Israel – National Geographic Kids

Posted By on May 15, 2023

The story of modern Israel begins more than 3,500 years ago. Most Israelis are Jews, who are said to be descended from the biblical figure Abraham, through his son Isaac. They were originally a group of tribes known as Israelites. Abraham led the Israelites from Mesopotamia (now the country of Iraq) to the Judean Hills of what was then called Canaan. However, a famine later forced the Israelites to move to Egypt before Moses led them back in 1250 B.C.

The returning Israelites fought for 200 years for control of Canaan. Their main enemies were the Philistines, a powerful tribe from Crete, a Greek island, that settled along the southern coast of Canaan. The modern name for the Arabs living in the region today comes from the word "philistine": Palestinian. In 1006 B.C., King Saul united the Israelite tribes but was ultimately defeated by Philistines.

Later, Sauls son-in-law, David, eventually overcame the Philistines and conquered Jerusalem. Davids son, King Solomon, is known for building the famous temple at Jerusalem. It became the center of the Jewish religion.

Following Solomons death, the Israelites split in two small kingdoms. One called Israel, was located in the north of what is now Galilee and the West Bank. The second kingdom, called Judah, was located in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is considered a holy city by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. This city is the historical hub of all three religions and faithful followers of each religion have fought over it. Jews believe the Messiah will one day appear here, Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven from here, and Christians believe this is where Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

After the Nazi takeover of many countries in Europe, the Jews who were able to leave needed a new home. Many went to Israel. The State of Israel was created after Israel fought six wars with its Arab neighbors and the British left Palestine in 1948.In 1967, after the Six Day War, Israel took control of Arab areas of Palestine which included the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai, and the Golan Heights. The areas became known as the Occupied Territories. To secure peace, Israel in 1982 ended its occupation of the Sinai Peninsula and returned the land to Egypt.

Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing it in 1967Syria still claims this territory.A Palestinian rebellion, called an intifada, began in 1987 and took hundreds of lives before negotiations resulted in a 1993 accord that granted Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho. The Israeli military withdrew from all West Bank cities by 1997and also left southern Lebanon in 2000. After peace talks failed another intifada started in September 2000, and most of the West Bank was reoccupied by 2002.

Text adapted from the National Geographic book Countries of the World: Israel by Emma Young

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Israel - National Geographic Kids

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