, Retzíf, English platform), with the individual bus lines usually always starting at the same bus platform. The journey often ends in an area of the bus station where you can only get off; you then go from there to the bus platforms of the departing lines. In the bus stations, orientation is made easier by the fact that there are display boards and bus platform signs on which the lines and destinations also appear in English. The most important key to the bus system is the line number. Since the buses of a line always run on the same route, you can easily find your way around the line number once you know it. This also applies when boarding a bus along the route; once you know which line(s) to take in the direction you want, you just have to be careful not to take a bus in the opposite direction. The destination display on the bus, on the other hand, is of little use - if there is a destination at all, it is usually only in Hebrew. You can find out which bus you can take in the bus station, otherwise you can see it on the information board on the bus platform or on the bus stop sign on the bus shelter, on which the numbers and the corresponding destinations of the departing or stopping lines are listed. There may also be several lines going in the desired direction. By the way: At the bus stops, the signs are in Hebrew on one side and in English on the back. Timetables, on the other hand, are practically never found at the bus stops. On the main routes, however, this is usually not a problem due to the tight timing; you simply stand at the bus stop and wait for the next bus. It is often (not always) the case that numbers up to 100 are used for local and regional buses, and numbers up to 999 for national buses.

If you travel on intercity routes with larger luggage (backpack or suitcase), the bus driver often - not always - asks you to deposit your belongings in the trunk of the bus; at the bus stations the doors are often already open. On the older buses you may have to open the trunk yourself, on the newer buses the driver operates the doors with the push of a button. Even if you don't sit next to your luggage all the time, there are usually no problems with this system, so there's no need to start discussions with the bus driver. You also benefit as a traveler if you can get to the seats and the exit more easily and there are more free seats because not everything is blocked with large bags. It makes sense to stow valuable or sensitive items in hand luggage from the start, which you can always take with you on the bus.

If you want to get off on the route, you have to ring the bell and should keep your eyes open on unfamiliar routes: Even if you have told the bus driver or bought a ticket from him, you cannot always rely on him to get to the desired one stops without being asked or reminded. If you get out on the route and still have luggage in the trunk, you should remind the driver again when getting out for your own safety. The buses in Israel usually run quite quickly; Accordingly, they do not stay unnecessarily long at the bus stops.

There are several bus companies in Israel that own the almost always air-conditioned and well-maintained buses. The main bus company is the former state company Egged, whose buses travel all over the country. Other companies are of regional importance. The best-known of these is probably the bus company DAN, which traditionally operates most of the bus routes in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (the "Gush Dan"). Other companies are Egged Ta'avura with connections a.o. in the northern Negev, Metrodan Beersheba and Metropoline with services in and around Beersheba, Golan in the Golan Heights, and Kavim, Nativ Express, Superbus and Connex operating routes in the middle and north.

In recent years, Egged and Dan's dominance of public bus transport has declined, although both still cover a large part of the market. One advantage for travelers is lower prices, but one disadvantage is the far greater complexity. This already starts in the bus stations, where the bus platforms of the private companies are often not at the Egged bus platforms, but somewhere else. In addition, many smaller companies only offer information in Hebrew on the Internet. At the same time, Egged's timetable information only lists its own lines; if a line is taken over by another company, the line number is often retained, but it disappears from the Egged directory. The situation is made a little easier by the fact that bus information for all lines is now also available in English at On Egged, as on, you can search for connections on a specific route as well as for individual lines. It should be noted when entering that the spelling of the place names follows English spelling habits; so you should try different spelling variants if you can't find the place. If you are still unsuccessful, you can enter a place that you suspect or know to be on the route and then display the route timetable.

Tickets are available at bus stations from the ticket counter or directly from the bus driver when boarding at a bus stop. In addition to single tickets, there are also day tickets (which are of particular interest if you change trains frequently), multiple-journey tickets and monthly tickets. You have to get in at the front and show your ticket. Egged tickets can also be conveniently ordered by telephone (payment by credit card) or by using the Rav Nav prepaid card. This is particularly advisable for longer routes such as Eilat, where advance booking is generally required - especially at weekends when Eilat is a popular tourist destination.

If you get on at a major stop or the bus station, you should expect security checks. During such checks, the bag can be checked, possibly also the passport and, if necessary, even more precise checks are carried out. At the Jerusalem bus station, controls are particularly strict; there, bags and backpacks are generally x-rayed when entering the building. Since buses have been the targets of terrorist attacks in the past and are therefore potentially at risk, you should show understanding for the security measures and cooperate with the security guards, who are usually very polite.

It should be noted that the buses do not run on Shabbat and on high Jewish holidays (cf. the detailed general information at the beginning of the chapter).


In the street

The car is a widespread means of transport in Israel, with which one gets around very well in the country. However, one should not be too scared: The Israelis are considered to be impatient and not exactly considerate drivers, who can certainly compete with the Italians and other Mediterranean countries in terms of driving style. However, if you drive reasonably safely yourself, driving is not a big problem.

Renting a car usually requires you to be at least 21 years old (there are clear differences between car rental companies; for example, some rental companies may have a higher limit, others charge a surcharge for younger drivers between 21 and 21). 23). An international driver's license is recommended if the driver's license is not written in Latin letters. The German driver's license or the Swiss driver's license is recognized for a period of up to one year. In the larger cities there are the well-known international as well as Israeli car rental companies. If you do not attach great importance to renting the cheapest car, you can consider booking in advance. Germany-based company works with local rental companies, but offers extensive guaranteed insurance benefits, so you don't have to compare the policies of different rental companies (there are sometimes big differences here). You will then be given a voucher to get a car at the local station. It should be noted that additional fees may apply when renting at Ben Gurion Airport. Having your own vehicle makes little sense due to the shortage of parking spaces in the inner cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Tourists are exempt from VAT on rental cars. This saves 18%. The price of petrol fluctuated in the first half of 2019 between 6.25 and 6.75 ₪.

In any case, you should check the vehicles very carefully when you hand them over and have every scratch, no matter how small, documented, otherwise you will be presented with a salty bill when you return it. Comprehensive insurance without any deductible costs extra, but makes sense given the rough driving style in the country.

In road traffic, internationally recognized traffic rules apply. Israel has right-hand traffic. At unsigned intersections, right before left applies. The signs comply with international standards; there is a difference with the stop signs, which show a white hand in the middle instead of the lettering "Stop". Signposts and street signs are usually written not only in Hebrew but also in English and Arabic; other information and warning signs are often multilingual. 50 km/h in built-up areas and 80 km/h outside of built-up areas; the speed limit on motorways is usually higher. From November to March, lights are compulsory during the day.

Alcohol is permitted up to a blood concentration of 0.1 ‰, but not for drivers under the age of 24, for those who drive commercially or in vehicles over 3.5 t. a zero alcohol limit applies here.

You can tell from the curb markings whether you are allowed to park in a spot or not: you can park at white and blue markings, but you should check whether you have to pay parking fees (parking tickets from a parking ticket machine or kiosk). Buses and taxis are allowed to stop at the yellow and red markings, but there is no stopping at the red and white markings.

Israel has a well-developed and dense road network in the north and in the middle. Since most of the country in the south is uninhabited desert area, the road network there is much thinner, but still sufficiently dense. You can travel the whole country by car without any problems. One should know that the larger cities in the country have difficulties coping with private transport. In the rush hour, in particular, there is hardly any progress on the major access roads and arterial roads, and traffic jams and slow-moving traffic are then the rule rather than the exception in many places. This applies in particular to the Tel Aviv city highway "Ayalon Highway" (road 20): this main traffic artery is almost always congested during rush hour on weekdays, despite its maximum of five lanes in each direction.

Israeli roads outside of the city are generally numbered, which also indicates the importance of the road.

Streets with a one-digit number are important, nationally important streets; most of these roads are at least partially freeways. If they are motorways, the roads are marked with blue signs. Unlike in Germany, for example, there are no separate numbering systems for the different road types in Israel (e.g. one system for the Autobahn and one for the federal highway). That is, the road with a specific number can be either a freeway (blue) or a normal country road (red). Street 1 given here as an example is e.g. B. from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem highway (marked blue in the area), in the further course to Jericho to the Dead Sea in sections only country road (red).

Streets with a two-digit number are nationally important country roads; they are usually marked with red signs. These roads can also be built like a motorway and still be marked in red; in this case they typically have level crossings. In front of such large traffic light crossings, the road often fans out, but the additional lanes end again after the traffic light. Also, there are some two-digit numbered roads that actually count as highways (e.g. the aforementioned Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, which is signposted in blue).

Streets with a three-digit number are usually only of regional importance; they may well be as little as 20 kilometers long. The street number is usually green. However, there are also some (few) streets that are considered motorways; these are then also marked in blue.

Four-digit number roads are of local importance, often only a few kilometers long and possibly even dead ends. These roads are marked with brown signs.

A special feature is Road 6: This highway, also known as the "Trans Israel Highway", runs from the southern Carmel Mountains to the northern Negev, largely bypassing the congested and congested metropolitan area around Tel Aviv. Since it was built with the participation of private investors, it is subject to a toll. Driving on this route can be quite expensive for rental car users because some rental companies charge an additional processing fee on the credit card for the settlement of the toll (the license plates are scanned and the amount is charged to the credit card according to the number of sections used).

Palestinian Autonomous Territories
When driving on these, you should find out about the current security situation, as Israel can close the borders for several days at any time. Travel to the Gaza Strip is currently not possible due to the security situation.

Driving a rental car into Palestinian territories may be prohibited at times or for certain areas of the West Bank. The two important roads 1 (Jerusalem - Dead Sea) and 90 (West Bank of the Dead Sea - Jordan Valley - Bet She'an) in Area C can normally be navigated without problems, a checkpoint has to be passed when entering Israeli territory, what usually easily possible for tourists. In the cities of Area A of the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, which are under Palestinian administration, it is generally not allowed to drive a rental car with the yellow Israeli license plate, large red signs prohibit Israeli citizens from entering, the access control will usually deny entry . In times of less tense political situation, however, cities in the Palestinian autonomous region of Area A/B can again be visited by vehicles obviously occupied by tourists (rental cars with stickers, white skin and sunburn tell the security that they are dealing with Central European tourists). .

If you are planning trips in the West Bank, you should clarify at the time of renting to what extent there are restrictions on insurance coverage.



It used to be common in Israel and relatively easy to get around by hitchhiking. In the meantime the situation has changed a bit, hitchhiking has become more difficult and dangerous. In view of the possible risks, you should always think twice before hitchhiking (see also the corresponding Wikivoyage topic page).

You should know that soldiers are more likely to be taken along than normal travelers and that you don't signal your wish to be taken with an outstretched thumb. Instead, you stand on the side of the road and point to the middle of the road with your arm casually hanging down. Regional - e.g. B. in the area of the Golan Heights - it is difficult to find a ride at all.


On foot

Israel is very suitable for hiking and extremely attractive if you can cope with the climatic circumstances. There are good trail maps, plenty of signposted trails and several long-distance trails, and you're never far from a historic site or attraction.



The main lingua franca in Israel is Hebrew. Other important languages are Arabic (among the Israeli Arabs) and Russian. The latter is spoken because Israel has taken in many Jews from Russia, especially since the 1990s. In some cases, Russian has even made it onto the streets: some shops have signs in Russian.

However, you can also get along well with English in the country. Many signs on the streets, shops and public buildings are also written in English. Since English is taught in schools in Israel as a foreign language, at least most Israeli-born Israelis speak this language. Due to the country's strong focus on tourism, knowledge of English is a matter of course for many Israelis. Many older Israelis also speak German - although not always willingly.

However, it can happen that you end up with an Israeli who doesn't know English (or at least doesn't understand it or doesn't want to speak it). Then at the latest it makes sense to master a few words - quite apart from the fact that it is positively registered if you know at least a few terms and phrases.

For pronunciation, it is helpful to know that Hebrew words are usually stressed on the last syllable. An important exception to this rule are the words ending in -et, which are stressed on the penultimate syllable. Like English, Hebrew has the sound "ch"; it can also be at the beginning of the word. The most important terms and phrases can be found in the Hebrew phrasebook.

Some Israelis are a bit more open if you know a few Hebrew words - but they are helpful in most cases.



The currency of Israel is the New Israeli Shekel, abbreviated NIS. In Hebrew, the term is שקל חדש, Shekel Chadash; The official currency symbol ₪ is composed of the two initial letters of Hebrew - Hebrew is read from the right. The shekel is divided into 100 agorot. The smallest coin is the 10 agorot piece; this bronze-colored "cent" is unpopular and should not be confused with the two-tone 10 shekel coin.

When shopping, you can estimate the prices quite well, since you get about four shekels for one euro (the current exchange rate can be found here). This rate has been fairly stable for years. Inflation was 0.2% in 2018.

In order to put the local prices in relation, one should know that 7400 ₪ in Haifa and almost 9000 ₪ in Tel Aviv in 2018 was an average monthly net wage, which roughly corresponds to the income in the German accession area.

Banks (opening hours Mon-Thu 8.30-12.30/13.00, not every afternoon 15.00/16.00-18.00, some Fri. and Sun. mornings) charge considerable fees for the exchange. The Postbank and private exchange offices (away from the tourist centers) or withdrawing local currency directly from ATMs are cheaper. In German-speaking countries, Israeli shekels are not available in smaller banks and must be ordered before departure.

Some (rather high-priced) shops, jewelers and galleries quote their prices in US$ to reduce the risk of exchange rate fluctuations, caution should be exercised when comparing prices. Grocery stores etc. cannot be used to pay in foreign currencies.

Credit cards (mainly VISA) are widely used in Israel, you can often pay with them. If you want to rent a car or reserve accommodation, you usually even need a credit card; this even applies to Israeli youth hostels. With a credit card, you can easily withdraw money from the banks' ATMs, since the operating menus are also available in English. At some banks, e.g. B. at the widespread bank hapoalim, you can also get money with an EC card. Empty ATMs will not be refilled on Saturday.

Israel has a wide range of shopping opportunities, ranging from markets and small shops to supermarkets and malls. In many cities there are shopping centers that combine many shops, cafes and some leisure facilities under one roof. The range of goods does not fundamentally differ from that in Europe; one difference is that the items offered in Israel are usually “kosher” (i.e. ritually clean), which means, for example, that you can hardly or not at all get certain types of meat and fish. Since most of the products are also labeled in English, shopping is usually not a problem. In the Arabic markets (e.g. in the Old City of Jerusalem) there are often no fixed prices; you then have to negotiate with the sellers.
Across the region, the "weekend" is primarily based on the religion of the business owner. Day off can be Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Opening hours are usually 8am-1pm and 4pm-7pm or later. In conservative Jewish and Muslim areas it occurs on Saturday and Sunday respectively. in Ramadan to an almost complete standstill of public life.

There are some "typical" gifts and souvenirs that are offered (and often bought) in many places. Mention should be made here of a. Personal care products from the Dead Sea, jewellery, wood carvings made from olive wood, religious articles (e.g. crosses, but also menorahs and Jewish kippot), so-called "Armenian ceramics" (colorful ceramic dishes with motifs specific to Israel) and Israeli specialties such as kosher wine. There are also more bizarre souvenirs, e.g. crowns of thorns or bottles with (often fake) Jordan water.

When shopping for jewelry and art objects, works of art from the countless galleries, tourists often get a 19% VAT refund. To do this, the seller fills out a form in which the traveler must enter their address and passport number, at the airport the items to be exported must be presented at the VAT Refound counter and the VAT will be refunded in cash after deduction of a commission in shekels, euros or US$ . Discounts can often be negotiated for more expensive items.

If you just want to stroll through the shops, you can visit the city's pedestrian streets or shopping malls. However, it is also worth going to the markets (e.g. in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), which are often much cheaper and the best way to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Large malls (shopping centers with a large number of shops) have established themselves everywhere, mostly on the outskirts of the city. Security checks are carried out at the entrances to prevent bomb attacks and backpacks and bags must be shown open, the interior is often air-conditioned and many Israelis enjoy going out in the cool malls on hot days. There are often several catering options with a shared seating area on one floor.



The range of dishes is very diverse, which is related to the multitude of different influences. Many Jews who immigrated to Israel over the decades brought with them from their former homelands around the world dishes that have become part of Israeli cuisine. There are also clear influences from the Arabic-Oriental cuisine, which is typical for the Israeli Arabs and the Druze anyway.

Pork lovers will not get their money's worth. The dietary laws of the two largest religious communities against the consumption of these animals has led to the regulation since 1961, according to which pigs "are not allowed to set foot on the soil of the country". The attempt by some farmers in the years after 2000 to breed pigs in stables with slatted frames met with little success. Especially in Nazareth and Tel Aviv, with its large Russian community, pork is still available under the euphemistic name “white meat”.

In 2019, a meal in a simple restaurant should cost ₪36-80, a 3-course meal for two costs ₪150-200. This corresponds to the Central European level. A little water comes to ₪5-10, a beer to ₪15-35, although imported brands are often cheaper here. Tips for waiters in restaurants are rarely usual, apart from for very good service, there is often a can at the cash register from which those working in the background also get their share.



If the Jewish cuisine is primarily considered to be “Israeli cuisine”, then a number of special features can be cited. The Jewish cuisine has a multitude of regulations that are strictly observed by devout Jews. In order for a dish to be "kosher", i.e. pure according to Jewish understanding, and to be eaten, a wide variety of rules must be observed. derived from the Torah and the Talmud:

Initially, only certain types of animals may be eaten. Permitted are e.g. B. beef and various types of poultry. The animal species that are not allowed include e.g. Pigs and some fish species such as the eel.
The typical form of slaughter is slaughter; this is a slaughtering process in which the animal bleeds as much as possible. Because the consumption of blood is forbidden, any remaining blood is completely removed from the meat by further procedures.
Another special feature of Jewish cuisine is the complete separation of milk and meat products, which is traced back to an Old Testament instruction that the kid should not be cooked in its mother's milk. In practice, this rule has far-reaching consequences: after eating meat, orthodox Jews wait six hours before drinking milk again; Recipes that would require both at the same time (e.g. any dish topped with cheese that also contains meat) are not allowed. The separation of milk and meat can go so far among conservative Jews that they even have two kitchens in their private households; kosher restaurants and hotels also have separate cooking areas or kitchens and different types of cutlery and crockery for dairy and meat dishes. Vegetables, but also eggs and fish, are considered neutral foods that can be combined with both. This religious regulation has an important advantage for vegetarians: They can avoid animal products more easily, because kosher Israeli food is labeled as to whether it contains meat or milk or is neutral (“parve”).

In addition to these basic regulations, the Jewish dietary laws have various other regulations. When visiting a kosher restaurant, you may not notice much of these dietary laws if you don't consciously pay attention to them: The routines in the kitchen or when setting the tables usually remain hidden. In addition, contrary to the opinion that is sometimes expressed, kosher food, especially meat, does not necessarily have to taste bland. However, in a kosher (meat) restaurant, e.g. For example, you can't have ground beef lasagna with real cheese or coffee with real milk after dinner.

The already strict Jewish dietary rules are even more radical than usual during the Passover period, which falls around the time of our Easter festival, since during this festival nothing "leavened" (e.g. nothing prepared with yeast) may be eaten . Especially for this time there is also a special unleavened bread, the so-called "matzo" or "matzo". In supermarkets these days, all areas with biscuits, etc. are covered with tarpaulins, unless the management of the supermarket is in the hands of an enterprising Arab.

A special feature is the Israeli breakfast, which is typically very rich. Such a breakfast offers everything your heart desires - apart from meat and sausage products, if it is a kosher house. Apparently there are differences in the accommodations; if you are lucky, you will be treated to a large buffet in the morning. You may miss the chocolate spread, but you will be compensated with different types of bread, puff pastry pockets and cakes, eggs in different shapes, muesli, yoghurt, salads, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as antipasti and maybe even fish.

You can buy a small snack in many places on the street, at (bus) train stations or in shopping centres. A delicious specialty is falafel. These are savory, deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas, which are eaten in a dumpling with tomatoes, cucumbers and salad, for example. The counterpart to the doner kebab that is well known in this country is schwarma, which is also roasted on a skewer and eaten in dumplings. There are also pizzas in street sales - however, due to the dietary rules already described, they usually do not have meat as a topping, but e.g. with olives or vegetables.



Essentially all drinks that are also known in Central Europe are available in Israel. Mineral water is available from local sources, and there is a large selection of Israeli-made juices. The well-known soft drinks (such as Coca Cola) are also available. Typical Israeli beer brands are Maccabee and Goldstar, you can also buy European brands. There is a wide variety of wines produced in the Holy Land; Well-known wineries are Carmel, Barkan and Golan, but there are a number of other smaller wineries, some of which produce very good wines.

The law prohibits the sale of alcohol outside of bars and restaurants between 11pm and 6am. The same applies to drinking in public or in cars after 9pm (all day in Jerusalem and Beersheba). Minimum age is 18, ID will be checked. The police can confiscate alcohol from minors. Since 2013 there has been a 25% alcohol tax.

If you want a warm drink, you can choose between many different types of tea and coffee. Instant coffee (often just called "Nescafe") is drunk. An alternative to this is the "Turkish coffee," which is prepared like mocha and served with grounds and partially flavored with cardamom. Often you can also order filter coffee or Italian coffee specialties.



In many Israeli cities there is still much to do in the evenings and at night. In many places there are cafés, pubs and bars that are open late into the night. Due to the Mediterranean climate, there is still a lot going on in the inner cities in the evening hours, and many shops are open late. The main days out are Thursday and Friday nights, in Tel Aviv you can go out any day. However, the Shabbat also provides important exceptions here: On Friday evening, peace returns to religious towns and districts; if you walk down Jerusalem's pedestrian zone on Ben Yehuda Street that evening, you'll find the doors closed and you're practically alone. However, there is no uniform curfew.

The main cities with a strong nightlife are Eilat and Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv, "the city that never sleeps," is considered the party capital par excellence in Israel. There is an almost unmanageable number of bars and clubs. An important help here is the English version of "Time-out"; this Tel Aviv go-to magazine is available at tourist offices.

In Tel Aviv, there are many bars on Allenby Street, the seafront promenade, Lilienblum Street and Nahalat Binyamina Street (although there are many others, of course). Many clubs are located in Florentin, in the old port and in the Harekevet area. It should be noted that most clubs only open after midnight; after that you can party until the wee hours. Otherwise, Israelis also like going to the many cafés (e.g. on Ibn Gvirol Street, Sheikin Street and Rothschild Boulevard).

If you are mobile, you can also inquire about a kibbutz disco.

At the end of 2018, an anti-prostitution law was passed that fines clients from 2000 ₪ from 2020 and at the same time provides for measures to “reform” women working in the trade. It is doubtful whether the "oldest trade in the world" can really be eliminated in this way. Anyone who does not want to get into unpleasant situations as a man should visit the areas where street prostitution is (still) flourishing, e.g. in the south of Tel Aviv around the old bus station and Tel Baruch beach in the north of the city. Both neighborhoods are notorious for drug trafficking and other petty crime.



Israel has a wide range of accommodation options - the offer ranges from camping to very basic accommodation, youth hostels, private rooms with bed and breakfast, rural hotel complexes to high-class (and expensive) multi-star hotels. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism gives a rough overview of the offer on the corresponding page.

Foreigners with tourist visa categories B2, B3 and B4 are exempt from 18% VAT on overnight stays. This also applies to food and drink and other services received at the hotel. Internet booking portals do not include this in their prices either. Hoteliers like to quote their prices in US$ and then "miscalculate" the exchange rate in their favor.

High season rates are charged around the high Jewish holidays and in July/August. In the Palestinian territories they are about the same all year round (except in Bethlehem at Easter and Christmas) and on average about a third cheaper for the same quality.

Especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv there is a wide range of hotels, mostly in the simple or middle price range. Some of these have adapted to groups of pilgrims. Most of the well-known hotel chains in the upper segment are also represented here. The same applies to the cities or seaside resorts on the Mediterranean coast. In general, one can assume that the larger cities in Israel have one or more hotels. You can get an overview on the website of the Israel Hotel Association (Israel Hotel Association/IHA); you can also search specifically for hotels there. More than 300 hotels nationwide are united under the umbrella of this association. Incidentally, the prices for hotels and other hostels in the upper segments are often not given in shekels, but in US dollars.
People tend to be cautious with tips, 5 ₪ on the pillow the day after arrival is enough to keep the maid happy.

In the rural regions there are tourist accommodations, especially in kibuzzim (cooperatively organized community settlements), some of which maintain holiday villages, usually with hotel standards. These hotel complexes often have a more familiar character and are usually located in scenic areas, e.g. B. in the Carmel Mountains, on the Mediterranean Sea or on the Sea of Galilee. At least some of these hotels can also be found on IHA.

You can often find country lodges in smaller towns that at least offer bed and breakfast. The furnishing of the private rooms can be quite spartan by Central European standards. Increasingly attractive to Israelis and travelers alike are guesthouses in private households, known as "guesthouses" or "tsimmers" - you can come across simply furnished rooms as well as luxurious self-contained apartments, en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, fridge, tea maker, microwave and Stovetop for self-sufficiency are almost always part of the offer and when you check in there are always a few tips for excursions in the area. In terms of price, they are usually in the upper middle segment.

If you would like to stay in a Christian guest house, the website of the Christian Information Center ( in Jerusalem can at least help with address, telephone and e-mail addresses. However, the page does not contain any further Internet addresses and no other further information. Despite their character, the Christian guesthouses are not only suitable for Christians or particularly religious people; some of them offer pleasant accommodation with good service at a reasonably reasonable price. Bible studies with an American-Evangelical orientation are often included.

The Israeli youth hostels, which also offer overnight accommodation in many locations, are somewhat cheaper, but not yet in the lowest price segment. It is also possible to rent rooms as double rooms. In some places, e.g. in Massada or En Gedi, the youth hostel may even be the best option. Israeli youth hostels usually offer basic but relatively good facilities. If you want to live close to the city center, you should check the location; the Tel Aviv youth hostel is located z. B. quite a bit north of the center. An overview of the accommodations of the Israeli youth hostel association IYHA (Israel Youth Hostel Association) is also available in German on the corresponding page.

Finally, private hostels are popular with backpackers, some of which offer overnight stays for very little money - often without breakfast. Private hostels are quite common in Israel, especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and they can be a great help on the wallet, as you can find the cheapest accommodation in the ₪50 to ₪100 price range. However, you can definitely end up in hostels with bad service, where the facilities are also bad and the hygiene is not exactly worthy of enthusiasm. Those who are sensitive should not rent a private hostel without looking at it, but first let them show you the room or dormitories, the bathrooms, and in some cases also the other guests. If you're not overly sensitive and don't need a lot of luxury, a private hostel can be a good option for the night. and are particularly helpful when looking for such accommodation. The latter site also offers ratings and testimonials.


Learning and studying

Israel is the destination of various student and youth exchange programs; A possible contact address on this topic is, for example, the coordination center for German-Israeli youth exchange ConAct in Wittenberg.

As a student, you can spend one or more semesters abroad in the country, but you have to reckon with considerable costs, since the fees are quite high (the sums can easily be 10,000 US dollars a year). The German Academic Exchange Service offers detailed information on studying in Israel on the relevant DAAD pages about Israel. Additional links are also given there.

An Israeli specialty are the so-called Ulpaním (singular: Ulpán, אולפן, "lesson" or "studio"). These are special intensive courses for learning the Hebrew language. These courses are often coupled with work or study visits. The primary target group is first and foremost Jewish new immigrants, although there is sometimes the opportunity for foreigners to take part in ulpan courses.

It may not be necessary to know Hebrew for a study stay in Israel. This applies above all to youth exchange offers, but also to some courses, since there are also offers and courses in English. Regardless of the specific purpose of your stay, you should always find out about the relevant visa regulations, since a B-2 tourist visa is usually not sufficient; As an Austrian or Swiss person, you also have to take care of adequate health insurance in advance and think about how you can finance a (longer) stay. A student visa does not include a work permit!



Basic Notes

There will hardly be anyone who does not deal with the topic of "security" before a holiday in Israel. Is it safe to travel to this country and maybe even to the Palestinian territories? Almost everyone will hear from some well-meaning acquaintance before the trip, “does it have to be Israel? Aren't you afraid to go there? What about the attacks?” If you're not worried at this point, you probably will be when you experience the first security checks and the heavy police and military presence in the country.

How dangerous is a trip to Israel? It is difficult to give a general answer, but in any case a trip to Israel is less dangerous than it might seem when viewed from Central Europe. A few considerations make this assessment plausible; they should not play down or negate the potential dangers, but should correct one or the other prejudice:

The image of Israel and the Palestinian territories is strongly determined by the news reports. While one hardly hears anything in the daily press about normal everyday life in Israel, each incident is recorded as "another collision, another attack...". The events that make the news headlines dominate the picture of the country as a whole.
The risk of attacks is actually lower than is often assumed. In the last few years since the security fence (or "barrier") to the West Bank was erected, there have been almost no attacks in the Israeli heartland. The risk of dying in a traffic accident is about the same as in Europe - almost as many people die on Israel's roads every year as in all previous attacks combined.
Many clashes are local and limited in time and their dimensions are often hardly more serious than clashes between the police and autonomists or football fans in this country. It can happen that when you ask at the reception of a hotel in Jerusalem about an incident from the previous week that was reported in the news at home, the person asked has to think for a moment whether there was anything (and if so , What)...
In order not to be misunderstood: the situation is actually more unstable than in Europe. Tensions between Palestinian Arabs and extremist Israelis can escalate at any time. Both sides are often not interested in a de-escalation, but rather hope for media attention, especially in their own interest group, thanks to provocations. The risk of attacks is still not completely averted. Therefore, in the run-up to a privately organized trip to Israel, one should observe the general development in the region and find out more about the relevant websites of the foreign ministry of the home country.


Security in the country

Israel is not fundamentally unsafe, otherwise the country would not be the destination of many tourists. However, you can still improve your own security in the country if you follow certain basic rules:
Follow the instructions of the security staff.
Cooperate with security services, even though checks and interrogations can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
Avoid large crowds as far as possible. When demonstrations by orthodox Jews or Palestinians escalate into violence, the army may use live ammunition.
Leave unnecessary provocations! A walk with the Israeli flag in the Arab quarters of Hebron is just as inappropriate as a Palestinian scarf on the Western Wall, even if the latter provocation poses no danger to life and limb.
If you have organized your trip yourself and are in the country at a time when the situation is unsettled, then inform yourself regularly about the current situation and avoid trouble spots. Daily news is available on the Internet on the English websites of the country's largest daily newspapers. If necessary, you can ask about current developments in the tourist offices and in the respective accommodation.
Good to know: Since aggression is primarily directed against the other side and both sides benefit from tourism, it is sometimes not the worst thing if you are recognizable as a tourist.

In general, apart from the Gaza Strip, you can travel practically the whole country and also the West Bank without any particular dangers. Exception: In the border area to the Gaza Strip (e.g. in the area around Sderot) there are repeated rocket attacks by Hamas activists, so that one should avoid the immediate border area in times of increased aggression or at least find out about the current situation. Travel to the Gaza Strip is currently (2019) not possible.



Magen David Adom (Israeli "Red Star of David") emergency number: ☎ 101

The health system in the Israeli heartland offers care at a high level that is absolutely comparable to that in western industrialized countries. However, the comfort of the hospital rooms and the length of the waiting times in the emergency rooms of hospitals cannot keep up with what is usual in German-speaking countries.

In medical emergencies, the emergency departments of the hospitals provide further assistance. All Israeli doctors and the younger members of the nursing staff speak some English. In the event of illness, you can inquire about German-speaking doctors at the embassy of your home country (list of various doctors in Tel Aviv). Similar to the Red Cross in Germany, there is the so-called Magén Davíd Adóm (Hebrew: מגן דוד אדום "Red Star of David") in Israel, which is responsible for patient transport and emergency rescue, but also runs its own polyclinics.

The German-Israeli social security agreement ensures emergency medical care, also for employees, upon presentation of a foreign health certificate, which can be requested from the respective health insurance company (the EHIC does not apply). There is no social security agreement with Austria, travelers from Switzerland are usually reimbursed the maximum amount that is usual in Switzerland for emergency treatment (which accounts for the bills of Israeli hospitals, which are lower than in Switzerland). You should only consider taking out travel insurance to cover the costs of salvage and return transport to your home country.

With regard to vaccinations, recommendations are identical to those in German-speaking countries, according to Swiss vaccination recommendations, a hepatitis A vaccination is only recommended for visitors (VFR=Visiting Friends and Relatives) of Arab families in the country.

If you take medication regularly, you need to take enough supplies with you for the period of travel. Eyeglass wearers should consider taking spare glasses with them on the trip. A small first-aid kit is also a recommended part of your luggage. You should definitely not forget - especially in the summer months - a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

There are hardly any other health risks in Israel than in Central Europe. Drinking tap water is occasionally discouraged; Normally, the quality of the tap water in Israel is impeccable, but in some regions the taste is not particularly pleasant, and occasionally it also has a clear chlorine note. A little more caution is advisable in the Palestinian autonomous areas, where there is also a slightly increased risk of infection for some diseases.

You should never underestimate the sun - sufficient sun protection for your head and skin is essential, especially in summer. If you don't drink enough, there is a risk of dehydration, especially in the desert, where you sweat a lot but notice it too late because of the dry air. The ubiquitous air conditioners pose a certain health risk. In order to prevent colds, it is advisable to take some light clothing (light jacket, possibly socks or scarf) with you for public transport, museums, restaurants, etc.

Poisonous animals
The only really common venomous snake is the mostly grey, nocturnal Vipera palaestinae, which lives primarily in oak forests. Their bite causes internal bleeding, which is extremely painful and can lead to death. The administration of an antiserum is necessary as soon as possible; the emergency departments of the hospitals are prepared for the treatment.

Scorpion bites are primarily painful. Especially if you spend the night in nature, you should shake out your shoes in the morning and not carelessly reach under stones or in piles of wood. Scorpios appreciate their warmth. In 2018, the nature park administration published a guide to the 21 indigenous scorpion species, three of which are poisonous.


Climate and travel time

General information

Despite its small area, Israel does not have a uniform climate, there are sometimes serious differences with small spatial distances. On the one hand, this is due to the influence of the Mediterranean Sea, which decreases from north to south, and, on the other hand, to the strong differences in altitude within the country. While Mediterranean conditions prevail in the northern part of the country, the climate changes to a desert climate towards the south and south-east; beyond the southern borders of the country, desert areas follow everywhere.

Seasons in Israel are similar to those in Central Europe, but with a different character: the main seasons are summer (around May to September) and winter (around November to March), with the summer months being the more hostile to life. In summer, a general weather pattern sets in that ensures that there is practically no rain between May and October; the sun shines from the cloudless sky every day, in midsummer it normally reaches a good thirty degrees during the day (regionally also over 40°C). In winter the weather is changeable; there can also be beautiful and comparatively warm days at this time of year, but there are always thunderstorms and rain in between, and at higher altitudes possibly sleet or snow. Under certain circumstances you have cold, wet, cloudy weather for several days with temperatures around 10 degrees and below. In poorly insulated houses with no central heating (central heating is a rarity in Israel, in contrast to air conditioning, which can also be used for makeshift heating) one can freeze severely at this time of the year.
The two transition periods in spring and autumn are relatively short, lasting only about six weeks. In the course of this change, a weather situation can occur that causes a strong wind (the so-called Chamsin or Scharav) to blow temporarily, which transports dry and hot desert air to the region. During the Chamsin season, the annual maximum temperatures are reached.
Spring is a good time to travel when the landscape is still green and in full bloom; other good times to travel are autumn and early and late summer.


Climatic regions

In the general framework described, the climate within the country shows significant regional differences.

In the strip along the Mediterranean coast (up to a maximum width of 20 km), the influence of the sea ensures a more temperate climate. In winter there are no frosts here, there is a relatively large amount of rain. In summer the temperatures don't rise quite as high and there is often a light breeze from the sea, although the air is often very humid.
This climatic region includes the Western Galilee and the Bay of Haifa, the Carmel Coast at the foot of the Carmel Mountains, the Sharon Plain, the Southern Coastal Plain and Tel Aviv.
The mountains between the coastal strip and the Jordan Valley are relatively high, so the influence of the sea is not so great here. In this region there is a lot of rain in winter and also sleet or snow, it can get quite cold. Summer is generally the most pleasant here, as the air is hot but dry. In the evenings the air cools down considerably in summer; unlike in the lower-lying parts of the country, you may need long pants or a sweater to sit outside.
In this climatic region z. B. most of the Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee, the area around Jerusalem and the western part of the Palestinian West Bank.
The Jezreel plain lies at the transition to the climate of the Jordan Valley; it is not as high as the mountains, so temperatures are generally higher here; in summer it can get quite hot. These climatic peculiarities are clearly expressed in the northern and central Jordan Rift itself: It is so deep that the temperatures are higher because of this alone; the prevailing westerly wind also warms up as it descends from the higher elevations into the Jordan Rift Valley, so that temperatures continue to rise. The result is a very warm, oppressively humid climate in summer, and it hardly cools down in the evenings either. The middle Jordan Rift in the area of the Sea of Galilee and south of it is frost-free, here you can see banana plantations more often (as on the coast).
In this climatic region z. B. the Hule plain in the eastern Upper Galilee, the Sea of Galilee with Tiberias, the Bet She'an valley and the north-eastern tip of Samaria.
The fourth major climatic region is the desert, which accounts for about half of the country. The south consists of the Negev desert up to Be'er Sheva; from there the desert area stretches north-east and merges at the Dead Sea into the Judean desert, which extends in the southern Jordan Rift valley into Samaria. In these areas there is hardly any precipitation even in winter, in summer temperatures of over 40° can be reached (on average ten degrees more than in the mountains). Due to evaporation, the Dead Sea is muggy most of the time; in summer it hardly cools down below 25 degrees at night, in winter night temperatures of more than ten degrees are measured (while it can snow in the mountains, 20 kilometers away as the crow flies). In contrast, the air in large parts of the Negev is dry with significant temperature differences between day and night; it can get very cold there in winter.
In this climatic region the Judean desert, the Israeli coast at the Dead Sea and the Negev desert. Eilat, in the very south, is so dry and hot that you can swim in the Red Sea all year round.
Finally, for the sake of completeness, mention the Golan Heights annexed by Israel. This region is relatively high, so it is also cooler in summer and there is a relatively large amount of rain in winter. Then it can get cold here at times, on the highest elevations of the northern Golan you can even ski on the Hermon near Neve Ativ, in terms of amount of snow, technically and in length the pistes cannot keep up with those in the Alps.


Rules and respect

In Israel, numerous people of different religions and backgrounds live together. In contrast to the German-speaking countries, religion and recommendations from religious authorities are often still of great importance. In all population groups, the spectrum ranges from strictly religious to completely liberal. In this field of tension, it is sometimes difficult for visitors to find the way to appropriate behavior. As a guest in a country, you should not unnecessarily offend or even provoke.

The following points should be heeded whenever possible:
You shouldn't tell everyone what you think about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; one can currently meet someone who holds an extreme dissenting opinion. Irrespective of this, one should briefly consider how the locals must feel when someone comes from Europe and thinks they know better about everyday life in Israel than the locals do.
Women should refrain from walking around in Arab neighborhoods or in Arab markets (e.g. in Jerusalem's old town) in provocatively skimpy clothing, as this increases the risk of ambiguous shouts.
On the Shabbat one should take into account the religious feelings of the Jewish - orthodox population, i.e. in strictly orthodox residential areas e.g. For example, refrain from smoking in public and driving in the neighborhood streets and refrain from taking photos at the western wall.

In sacred buildings, one should pay attention to the following points:
Basically, mini skirts and hot pants are items of clothing that are unsuitable for visiting sacred buildings of all religions. Short trousers or skirts should always reach above the knees and the shoulders should be covered. If you wear more revealing clothing, you have to be prepared not to be admitted to synagogues, churches and mosques. Some of the supervisors here don't understand fun at all. If you don't want to wear long pants all day, you can e.g. You can use long pants or a blouse, for example, which you can take with you and pull over your shorts if necessary.
In synagogues - and thus also on the Western Wall in Jerusalem - as well as in Jewish cemeteries, the head must be covered. In some places (in some of the big synagogues, on the western wall or even in the memorial hall in Yad Vashem) men can rent head coverings.
Shoes must be removed in mosques.
In churches, men should remove their head coverings.


Smoking ban

From 2007 bars and restaurants etc. had to set up separate, well-ventilated smoking areas, which were not allowed to take up more than a quarter of the area. Since September 2018, smoking (including e-cigarettes) has been banned in and in front of all types of publicly accessible buildings, including zoos, swimming pools, schools, etc. Smoking is also not permitted at events (including demonstrations) with 50 people or more outdoors. The fine for smokers is ₪1000.


Post and telecommunications

There are still payphones in Israel, although coverage has decreased in recent years due to heavy cell phone use. Some of these phones (e.g. in shopping malls) work with coins, but usually you need calling cards called "telecards".

Israel Post post offices are located in all major cities. Queues are long and service is often criticized for being slow. The Postbank also exchanges foreign currencies, but only US$, euros and British pounds.

If you want to send postcards, you can often get stamps where the cards are sold. A postcard or a letter up to 20 grams to Europe costs 7.40 ₪ by air mail in 2019 (overland ₪ 3.20), some dealers charge too much. Postal delivery times from Israel to German-speaking countries can vary considerably: in the best-case scenario, postal items by airmail only take a week, but delivery times of around two weeks are also possible.

A small package (up to 2 kg) to Central Europe costs ₪ 51.60 by air mail in 2019, and only ₪ 28.30 by land. Israel Post also provides service to the Palestinian Territories, but it takes much longer from/to here.

As of 2019, Israeli customs do not levy any duties on packages from abroad with a value of goods up to US$ 75. If the value is less than US$ 500, 17% import sales tax is due, only above this is additional duty charged. In any case, the post office charges a handling fee of ₪ 35.

In 2019 there are eight mobile phone providers offering a wide variety of packages. The cheapest for calls, valid for a few days, cost 9 ₪, from 39 ₪ there are all-round packages with unlimited free minutes/SMS and data packages. Post-paid contracts have a minimum term of 36 months.

The operators and their websites are set up differently for visitors (i.e. English-speaking customers). Cellcom is the market leader; pelephones; Orange; HOT Mobile; Golan Telecom; Rami Levy; 012 Mobile; YouPhone. The comparison also in terms of coverage (map 2/3/4G) is worthwhile.

Cell phone numbers begin with 05... All scams that occur in other countries with automated callback via incoming SMS (“ping call”) and the like. occur.

You can buy “kosher cell phones” in the country. These are limited in their functionality. The website offers internet access filter options for religious fanatics.

Internet cafes are widespread and can be found in almost every location. The price is around 15 NIS per hour. Free WiFi access is available in most cafes, hotels and B&Bs. All branches of "Aroma Espresso Bar," "Arcaffe," "McDonald's" and "Yellow" have free WiFi access. If it is not immediately apparent, you can ask the staff for the access data.

Mobile Internet: For pure data access, mobile phone providers offer the versions 1 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB (all three valid for 30 days), they cost e.g. B. Orange 2019 or 59, 79 or 99 ₪. If you want to travel to Israel several times, it is important to tell the seller that you want an unlimited card (“sim card without expiry”). "Indefinite" here refers to the possible use, any credit will expire anyway.

Projects have been launched in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to provide full city coverage with free Wi-Fi; in Haifa and Eilat, free WiFi is already a reality on a large scale. The automated logging into such networks by smartphones makes it possible to draw much more precise motion pictures than is possible via mobile phone cells - everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to use Google's location services, for example. Israelis are very open to technological developments and often have no problem giving apps access to their data. It should be noted that data protection legislation in Israel lags behind European standards. Many international companies, which e.g. Developing security and espionage software for state surveillance agencies are based in Israel, and the Israeli army sees the fight against cybercrime as one of its core tasks. As a user, you have to assume that all data traffic is accessible to the local state security organs.


Practical advice

Foreigners who need emergency assistance from their governments will find most consulates in Tel Aviv. Many EU countries have liaison offices in Ramallah that offer consular services for the occupied Palestinian territories.

Disabled person
Many museums, city buses and hotels are wheelchair accessible. The administration of the national parks has set up specially suitable paths in most parks, which often only cover the most important sights.

Yad Sarah (engl. ☎ 972 2 644-4633) is a volunteer organization that, similar to the German Bahnhofsmission but more extensively, supports travelers with disabilities. The services range from the provision of aids (crutches, wheelchairs) against a deposit to accompaniment in resp. Preparation of hotel rooms, etc. Regional centers sometimes provide day care or a mobile dentist service.



Israel lies on a land bridge between Asia and Africa on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean. This means that geographically it is part of the Near East, but geologically it is part of Africa, as it lies on the African continental plate. To the east lies the Arabian Plate and the border to it is the Jordan Valley, which is part of the Great Rift Valley. Israel borders Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, the Gaza Strip and Egypt to the southwest, and the Red Sea to the south.



The area of Israel within the so-called Green Line, the armistice line of 1949, is 20,991 km², of which 20,551 km² is land and 440 km² is water. This is roughly the size of Hesse. Due to the Jerusalem Law of 1980 and the annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981, from Israel's perspective, Israel has an area of 22,380 km², making it about twice as large as Lebanon. The country is 470 km long from north to south. The country measures 135 km at its widest point and just 15 km at its narrowest.

The areas conquered by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 cover an area of over 67,000 km², with around 60,000 km² being on the Sinai Peninsula, which was returned to Egypt in 1982. The area of the Golan annexed by Israel is 1,150 km², and that of East Jerusalem and the surrounding area is 70 km². The West Bank, historically and officially referred to in Israel as Judea and Samaria, covers 5,879 km², 220 km² of which is water, and the Gaza Strip measures 360 km².

During the First Lebanon War in 1982, Israel briefly occupied around 6,500 km² of Lebanon and advanced to Beirut, but then withdrew again to southern Lebanon and occupied an area of 3,058 km² by 1985. The security zone that was subsequently established south of the Litani River was cleared in May 2000.



Israel can be divided into four regions: the Mediterranean coast, the hilly central area, the Jordan Valley and the Negev Desert.

At 418 m below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point in Israel and on earth; the highest point in the country is Mount Meron in Galilee at 1208 m, or from an Israeli perspective a 2248 m high pre-peak of Hermon.

The coastal plain runs from the Lebanese border to Gaza in the south, interrupted only by Cape Carmel in Haifa Bay. It is around 40 km wide around Gaza, becomes increasingly narrower towards the north and is only five kilometers wide at the Lebanese border. It is subtropical and is used for growing wine and citrus fruits. The most densely populated part is the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (Gush Dan). The Sharon Plain to the north is also very densely populated. The plain is crossed by several short rivers, only two of which, the Yarkon and the Kishon, have water all year round.

To the east of the coast, in the center of the country, there is a hilly landscape. To the north lie the mountains and hills of the upper and lower Galilee, further to the south in the politically controversial West Bank are the hills of biblical Samaria with their fertile valleys, which are replaced south of Jerusalem by the Judean mountains with their rather barren hills. The hilly region lies on average 610 meters above sea level and reaches its highest point in the Galilee with Mount Meron (1208 m). Many valleys cut through the landscape in an east-west direction. The largest is the Jezreel Plain (biblically referred to as the Valley of Esdrelon), which extends 48 km southeast from Haifa to the Jordan Valley. It is 19 km wide at its widest point.

To the east of the hilly landscape lies the Jordan Valley, which forms a short section of the 6,500 km long Great Rift Valley. The Jordan, Israel's longest river at 322 km, is fed by the headwaters of the Dan, Banijas and Hasbani in the north. The Jordan flows south through the Chula Plain into the Sea of Galilee (Hebrew: ים כנרת Jam Kinneret). The lake has an area of 165 km² and lies approximately 213 m below sea level. With a storage capacity of three cubic kilometers, it is the National Water Carrier's most important water reservoir. The Jordan flows south of the Sea of Galilee and ultimately ends in the Dead Sea, which is an extremely saline and drainless lake. The Dead Sea, which Israel shares with the Palestinian territories and Jordan, is the lowest point on the earth's surface. It is 418 m below sea level and has an area of 1020 km². South of the Dead Sea, the Rift Valley with the Arava Depression, which has no permanent water flow for over 170 km, leads to the Gulf of Aqaba. The Arava Depression forms the border with Jordan.

With an area of around 12,000 km², the Negev covers more than half of Israel's land area. Geographically it belongs to the Sinai Desert. The desert region begins in the north at around Beer Sheva and ends at Eilat, Israel's southernmost city.


Rivers and seas

Israel borders two seas: the Mediterranean to the west and the Red Sea to the south. There are some large ports in Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat, which are an important part of the Israeli economy. Israel's most important water sources are the source rivers of the Jordan: the Hasbani, the Dan in northern Israel and the Banyas (also called the Hermon River) in the northern Golan Heights rise in the area around the Hermon Mountains. They unite in the area around Sede Nehemiah to form the Jordan, which then crosses the Hule plain of northern Galilee in a north-south direction before flowing into the Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida. South of the lake it enters the Jordan Graben and, as it continues, takes in the only two larger tributaries, Yarmouk and Jabbok, on the left. Southeast of Jericho it flows into the Dead Sea, a final lake with no drain.

In almost its entire southern course (with the exception of the stretch from the Sea of Galilee to Bet She'an), the Jordan forms the border between Israel and Jordan. In the northern area it flows along the Israeli Golan Heights.

The Jordan Trench with the Dead Sea forms a geological depression and, as a rift valley, is at high risk of earthquakes.



The climate in Israel is determined by its location between the subtropical dryness of the Sahara and the Arabian deserts on the one hand and the subtropical humidity of the Levant on the other. Although Israel is a rather small country, it has several climate zones. The climate depends on the distance to the Mediterranean, the altitude and the geographical latitude. Temperate and forested in the north, Israel is hot and desert in the south. In total, 50% of the country is steppe and desert, with the Negev Desert representing the largest area. The subtropical Mediterranean climate prevails on the coast of the Mediterranean, which is characterized by dry, hot summers and rainy, mild winters.

January is the coldest month with average temperatures between 6°C and 15°C, July and August are the warmest months with 22°C to 33°C. Summers are characterized by high humidity on the Mediterranean coast, but are quite dry in the interior of the country, the Jordan Valley and the Negev. The highest temperatures are often reached in Eilat, locally up to 46 °C. More than 70% of average rain falls between November and March. There is usually no rain from June to September. The amount of precipitation decreases sharply from north to south, so that in the very south an average of only 30 mm and in the north more than 900 mm can be expected per year. In the Negev in particular, the amount of precipitation varies greatly from year to year. In winter there can be snow in the higher regions, including occasionally in Jerusalem. The three peaks of Mount Hermon are covered in snow for several months in winter.

Areas with rainfall of more than 300 mm per year are used particularly intensively for agriculture. About a third of the land can be developed.

During the rainy period, storms and hail are also possible and waterspouts can hit the Mediterranean coast, but cause very little damage. However, on April 4, 2006, the western Galilee was hit by thunderstorm cells and an F2 tornado, which caused major damage and injured 75 people.


Cities and towns

There are 68 cities and hundreds of smaller towns in Israel. City status is awarded by the Israeli Interior Minister to applying localities, usually only if they have more than 20,000 inhabitants.

Larger cities are Jerusalem (901,302 inhabitants), Tel Aviv-Jaffa (443,939 inhabitants), Haifa (281,087 inhabitants), Rishon LeZion (249,860 inhabitants), Ashdod (222,883 inhabitants) and Beer Sheva (207,551 inhabitants). In Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa or Acre and Ramla, some of the Arab and Jewish populations live together. The largest predominantly Arab city is Nazareth (pop. 76,551), followed by Umm al-Fahm (pop. 54,240); The largest city inhabited by Bedouins is Rahat in the Negev (population 66,791).

An Israeli specialty are the kibbutzim and moshavim. These are localities with a socialist-collective or cooperative constitution. Over time, however, the level of cooperative cooperation has decreased and in some places it has been abolished entirely.

In the occupied areas in the West Bank there are just over 200 Israeli settlements, four of which are cities with over 15,000 inhabitants and around 145 unauthorized so-called “outposts”. There are 32 Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and 42 in the Golan Heights (estimate from 2010). .

The Israeli settlements in the territories conquered by Israel in June 1967, including those annexed by Israel, are considered by various international organizations to be illegal settlements in accordance with current international law, which prohibits population transfers to occupied territories (Geneva Convention IV, Art. 49). However, Israel denies that these are areas where the IV Geneva Convention applies.


Flora and fauna


Due to the different climatic conditions in the individual parts of the country, Israel has a great variety of landscapes. Israel's flora ranges from the fertile vegetation in parts of the north to some oases in the south.

Olive trees, oaks, fig trees and carob trees have always grown in Israel. Since the 1950s, Israel began planting coniferous forests, primarily Aleppo pine and Mediterranean cypress, and orchards. In total, more than 240 million trees have been planted so far. Today, about 3% of Israel's area (213,000 hectares) is forested.

Around 125 species of plants grow wild in Israel and are also cultivated and grown as ornamental plants, including crown anemone, sun-eye tulip, bouquet daffodil and Madonna lily. However, it is considered unlikely that these garden plants were domesticated here. The cactus Opuntia ficus-indica, introduced from America, grows in the Negev Desert. In the south of the country there have also been artificially planted acacias and chestnuts since around 1985. Date palms grow in coastal areas and parts of the Negev.

There are numerous protected areas in Israel, in which there are 63 (as of 2008) facilities developed for tourism, which are designated by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) as Israeli national parks and nature reserves managed and maintained.



Due to the different climatic conditions and different landforms, Israel also has a very diverse wildlife. However, numerous animals are threatened with extinction and in the early to mid-20th century the northeastern Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus niloticus), the Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus), the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), and the Syrian half-ass (Equus hemionus) died hemippus), the Arabian ostrich (Struthio camelus syriacus) and the Arabian goitered gazelle (Gazella subguttorosa marica) in Israel. The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) and the Caucasian red deer (Cervus elaphus maral) became extinct in Israel in the early Middle Ages and the hippopotamus in the Iron Age. Some specimens of the rare Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) still exist in the Judean Desert and the Negev. The Syrian ibex, for example, was able to survive among the large animals.

In the desert areas of the Avara and the Negev, Arabian oryxes and Persian half-asses (Equus hemionus onager) have been reintroduced and are bred in the Chai Bar Jotvata wildlife park. In the north there is a similar wildlife park, Chai Bar Karmel, where species of Mediterranean climates such as Armenian wild sheep (Ovis orientalis gmelini) and Mesopotamian fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamica) are bred. The latter are also called Persian fallow deer and are also found in the wild in northern Israel. The deer (Capreolus capreolus coxi) was also reintroduced.

Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) live near salt ponds near Eilat. The Syrian striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena syriaca), the Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs), the two subspecies of the Edmiga cell, the Palestine mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella gazella) and the acacia gazelle (Gazella gazella acaciae), the dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) and the wild boar ( Sus scrofa) are other animals living in Israel.

There are also around 90 species of reptiles and ten amphibians present here. Of the latter, the extremely rare Israeli disc-tongued bird is particularly noteworthy. This species, also known as the “hula frog,” was assumed to be extinct for decades.



General demographics

At the end of 2020, Israel had 9,291,000 inhabitants, around 6,870,000 (73.9%) of them Jews and 1,956,000 (21.1%) Arabs. The number of other residents was around 456,000 (5.0%).

In terms of population, Israel ranks 99th among all countries in 2018, right after Austria and ahead of Switzerland.

About 92% of the population lives in urban areas, 25% in one of the large cities. Around 75% of the Jewish residents were born in the country, 28% are younger than 14 and 10.3% are older than 65. The average age in 2017 was 29.5 years. The population density is 373.2 people per km². In 2018, life expectancy for men was 80.6 years and for women 84.2 years, making it the eighth highest in the world.

Citizenship can be acquired in several ways: firstly through descent, secondly through naturalization or through residence. This territorial principle was applied to those residents of Palestine who lived in the territory of Israel after 1948. Naturalization is also possible through the granting of citizenship. Through the Law of Return, all Jews who immigrate to Israel can in principle acquire Israeli citizenship, although dual citizenship is possible. Non-Jewish residents of the areas conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War, which Israel added to its territory (East Jerusalem and Golan Heights), can become naturalized.


Growth of population

After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, around 806,000 people lived on Israeli territory. In the following years the population increased sharply. This increase was due to the immigration of Jews from Europe and some Arab states.

Israel's total population has never declined throughout the state's history. Despite the Middle East conflict and the Arab-Israeli wars, the population continues to grow. Only because of the Yom Kippur War did over 130,000 Israelis emigrate from Israel. However, this population loss was offset by the high birth rate of Jewish families. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, over 700,000 Soviet Jews came to Israel, which meant a population increase of over 20%. Starting in 1996, population growth began to slow as the government pursued tighter fiscal and monetary policies. The population has been increasing rapidly again since the 2000s. The population growth is primarily driven by the high birth rate of the ultra-Orthodox and Muslim populations. Both groups together were responsible for over 40% of newborns in 2015.


Spatial distribution

Population density

Israel has a population density of around 381 people per square kilometer. However, the population density is unevenly distributed. Hostile areas such as the Negev Desert have low population densities; the Golan Heights is also rather sparsely populated. In Arava, the least populated part of the country, an average of only 20 to 30 people live per square kilometer.

By far the largest part of the population lives in large cities such as Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Rishon LeZion and Haifa in the coastal regions in the west of the country. With over 3,000 people per square kilometer, these are the most densely populated places. Other densely populated places are Jerusalem and the surrounding area of the city. Israel is the 33rd most densely populated country in the world and the most densely populated state in the Middle East.



When the state was founded in 1948, only 30 percent of the population lived in cities, with the difference between Arabs and Jews being large; About 75 percent of Israeli Jews lived in cities at the time. In 2013, the level of urbanization reached over 78 percent, according to the Israeli government. This means that the level of urbanization is much higher compared to other industrialized countries. This is mainly due to the fact that the cities were almost the only habitable living space in Israel until the 1960s. In addition, until the Six-Day War of 1967, there were repeated Arab terrorist attacks on Jewish settlements in the border region, in which numerous people died and many families fled. Made possible by the settlement of hostile zones of the national territory, Israel's level of urbanization has been falling again since the mid-1980s.


Population groups

Israeli statistics distinguish between “Jews” and “Arabs,” to which a further, “different” group has been added since 1995.


Jewish population

At the end of 2020, 73.9% of Israelis were Jewish. Among Israel's Jewish population in 2001, 26% had at least one parent born in Israel, 37% were first-generation Israelis, 34.8% were immigrants and their direct descendants from Europe and North America, and 25.3% were immigrants and their descendants from Asia or Africa , mainly from Muslim countries. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, over a million Jews from its successor states immigrated to Israel, of which more than 750,000 in the period from 1989 to 1999 alone. Approximately 179,000 Israeli citizens are Holocaust survivors (as of 2021).

Within the Jewish population a distinction is made between

Ashkenazim, Jews with roots in Eastern and Central Europe, former states of the USSR, as well as Jews of European origin from the USA, Argentina, etc. Western states and their descendants
Sephardim, Jews whose ancestors come from the Iberian Peninsula
Mizrachim, Jews from the Near East and North Africa and their descendants
Falashes, immigrants from Ethiopia who were flown to Israel primarily through the military operations Moses (1984), Joshua (1985), Salomon (1991) and Dovewing (2011).
Yemeni Jews, immigrants from Yemen who were flown to Israel through the military Operation Magic Carpet between 1949 and 1950


Arab population

21.1% of Israel's population is Arab. Some of the Arab population lives in mixed Arab-Jewish cities such as Haifa, Jerusalem, Acre and Ramle. The majority live in Arab towns in the Galilee, in the eastern part of the coastal plain between Tel Aviv and Haifa, bordering the West Bank, and in the northern part of the Negev. 10% are Bedouins, many with permanent residence, another 10% are Druze, whose villages are in the Galilee, Carmel and the Golan.



The population of (456,000 inhabitants at the end of 2020) referred to as “others” includes, among others, non-Jewish immigrants, the Baha'is, who not only describe themselves as a separate religious community but also as a separate population group, the Alawites, the Ahmadi, the Samaritans and two villages Circassians. Since September 2014, Arameans have also been recognized as an independent national population group. Since the 2000s, several thousand Asian guest workers and illegal immigrants from Africa have also been living in Israel. There is also a small minority of European Christians in Israel; this consists predominantly of Russians, Ukrainians and Poles.


Israelis in the occupied territories

The Israelis in the occupied territories live predominantly in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). A large number of Israelis live in the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, which were annexed in 1981 and far exceed the Arab population.



For several years there has been no more precise data dealing with Israeli emigration.

Emigration from Israel has increased significantly in recent decades. By 1990, eight percent of Israel's Jewish population emigrated. From 1990 to 2005, 230,000 Israelis emigrated. Most had previously immigrated to Israel. By 2005, 15 percent had immigrated again. In 2007, 21,500 Israelis emigrated, this was the last major wave of emigration from Israel. The level of emigration has been declining since 2008, and 73 percent of Jews who emigrated and 4 percent of Arabs returned to Israel by 2013.

According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, there are now 650,000 Israeli émigrés living abroad worldwide.



The Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel in 1948 guarantees religious freedom. The religious communities manage their religious and holy places themselves; legal regulations are intended to guarantee free access and protect against desecration. Recognized religious communities are the Jewish, the Islamic, the various Christian communities as well as the Druze and the Baha'i. The state-recognized religious communities have a right to internal autonomy and to state financing of their houses of worship and the salaries of religious officials.

A good 75% of Israel's population are Jews. This makes Israel the only country in the world where Jews form the majority of the population. According to a 2009 survey,
46% as secular,
32% as traditional,
15% as Orthodox and
7% as ultra-Orthodox Jews (Charedim).

According to a 2015 study, 65 percent of Israelis declared themselves non-religious or atheists. Only 30 percent said they were religious.

The majority of Israeli Arabs are Sunni Muslims. In 2001 there were 1,004,600, around 17% of the population. At the end of 2019, 177,000 Christians lived in Israel, which corresponds to a population share of 2.0%. Around 137,000 (77.5%) of them are Arab Christians, around 40,000 (22.5%) are non-Arab Christians. 143,000 Israelis are Druze (as of 2019). This corresponds to a share of 1.6% of the population.

The world's only community of Samaritans numbers 751 people (end of 2011). A good half live in Israel, the rest live in the West Bank.

There are around 25,000 Karaites living in Israel as well as an unknown number of Messianic Jews who have retained certain elements of the Jewish religion, but view Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and are therefore considered part of Christianity.

Finally, several hundred Baha'is live in Haifa and the surrounding area, where their central shrines are located, forming the Baha'i World Center. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.

According to Israel's central statistics office, around 182,000 Christians lived in Israel at the beginning of 2022, 1.4 percent more than a year ago. Christians make up 1.9 percent of Israel's total population, of which 76.7 percent are Arab Christians.



According to the Nation State Act of 2018, the only official language is Hebrew; previously, Hebrew and Arabic were equally official languages, although Hebrew was in fact the preferred official language. Arabic is now assigned a “separate status”, whereby the law also declares that the previous status of Arabic should be retained and the use of Arabic by state institutions is regulated by individual laws.

During the British mandate between 1922 and 1948, both English and Arabic were official languages alongside Hebrew, with English taking precedence over the other two. After independence, the relevant clause was repealed and English was no longer actively used as an official language (apart from certain niches, such as warning signs), but remained in use, so to speak, “passively”, especially because many government documents were only available in this language. Bilingual signs are more often written in Hebrew and English than in Hebrew and Arabic, and public announcements often appear in English. In addition, like almost everywhere else in the world, English plays an important role in science, business and international communication, but is viewed as a foreign language and government publications only appear in this language if they are aimed at an international audience. English is the primary foreign language in schools, and most Israelis are familiar with the language through this and their consumption of American media.

The Hebrew language, revived at the end of the 19th century, is spoken by the majority of Israelis. Arabic is also the mother tongue of more than a million Arab and Druze citizens as well as most Jewish immigrants who immigrated from Arab countries in the 1950s and 1960s. Arabic is the school language at Arab schools in Israel. In Hebrew schools, Arabic is compulsory as a second foreign language alongside English.

Hebrew is used almost exclusively in official transactions, official forms are usually only available in Hebrew, and Israeli passports are in Hebrew and English. In the Israeli school leaving examination (Bagrut), all students must demonstrate knowledge of Hebrew.


Standard of living

Human Development Index

In the Human Development Index published by the United Nations Development Program, Israel ranked 22nd out of 188 countries evaluated in 2017 with 0.903 points. In 2016 and 2015, Israel was in 19th place out of 188 countries evaluated with 0.899 and 0.898 points respectively.

The state ranked 15th in 1990 with a score of 0.785, 17th in 2000 with a score of 0.850 and 26th in 2010 with a score of 0.833.



Israel ranks tenth in the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Countries Index. For comparison: Austria came in 13th place, Germany 23rd and the USA 35th. For the evaluation, the authors of the study on behalf of Bloomberg L.P. Criteria such as life expectancy, drinking water supply and health care are based. Tobacco consumption and obesity were rated negatively.

Life expectancy in Israel is among the highest in the world and was 82.7 years in 2018, 84.7 years for women and 80.8 years for men. Israel's fertility rate of 2.66 is the highest among developed countries.



Political system

The State of Israel is a Western-style parliamentary democracy. The organization Freedom House and the magazine The Economist classify Israel as the only country in the Middle East as a free democracy. In the 2023 Democracy Index published by the British magazine The Economist, Israel is ranked 29th out of 167 countries, which is the best ranking among Middle Eastern states (followed by Palestine at 110th). According to the index, Israel is considered an “incomplete democracy.”



Israel is one of three countries in the world, along with the United Kingdom and New Zealand, that does not have a codified constitution.

On June 13, 1950, the Knesset passed the Hariri Resolution, according to which a constitution should be built in the form of individual “basic laws”. Each basic law should be submitted to parliament individually; the entirety of these basic laws should be considered Israel's “constitution”. The Declaration of Independence of May 14, 1948 and eleven basic laws now replace a constitution.

The eight basic laws passed between 1958 and 1984 deal with the institutions of the State of Israel. In 1992 they were supplemented for the first time by the basic laws on freedom of occupation and on human dignity and freedom to include the protection of fundamental rights.

On July 19, 2018, the Israeli Parliament passed the Nation State Law (officially the Basic Law: Israel - The Nation State of the Jewish People). This enshrines Israel's claim to be the “national home of the Jewish people.” Furthermore, the law designates the united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since then, the flag, national anthem, the Hebrew calendar and Jewish holidays have been established as national symbols, with Hebrew as the sole official language. The Arabic language is given a special status; an addition makes it clear that the current use and status of the language will not be affected by the law.



The President (Hebrew Nasi) is elected by the Knesset in a secret vote by an absolute majority for a seven-year term. Re-election is not possible. The office of president symbolizes the unity of the state across party-political boundaries. His tasks are representative and formal. On June 2, 2021, Yitzchak Herzog was elected President and took office on July 9, 2021. His predecessors were Reuven Rivlin and Shimon Peres.


Houses of Parliament

The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, was elected for the first time on January 25, 1949. The 120 members of the Knesset are elected by secret ballot for four years. Israel introduced women's suffrage in 1946. General elections involve rigid lists, meaning voters only vote for party lists and cannot influence the order within the lists. There are no different electoral districts, all voters vote for the same party lists. The Knesset elects the president and passes laws. The Supreme Court can only overturn a law if it violates the Constitution.



The Prime Minister (Head of Government), (Hebrew ראש הממשלה, Rosh HaMemshala “head of the government”) and his cabinet exercise executive power.

The President instructs the party leader, who must be a member of the Knesset, to form a new government who is most capable of doing so. After the presidential selection, the chosen prime minister has 45 days to form a government, which must then be collectively approved by the Knesset. The Prime Minister also presents the basic lines of his government policy.

The government is responsible for conducting internal and external affairs. The possibilities for determining the direction of politics are very wide and the Prime Minister is authorized to take action on any subject unless this is delegated by law to another authority.

Ministers are responsible to the Prime Minister for the performance of their duties and are obliged to report their actions to the Knesset. Most ministers have a portfolio and head a ministry; others work without a division but can be assigned special tasks.

At least half of the ministers must be members of the Knesset as members, although all ministers must be suitable candidates for the Knesset. The Prime Minister or another minister with the approval of the Prime Minister appoints a maximum of six deputy ministers, all of whom must serve as members of the Knesset.

To date, all governments in Israel have been formed on the basis of a coalition of various parties, as no party has been able to collect a sufficient number of seats in the Knesset to form a government on its own.

The government usually remains in office for four years. The Prime Minister and ministers of an outgoing government carry out their duties until a new government takes office. If the Prime Minister can no longer fulfill his duties, in the event of his resignation, an indictment against him, a successful vote of no confidence in the Knesset or his death, the government transfers the office to one of its members who is also a member of the Knesset. This incumbent Prime Minister has all the authority; However, the possibility of dissolving the Knesset is excluded.

Prime Minister since December 29, 2022 has been Benjamin Netanyahu, who replaced Jair Lapid, who has been in power since July 2022.


Parties and political organizations

Israel has a multi-party system. Since the founding of the state, there have never been fewer than ten parties represented in parliament. The reasons for this are the low threshold and, above all, the heterogeneity of the population that has grown due to immigration.

Since the Six Day War, the most important dividing line between the parties has been that between “doves” and “hawks”. “Doves” represent the “land for peace” principle. They support the establishment of a Palestinian state and the division of Jerusalem between Israel and Palestine. The so-called “hawks”, on the other hand, represent the formula “peace for peace”, which is based on the intention to annex the occupied territories in whole or in part in the long term. Traditionally, Avoda as the leading party of the “dove” camp and Likud as the leading party of the “hawks” face each other. Until 1977, all prime ministers belonged to Avoda or its predecessors, and since then there have been predominantly Likud heads of government.

The largest right-wing party is traditionally the Likud, but there are also smaller right-wing parties such as Yisrael Beitenu (elected mainly by Russian immigrants). The religious parties, which distinguish between ultra-Orthodox (Shas and United Torah Judaism) and national religious parties, have mostly been allied with the Likud since 1977. The largest left-wing party is traditionally the social democratic Avoda, further to the left is Meretz. Avoda and left-wing parties as a whole have lost their importance. Since the late 1970s, centrist parties have often been founded, which were often short-lived. The most important one in the Knesset elected in 2021 is Yesh Atid (liberal, secular). Before elections, new parties or alliances between existing parties are often founded. There are also parties that are predominantly (Chadash) or exclusively supported by Arabs and often run in different constellations with common lists.

The strong socialist beginnings of the Israeli state explain the important role that the Histadrut, the General Association of Workers of Israel, plays in political life.

In Germany, the best-known groups of the Israeli peace movement are Gusch Shalom and Peace Now. There are also several other independent human rights organizations such as B’Tselem and Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch) as well as the civil rights group ICAHD.


Women's suffrage

In 1920 the Yishuv created a representative assembly. This had no legal legitimacy, as power lay with the British mandate; but they were required to cooperate with Jewish representatives. Ultra-Orthodox men successfully blocked women's suffrage in the Yishuv in its early days. As a compromise solution, women were given the right to vote for a limited time in April 1920. The ultra-Orthodox men were compensated by receiving two votes: one for themselves and one for their wives. There was permanent women's suffrage from 1925 in the elections to the second Legislative Assembly. However, the one vote per person principle was not applied until the election of the fourth Legislative Assembly in August 1944. The rules governing this election formed the basis for the constitution of the State of Israel, which became independent on May 15, 1948. After the Declaration of Independence, a Constituent Assembly was supposed to draw up a constitution within five months, but this was not possible because of the war. In January 1949, Knesset elections took place under the system that had applied to the Assembly of Representatives (see above). On February 16, 1949, some basic laws were passed by the Constituent Assembly. The rule that gender should not play a role was part of these basic laws.



The territory of Israel is divided into six districts, Hebrew מחוזות mechozot (singular machoz). Almost all districts are divided into a total of 15 subdistricts, Hebrew נפות nafot (singular nafa). In addition, the Judea and Samaria Military District is included in the official statistics. This includes the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The six districts of Israel are:
North District; Hebrew Mechoz haTzafon;
Haifa District; Hebrew Mechoz Cheifa;
Central District; Hebrew Mechoz haMerkaz;
Tel Aviv District; Hebrew Mechoz Tel-Aviv;
Jerusalem District; Hebrew Mechoz Yerushalaim;
Southern District; Hebrew Mechoz haDarom;
Under military administration: Judea and Samaria; Hebrew Ezor Yehudah veShomron


Local government

Local government consists of three different types: city government, municipal government and regional government.


City administration

A municipality, Hebrew Iriyah, is the largest form of local government in Israel. Municipality status is awarded by the Israeli Interior Minister to applying localities, which typically have more than 20,000 inhabitants. Exceptions are also possible in isolated cases. In 2008 there were 71 city administrations.


Municipal administration

A municipal administration, Hebrew מועצה מקומית Mo'atzah Mekomit, English local council, hence also local association, is an administrative unit for the smaller urban settlements and the larger agricultural towns. A municipal administration has between 2,000 and 20,000 inhabitants and is therefore in Israel's administrative division between cities and rural regional associations. In 2007, there were a total of 141 local governments in Israel.


Regional administration

Regional governments, Hebrew מועצה אזורית Mo'atza Azorit, are the third type of local government in Israel. This often involves administration on two levels.

The regional administration is responsible for several smaller settlements in rural areas, which often have their own community committee. The settlements are usually spread over a larger area, but in geographical proximity to each other. The individual settlements within a regional association have fewer than 2,000 inhabitants.

The municipal committee of a settlement sends representatives to the regional administration, who are directly appointed or appointed by election, in proportion to the number of residents. Many kibbutzim and moshavim are part of a regional administration. In 2003 there were 53 regional associations in Israel.


Foreign and Security Policy

The aim of Israel's foreign policy is a solution to the Middle East conflict, as a result of which it is hoped that relations with Arab countries will improve in the long term. Israel has signed peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan. In January 2007, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz also reported that there had been secret peace negotiations with Syria between 2004 and 2006.

Another goal of Israel's security policy is the immigration of as many Jews as possible, especially those who, from Israel's perspective, are exposed to an existential threat. In several spectacular actions, Israel has brought Jews to Israel, sometimes with the help of the military, even if they were not Israeli citizens, such as the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews during the famine in their country.

The US is Israel's most important ally and grants it the status of a "major non-NATO ally". Israel is given preferential treatment over Jordan and Egypt, which are also allies of the United States. This applies, for example, to access to intelligence information or arms technology.

In fact, the USA has a far-reaching independent interest in the region and in the continued existence of Israel. Israel is one of the states to which Congress grants the highest level of military development aid as part of the so-called Foreign Military Financing Program, but which is awarded on the condition that the receiving country procures military equipment exclusively from American arms companies. In addition, the USA must agree to the resale of military equipment purchased with this financing program in each individual case.

Israel also cooperates in many areas with the PRC and especially with India. Since the 1950s, Israel has been carrying out development policy in Africa and, with less effort, in Asia. The driving force behind it was Golda Meir and Moshe Sharet. The aim of the development policy was to break the encirclement by hostile Arab states and to weaken the unconditional support for the Arab countries from black African nations. In the case of Ethiopia, there was also an interest in ensuring the security of the Jewish minority there.

On September 7, 2010, Israel joined the OECD.

After three and a half years of construction, an approximately 400 km long barrier to Egypt was completed in December 2013 to prevent illegal migrants from Africa from immigrating to Israel and to curb drug and weapons smuggling. The construction cost was $450 million.

A peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, also called the Abraham Accords, was signed on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at 1:37 p.m. in front of the White House in Washington in the presence of US President Trump by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Foreign Minister of the Emirates Abdullah bin Said al-Nahjan signed. At the same time, a peace treaty was signed between Israel and Bahrain with the Kingdom of Bahrain by Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Sajani, as well as with Morocco and Sudan. However, there has so far been no recognition of Israel's right to exist by other Arab states.

Israel and Kosovo agreed to establish diplomatic relations on February 1, 2021. With the agreement, another country with a majority Muslim population recognizes Israel. Kosovo is also the first European country to open its embassy in Israel's capital Jerusalem. So far, only the United States and Guatemala have moved their diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, the foreign policy spokesman for the European Union, Peter Stano, threatened that Kosovo would lose its prospects of EU membership as a result of the embassy decision, but this did not stop Kosovo from doing so. Equatorial Guinea also wants to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.


Israeli peace diplomacy

Both the early Zionist representatives before Israel's independence and several Israeli heads of government afterward have made several agreements with Arab representatives since 1919 and presented a variety of peace offers, but for a variety of reasons none of these have been able to establish regional peace. These peace offers were intended to finally resolve the key conflict issues in the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab talks - borders, Israeli settlements, security and refugees.

These offers included, among other things, the peace offer to Syria and Egypt presented nine days after Israel's victory in the Six-Day War, which was brokered through American diplomatic channels and offered the return of the Golan Heights to Syria and the return of the Sinai to Egypt in return for a peace treaty. However, the Arab League categorically rejected any negotiations with Israel through the Khartoum Resolution (No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel). Furthermore, from 1967 to 1970, the return of up to 98% of the West Bank to Jordan was offered as part of the Allon Plan, but King Hussein I rejected this.

Other important events included the handover of 40% of the West Bank with over 90% of the population to the Palestinian Authority during the Oslo peace process and Israel's acceptance of the Clinton Parameters. These envisaged a future Palestinian state throughout Gaza and up to 97% of the West Bank. Additionally, in 2005, Israel ceded all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority under the “Sharon Plan” and in 2008 offered a territorial solution to the disputed areas of the West Bank, which enabled a Palestinian state in the West Bank through a mutual exchange of territory (see illustration). However, this proposal was rejected by Mahmoud Abbas.



The Israel Defense Forces (Hebrew צבא ההגנה לישראל Tzwa haHagana leYisra'el, צה"ל Tzahal for short, or Israel Defense Forces for short, IDF for short) are considered the strongest armed forces in the region. The number of personnel and the number of weapon systems are kept secret. Estimates vary from a personnel number of around 176,500 men and women (of which the army: 133,000, the air force: 34,000, the navy: 9,500), which can be increased to over 600,000 in the event of defense. The military threat to Israel has become symmetrical after the end of the Cold War aligned opponents transformed into asymmetrically fighting Palestinian and Lebanese organizations.

Israel has a compulsory military service of 36 months for men and 24 months for women, from which Israeli Arabs and all non-Jewish, pregnant or married women are exempt. Only women are permitted to opt out of compulsory military service for reasons of conscience; They then perform alternative civilian service for one to two years. The monthly salary of conscripts is around 460 NIS (around 98 euros). If you refuse military service, a prison sentence can be imposed.

A characteristic of the Israeli military system is the internationally comparatively high level of integration of its reservists, which is due to regular reserve service (one month per year for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men until they reach the age of 42 and 51 for officers, and for women until they reach the age of 24). year of life) maintain a high level of training and employability. The armed forces also regularly conduct exercises in cooperation with the USA and other NATO countries and often send their future leaders to these countries for training.

The backbone of the army is the armored force with around 1,500 modern Merkava battle tanks. In addition, there are around 2,000 older models, especially a. M60 (Magach), mainly used by reserve units. The air force has around 500 combat aircraft and 200 helicopters; Although these are almost exclusively of American production, they were often modified during construction or subsequently by Israeli defense companies for the specific requirements of the Israeli armed forces and usually have Israeli weapons (such as Delilah, Nimrod and Spice) and electronics (such as Litening). Production. The Israeli Navy has, among other things: about 40 patrol boats, ten missile boats, three corvettes and four modern Dolphin-class submarines. The German defense industry is involved in the development and delivery of the Dolphin submarines. In addition, the engine of the Merkava IV tank was developed by MTU Friedrichshafen and is produced under license by L-3 Communication Combat Propulsion Systems (formerly General Dynamics). In return, Germany was equipped with Israeli-designed Spike anti-tank missiles. The Bundeswehr also operates the Israeli Heron drones.

The Israeli infantry has various weapons. The most commonly used is the American M16 (rifle) in various versions. However, Israeli-made weapons are also in use, such as IMI Negev, Tavor TAR-21, IMI Galatz, IMI Galil, Uzi and IWI Jericho 941.

Israeli defense companies include: Israel Weapon Industries, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael and IMI.

For air defense, Israel has had the Patriot anti-aircraft system (version PAC 2) since 1991 and the Hawk anti-aircraft system since the 1960s.

Israel has had the Arrow (English: "Arrow", original Hebrew name: חץ; "Chetz") missile defense system (Arrow 2 version) against medium-sized and intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2000, but for a long time it had to deal with Qassam missile fire Hamas uses them from the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets from southern Lebanon are not a means of defense due to their short range and corresponding flight time. The Iron Dome defense system (original Hebrew name: כיפת ברזל kipat barzel, German 'Iron Dome') was developed to combat the threat of missiles with a range of up to 70 kilometers. The first batteries were put into operation near Beer Sheva in March 2011 and were able to intercept Hamas rockets shortly afterwards. The David’s Sling defense system is also planned to combat missiles with a range between 70 and 250 kilometers. To increase protection against ballistic missiles, the improved PAC 3 version of the Patriot air defense system has recently been in use and an improved version of Arrow (Arrow 3) is in development.

Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is widely believed to have had nuclear weapons developed at the Negev Nuclear Research Center since the 1960s. In the 1970s there was secret joint nuclear weapons research with South Africa. Experts assume that Israel has around 200 nuclear warheads. The Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu published several insights into the Israeli nuclear weapons program, for which he was accused and convicted. The government's official policy is not to comment on this issue, i.e. to neither admit nor deny ownership (the so-called "atomic ambiguity" policy). An interview in December 2006, in which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert named Israel alongside France, the USA and Russia in a list of nuclear weapons powers, was seen by the international press as an indirect admission of Israel's possession of nuclear weapons and at the same time as a threat and retort to Iran. On December 4, 2012, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution by 174 votes to 6 that Israel should immediately join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow the IAEA into the country to control nuclear facilities.

Israel ranked No. 1 on the Global Militarization Index (GMI) in 2017. In 2017, Israel spent almost 4.7 percent of its economic output, or $16.5 billion, on its armed forces.



The Israel Police (Hebrew: משטרת ישראל, Mischteret Yisrael) employs around 30,000 full-time staff. These are supported by 33,000 volunteers (as of 2016). The police's tasks include law enforcement, controlling road traffic and averting threats to public order and safety. It is subordinate to the Ministry of Public Security of Israel and was founded in 1948. The emergency telephone number is 100.

The regional division corresponds to the six districts of Israel. The functional structure is divided into numerous departments according to the areas of responsibility, such as Investigations & Intelligence (in German for investigations and information) or Policing and Security (in German for control and security).

There is also the border police (Hebrew מִשְׁמַר הַגְּבוּל Mishmar HaGvul or מג״ב Magav for short), which maintains several special units to combat terrorism, including JAMAM.

The head of the police (Nitzav or Rav Nitzav) is appointed by the Israeli government on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Security. He has a deputy at his side.


Fire department

In 2019, the fire brigade in Israel had 2,000 professional and 2,200 volunteer firefighters nationwide, working in 120 fire stations and fire stations, where 420 fire engines and 31 turntable ladders or telescopic masts are available. The national fire service organization Israel Fire and Rescue Services represents the Israeli fire services.


Intelligence services

The Mossad is the Israeli foreign intelligence service.

In addition to him, there is the domestic secret service Shin Bet and the military secret service Aman.


Settlement policy

In the areas occupied since June 1967, over 400 Jewish settlements and so-called outposts have been built, which are inhabited by Jewish Israelis. The number of Jewish-Israeli settlers totals almost 600,000, of which around 391,000 live in the West Bank (as of 2016) and 201,200 in East Jerusalem (as of 2014). Until August 2005, around 7,500 Israelis lived among more than a million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The settlements are often lavishly built based on the American model. You are protected against attacks by a massive security apparatus. A network of special roads, some of which may only be used by Israeli citizens, provides good transport infrastructure between the settlements and Israeli territory. At the same time, it makes development in the Palestinian autonomous areas more difficult. The Palestinian population's freedom of movement is further restricted by Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints.

In August 2005, the Sharon government, in close coalition with the Labor Party, evacuated all settlements in the Gaza Strip as well as four smaller settlements in the West Bank. This was a unilateral and globally recognized step by Israel that was not drawn up as part of the “roadmap” (see Sharon Plan). However, it was also heard from those close to Sharon that the aim was to expand the largest settlements in the West Bank. In return, territorial concessions should be made to the Palestinians. Militant Palestinian organizations present this partial withdrawal by Israel as their own victory over Israel. Ariel Sharon's successor Ehud Olmert has offered the Palestinians through his so-called Convergence Plan to establish a Palestinian state in exchange for the course of the barrier currently being built beyond the Green Line in Palestinian territory accept.

Internationally, the Jewish communities and settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are largely viewed as violating international law. International law allows the temporary confiscation of land in occupied territories exclusively for military purposes, but not for the permanent settlement of one's own citizens, agriculture and other civilian uses. Israel has a different assessment of the legal situation, but is therefore internationally isolated. The United Nations has unsuccessfully called on Israel to stop building settlements in several resolutions.



The law of today's Israel has its origins in three different legal traditions: the law of the Ottoman period, the law of the British Mandate period in the form of common law and the positive law of the Israeli legislature since 1948.

The founding of the State of Israel in 1948 did not initially bring about any profound changes: the Law and Administration Ordinance 1948 left all applicable law in force unless it was changed by new legislative acts. To this day, a large part of Israel's law in the area of commercial and corporate law is substantively English law, even if the case law of the English courts has no longer been binding since 1972. Ottoman law is only relevant in a few areas, as the Israeli legislature has reorganized contract and property law in particular. In the long term, the current private law should be transferred to the continental European legal system in the form of a civil code. English law is therefore increasingly giving way to an independent Israeli jurisprudence, which is nevertheless methodologically close to common law.


Legal system

The Israeli legal system consists of the laws issued by the Knesset and partly of the regulations issued by the British Mandate until 1948, which in turn were adopted and revised in detail by the Knesset. The Israeli legal system can best be characterized as a “mixed” system because it belongs to the Western legal systems and was heavily influenced by Anglo-American law, but also contains aspects that are typical of Roman-style civil law. In addition, certain features of the legal system are influenced by the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. The rights of the Supreme Court in the judicial assessment of Knesset laws are limited. Legal interpretation is limited to formal problems such as the execution of laws and the validity of subordinate legislation.

In December 1985, Israel informed the UN Secretariat that the mandatory jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice would no longer be accepted.


Judicial system

The independence of the judiciary, divided into secular and religious courts, is guaranteed by the basic laws. Due to a planned judicial reform by Prime Minister Netanyahu's government, which critics believe means an end to the independent judiciary, mass protests with up to half a million participants have been taking place in Israel since January 2023.

The judges of the secular courts are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a special nomination committee composed of the judges of the Supreme Court, members of the Bar Association and public figures. Judges are appointed for life and take mandatory retirement at the age of 70.

The secular jurisdiction is divided into three levels: at the first and second levels there are magistrate and district courts for civil and criminal cases, as well as youth, traffic, military, labor and municipal appeal courts.

At the head of the judiciary, as the highest appellate authority, is the Supreme Court based in Jerusalem. The judges of the Supreme Court also form the “High Court of Justice” (“Beit-Din Gawoah LeTzedek” = “BaGaTz”), which has three, five or seven judges depending on the importance of the case. This court is the only and highest appellate authority on fundamental issues and offers (similar to the Federal Constitutional Court) the opportunity to sue the government and all representatives and institutions of the state and to have their measures checked for legality and, if necessary, even to suspend them.

According to Ottoman legal tradition, personal status issues such as marriage and divorce, maintenance, guardianship and adoption of minors fall under the jurisdiction of the jurisdiction or administration of the respective religious community. These religious courts are the rabbinical courts for the Jewish religious communities, the Muslim Sharia courts, the Druze religious courts and the ecclesiastical courts of the ten recognized Christian communities in Israel. Several hundred non-religious or mixed-religious couples therefore have to travel abroad every year to get married and then have it recognized in Israel. There is now a legal institution similar to civil marriage for partners who do not belong to a religious community; several legislative initiatives to introduce civil marriage have failed in recent years due to resistance from the orthodox parties.

Although the legislature lies exclusively within the purview of the Knesset, the Supreme Court has the ability to direct attention to desired legislative changes; as the Supreme Court, the court has the authority to decide whether a law is consistent with the basic laws of the state.


Human rights

Israel has strong and independent institutions that guarantee political rights and civil liberties for most of the population. Freedom House therefore classifies Israel as “free”.

Israel practices a form of “administrative detention” against Palestinians, under which people can be sentenced to prison without charge or trial. In August 2022, the number of so-called “administrative prisoners” in Israeli prisons reached a new high since 2008 at 723 people (including 11 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, the remaining Palestinians from the occupied territories).

Amnesty International reported at the end of 2011 that this year Israel had displaced more than 1,000 Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and destroyed more than 500 houses, apartments and water supply installations; the displacement and destruction had doubled compared to the previous year. This trend goes hand in hand with the increase in Israeli settlement construction and the increase in violent attacks by settlers on Palestinians.

After Israel had long accused the UN Human Rights Council of being one-sided in its criticism of Israel and therefore boycotted it, there were signs of a change in 2013. However, in June 2018, Israel welcomed the US withdrawal from the Human Rights Council. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the council of focusing obsessively on Israel.

In July 2020, the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din accused the Israeli government of apartheid in the occupied territories. In January 2021, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem described Israel as an apartheid regime. In April 2021, Human Rights Watch accused the Israeli government of apartheid and other crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In January 2022, Amnesty International also described Israeli rule over the Palestinians as an apartheid system in a report; The Israeli government described the report as “pure anti-Semitism” and “lies from terrorist organizations.” The Central Council of Jews in Germany demanded that Amnesty Germany “publicly and unequivocally distance itself from the anti-Semitic report.” The German federal government criticized the Amesty report. Allegations of apartheid had already been made in the past.

At its meeting in Karlsruhe in September 2022, the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is expected to adopt a resolution on Israel, among other things, on a request from South African Bishop Frank Chikane and other members of a WCC fact-finding mission following a visit to Israel and Palestine earlier this year Discuss apartheid. Alon Liel and Ilan Baruch, both former ambassadors to South Africa, support this request based on their knowledge of the past conditions there and the current ones in the Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine. They emphasize that it is not anti-Semitic to describe Israel's treatment of Palestinians as apartheid and call on this General Assembly to do so, since a dual legal system treats Israeli settlers with full civil and political rights under Israeli civil law, but Palestinians on the same land under military law without them having any influence on the body ruling over them.



Until 1999, torture of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli security forces was widespread and systematic. In 1999, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that prisoners could no longer be tortured during interrogation.

However, Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein issued an order saying that intelligence agents who nevertheless tortured prisoners would not be brought to trial if they could prove that doing so was "immediately necessary to protect the life, liberty of people or property." “there is no real risk of serious harm” and that “there is no other way to ensure this”. High-ranking officials had to approve the methods, and interrogators had to keep detailed records of the number of blows, the painful restraints, and any other so-called special means. In the 2000s, there were around a thousand torture complaints against the intelligence service, all of which were dismissed by the authorities; Court proceedings were not permitted. In 2014, the number of cases of torture by the Israeli secret service rose sharply again.

In November 2018, the Supreme Court (Judges Yosef Elron, Isaac Amit and David Mintz) dismissed a lawsuit against the intelligence agency for torture, ruling that the “special interrogation methods” the intelligence agency had used against plaintiff Firas Tbeish – sleep deprivation, beatings , painful positions, violent shaking until unconsciousness – were justified as exceptions, as described in the 1999 court ruling. Judge Mintz spoke of a “ruling that says torture is prohibited except in highly exceptional cases.”

In September 2019, Palestinian Samir Arbid was arrested and tortured almost to death by Shin Bet operatives. After being tortured by the Shin Bet, Arbid was taken to hospital in critical condition, unconscious, with numerous broken bones and trauma, as well as kidney failure and a suspected heart attack, and required ventilator support. Judicial bodies had authorized the torture of Arbid. Although Israeli authorities launched an investigation when the abuses became known, in January 2021, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit closed the investigation into the torturers.



Israel has a technologically highly developed market economy with a high share of the state. The public sector is also a significant employer, employing 33% of Israeli workers. 17% work in industry, 20% in tourism, trade and finance; 28% work in other areas (services, etc.).

In 2016, the state budget included expenses of the equivalent of $88.7 billion, compared to revenues of the equivalent of $80.7 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 2.4% of GDP.
National debt was $121.1 billion in 2016, or 62.0% of GDP. Israel has had success in rebalancing its national budget in recent years.

In 2006, the share of government spending (in % of GDP) was in the following areas:
Health: 8.0%
Education: 5.9% (2009)
Military: 7.4% (2012)

Israel owes about half of its external debt to the United States, its main source of political, economic and military support. A relatively large portion of Israel's foreign debt is held by private investors in the form of State of Israel bonds. The combination of American loan guarantees and direct borrowing from private investors allows Israel to borrow at favorable interest rates, sometimes below market rates. This policy is also tolerated and supported by Germany in order to achieve the strategic goal of securing the existence of the Jewish state.

In 2015, economic growth was estimated at 2.4%, below the previous year's growth of 2.8%. Israel's gross domestic product totaled $305 billion in 2014, and its per capita gross domestic product was $37,731 in the same year. Unemployment was around 5.4% in 2015. In 2017 it was 4.3%. The total number of employees is estimated at 4 million in 2017, of which 47.2% are women. In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures a country's competitiveness, Israel ranks 16th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018). Israel ranked 36th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index in 2017.

Israel is dependent on imports for fossil fuels (crude oil, natural gas, coal), grain, beef, raw materials and military equipment. There are small amounts of petroleum, phosphates, potash and kaolin in the country. It is unknown whether Israel has precious metals and gemstones as additional mineral resources. However, large gold deposits are suspected. There are signs of a change in natural gas import dependency since four deposits were discovered off the Mediterranean coast. Since 2014, Israel has been producing natural gas from the “Tamar” gas field, which is located about 90 kilometers from Haifa, and is being sent to the southern Israeli city of Ashdod for further processing. In the medium term, the aim is to export natural gas to Europe as liquid gas in cooperation with Cyprus.

Not least because of its limited resources of cultivated land, water and raw materials, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors in recent decades. However, Israel is not self-sufficient in agriculture. Most of the feed grain in particular has to be imported. Israel has significant capabilities in oil refineries, diamond cutting and semiconductor manufacturing. Significant exports include polished diamonds, advanced technology, military equipment, software, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables and flowers, and more recently caviar). Israel invests more money per capita in research and development than any other country. A Silicon Wadi has developed in the Tel Aviv region, with 422 new companies being founded in the first nine months of 2011 alone. The innovative Israeli startup scene in the field of cutting-edge technologies is considered exemplary worldwide.

A big problem is the water supply. Attempts are being made to overcome the water shortage with additionally developed new methods for economical land irrigation (see section Science and Technology). Water supply is also a political bone of contention that has led to tensions with neighboring Syria in the past.


Impact of immigration

Immigration from the former Soviet Union brought scientists and academics who are of considerable value to Israel's future. The influx, coupled with the opening of new markets after the end of the Cold War, revitalized Israel's economy and fueled rapid growth throughout the 1990s. As the government adopted tighter fiscal and monetary policies starting in 1996 and the flow of immigrants slowed, growth began to slow. On the other hand, inflation fell to a record minimum in 1999.


Social situation

According to a 2008 report by the National Insurance Institute (המוסד לביטוח לאומי), poverty in Israel continues to increase, even though gross domestic product per capita increased by 12.4% between 2004 and 2006 alone. In 2007, in Israel, excluding the territories occupied in 1967, 24.7% of the total population and 35.9% of children lived below the poverty line. High levels of child poverty are a record among developed countries.

According to the Israeli definition, the poverty line in 2007 was a monthly income of 2,028 shekels (approx. 364 euros) for a single person, 3,244 shekels (600 euros) for a childless couple and 5,191 shekels (944 euros) for a family of four.

A major problem is working poverty due to very low wages in many sectors: despite a low unemployment rate of just 3.7%, a fifth of Israelis live below the poverty line in 2019.

In the summer of 2011, the largest protests in recent history took place due to the unsatisfactory social situation in Israel. Up to half a million people demonstrated, mainly in Tel Aviv, against the high cost of living and demanded social justice and a welfare state.

According to the December 2015 National Social Security report, 31% of Israel's children are currently growing up in poverty. This means that the situation has improved slightly in recent years. Overall, however, 22% of Israelis are still considered poor. According to the report, the poverty rate is particularly high among ultra-Orthodox Jews and the Arab Palestinian minority in the country. Here it is around 50%.


Working week

The official work week in Israel begins with Sunday (Hebrew “Yom Rishon”, “First Day”) as the first day of the week. During the Sabbath from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening, most shops remain closed and almost no services are offered. However, there are strong differences between more religious and more secular towns.



Tourism in Israel is an important economic factor in the country. The Ministry of Tourism is responsible.

Many travel destinations in Israel are sites of Christianity such as the Old City of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem and the Sea of Galilee. There are also numerous historical sites such as the cities of Caesarea Maritima, Bet She'an and Acre, the fortress of Masada and a section of the former spice route from Petra to Gaza. Beach holidays are possible on the Mediterranean coast, the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. There are also diving areas and resorts on the Red Sea (Eilat). There are also nine UNESCO World Heritage sites in Israel. Due to the very good transport infrastructure, individual trips can be carried out easily.

The place with the highest number of tourists is Jerusalem with around 3.5 million visitors annually. Tel Aviv was visited by around 1.7 million tourists in 2009. Origin of tourists by highest number (first): United States, Russia, France and United Kingdom. In 2008, the Israeli government allocated 10 million shekels (approximately €2.077 million) for tourism promotion in Europe.

Most tourists arrive from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. Entry problems arise when tourists' passports contain visas or entry stamps from Arab countries (except Jordan and Egypt).



Israel's banking system has its roots in the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, before the founding of Israel. The World Zionist Organization with Theodor Herzl founded the Anglo Palestine Company (APC) (later renamed Bank Leumi) on February 27, 1902. Israel's three largest banks are Hapoalim, Leumi and Israel Discount Bank, which account for over 60% of Israel's banking system. All banks in the state are supervised by the Central Bank of Israel.



Road traffic

The most important mode of transport is road. Israel has a total of 18,096 km of paved roads and 2.4 million motor vehicles. The number of motor vehicles per 1000 people is 324, which is relatively low compared to other industrialized countries. There are 5,715 buses in regular service in Israel. The intercity buses from the Egged bus cooperative are of particular importance.


Rail transport

Of increasing importance is the Israel Railways railway network, which has been modernized and expanded in recent years after decades of neglect. The Israeli state railway company's route network amounts to 949 km. After major investments in the 1990s, the number of passengers per year increased from 2.5 million (1995) to 35 million (2008). The railways also transport around 6.8 million tons of freight every year.

A tram line has been running in Jerusalem since 2011. An extensive tram network is being prepared for Tel Aviv. A first line is already under construction.


Air traffic

The most important airport is Ben-Gurion Airport near Lod in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. It had 14.9 million passengers in 2014. Other airports: Sde-Dov airport in the city of Tel Aviv, Haifa airport, Eilat airport, the new Ramon airport a few km north of Eilat, Rosh Pina airport. Jerusalem's Atarot Airport has been out of service since 2001. The largest airline is El Al, based at Ben Gurion Airport, which currently serves 44 destinations worldwide. Air traffic to and from Israel is subject to particularly strict security regulations due to the constant terrorist threat.



Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat are the country's three port cities. The port of Haifa, located on the Mediterranean coast, is the oldest and largest port in the country, while the port of Ashdod is one of the few deep-water ports in the world and was built on the open sea. There is also a port in Eilat, which is used for trade with the countries of the Far East. There are also smaller ports in Hadera, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon, but they only supply coal, natural gas or oil for nearby power plants. There are marinas in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Haifa and Eilat. Cruise ships occasionally dock in Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat. Seasonal ferry connections to Cyprus and on to Greece only operate from Haifa.


Border crossings

Israel can only be reached via land borders from Jordan and Egypt. The border with Syria and Lebanon is closed to civilians.

The official border crossings with Jordan are:
the Sheikh Hussein Bridge over the Jordan at Beit She'an
the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan near Jericho (West Bank)
the Arava crossing near Eilat and Aqaba.

The official border crossings with Egypt are:
the Kerem Shalom crossing near the Gaza Strip
the Nizanna crossing
the Netafim crossing north of Eilat
the Taba crossing south of Eilat.

Since the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the Karni and Erez crossings have been considered de facto border posts (the de jure status is still to be determined). The Rafah border crossing, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, is no longer managed by the Israelis.



The last mile for telephone connections and ADSL is provided by Bezeq. Around 2003, Hot also began offering telephone and Internet services via the television cable network. In 2016, 78.9 percent of the population used the internet. The IT industry in Israel is one of the most competitive in the world.


Water supply

After a severe supply crisis in 2008, the water management system was radically modernized.

As of 2017, five seawater desalination stations are in operation. They cover over 70 percent of the country's water needs. Technical improvements have made the desalination process much more energy efficient and, above all, cheaper. A cubic meter of ready-to-drink tap water costs less than 50 cents. In addition to domestic consumption, Israel delivered 100 million cubic meters of drinking water to the Palestinian National Authority and 91 million cubic meters to Jordan in 2021.

Israel is a leader in water recycling: 86 percent of household wastewater is used for agriculture. For comparison: USA, 1 percent. The annual per capita consumption (as of 2016, total, including all sectors) of 280 cubic meters is very low in international comparison (USA 1540 m³).

In 2017, a tunnel project was started to bring water from the desalination plant (reverse osmosis plant) near Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 4 meters in diameter, 13.5 kilometers long and 125 meters under solid mountain rock. With a transport capacity of 65,000 cubic meters per hour.



The administration and financing of Israel's education system is carried out by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports and the cities.


Schools and colleges

In Israel, school attendance is compulsory for children between the ages of five and sixteen. School attendance is free up to the age of 18. As a rule, three to four year olds attend a paid kindergarten. In Israel, the average length of school attendance increased from 10.8 years in 1990 to 12.8 years in 2015. This makes it one of the highest in the world.

The school system is tailored to the multicultural population. There are different state schools whose curriculum is adapted to specific aspects, such as the language and religion of the students. The smaller proportion of Israeli students attend private schools that operate under the auspices of religious and international organizations.

In 2018, expenditure per primary student in state Hebrew schools was 15,300 shekels, in state religious schools 19,300 shekels, and in official Arabic schools 16,900 shekels.

In 2019, expenditure per student per year in the “normal” Jewish middle schools was 32,800 shekels, in the state religious middle schools 43,100 shekels and in the state Arabic middle schools 26,800 shekels, i.e. H. The expenditure per student at the religious Jewish schools was 61 percent higher than that at the Arab schools, and that of the “normal” Jewish middle schools was 22 percent higher.

In high school, students can choose between an academic, technological, agricultural or military specialty. After passing the final exam you receive the Bagrut.

About 216,000 students are enrolled in one of the country's higher education institutions. The Technion and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are world-famous. The eight universities in Israel offer a wide range of courses in science and humanities subjects, see list of universities in Israel.

In addition, there are a large number of academic universities that do not have university status, but are allowed to issue recognized academic diplomas and often cooperate with universities, see the list of academic universities in Israel.

Tens of thousands take advantage of adult education programs. There are special language schools available for new immigrants where Hebrew is offered in intensive courses.



Israel's library system has an eventful history. It developed increasingly with the immigration of German book experts after 1933. The first director of the Jewish National and University Library was Hugo Shmuel Bergmann, who formerly worked at the German-speaking Charles University in Prague. Bergmann built up the collections accordingly and commissioned specialists for the individual areas. He was able to win over the young Gershom Scholem for the Hebraica collection. The second director was also a German, Gotthold Weil, who had lost his position in the Prussian State Library in Berlin. From 1949 onwards, Curt Wormann, who also came from Germany, took over the position. He had a lasting impact on the Israeli library system, but was criticized for reacting too inflexibly to the needs of new immigrants and the demands of mass immigration after the founding of the state. However, a distinction should be made between the individual libraries and their purpose. This may be true in the case of Tel Aviv's public libraries, but the National and University Library had to conform to international academic standards.

A legal deposit law has existed since 1953; In 2001 the regulation was renewed and extended from books, magazines and newspapers to audiovisual media; Network resources are still excluded. The legal deposit law specifies submission to a total of five institutions. These are the State Archives, the Knesset Library, the Ministry of Education and the National Library of Israel, which will receive two copies. The Israeli Center for Libraries (ICL) publishes an annual catalog of registered periodicals on CD-ROM and in an online version. So far, around 4,800 ISSNs have been issued in Israel. The Israeli state has a dense network of libraries in large cities and in the countryside.


Science and Technology

In the years 2002 to 2013, the Nobel Prize was awarded to eight Israelis in scientific fields:
Michael Levitt, Chemistry, 2013
Arieh Warshel, Chemistry, 2013
Dan Shechtman, Chemistry, 2011
Ada Yonath, Chemistry, 2009
Robert Aumann, born in Germany, economics, 2005
Aaron Ciechanover, Chemistry, 2004
Avram Hershko, born in Hungary, chemistry, 2004
Daniel Kahneman, Economics, 2002

The need to transform a relatively barren, underdeveloped country into today's modern industrial state has determined Israel's scientific and technological development since its founding. Water scarcity, desert-like landscape and lack of labor also led to the development of novel agricultural methods.

Israel today invests an above-average amount in research and development compared to world standards. The universities, which work closely with industry, produce 80% of the research results. Universities even founded companies to market the practical applications of their research results. More than half of all scientific publications are in biotechnology, biomedicine and clinical research.

Israeli scientists played a key role in researching the neurotransmitter interferon. Pharmaceutical research also often benefits from Israeli capacities, for example in the development of the drug Copaxone. Advanced medical diagnostic and treatment devices are developed in Israel and exported worldwide. These include devices for computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound scanners, nuclear medicine cameras, surgical lasers and a miniature camera, which is used as a swallowable capsule to examine the digestive tract.

A focus of Israeli research is on electronics and communication technology. Israel is one of the leading countries in the research and development of optical fibers, electro-optical control systems and heat-sensitive night vision devices. In addition to software for large and office computers, robots are developed for a wide range of applications.

In 1983 the Israel Space Agency was founded. Since 1988, Israel has been able to launch satellites into space using its own rocket (Shavit). In addition, various display systems, aeronautical computers, instruments and flight simulators were developed. Ilan Ramon was the first Israeli in space in 2003 on the STS-107 mission. He and his six NASA colleagues had a fatal accident during the re-entry of the space shuttle Columbia.

Water shortages spurred the development of computer-controlled irrigation systems. In this context, the drip method was also developed, in which the water is directed directly to the roots of the plants. It is thanks to intensive research that the huge underground reservoir of brackish water beneath the Negev has been made usable: various plants such as cherry tomatoes thrive with this water, which is pumped up from a depth of a thousand meters and has a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius has.

The unavailability of conventional energy sources necessitated the intensive development of alternative energy sources such as solar, thermal and wind energy. Israel does not operate a nuclear power plant because it does not want to allow its nuclear facilities to be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since 2007, it has been planning to build a 2,000-megawatt reactor in the Negev Desert, where the Negev Nuclear Research Center is located near Dimona.




Israel's culture is closely linked to the cultures of the surrounding neighboring states, but the modern state of Israel is characterized by a number of unique cultural features, for example that the people of the country have integrated influences from over 100 nations into their culture, resulting in a colorful patchwork of diverse cultures.

Israeli music is particularly worth mentioning. Israeli folk dance is quite well known, as is the interpretation of classical music. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performs across the country and abroad.

The museum landscape is primarily characterized by kibbutzim, some of which house small museums, for example the house of the ghetto fighters in kibbutz Lochamej haGeta'ot. There are larger museums in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, such as the Israel Museum with the Shrine of the Book or the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

Well-known writers come from Israel, including the satirist Ephraim Kishon, who is also known in German-speaking countries.

The formerly provincial Israeli film industry has been recognized worldwide since the early 2000s. The way in which sexuality and homosexuality are dealt with in Israel shows considerable differences compared to its much more restrictive neighboring countries.


Public holidays

In Israel, Jewish holidays are the only national holidays. The most important include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah and Passover.

In addition to these holidays, there are a number of national holidays:
Yom HaSho'a – Holocaust Remembrance Day
Yom haSikaron – Remembrance Day for fallen Israeli soldiers
Yom haAtzma’ut – Israeli Independence Day
Yom Yerushalaim – Jerusalem Day



Israeli cuisine includes local dishes as well as dishes created in the country by Jewish immigrants. Most Israeli food is kosher and prepared in accordance with Halacha. Since most of Israel's residents are either Jewish or Muslim, pork is consumed very rarely or not at all. Israeli cuisine is a mixture of several Jewish traditions.



Israeli literature is written primarily in modern Hebrew. There are also authors who write in Arabic, Russian, Yiddish and other languages. Hebrew Book Week takes place every June and the Sapir Prize is awarded. Some prose authors are also known in translation in the German-speaking area: Amos Oz, David Grossman and Zeruya Shalev. Well-known in the field of poetry are Jehuda Amichai, Nathan Alterman and Rachel.


Music and dance

Israeli music is very diverse; it combines elements of western and eastern music. There is a noticeable tendency to mix different styles, influences from the diaspora and newer music styles such as Hasidic songs, Asian and Arabic pop music, hip-hop or heavy metal.

Of great importance is folk dance, which benefits from the cultural heritage of many immigrant groups. Israel has several professional ballet and modern dance companies. Well-known Israeli choreographers include Ohad Naharin, Rami Beer, Barak Marshall and many others.



Israel has a well-developed film industry. In addition to the teenage comedy series Popsicle, the more serious productions by directors such as Josef Cedar, Eran Riklis and Eytan Fox also achieved international fame. Films with a historical background in Israel such as Massada or Jesus Christ Superstar were partly shot on original locations. The television series Hatufim - In the Hands of the Enemy was not only extremely successful abroad, but also served as the basis for the US series Homeland. Israeli actors like Gal Gadot also appear in international blockbusters. Israeli productions have been nominated ten times in the Oscar category for best foreign language film.



There is a lot of interest in theater; The repertoire covers the entire range of classical and contemporary drama in translations, as well as pieces by local authors. Habimah, one of the three most important theater companies, was founded in Moscow in 1916 and has been in Tel Aviv since 1931.



Israel's museum landscape is remarkably diverse. Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have well-known art museums, and in many cities and kibbutzim there are a number of smaller museums dedicated to a wide range of topics, for example the House of the Ghetto Fighters in Kibbutz Lochamej haGeta'ot. The best-known museums include the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which houses the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls as well as an extensive collection of Jewish religious and folk art, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and the Diaspora Museum on the campus of Tel Aviv University.



In Israel there are very different media for the country's different language groups. The main newspapers are Maariw, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post and Jedi'ot Acharonot. Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post also appear in English. Until March 2008, the Kol Israel radio also broadcast a program on shortwave for foreign countries, partly with its own productions and partly as a takeover of the program for immigrants Reshet Reka. The armed forces radio station Galei Zahal is also important. In addition to newspapers and radio programs in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian, there are also some in German and Yiddish. The most important German-language publication in Israel was the now defunct daily newspaper Israel-Nachrichten from Tel Aviv. A follow-up project has appeared on the Internet under the same name since January 2013. Another multilingual internet newspaper is The Times of Israel.

Freedom of the press applies in Israel, and harsh criticism of the government and authorities is also possible without risk. Freedom of the press is recognized as a fundamental right by case law. However, national security issues are subject to military censorship and occasional news blackouts. The censorship authority decides in advance whether media reports on certain topics endanger Israel's security. Their decisions can be challenged in court. In order to censor a publication, there must be an “immediate probability of real damage to the security of the state.” In the ranking of the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders, in which the countries of the world are listed according to the degree to which press freedom is achieved, Israel was ranked 101st out of 180 in 2016 (2013: 112th). This placed Israel in third place in the Middle East - after Tunisia and Lebanon. In 2019, Israel was ranked 88th.

In addition to the publishing press, there is extensive Israeli journalism in blogs, web forums and social networks. The website Haokets (“The Sting”), founded by professors Ishak Saporta and Yossi Dahan, has published articles in Hebrew and English since 2003. The author blog +972, which has existed since 2010, has also become known. Both are politically left-wing.


Newspaper market

Israel's newspaper market is very diverse. Israelis are considered interested newspaper readers; Overall, an average circulation of 600,000 copies is achieved. The main daily newspapers are published in Hebrew, although newspapers are also available in many other languages, including Arabic, English, Polish, French, Yiddish, Russian, Hungarian and German.



At the international level, most sports associations are now members of the European umbrella organizations (e.g. UEFA, ULEB, etc.), which is why Israeli teams take part in their competitions. Membership in Asian organizations was no longer possible due to boycott measures by Arab member associations.

Israel has some well-known sports clubs, especially in the sports of basketball and football, which are popular in the country and are also quite well known internationally. First and foremost is Maccabi Tel Aviv, whose basketball team won the European Cup in 1977, 1981, 2001 (SL), 2004, 2005 and 2014, and in football, according to the old organization, the Asian Cup of National Champions in 1968 and 1971.

Other well-known football clubs include Hapoel Tel Aviv, which was able to claim the Asian Cup of National Champions in 1967, Hapoel Petach Tikva, Maccabi Netanya, Maccabi Haifa, Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa.

Hapoel Jerusalem won the Union of European Leagues of Basketball ULEB Cup in 2004.

The Hapoel clubs belong to the Confédération Sportive Internationale du Travail, which organizes workers' and popular sports.

Special Olympics Israel was founded in 1985 and has participated in Special Olympics World Games several times. The association has announced its participation in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023 in Berlin. The delegation will be looked after by the Berlin district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg before the games as part of the Host Town Program.