Featured Events From May:
- 18 May, 1860 (10 Iyar, 5620): Herzel Day
- 14 May, 1948 (5 Iyar, 5708): independance day
- 13 May, 1948 (4 Iyar, 5708): Gush Etzion-captivated
- 14 May, 1948 (5 Iyar, 5708): Yom Ha'atzmaut
- 18 May, 1965 (16 Iyar, 5725): Eli Cohen-executed
Ivri Date: 5 Iyar, 5708
English Date: 14 May, 1948
Israel Medinat Yisra'el; , is a country in Southwest Asia located on the southeastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It has borders with Lebanon in the north, Syria and Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. The West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are partially administrated by the Palestinian National Authority, are also adjacent. With a population of about 7.2 million, the majority of whom are Jews, Israel is the world's only Jewish state. It is also home to Arab Muslims, Christians and Druze, as well as other religious and ethnic minority groups. Jerusalem is the nation's capital, seat of government, and largest city.
In 1947, the British government withdrew from commitment to the Mandate of Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews. The newly-created United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, dividing the country into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. Jerusalem was to be designated an international city – a corpus separatum – administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status. The Jewish community accepted the plan, but the Arab League and Arab Higher Committee rejected it.
Regardless, the State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, one day before the expiry of the British Mandate for Palestine. Not long after, five Arab countries – Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq – attacked Israel, launching the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. After almost a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders, known as the Green Line, were instituted. Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations on May 11, 1949. During the course of the hostilities, 711,000 Arabs, according to UN estimates, fled from Israel. The fate of the Palestinian refugees today is a major point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the early years of the state, the Labor Zionist movement led by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion dominated Israeli politics. These years were marked by mass immigration of Holocaust survivors and Jews fleeing Arab lands; the population rose from 800,000 to two million between 1948 and 1958. Most arrived as refugees with no possessions and were housed in temporary camps known as ma'abarot. By 1952, over two hundred thousand immigrants were living in these tent cities. The need to solve the crisis led Ben-Gurion to sign a reparations agreement with West Germany that triggered mass protests by Jews angered at the idea of Israel "doing business" with Germany.
During the 1950s, Israel was frequently attacked by Arab fedayeen, mainly from the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip. In 1956, Israel joined a secret alliance with Great Britain and France aimed at recapturing the Suez Canal, which the Egyptians had nationalized (see the Suez Crisis). Despite capturing the Sinai Peninsula, Israel was forced to retreat due to pressure from the United States and the Soviet Union in return for guarantees of Israeli shipping rights in the Red Sea and the Canal.
At the start of the following decade, Israel captured Adolf Eichmann, an implementer of the Final Solution hiding in Argentina, and brought him to trial. The trial had a major impact on public awareness of the Holocaust and to date Eichmann remains the only person sentenced to death by Israeli courts.