US State Department says it strongly condemns Hezbollah attack on Israel Defense Forces; says it's a blatant violation of ceasefire between Lebanon, Israel; 'We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation'
Editor's note: In its first official statement today, Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the missile attack on Israeli military near the Israeli-Lebanon border, confirming earlier reports from journalists in the area. Last week, six Hezbollah soldiers were killed when Israel launched airstrikes on the Golan Heights, according to the Associated Press. It's unclear if this attack is retaliation for that one, but today's clashes underscore a recent uptick in activity along the contested borders. - Aaron
Editor's note: The situation is still mostly unclear, but early reports indicate an attack and possible kidnapping attempt on Israel Defense Forces at the Israeli-Lebanese border is underway. It's unclear who launched the attack near the border, and there are unconfirmed reports of IDF soldier injuries. I'm closely monitoring reports from journalists and officials in the region. - Aaron
Israel /ˈɪzreɪəl/, officially the State of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medīnat Yisrā'el, IPA: [mediˈnat jisʁaˈʔel] ( ); Arabic: دولة إِسرائيل, Dawlat Isrāʼīl, IPA: [dawlat ʔisraːˈʔiːl]), is a country in Western Asia, situated at the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian authority (or State of Palestine) comprising parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the east and southwest, respectively, and Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south. It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is the region's most populous city and Israel's designated capital, although Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is not recognized internationally.
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the partition plan of Mandatory Palestine. On 14 May 1948, 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," a state independent upon the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine, 15 May 1948. Neighboring Arab armies invaded the former Palestinian 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 (1956–1957, 1967–1982), part of South Lebanon (1982–2000), Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It annexed portions of these territories, including East Jerusalem, but the border with the West Bank is disputed. Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and with Jordan, but efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have so far not resulted in peace.
The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2014 to be 8,146,300 people. It is the world's only Jewish-majority state; 6,110,600 citizens, or 75.3% of Israelis, are Jewish, 61% of whom are of Mizrahi Jewish ancestry. The country's second largest group of citizens are designated as Arabs, with 1,686,000 people (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). The great majority of Israeli Arabs are settled Muslims, with smaller but significant numbers of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include Maronites, Samaritans, Dom people, Black Hebrew Israelites, other Sub-Saharan Africans, Armenians, Circassians, Roma and others. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia.
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 Israel's legislative body. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with the 43rd-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2012. The country has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the fifth highest in Asia, and has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.