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History of Israel

Present-day Israel has emerged as a result of a complex yet fascinating history. During the year 750 BC, the land was divided among several small kingdoms and city-states. One of them was the Kingdom of Israel which fell to the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC. They were occupied by the Assyrians for the following few centuries. Once the Assyrian capital Nineveh was conquered by the Babylonians the over-lordship of the Kingdom of Israel changed hands between the Babylonians and Egyptians. Eventually, Babylonians took over Israel and met with a revolt. The revolt was quickly quelled and much of the population was transferred to the capital city Babylon. They were eventually allowed to return to Israel once the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire.

After the conquest of Israel during Alexander the Great’s campaign in Asia, it was ruled first by the Ptolemaic dynasty then by the Seleucid. Anti-Hellenic sentiments lead to revolts and militias took control of Jerusalem in 164 BC. The Kingdom of Judea also became independent. Within a century the region was conquered by the Roman Empire. Revolts caused the Romans to take heavy-handed actions. Eventually, the Jews people spread across the empire. With the adoption of Christianity at the end of Roman Empire Jerusalem became a destination for Christian pilgrimage. With the rise of Islam in the 7th century, Jerusalem was conquered by the Muslim forces. Once the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia conquered the region in the 11th century the crusades started, leading to several confrontations between Christian and Muslim forces over Jerusalem. In the meantime, Jews people have seen both acceptance and persecution in Europe. The situation became intolerable when Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a state with huge Jews population, weakened during the mid-seventeenth century. In the wake of the attack against the Jews, the First Zionist Congress was held in Basel in 1897.

The Zionist Movement’s desire to establish a Jews homeland in Palestine met with fierce opposition from the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, during the First World War British minister of foreign affairs Arthur Balfour sought Jews support, promising a future Jews state in Palestine. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the war put Palestine under British mandate. After the war Jews immigration to Palestine increased, especially, with the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. Following the Second World War immigration to Palestine increased even further, creating tensions between Jews and Arabs. Overwhelmed by the situation, in 1947 Britain started handing over the territory to the United Nations (UN). UN tried to broker a deal between the Jews and Arabs but met with Arab rejection. The state of Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, once the British forces left Palestine. The Arab League immediately declared war against Israel. Eventually, an armistice was signed in 1949. Since then Israel has fought several wars against its Arab neighbors – 1956 Suez Crisis, 1967 Six-Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, South Lebanon Conflict (1985-2000), and 1982 Lebanon War. In addition, there are occasional conflicts and skirmishes with the Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the thorniest issues of the present-day world. Decades of the continued international effort to resolve this issue has not brought sustained peace between the two parties. Sixty years after the independence the State of Israel is still torn between two competing people claiming the same land as their rightful domicile – read article about cities of israel list.