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Near East Kingdoms

Levantine States

 

Israelites & Israel

Today's Israel and Palestine are irrevocably linked in terms of their history. The former was carved out of a large proportion of the already-expanded latter from 1948. Before that though lies four thousand years of history, sometimes recorded, sometimes alluded to, and sometimes a complete mystery. Unpicking it to establish a relatively stable story has been the work of decades, and even today there are differences of opinion regarding many of the details.

The region in which both names came to be created was Canaan, the long Mediterranean coast between ancient Syria and Egypt which today is known as the Levant. Various independent or united Semitic-speaking city states formed in this region from around 3000 BC onwards, reaching a peak of independent development in the second millennium BC. It was during the climate-induced social collapse of the late thirteenth century BC that both a state known as Israel and a region known as Palestine emerged, giving both terms similar founding dates (very approximately), with the Phoenicians emerging to the immediate north during the same period.

Then came the Jewish Diaspora and the age of great empires in the form of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Eastern Romans, Islam, and the Ottomans, until the twentieth century saw the most recent phase of empire-building come to an end and individual sovereign states emerge.

The term 'Israelite' is often used interchangeably with the terms 'Hebrew' and 'Jew', but these terms are not strictly interchangeable. The specific term 'Israelites', or 'people of Israel', is best used only for periods after the followers of Yahweh undertook their exodus from Egypt. It can also be used conveniently for the earlier period in which these people were subject to patriarchs (approximately between the eighteenth and sixteenth centuries BC).

The term loses its accuracy after the united kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon divided into the kingdoms of Samaria and Judah around 927 BC. The Old Testament tends usually to use the term 'Hebrew' for the entire period before 1000 BC, but it is best to avoid it here due to controversy surrounding its origins (regarding whether it descends from 'Eber', the ancestor of Abraham, or habiru, a general term for brigands and the dispossessed).

Phoenicians shifting cedarwood from shore to land

(Information by Peter Kessler and from the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information by Sean Bambrough & Wayne McCleese, from The Amarna Letters, William L Moran (1992), from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder (Gen Ed, 1986), from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F Unger (1957), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald Redford (Princeton University Press, 1992), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas.)

Modern Israel
AD 1948 - Present Day
Incorporating Heads of State (1948-2024)

Israel and Palestine are irrevocably linked in terms of modern history, with the former having been carved out of a large proportion of the latter in 1948. The modern state of Israel is situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and is neighboured by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the north-east, Jordan to the east - along with the Palestinian West Bank - Egypt to the south, and the Palestinian Gaza Strip to the south-west, along the Mediterranean coastline. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are all that remains of the former Mandate Palestine territory.

The region's history within the Near East goes back beyond the beginnings of local recorded history. Various independent or united city states in what was Canaan or Syria (the latter an approximate area which was larger than today's Syria) emerged into history in the second millennium BC.

A period of regional prosperity was ended by the late thirteenth century BC climate-induced social collapse. But this in turn made possible the formation of the early Israelite state, along with the city states of the Philistines and those of the Phoenicians.

Then came the age of great empires in the form of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Islam, until the twentieth century saw the modern age of empires come to an end and individual sovereign states emerge. By that time the Jewish Diaspora was at least two thousand five hundred years old.

With general support from Britain and the USA, on 29 November 1947 the United Nations adopted a resolution to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. British troops staunchly maintained their peacekeeping role until 1948, despite extreme provocation from militant Jewish groups which were intent on hurrying things along. As soon as the British ended their mandate duties on 14 May 1948, on the very same day leading Jewish figure David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of a Jewish state.

This allowed many populations of the Jewish diaspora to return to their ancestral homeland, safe in the knowledge that they had a welcome even though they would have to serve to protect it in the face of initially intense regional hostility. Such groups included members of the Ashkenazi Jews who had already been returning in large numbers since the end of the eighteenth century. The Beta Israel Jews returned, mainly from Ethiopia, while the Indian Jews had ended up diffusing through ancient Persia and into the Indian subcontinent.

Additionally, the Karaite Jews formed in the Near East. The term 'Mizrahi Jews' (alternatively 'Oriental Jews') began to be used to describe all eastern Jews in the Near East and North Africa. The Sephardi Jews had largely found safe places to live in France, Britain, and the USA well before the founding of modern Israel. Some groups had found their way eastwards in Europe to join Ashkenazi Jews, and those generally returned to Israel while the Western European groups generally remain in place to this day.

Today's Israel remains a small country which is surrounded by Arab nations. Its topography is diverse, ranging between a lengthy coastal plain to highlands in the north and central regions, and the Negev Desert in the south. Running the length of the country from north to south along its eastern border is the northern terminus of the Great Rift Valley which is a frequent source of tectonic activity across the entire region.

The massive influx of Jewish communities after 1948 and the willingness to undertake new professions served to super-charge Israel's economy in the late twentieth century. The new state also benefited greatly from generous contributions by wealthy Jewish groups elsewhere in the world, largely within the USA. Israel can boast one of the highest standards of living in the Near East, although Israeli Arabs generally find themselves at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.


The Arch of Titus

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information by Allan Rousso, from Palestine, Joshua J Mark (available via the Ancient History Encyclopaedia website), from Hammond Historical Atlas (Maplewood, New Jersey, 1963), from World News Tonight (BBC, screened 28 June 2007), from The Horizon History of the British Empire, Steven W Sears (Ed, American Heritage Publishing Co, 1973), from Times Atlas of World History (Maplewood, New Jersey, 1979), from World In Brief: Washington Post (29 June 2007), and from External Links: Jewish Encyclopaedia, and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), and Israel (Rulers.org), and Israel (Zárate's Political Collections (ZPC)), and Israeli air strikes kill at least 33 in Gaza Strip (The Guardian), and Israeli progressives on 'apartheid' (The Guardian), and Israeli coalition ousts Netanyahu (The Guardian), and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu comeback (The Guardian), and Mossad, and Israel-Hamas War (Encyclopaedia Britannica), and Two generals killed in Israeli strike on Syria consulate (The Guardian), and Iran launches hundreds of drones (The Guardian).)

1948

David Ben-Gurion

First chairmen of 'Provisional State Council' (14-17 May).

1948 - 1949

David Ben-Gurion makes his proclamation of the creation of the state of Israel on 14 May 1948, the last day of Britain's governance over Mandate Palestine. British troops are already pulling out, aware that the region is about to erupt into violence.

David Ben-Gurion and Harry Truman
David Ben-Gurion (right), Israel's first chairman of the 'Provisional State Council' in 1948 and also its first prime minister, chats to US President Harry Truman (left) and Abba Eban

On the following day the neighbouring Arab states of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria attack Israel, prompting the start of the Arab-Israeli War. Saudi Arabia sends its own military contingent to support the Egyptians. The war lasts for a year before a ceasefire is agreed.

The Green Line is established - temporary borders which can generally be agreed by all sides. Egypt gains the Gaza Strip while Jordan controls East Jerusalem and the West Bank region, but an estimated seven hundred thousand Palestinians have been expelled or have fled their homeland, mostly to enter southern Lebanon or Jordan.

During the war violent anti-Jewish riots had broken out in Morocco's Oujda and Djerada, with forty-four Jews being killed (part of the overall Mizrahi Jews grouping). Following the war's end a total of eighteen thousand Moroccan Jews leave the country for Israel. Further migrations follow but in much smaller numbers.

On 17 May 1948 David Ben-Gurion becomes the state of Israel's first prime minister. In the following year, on 17 February 1949, Chaim Weizmann is elected as the state's first president. Israel proclaims Jerusalem as its capital on 13 December 1949 (which is put into force on 23 January 1950), but most foreign embassies remain in Tel Aviv.

The modern state of Israel has been established.

Mohammed V of Morocco in 1955
The return of Mohammed V to Morocco in 1955 from his exile in Madagascar was a symbol of the country's growing independence, with full independence being granted in 1956

1948 - 1949

Chaim Weizmann

Chairman (May-Feb), but arrived in Israel 20 Sep 1948.

1948

Yosef Sprinzak

Acting chairman for Weizmann until his arrival.

1949

Israel offers a home for Jews of all groups, whatever their part in the Jewish Diaspora and whatever their history across the two millennia or more since their ancestors had departed the region. Some returnees prefer to settle in Lebanon, initially at least, with this still being a safe haven with protections for Jewish communities, but Israel has already doubled its Jewish population inside a year.

Ashkenazi Jews have already returned in large numbers whilst also entering the USA in equally sizeable numbers. The surviving Romaniote Jews do the same, dividing between Israel, Western Europe, and the USA. Sephardi Jews trickle back in some numbers, while still retaining large communities in Western Europe.

Indian Jews, Cochin Jews, Baghdadi Jews, and Bene Israel Jews also return home in heavy numbers, leaving their diaspora communities in India and China greatly reduced in size. The latter also largely loses its Chinese Jews, especially after the communist takeover in 1949. Karaite Jews return home in large numbers, but they still have sizeable communities in Turkey, across Europe, and in the USA.

Official declaration of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948
The white-haired, sixty-two year-old David Ben-Gurion proclaims the declaration of the creation of the state of Israel, doing so in the small art museum on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv in 1948

Around thirty-eight thousand Jews live in Libya in 1948. However, temporary Nazi occupation during the war has resulted in a generally lower tolerance of these communities after the war's end. Pogroms continue through 1948, but outwards migration is allowed in 1949, with around thirty thousand leaving Libya for Israel, approximately eighty percent of the entire Jewish population there.

A similar situation exists in Egypt, with the 1945 anti-Jewish riots in Cairo being a particularly dangerous low point. Following the war's conclusion around twenty thousand Jews leave Egypt to return to Israel.

1949 - 1952

Chaim Weizmann

First president of Israel. Died in office (Nov 1952).

1949 - 1950

In the same year in which Israel joins the United Nations (with this being enacted on 11 May 1949), it also launches 'Operation On Wings of Eagles', colloquially known as 'Operation Magic Carpet'. This sees the great majority of the Yemenite Jews rescued from constant persecution in Yemen. Between June 1949 and September 1950 it carries forty-nine thousand Yemenite Jews to the new state of Israel.

Founding of the United Nations
In San Francisco, USA, in summer 1945, representatives of fifty countries signed the United Nations charter to establish a new, international body which was tasked with upholding the human rights of citizens the world over

1951 - 1952

Operation Ezra and Nehemiah sees between 120,000-130,000 Iraqi Jews airlifted to Israel via Iran and Cyprus. This massive emigration is one of the last grand acts of modern Israel's formation period. It takes place during a one year window of opportunity in which Iraq permits a large-scale departure of its Jewish citizens, all part of the modern Mizrahi Jews classification. The operation is named after Ezra and Nehemiah, leaders of the Jewish second return from Babylon in 459 BC.

1952

Yosef Sprinzak

Interim president (Nov-Dec). Mapai.

1952 - 1963

Yitzhak Ben-Zvi

President (Dec-Apr). Mapai. Died in office.

1954

Attempting to free Algeria from French rule, the long and bloody Algerian War of Liberation begins with the National Liberation Army (FLN) fighting using guerrilla tactics. Non-Algerian communities begin to emigrate in large numbers, whether Muslims, Christians, or Jews. Many of the latter prefer France, although a sizable number do end up in Israel.

1955 - 1956

Jewish migration back to Israel peaks at about seventy-five thousand in all, just as Morocco achieves independence. Such migration is banned in 1956, but around eighteen thousand Mizrahi Jews still find their way out.

French tanks in Algeria in 1954
French tanks patrolled the roads in Algeria from the start of the Algerian War in 1954, this unit being pictured near Blida, where they hunted guerrilla bands in the hills

Tunisia takes no steps against emigrating members of the Jewish Diaspora, having had a relatively stable and prosperous relationship with them. However, Tunisian independence in 1956 certainly does turn a small emigration into a much larger exodus to Israel so that, by 2022, the Jewish population in the country is minimal.

1956 - 1957

Israel occupies the Sinai peninsula as part of its efforts against Egypt in the Suez Crisis. While its objectives are achieved as part of an agreement with France and Britain, Israel is pressured into withdrawing by the United Nations and even more especially by the USA, which fails to support any of its allies in this affair.

UN peacekeepers are positioned in the Sinai to act as a buffer between Israel and Egypt. Immediately after the conclusion of the crisis, migration spikes in Egypt's Jewish Diaspora, leaving an increasingly small community of Oriental Jews behind it as it heads to Israel.

1961

With Israel's Mossad agency secretly agitating within Morocco to end the migration ban on Jews, Operation Janchin is financially backed by a US-based Jewish organisation. The fifty million dollars of funding they supply helps to organise undercover migration out of Morocco. The Moroccan king abandons the ban with the result that over seventy thousand Jews leave in the next three years.

Isser Harel, head of Mossad, 1952-1963
Isser Harel, head of Mossad between 1952-1963, had been born in Byelorussia - then part of the Russian empire - before emigrating at the age of eighteen to pre-statehood Israel when it was still British Mandate Palestine

1962

Algeria wins independence from France, in a fight which has cost the lives of more than a million Algerians. The Algerian state is proclaimed on 3 July 1962, but Algeria's democracy is often hard-line and dictatorial in nature. The country's remaining Jewish community is not permitted citizenship, so it promptly abandons Algeria wholesale, dividing itself largely between France and Israel.

1963

Kadish Luz

Interim president (Apr-May). Mapai.

1963 - 1973

Shneour Zalman Shazar

President (from May). Mapai / Labour Party (Avoda).

1964

Displaced Arab Palestinians create various resistance groups, the most important of which is the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), which is committed to restoring the former Palestine. Its most famous chairman is Yasser Arafat (1969-2004).

1967

Amid ever-increasing tensions and acrimonious relations with Israel, Egypt expels the UN peacekeepers from the Sinai and announces a partial blockade of Israel's access to the Red Sea. Expecting further military action, several Arab states begin to mobilise their troops. Israel sees this as reason enough to launch a pre-emptive attack against Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, triggering the Six Day War.

Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad, around the time of his sudden rise to power in Syria of 1970 as part of the 'Corrective Revolution'

Jordan loses the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, a third of the kingdom, while Israel also gains the Golan Heights and the ancient region of Bashan from Syria, and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and also temporarily occupies the Sinai peninsula for a second time. However, the state suffers heavy losses during the short campaign, and public anger forces the prime minister to resign.

1972

Regulations on immigration are loosened in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This allows massive numbers of Bukharan Jews to leave, with Israel or the USA generally their selected destination. By the 1990s the region has almost exhausted its centuries-old Jewish Diaspora communities.

1973 - 1978

Ephraim Katzir

President. Avoda. Died 2009.

1973 - 1975

The Yom Kippur War (alternatively known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1973) sees the combined forces of Egypt and Syria simultaneously attack Israel during its highest holiday. Jordan does not actively participate in the conflict as it is still licking the wounds it had suffered in 1967.

The Yom Kippur War of 1973
Israeli artillery fires on Syrian positions during the brief but decisive Yom Kippur War or Arab-Israeli War of 1973, with this action taking place on 12 October 1973

The Syrian army is held and repulsed by the Israelis while the Egyptian armies take longer to pin back. The war ends in an imposed ceasefire, supported by the USA (backers of the Israelis) and the Soviet Union (supporting the Arab forces) as tension rises between the two superpowers.

The war results in the 'Oil Crisis of 1973-1975'. This grips the industrialised world when the Arab oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, put pressure on the USA to withdraw its support of Israel by withholding oil supplies. The attempt eventually fails.

1976

The 'Raid on Entebbe' takes place on 1July 1976 when Israeli commandos daringly rescue 102 hostages who are being held by PLO guerrillas at Uganda's Entebbe International Airport.

1978 - 1983

Yitzhak Rachamim Navon

President. Avoda. Born in Jerusalem. Died 2015.

1980

The Israeli parliament passes an act entitled The Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, otherwise known as the Jerusalem Law. It seems to suggest that Israelis can settle the occupied West Bank at will, and some political commentators certainly take it that way (as do later and frequent government actions).

The Lebanese Civil War of 1982
The Lebanese Civil War took place between 1975-1990 and claimed the lives of some two hundred thousand people, while leaving Lebanon in ruins

1982

The Lebanon War of 1982, which Israel labels 'Operation Peace for Galilee', is later known in Israel as the First Lebanon War. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) invade southern Lebanon in response to a series of attacks and counter-attacks across the border between them and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

The IDF use as an excuse the attempted assassination of Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom. When the Israeli-installed Lebanese president, Bachir Gemayel, is assassinated in September 1982, Israeli hopes of a beneficial peace treaty fade rapidly.

Israel withdraws from the increasing mess of what has become the Lebanese Civil War. Now the remnants of several militant groups fight each other, some being backed by the PLO and others by Syria.

1983 - 1993

Chaim Herzog

President. Avoda. Died 1997.

1991

Thanks to behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by the newly-elected president of the Russian republic, Boris Yeltsin, on Christmas Day 1991 the USSR's President Gorbachev announces the termination of the Soviet communist state. The Soviet republics become independent sovereign states, while millions of ethnic Russians suddenly find themselves living in foreign countries, and large numbers of Jews suddenly opt to emigrate to Israel.

First Gulf War 1990-1991
Following its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Iraqi forces suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the popular alliance which removed it, but Kuwait itself also suffered damage which took time to repair

At the same time, large numbers of Georgian Jews and Mountain Jews emigrate from independent Georgia to create communities in Israel. Over subsequent years these disparate communities gradually integrate into Israel's general population.

In the same year Syria joins the US-led First Gulf War to oust Iraq from its occupation of Kuwait. Additionally, following the 'Madrid Conference' to reignite the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the USA pressures Syria to ease its extremely tight restrictions on its Jewish Diaspora community.

In the following year Syria does so, allowing exit visas to be granted on the condition that holders do not emigrate to Israel. The country's several thousand Jews head mainly for the US and a large Syrian Jewish community in South Brooklyn, New York. Others head for France and Turkey. Only a handful of Jews remain in Syria, mainly older people.

Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat
The famous handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat (right) in 1993, overseen by US President Bill Clinton, seemed to presage a new beginning in Palestine, but Rabin's assassination in 1995 soured matters

1993 - 2000

Ezer Weizman

President. Avoda. Died 2005.

1993

Under Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation recognises Israel's right to exist in peace and rejects terrorism, in return for which Israel officially recognises the PLO as the official representative of those Palestinians who still live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Displaced Palestinians have already recognised Israel's existence (in 1988).

1996

Two years after the formation of the 'Palestinian Authority', the semi-autonomous state of Palestine is set up by a joint Israeli/Palestinian/US deal. The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 by a hard-line Israeli has served as a wake-up call to moderate Israelis, and they have provided a groundswell of support for the deal.

1999

Persecution of the Falashas in Ethiopia has steadily increased, so Israel begins covert airlifts of Falasha populations, taking them back to their homeland. Despite attempts by the Ethiopian government to put a halt to this, the airlift is completed by 1999 with all of the Falashas being removed to Israel. This is perhaps the final organised action to end the Jewish Diaspora, with other overseas communities largely happy to remain where they are.

Falasha synagogue in Ethiopia
Falasha Jews lived for centuries as the subjects of Axum and its successors and, while today most have left for Israel, some communities still remain

2000

Avraham Burg

Interim president (Jul-Aug). Knesset speaker. Avoda.

2000 - 2007

Moshe Katsav

President (Aug-1 July). Consolidation (Likud).

2006

With Lebanon more stable than at any time in a generation, Israel launches a military attack on 12 July, which lasts for a month and seriously damages the country. The Second Lebanon War is caused primarily by Palestinian militants firing rockets at Israeli targets from inside Lebanon, but the war is a military and political disaster for Israel.

2007

Dalia Itzik

Female interim president (1-15 Jul). Kadima.

2007 - 2014

Shimon Peres

President (from 15 Jul). Former prime minister. Kadima.

2008

Towards the end of the year, Israel enters into the Gaza War after a ceasefire collapses between it and the militant Palestinian group Hamas. The fighting last for three weeks and leaves the Gaza Strip devastated. Israel announces a unilateral ceasefire, while Hamas announces a ceasefire of its own, opening the border crossings and withdrawing its militant forces.

Gaza War of 2008
Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead' - the Gaza War of 2008 - launched a brutal operation which seemingly worried highly about potential IDF casualties and not in the least about random Palestinian casualties

2014 - 2021

Reuven Rivlin

President. Former minister & speaker. Likud.

2021 - On

Isaac Herzog

President. First Israel-born incumbent. Avoda.

2021

A week of heavy bombardment of Gaza by Israel takes place, but with the unusual circumstance of opposing Hamas rockets being longer-range and more penetrative than previously, at least when they can get past the Israeli air and missile defences.

The conflict is triggered by Israeli attempts to forcibly evict Palestinians from their own homes in East Jerusalem so that Israelis can be settled there, along with aggressive Israeli police clashes near the al-Aqsa mosque during the Palestinian holy month of Ramadan.

Just a month later, in June, long-term right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is officially ousted by a coalition of eight political parties. This opposition, which has united specifically to remove Netanyahu, includes a centrist former TV anchor, a far-right foe of Netanyahu's, and even a small Arab Islamist party of Palestinian citizens of Israel, the first time an Arab minority party has formed part of any Israeli government.

Gaza War of 2008
Hanadi tower in Gaza City was one of the victims, along with any inhabitants, of a heavy-handed retaliatory strike by the IDF following a series of rocket attacks on Israel, the majority of which were stopped by Israel's defensive air and missile shield

2022

By June 2022 internal disagreements within the new ruling coalition leads to the Knesset being dissolved and fresh elections being called. Issues surrounding the potential dilution of Jewish state identity dominate the run-up to the elections.

Once again, the elections are fought to a large degree on the subject of whether the far-right Benjamin Netanyahu, still on trial for corruption, is fit for office.

Israel's left-wing and pro-Arab-rights parties are left licking their wounds when it turns out that he is, and with a comfortable majority. The outlook for a two-state peace process and even Palestinian cultural and linguistic survival on the West Bank both look bleak.

2023 - 2024

Ever more politically isolated and hardline, Benjamin Netanyahu has seemed intent on alienating even his closer allies. A new Israel-Hamas War is triggered on 7 October 2023 when Palestinian militants strike from an ever-increasingly desperate situation in Gaza.

A destroyed Khan Younis in 2024
Khan Younis as seen after the conclusion of Israel's fighting in this southern city, with those Palestinians who have survived a death toll of at least 33,000 since October 2024 now 'allowed to return to their homes'

Aided by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas launches a land, sea, and air assault on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The attack results in more than twelve hundred deaths, primarily Israeli citizens, making it the deadliest day for Israel since its independence. Over 240 are taken hostage. Netanyahu declares a state of war on the following day.

The Hamas strike has been brutal, merciless, and bloody, but so is Israel's response. The IDF conducts air raids on Gaza, and a 'complete siege' which locks in Hamas fighters and innocent civilians alike. IDF forces enter Gaza by the end of October in a deliberately slow, calculated, and methodical process of full destruction of what it considers to be legitimate targets (which includes hospitals). This leads to further international alienation for Netanyahu.

Violence against Palestinians (and some IDF strikes) also takes place in the West Bank. With Iran assumed to be coordinating opposition, Houthis in Yemen launch drone and missile strikes against southern Israel, while Hezbollah in Lebanon initiates limited actions against Israel's north.

Anti-war protestors in Israel in 2024
Thousands of Israeli citizens (perhaps as many as a hundred thousand) staged a demonstration on 6 April 2024 which demanded Benjamin Netanyahu's resignation and fresh elections

2024

Already embroiled in a war it can never really win, Israel makes the mistake of destroying the Iranian consulate in Damascus on Monday 1 April 2024. This kills at least eleven people, including Brigadier-General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in the al-Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Iran's considered response comes on 13 April 2024 when it launches its first-ever direct strike against Israel. More than three hundred drones and missiles are fired at the country, bringing a years-long shadow war into the open and threatening to draw the region into a broader conflagration.

By far the majority of missiles are shot down by Israel's own 'Iron Dome' defence, along with US naval help from the Mediterranean, and some UK and Jordanian back-up work, but the message is clear. Iran considers the matter of its assassinated general to be closed - unless Netanyahu refuses to let it lie.

Iran strikes at Israel with missiles and drones
Israel's 'Iron Dome' protective shield took down the majority of inbound Iranian missiles and drones, with some international help, but a few got through to damage an airbase

 
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