Editor's note: In its report on the alleged Israeli attack on a Hezbollah convoy in Syria, the Times of Israel notes that this is not the first such incident attributed to the Israeli Air Force. Israeli, the paper notes, has vowed to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining 'game-changing' arms and in particular advanced anti-aircraft systems of chemical weapons. - Tom
Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld: Police complete operations of 5 days dealing with fires across country, including international air support of 19 airplanes from 10 countries - @MickyRosenfeld
Israel (/ˈɪzreɪəl/; Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵלYisrā'el; Arabic: إِسْرَائِيل Isrāʼīl), officially known as the State of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵלMedīnat Yisrā'el[mediˈnat jisʁaˈʔel]; Arabic: دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل Dawlat Isrāʼīl[dawlat ʔisraːˈʔiːl]), is a country in the Middle East, on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's financial and technology center is Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is the proclaimed capital, although Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally unrecognized.
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine. This specified borders for new Arab and Jewish states and an area of Jerusalem which was to be administered by the UN under an international regime. The end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on 14 May 1948. That day, David Ben-Gurion, the executive head of the Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel", which would start to function from the termination of the mandate. The borders of the new state were not specified in the declaration. Neighboring Arab armies invaded the former British mandate on the next day and fought the Israeli forces. Israel has since fought several wars with neighboring Arab states, in the course of which it has occupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula (1956–57, 1967–82), part of Southern Lebanon (1982–2000), Gaza Strip (1967–2005; still considered occupied after 2005 disengagement) and the Golan Heights. It extended its laws to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in peace. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have successfully been signed. Israel's occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the world's longest military occupation in modern times.
The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2016 to be 8,541,000 people. It is the world's only Jewish-majority state, with 6,388,800 citizens, or 74.8%, being designated as Jewish. The country's second largest group of citizens are Arabs, numbering 1,775,400 people (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). The great majority of Israeli Arabs are Sunni Muslims, including significant numbers of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include Arameans, Assyrians, Samaritans, Armenians, Circassians, Dom people, Maronites and Vietnamese. The Black Hebrew Israelites are subject to a slow process of deeper integration, but are still in their majority permanent residents rather than citizens. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia, including illegal migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and other Sub-Saharan Africans.
In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state. Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage. The prime minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as the legislature. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with the 35th-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2015. The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with the one of the highest percentage of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. The country has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the third highest in Asia, and has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.