Israel is the Middle East’s most industrialized country, but the level of development varies greatly between different industries.
Collective agriculture has focused on small-scale industry related to agriculture, but production of completely different products exists today. One example is the plastics industry at Kibbutz Galed in northern Israel. The techniques used in agriculture – both irrigation and fertilizer production – have laid the foundation for several successful companies.
The high-tech industry, largely due to the needs of the armed forces, drives the Israeli economy. US Defense Headquarters The Pentagon confirmed 2019 plans to buy Israeli robotics. Israel’s defense ministry also issued clear signs for the export of short-range robots of a type used by Israel in the air defense system called the Iron Dome (see Foreign Policy and Defense). Already during the build-up phase, the United States has partnered with state-owned Israeli manufacturer Rafael and funded part of the project. The system uses partially American components.
The state aerospace and defense industry group Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has both civilian and military customers and the majority of its production is exported. For the Israeli Defense Forces, in collaboration with American Boeing, an air defense system is manufactured with Arrow robots that will be able to shoot down enemy robots at high altitude. Modernization and rebuilding of aircraft for new purposes is a growing market.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Israel. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
A number of new IT companies are being started, so many that it is argued that one must go to Silicon Valley in the US to find more. US and Chinese technology giants such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Huawei have research and development departments in Israel. In March 2020, in the midst of the ongoing coronary pandemic, it was reported that some 70 companies were developing apps that could be used when society mobilized against the spread of infection. Someone who talked early on, and was not completely uncontroversial, was given the name HaMagen (“The Shield”). It was put into use by Israeli health authorities to, based on users’ location data, be able to alert for a known infection case in the vicinity.
Pharmaceuticals and medical technology – as well as the defense industry strongly linked to investments in research – have also been successfully developed. By far the biggest is the pharmaceutical company Teva, which among other things manufactures a best-selling agent for the disease multiple sclerosis. Teva is mostly focused on generics. These are drugs that can replace drugs that have previously been protected by patents(trademark protection) because they contain the same active substances. Teva is one of several drug companies that received criticism in the United States, where extensive legal prescription of painkillers for patients has led to widespread opioid abuse and legal processes. In March 2020, when the world was shaken by the pandemic, Teva was one of the pharmaceutical companies in the world that promised free distribution of a drug against malaria, which experts hope will be able to help fight covid-19 disease.
Criticism against national state law in new party
Former Army Chief Benny Gantz registers a new party and sails up as serious challenger to Prime Minister Netanyahu ahead of the April election. In his first statements as party leader, Gantz makes clear that the new National State Act should be amended to better include the country’s minorities. He notices that message not least to Druser, who serves in the defense force and has criticized the law. The party’s slogan is “Israel above all”. In mid-January, an opinion poll on TV gives the party 13 of the 120 seats of the kness.
Parliamentary elections will be held in April
The government decides to dissolve the kness and announce new elections until April 9. The election was scheduled to be held in November. Prime Minister Netanyahu says he wants a clear mandate from voters to govern the country in a coalition similar to today’s. The opposition welcomes the new election message.
Israel votes against UN migration agreement
When the UN General Assembly ratifies an international agreement on migration aimed at establishing legal and safe ways to migrate, Israel is one of five countries voting against the agreement. The agreement is not binding on the member states, for example it does not entail any quotas for refugee reception.
Hezbollah is pointed out for border tunnels
The UN is reviewing Israeli data that Lebanese Hezbollah has dug tunnels below the border between the countries. UN peacekeepers find tunnels, but no exits in Israeli territory. Equally, the tunnels are considered to be a border violation. Two out of four tunnels extend south of the “blue line”, a demarcation line between the countries drawn up by the UN in 2000 when Israel’s retreat from southern Lebanon, after 18 years of occupation, was confirmed. The tunnels violate a UN resolution that ended the war fought between Israel and Lebanon in 2006.
Connection to norms against money laundering
Israel joins the Working Group on Financial Actions, in English abbreviation FATF. It is an intergovernmental body to counter money laundering and terrorist financing. The membership recognizes that Israel has increased its efforts in this area. When FATF first blacklisted countries in 2000 that did not address the problems or wanted to cooperate, Israel was included in the list.
Yet another prosecution of Netanyahu
Police investigators recommend that the Prosecutor prosecute Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara in a bout that revolves around telecommunications company Bezeq. The couple is suspected of having promised Bezeq benefits in exchange for positive publicity on a news site owned by the company. Decisions on whether Netanyahu is prosecuted should also be made in two other cases (see February 13 and June 21).
Torpedoing of refugee vessels documented
An Israeli submarine accidentally dropped a ship with refugees in 1982, according to a program in state-run Israeli television. The refugees tried to escape the war in Lebanon, but 25 people lost their lives. Israel had entered Lebanon at the time to expel the PLO and the submarine captain believed the ship had Palestinian guerrillas on board. The information is taken from documents that had previously been secretly stamped by Israel’s military censorship. Opinions are divided as to whether the torpedo was a crime and whether the Israeli Defense Forces intentionally darkened the incident.
Jail for false threats
An American-Israeli man at the age of 20 is sentenced to ten years in prison for perpetrating more than 2,000 threats against Jewish institutions in a number of countries. For several years he threatened with bombs or other assaults on schools, meeting rooms, shopping venues and aviation. The result was widespread fear of anti-Semitic terror. The court says it has taken into account that the man is not fully recovered – the penalty would otherwise have been 17 years in prison.
The Interior Minister is being threatened by prosecution
20th of November
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who is also the leader of the Shas party, is suspected of, among other things, tax evasion, money laundering and fraud. Prosecutions should be brought against him, recommends the police and the tax authorities, who have investigated the charges. In 2000, Deri was sentenced to three years in prison for bribery. Now, as then, some of the crimes must have been committed while he was Minister of the Interior.
Housing services in political hot air
20th of November
Settlers are upset that the American site Airbnb, which is booking accommodation in private housing, has decided not to list rentals offered in Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank. Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls on other booking companies to note, pointing out that Palestinians are discriminated against: they are not accepted as guests. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, for its part, calls for a boycott of Airbnb. A few days later, representatives of the settlers sue Airbnb at a Jerusalem court to try to force the site to change the decision.
Marking clearer US support for Israel
The United States votes for the first time against an annual resolution in the UN General Assembly condemning Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967. The occupation has never had international support, but the United States has been milder in its criticism of Israel than other countries. Until now, the United States has always cast its vote instead of voting for Israel’s line.
Christian becomes Israeli ambassador
Israel has for the first time appointed a Christian diplomat as ambassador. George Deek becomes Ambassador to Azerbaijan in 2019. He is a lawyer and educated at Georgetown University in Washington. Israel has some cooperation in the military with the regime in Azerbaijan.
Armistice and defection
An armistice is announced between Israel and Hamas following the recent outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip. In protest, Avigdor Lieberman leaves the post of defense minister. He opposes Israeli agreements with the Islamist movement, which has local power in Gaza. Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu also leaves the Netanyahu government, which without that party has a single majority vote in parliament.
Invasion of the Gaza Strip triggers a spiral of violence
An Israeli elite force enters the southern Gaza Strip in a civilian vehicle. The action is aimed at a commander of the Islamist Hamas armed branch. Shotgun exchanges. Seven Palestinians and one of the Israeli military lose their lives. The incident triggers a rain of over 400 grenades from militant Palestinians against Israel and Israeli aerial bombings against 150 targets in Gaza.
Palestinians boycott local elections
In occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinians have the right to participate in Israel’s local elections, but most seem to boycott the election in protest. There is, however, a list of Arab candidates, topped by Ramadan Dabash who is a construction engineer and twelve grandchildren. He has Israeli citizenship, as few of the 300,000 Arabs in East Jerusalem have. He also has a background in the Israeli right-wing Likud, which is not popular with Palestinians.
Police action at Drusian polling station
Elections are held for the municipal council and mayor posts, every five years. In order to increase voter turnout, the election day has been made a public holiday. Haifa gets its first female mayor in architect Einat Kalisch Rotem. In Jerusalem, a decisive round must be held on November 13 on the mayor’s post. Some of the drones on the Golan Heights who are allowed to participate for the first time protest with Syrian flags and police are deployed to lift a polling booth in Majdal Shams. At two of four Druze polls, the election is canceled because there are no candidates (see October 26).
Israeli visits to the emirate
Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev visits a mosque in the United Arab Emirates. She talks about the visit to Abu Dhabi’s largest mosque as the first at ministerial level – Israel does not have full diplomatic relations with the Emirates. In Abu Dhabi, Israel’s national anthem is also played at a judo tournament, also a rarity. At the same time, an Israeli delegation participates in an IT conference in the Emirate of Dubai and looks openly. Prime Minister Netanyahu has long sought an approach to Arab countries that, like Israel, are critical of Iran (see October 25).
Criticism of elections during occupation
Ahead of municipal elections to be held on October 30, the waves of discussion are high among the Druse. The residents of the Golan Heights, which Israel entered from Syria in 1967, will be allowed to vote for the first time in 50 years. Druser has requested the right to vote to elect his own representatives instead of having local governing bodies appointed by Israel. At the same time there has been a campaign for boycott against the election and a number of candidates have withdrawn. Critical votes believe that the right to vote they have been granted is only a measure that legitimizes the Israeli occupation. Only people who have Israeli citizenship are allowed to run for office.
Surprising visit to Israel in Oman
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Oman and meets Sultan Qabus. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations and it is believed to be over 20 years since they last had high-level contacts. During the year, Netanyahu let him understand that he envisions that Israel’s path to peace with the Palestinians can go through improved relations with Arab countries. After the Oman meeting, it is said that the peace issue has been discussed. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has also visited Oman during the week. Israel is also reported to want to discuss a rail link between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, from Haifa via Saudi Arabia to Oman.
Jordan wants to end Israeli land lease
Jordan wants the two land areas Ghumar and Baqura from Israel. Ghumar is located in southwestern Jordan, at Aqaba next to the Red Sea. Baqura is located in the northwest, in the Irbid province at the border with Israel. Ghumar was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and Baqura in 1950. Since the 1994 peace treaty, Israel has leased the areas, a total of ten square kilometers, on 25-year contracts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes for new negotiations to extend land ownership.
US closes consulate in Jerusalem
The United States closes its Consulate General in Jerusalem, which handles Palestinian affairs and allows the new Israeli embassy to take over the handling of matters relating to the Palestinian territories. Palestinian representatives see the decision as another sign that the United States no longer supports a two-state solution. “The Trump administration is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” said PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erakat, who is also a longtime peace negotiator (see May 14).
HD lets students in the country
The Supreme Court in Israel decides that an American-Palestinian student must be admitted into the country. Lara Alqasem has been admitted to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and landed on October 2, but she has been denied entry with reference to a contentious law from 2017. According to the law, a person can be refused entry if she supports boycotts against Israel based on how Palestinians are treated. Lara Alqasem was previously chair of a student association at the University of Florida within the Students for Justice in Palestine organization.
The Prime Minister’s wife is on trial
A lawsuit has been opened against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara, who is suspected of several crimes involving public misconduct. According to the prosecution, she has allowed the state to pay catering food for large amounts, which is against the rules when the manager has a chef employed. Sara Netanyahu risks imprisonment.
The UN is patrolling at the Golan Heights again
A border crossing between Israel and Syria is about to be opened after UN observer force Undof was able to resume patrolling at the Golan Heights. Undof was placed in the area in 1974 to monitor a standstill line between Syria and Israel, occupying the Golan Heights. The observers withdrew in 2014 when al-Qaeda- affiliated rebels, opponents of the Assad regime, took control near the separation line. During the 2018 offensive, the Assad regime has taken the area back from the rebels. The border crossing has previously been used mainly by druses living in Israel.
New express train line completed
A newly built express train line between Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem opens. It will eventually reach the city of Tel Aviv and halve the travel time on the six miles between the two cities. The project has been estimated to cost SEK 20 billion with a series of tunnels and bridges through the hilly landscape.
Russia strengthens Assad to protect itself
Following the incident when a Russian plane was shot down by its own fire – Syrian air defense misinterpreted both Russian and Israeli aircraft movements – Russia’s defense minister announces that Russian aircraft in the eastern Mediterranean should be protected in several ways. The Syrian air defense is being reinforced with new robots, and disruption of satellite navigation, on-board radar and communications should be directed at military aircraft that attack targets in Syria. As a result, Syrians should be able to more easily recognize Russian planes and Israeli ones, which they aim to shoot down. In Israel, accused of warning late and deliberately stating the wrong position in connection with the shooting, Prime Minister Netanyahu says: “Israel will continue to protect its security and interests.”
Russian plan shot down – criticism of Israel
Syrian air defense accidentally shoots down a Russian military aircraft with 15 people aboard the Mediterranean. No one survives. The plane was a few miles from the Syrian coast and on its way to the air base Russia disposes of in Syria. The shooting is reported to have occurred at the same time as Israeli fighter planes attacked Syrian targets in the city of Latakia, and Russia holds Israel responsible for not issuing a clear warning. Prime Minister Netanyahu promises in a speech to President Putin that Israel will be involved in an investigation into the incident. SOHR states that Israel’s attack was aimed at ammunition stocks.
Paraguay regrets Jerusalem decision
Paraguay’s newly appointed President Mario Abdo Benítez announces that the country’s Israeli embassy will be moved back to Tel Aviv, just a few months after it followed the US in its tracks and moved its mission to Jerusalem. Israel replies with the message that the Israeli embassy in Paraguay will be closed (see December 6, 2017).
Israel’s HD: Beduin Village gets demolished
The Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for demolishing the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on the West Bank, which is close to Israeli settlements a few miles from Jerusalem. HD refuses attempts to prevent the demolition, as housing is considered the black building. From the Palestinian side, it is claimed that it is impossible to obtain a building permit on the land, which Israel occupies (see May 24, 2018).
Israel confirms attack on Syria
Israeli armed forces have carried out more than 200 attacks against targets in Syria over the course of a year and a half, an Israeli military source confirmed to AFP news agency. Most of the targets, according to the source, are related to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is involved in the Syrian war on the part of the Assad regime. About 800 robots and bombs have been used.
Court approves settlement outpost
A district court in Jerusalem legalizes settler outpost Mitzpe Carmit set up on private Palestinian land near the city of Ramallah on the West Bank. The Jerusalem District Court prohibits the army from evacuating the outpost. This is the first time a court has made such a decision and it violates the Supreme Court’s traditional stance on these issues, that is, settlements on private Palestinian land that have not been approved by the state must be demolished. However, the district court’s conduct is in line with the land law passed in February 2017, but which was put on ice by the Supreme Court in August of the same year. The Supreme Court is still considering whether or not the Land Act can be approved.
Israel changes gun laws
21th of August
It will be easier for civilians to acquire weapons in Israel. Today, there are 140,000 civilian weapons licenses, the change in the law gives an additional 600,000, who are combat trained in the infantry, the opportunity to apply. According to Minister of Security Gilad Erdan, the intention is to give Israelis a better opportunity to protect themselves against Palestinian one-man attacks. So far, weapons licenses have been granted built on the place of residence: settlers on occupied land often go visibly armed. Erdan says on the radio that Israel is better than the US at doing background checks on mental illness, for example.
Police receive double penalty for death
An Israeli police officer who killed a Palestinian 17-year-old south of Ramallah in May 2014 gets his sentence at nine months imprisonment doubled by the Supreme Court. The shooting death, which was fired in conjunction with an annual demonstration, was documented by US television channel CNN.
Great demonstration against disputed teams
Arab Israelis are conducting a large demonstration in Tel Aviv in protest of the new nation-state law, which was adopted on July 19, giving the Jews a special status in relation to other Israeli citizens, such as Arabs and Drusians. The protesters are similar to the law of the apartheid system in South Africa and require all citizens of Israel to be treated equally. Jews also participate in the demonstration, which, according to Israeli TV, gathers more than 30,000 people. A week earlier, the Drusian minority has made a manifestation against the law. Even the protest gathered tens of thousands of protesters.
National State Act notified to HD
Leaders of the Arab population of Israel submit a letter to the Supreme Court demanding the repeal of the National Law Act passed on July 19. The law, which defines Israel as the historical homeland of the Jews, is classed as racist by the organizations behind the letter which mean that the law is in violation of international human rights standards. The law does not grant the Palestinians any national rights, and if applied to the Israeli-occupied territories it would constitute a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (one of the laws of war), the authors of the letter believe. In the past, other groups have appealed to the court to try it, including the country’s druses.
Syrian fighter jet shot down over Golan
The military announces that a Syrian attack aircraft was shot down after arriving in Israeli airspace over southern Golan Heights for about two kilometers. According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the plane violated a demilitarization agreement between the countries from 1974. However, a Syrian military source claims that the plane took part in bombings of IS soldiers and was in Syrian territory. The next day, Israel attacks targets in Syria after two missiles are fired from Syria into Israel. The missiles are said to have struck at Lake Genesis without causing any damage. Preparedness in Israel has been enhanced since June 19 when Syrian government forces launched an offensive to recapture the province of Quneitra, which is adjacent to the Golan Heights.
Livni’s new opposition leader
Hatnuas party leader Tzipi Livni, former minister and defender from the Likud right bloc, is stepping down in the role of opposition leader. The Labor Party – which is the largest opposition party – stands behind her, since its leader Avi Gabbay has no seat in parliament. As leader of the opposition, Livni succeeds Isaac Herzog, newly elected head of the Jewish Agency organization, which is responsible for the administration of Jewish immigration.
Rescuers are evacuated from Syria
About 400 rescue workers belonging to the Syrian organization White Helmets are evacuated by Israel. Members and their families are exported via the Golan Heights to Jordan at the request of several European countries as well as the United States. The white helmets have assisted the needy in rebel-controlled areas in Syria, but are now threatened in connection with the Syrian army’s advance in the south. The UK, Germany and Canada have offered to receive several rescue workers.
Controversial national state law adopted
Knesset, in a final vote, adopts the so-called National State Act, which has been bumped and wet for several years. The law, which is granted status as a basis (see Political system), defines Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people” and states that Jews have the exclusive right to self-determination in Israel. The law also states that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the Israeli state should promote the establishment of Jewish settlements. The status of the Arabic language changes from official to special status. The law is adopted with the votes 62-55 and faces sharp criticism from the Arab members of the Kness who consider it discriminatory against the scarcely one-fifth of the country’s population of Arab origin. The Druze minority also condemns the law, which they believe degrades them to second-class citizens while at the same time expected to serve Israel as soldiers. Unlike the Arabs, the drusts do military duty, and many drusts have fallen in battle for Israel.
Defenders of the law say it is intended to safeguard Israel’s status as a “Jewish and democratic state” while critics point out that the concept of Jewish and democratic has been purged from previous versions of the law and that it does not mention anything about equality between citizens. Prime Minister Netanyahu dismisses this criticism by pointing out that other laws guarantee equality for non-Jews and define Israel as democratic.
New law will stop support for the assailants’ families
A new law is enacted which allows the Israeli government to withhold money for the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank because of its monetary support to the families of imprisoned or killed assailants. Israel collects around $ 127 million each month in customs revenue for goods going to the Palestinian market. The money is to be diverted to the Palestinian Authority by agreement between the parties, but Israel has on several occasions chosen not to pay the money as a means of pressure against the Palestinians. The new law allows Israel to deduct as much from the customs revenue paid by the Palestinian Authority to the families of the assailants.
Syrian refugees receive help at the border
Israel supplies tents, clothing, food and medicines to thousands of Syrian families who have fled the ongoing war to the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. Defense Minister Lieberman says that Israel obviously wants to help women and children in need, but that it is not a question of allowing any of the refugees across the border into Israel.
The death toll rises at the border with Gaza
A Palestinian teenager is killed by Israeli tanks fire in the southern Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli army and Palestinian witnesses quoted by the AFP news agency, the youngster, along with a friend, had been trying to get through the border fence into Israel when the Israelis opened fire. During the turmoil that has taken place along the Gaza-Israel border since the end of March, 135 Palestinians have now lost their lives.
Netanyahu’s wife is being prosecuted
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara is charged with fraud and disloyalty to the principal. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Sara Netanyahu falsely stated before an event in the Prime Minister’s residence that there were no chefs available and instead ordered catering food for over SEK 800,000.
Attack on Gaza after new shooting
Continued gunfire from Gaza is countered by air strikes against three Hamas military units operating in Gaza. According to the army, 45 rockets were fired from Gaza against Israel during the night. Seven of them are said to have been shot down by Israel’s missile defense system Iron Dome.
Seawater will save the Sea of Genesis
The government approves a plan to pump desalinated seawater into Lake Genesaret, which is shrinking. Ten years ago, the lake was Israel’s largest freshwater reservoir and provided Israelis with 400 million cubic meters of water per year. After a number of dry winters, water levels have dropped and now the water withdrawal is limited to 30-40 million cubic meters per year. It is planned to supply 100 million cubic meters of desalinated seawater per year to Lake Genesis. Israel has built large desalination plants. 670 million cubic meters, ie 80 percent, of the drinking water in Israel come from desalination plants.
Burning draws new threat from Gaza
The Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, visits the border area adjacent to Gaza to inspect how Israeli farmers are affected by the fiery dragons that Palestinians in Gaza have begun to send across the border. To date, 600 burning dragons have sailed from Gaza, causing a series of fires on the Israeli side. The minister calls the dragons “terrorist weapons” and says that those who build the dragons should be killed. The government has calculated that the fires have so far caused damage equivalent to millions of kronor.
Air strikes after rocket rain from Gaza
Israel states that the country’s air force responded to the massive Gaza strip fire with attacks on over thirty military targets in Gaza. Militant groups have fired around 70 rockets at Israel, reports the military, which says many of the projectiles were shot down by Israeli air defense.
Barriers in the sea should prevent attacks
Israel announces that a barrier has begun to be built in the sea a few miles north of Gaza to prevent Palestinians with evil intentions entering Israel that way. The barrier consists of a breakwater, provided with barbed wire on the upper part.
HD approves fatal shooting
24th of May
The Supreme Court rejects a petition filed by local human rights groups demanding that the army’s use of snipers be restricted. The background is the Palestinian demonstrations that went on for six weeks along the Gaza-Israel fence and demanded the lives of over 100 Palestinians. Most of those killed were shot dead when they defied Israel’s order not to approach the fence. The rights groups point out that international law prohibits the use of deadly force against unarmed protesters, but the court goes on the government’s lines and states that what took place was not peaceful demonstrations but part of the armed conflict between the parties.
Ready sign for demolition of Bedouin village
24th of May
The Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for demolishing the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on the West Bank, located near Jewish settlements east of Jerusalem. The reason is that the village lacks building permits, which is almost impossible for Palestinians to get on occupied land where Israel has full control. The court’s decision is expected to upset countries in Europe that are committed to saving the village, such as Britain. It is unclear when the demolition of the village with 180 inhabitants will be put into operation. According to the authorities, residents will be relocated to another location.
Construction boom in settlements is announced
24th of May
Minister of Defense Lieberman announces that he will seek final approval for the construction of 2,500 new homes in 30 settlements on the West Bank in 2018. In addition, clear sign will be given for the construction of an additional 1400 homes at a later stage. The Israeli peace movement Peace Now reports that housing construction in settlements has taken a step up since Donald Trump became president of the United States a year and a half ago. Through Trump’s entry, criticism of Israel’s settlement policy has largely ceased. According to Peace Now, Israel has approved 14,500 new homes during Trump’s time in power.
Paraguay also opens an embassy in Jerusalem
Paraguay follows the US and Guatemala and opens the embassy in Jerusalem. Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes inaugurates the new embassy and is praised by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who says cooperation between the countries will now increase. Paraguay already accounts for 40 percent of the beef imported by Israel. Paraguay previously had its embassy in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
The UN wants to send war criminals to Israel
The UN Human Rights Council is voting to send a delegation of war crimes investigators to Israel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Israeli army’s shooting deaths of Palestinians along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. Since the demonstrations at the fence began in late March, more than 100 Palestinians have been shot dead. The US and Australia vote against the Commission’s decision. On the same day, at a meeting in Istanbul, the Islamic Conference (OIC) calls on the international community to establish a security force for the Palestinians. At the meeting, the President of Turkey said that Israel uses methods “similar to the Nazis”.
Guatemala moves embassy to Jerusalem
Guatemala inaugurates its new embassy in Jerusalem. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, are in attendance. Guatemala is the first country to follow the United States example and move its embassy to Jerusalem. Previously, Guatemala’s embassy was located in Herzliya north of Tel Aviv.
60 killed when the US opened the new embassy
The inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem is framed by riots and shootings at the Gaza border. 60 Palestinians are killed, making the day the bloodiest since 2014. Around 2,400 Palestinians are reported to have been injured as protesters approach the fence between Israel and Gaza with stones and fire bombs and are driven back by Israeli snipers. According to the Israeli army, 40,000 Palestinians participate in the protests in 13 places along the border. Israel says the Palestinians planned to tear down the fence and attack Israeli communities nearby. Protests are also taking place in Jerusalem. The embassy is inaugurated by an American delegation, led by President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband. Donald Trump participates via a video link. Netanyahu thanks Trump for the decision to move the embassy, saying that “by recognizing history, you have created history.” Trump, who with his embassy decision has provoked the Palestinian side and most of the outside world says that the United States is still ready to try to facilitate the development of a lasting peace agreement. The outside world condemns Israel’s actions and a number of countries including the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium require an independent investigation of the events. The Arab League reports the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Turkey is asking the Israeli ambassador to leave the country temporarily. The US stands on Israel’s side and says the Israelis have the right to defend themselves. In the days following the inauguration, the Palestinian Authority calls home its representative from Washington. Palestinian representatives in Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria are also called home when the Israeli ambassadors of these countries have proved the inauguration.
Cable car to the Wailing Wall
The government is giving green light for a controversial cableway project that will connect West and East Jerusalem and make it easier for visitors to get to the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall) located in the eastern part. According to the plans, it will take around three years to build the cable car.
Large-scale attack on Iranian targets in Syria
Israel attacks 70 targets in Syria with fighter jets and robots. The targets are facilities that Iran has built to assist the Syrian regime. Israel has been acting since 20 rockets have been fired from Syria against army posts on the Golan Heights that Israel has occupied since 1967. The Israeli war effort is the most extensive in several years and the largest so far against Iran. For the sake of unusualness, Israel confirms that the raids have taken place. The purpose is to prevent Iran from using Syria as a springboard for attacks against Israel.
The head of HRW is forced to leave the country
The Interior Ministry gives American Omar Shakir, the head of Human Rights Watch in Israel, two weeks to leave the country. The reason is that Shakir should have supported a movement that advocates boycott of Israel. Shakir rejects the accusation and says the deportation is a way for Israel to silence HRW’s criticism of how Israel handles human rights. He is trying to get the decision reversed. A court later rescinded the decision due to a technicality.
Iran is accused of secret nuclear weapons plan
Prime Minister Netanyahu accuses Iran of lying about its nuclear research. Netanyahu is appearing on TV in front of a shelf full of binders, which he states are Iranian documents which provide new evidence that Iran can activate a nuclear weapons plan at any time. Netanyahu’s play comes a week before US President Trump decides whether or not to withdraw from the nuclear agreement between Iran and the outside world, an agreement condemned by Israel. The data is dismissed by countries behind the nuclear agreement. For example, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson says the documents refer to old Iranian programs. Experts working for the IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency point out that there is no evidence that Iran is violating the agreement.
Four killed in new border protest in Gaza
For the fifth Friday in a row, Palestinians from Gaza demonstrate near the fence against Israel. Four Palestinians lose their lives after being shot by an Israeli military. As a result, the number of fatalities rises to 44 since the Palestinians started their six-week manifesto on March 30, called the Great Return March. The protesters support the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the places where they were displaced or fled in connection with the 1948 state of Israel and the war that followed.
Czech Republic reopens consulate in Jerusalem
The Czech Republic announces that the country’s honorary consulate in West Jerusalem will be reopened. The consulate has been closed since 2016 when the then honorary consul died. The Czech Republic will also open a cultural center in the city. Czech President Milos Zeman would like to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, but such action must be approved by the Czech government, and it is unclear what attitude the government is taking on the issue.
The government backs migrants
The government announces that the controversial plan presented at the beginning of the year to reduce the number of illegal migrants in the country has now been put on ice. The reason is that it has not been possible to find a country that was willing to accept the migrants (see also January 3, April 3 and April 15).
More fatalities at the border with Gaza
For the fourth Friday in a row, residents of Gaza demonstrate along the fence against Israel. This time too, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli military erupt. The Palestinians are applying new tactics and sending fire bombs with dragons across the border. The number of protesters is lower than the previous Fridays but is still counted in the thousands. Six people are killed by shots fired by Israeli snipers and 440 are injured by bullets or tear gas. Among the victims is a 15-year-old boy. The shots against the boy are condemned by the outside world that requires an investigation of the incident. The Israeli army announces that this has been initiated. In total, 40 Palestinians have now lost their lives in connection with the demonstrations that started in late March.
Migrants are released after HD judgment
More than 200 African migrants are released from prison on orders by the Supreme Court. The migrants had been imprisoned in accordance with the government’s plan to reduce the number of migrants in the country. The plan was to offer them money to voluntarily leave Israel and travel to another country in Africa as well as jail those who refused. The plan has attracted strong criticism abroad but also within Israel. The government has not succeeded in agreeing with another country on receiving the migrants and since the government lacks a functioning plan, the prisoners must be released, the court says.
The events in Gaza continue
For the third Friday in a row, Palestinians in Gaza demonstrate at the fence against Israel. The number of participants is lower than the previous weeks, but is estimated by Israel to be around 10,000. A Palestinian is shot dead and over a hundred others are shot, according to Palestinian sources. The AFP News Agency reports that a total of 34 Palestinians have been killed at the border since the demonstrations started on March 30.
Attack on Iran in Syria
Russia and Syria accuse Israel of having carried out air strikes on the same morning against a base in Syria that houses Iranian units, among other things. Fourteen people, including seven Iranians, are reported to have lost their lives in the attack. Israel does not comment on the incident itself, but Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the following day that Israel will not, under any circumstances, accept that Iran is embarking on Syria.
New riots with death victims in Gaza
New Palestinian demonstrations at the fence against Israel in Gaza require nine lives. Israeli snipers fire shots as a crowd approaches the fence, burning car tires and throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers. One of the victims is reported to be a press photographer. According to Palestinian data, nearly 500 people are injured. Israel’s actions are condemned by the outside world, while Israel defends itself as the crowd tried to break through the fence. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that “there are no naïve people in Gaza” and that those demonstrating at the border are acting on behalf of governing there.
Netanyahu backs on migrant agreements
Following criticism from his allies in the government, Prime Minister Netanyahu is opening a deal with the UN about the tens of thousands of African migrants who are in Israel and whom the government wants to expel. According to the UN settlement, some of the migrants would be given refuge in western countries while an equal number of people would stay in Israel. However, when Netanyahu announces the agreement, it provokes such strong reactions in his own camp that he thinks about and decides to scrap the deal. Thus, the plan presented by the government in January 2018 remains: to pay the migrants to leave Israel and imprison those who refuse.
19 dead in mass protest in Gaza
Israeli military kills 19 people during a Palestinian mass protest in Gaza. Soldiers open fire as large crowds approach the fence that shields Gaza from Israel. 19 deaths are the highest number in a day since the 2014 war between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamaswhich controls Gaza. Over 1,400 people are reported to have been injured, of which over half suffered gunshot injuries. The others are said to have been hit by rubber bullets or tear gas. The Israelis defend themselves by shooting only at armed men who posed a threat to the soldiers or tried to destroy the fence. Palestinians accuse Israel of opening fire on unarmed people. The protests are part of a six-week manifesto, called the Great Return March, which aims to support the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the areas they were displaced or fled from during the war between Israel and neighboring countries 1948-1949. The manifestation is scheduled to end at the same time as the United States opens its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14.
Prison for teenager as ear-filmed soldiers
A Palestinian teenager arrested and prosecuted for filing two soldiers on the West Bank has entered into a settlement agreement. Under the agreement, Ahed Tamimi, 17, is to serve an eight-month prison sentence and pay a fine of just over € 1100. Tamimi agreed to plead guilty to four of the twelve charges, including assault, assault and blocking of militants. Since Tamimi has already been incarcerated for months, she is expected to be released this summer. The quarrel with the soldiers on the drive to the family’s house in December was filmed by Tamimi’s mother and posted on Youtube. The mother was imprisoned together with Tamimi and has also entered into a settlement. Tamimi has many times been in trouble with the Israeli military.
Nuclear plant attack is recognized
Israel’s military is admitting for the first time something the world has long since assumed: that Israel was behind the airstrike that destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007. Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israel will continue to prevent its neighbors from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Soldiers demoted by car
Two Israeli soldiers are killed and two injured when a Palestinian runs into a group of soldiers on the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian survives and is imprisoned. Two days later, a security guard was stabbed to death by a Palestinian in the Old City of Jerusalem. The attacker is shot to death. At least 32 Palestinians and 5 Israelis have now been killed during the new wave of violence triggered when President Trump in December decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The government survived the internal crisis
14th of March
A government crisis can be avoided after the ultra-Orthodox parties got Parliament to take a first look at a new law to exempt ultra-Orthodox men from military service. The ultra-Orthodox demanded that the law be addressed in order to support the government’s budget. At the same time, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon had threatened to resign unless the budget was approved. In practice, the question of the Conscience Act extends over time: at the end of 2018, the Supreme Court extends a deadline so that the government and parliament do not have to decide the matter until 2019.
Former adviser ready to testify against Netanyahu
One of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s former employees, Nir Hefetz, agrees to cooperate with the police in the ongoing corruption investigations against Netanyahu (see 13 and 20 February 2018, respectively).
The US is speeding up the opening of a new embassy
The US announces that the country’s embassy in Jerusalem will open in May and that the inauguration will coincide with the celebration of the State of Israel’s 70th anniversary. The Palestinians call the actions of the Americans a clear provocation and point out to them that the formation of Israel was the prelude to the war that came to flee hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and which in Palestinian history writing is called al-nakba (the disaster). The new embassy will be opened at mini-level in the existing US consulate’s premises. It takes a while before a new full-scale embassy is built. The Guatemalan government follows the US example and announces that even the Guatemalan Embassy will be relocated to Jerusalem in May and opened two days after the US.
More problems for Netanyahu
Police reveal that two employees of Prime Minister Netanyahu are suspected of trying to bribe a judge to file a criminal investigation against Netanyahu’s wife, Sara. The trial was supposed to have taken place in 2015, when advisers Nir Hefetz and Eli Kamir offered Judge Hila Gerstel a high post if she closed the investigation into abuse with public funds (see February 13, 2018). The information should have come to light when police questioned Hefetz about another case where Netanyahu is suspected of having settled with a media owner about positive surveillance (compare January 27, 2017). In that case, Shaul Elovitch, the majority owner of telecommunications company Bezeq, should have been offered business opportunities in exchange for his news site Walla! would spread a favorable image of Netanyahu.
New march against corruption
Three days after the police recommended that Netanyahu be charged with corruption, the Prime Minister’s critics are holding a new anti-corruption march in Tel Aviv with thousands of participants. The protesters demand Netanyahu’s departure and detain him with slogans like “Bye Bye Bibi! and “Crime Minister”. Demonstrations of this kind have been held once a week for several months. Opinion polls show that Israelis are divided on the issue. 45 to 50 percent of those surveyed think Netanyahu should step down or temporarily step aside, while 40 to 43 percent think he should stay.
Police are prosecuting charges against Netanyahu
After completing a corruption investigation, the police recommend that Prime Minister Netanyahu be prosecuted for taking bribes, fraud and infidelity. Netanyahu is suspected of receiving valuable gifts in the form of jewelry, cigars and champagne from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and a billionaire in Australia, James Packer. The gifts that Netanyahu and his wife Sara should have received between 2007 and 2016 are valued by the police at over SEK 2 million. In return, Netanyahu, among other things, should have helped Milchan enjoy tax benefits in Israel. Police have also investigated allegations that Netanyahu tried to conclude a secret agreement with the owner of the magazine Yedioth Ahronoth in order to gain better publicity. Sara Netanyahu risks prosecution in another investigation. She is accused of abusing the state’s money when she incorrectly claimed that there were no chefs available in the Prime Minister’s residence and ordered catering food for over SEK 800,000. Sara Netanyahu has also been charged by a former butler for stealing money from the residence’s deposit bottles in her own pocket. Netanyahu says he is innocent of the charges. The other parties in the ruling right-wing coalition are closing in behind Netanyahu, pending the issue of prosecution to be decided by the state prosecutor.
The conflict with Poland deepens
At a security conference in Munich, Germany, a war of words between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish colleague Mateusz Morawiecki erupts over the new Polish law that makes it punishable for accusing the Polish state of participation in crimes committed by Nazi Germany against Jews on occupied Polish land during the Holocaust (see February 1, 2018). When Morawiecki says during a press conference in Munich that there were also Jewish perpetrators during the Holocaust, Netanyahu responds that the statement is appalling and shows that Morawiecki is insensitive to the tragedy affecting the Jewish people.
Confrontation with Iran
Israel shoots down drones which, according to the military, have been deployed over Israeli territory by Iran. The event is classified as an attack. In response, Israeli aircraft bomb Syrian and Iranian bases in Syria. One of the Israeli planes is shot down by Syrian air defense on the way back. This is one of the most serious military confrontations between Israel and Iran that has taken place since the start of the Syrian war almost seven years ago. Iran claims that Israel is lying about the drone and says in a statement with Syria, Russia and the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia that Israel can expect an “unflinching response” to the attacks.
Debate with Lebanon on sea rights
Israel is upset by Lebanon signing a disputed agreement that provides a clear sign for oil and gas pipeline in the Mediterranean. According to the plans, French Total, Italian ENI and Russian Novatek will be allowed to prospect in two fields. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has argued that one field belongs to Israel and that the decision is a provocation.
Rabbi knife-killed on the West Bank
A Palestinian attacks a rabbi waiting for the bus at the entrance to the Jewish settlement of Ariel on the West Bank. The rabbi dies from his injuries. The Palestinian manages to escape. Two days later, a Palestinian is shot dead after attacking a security guard at another residence. As a result, two Israelis and twenty Palestinians have been killed since US President Donald Trump in early December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (See December 6, 2017), a decision that heightened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
Polish law on the Holocaust revolts
The Polish parliament votes for a law that makes it punishable to accuse “the Polish nation or state” of being guilty or complicit in the Holocaust during World War II. The law makes it illegal to call the Nazi concentration camps on Polish soil for Polish camps. Israel condemns the law and describes it as an attempt to revise history and to diminish the role of Nazi rivals, including many Poles, in the Holocaust. The United States also expresses concern about the law. In response, MPs in Israel are beginning to sketch a law that would make it illegal to reduce or deny the role of fellow runners in the Nazi crimes against Jews during the Holocaust.
Israel opens the embassy in Jordan
30th of January
Israel announces that the country’s embassy in Jordan’s capital Amman will be reopened after being closed for six months. The embassy staff was brought home to Israel after an Israeli security guard killed two Jordanians (see July 2017). Israel has now obeyed Jordan’s demand for an apology and also apologized for the death sentence of a Jordanian judge on the border between the countries in 2014. The families of the killed have been promised financial compensation.
US Vice President visiting
US Vice President Mike Pence visits Israel where he meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu. The Palestinian side insists on its refusal to meet Pence. It is a reaction to President Trump’s December 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians’ attitude causes Trump to threaten to hold even more money to the Palestinians a few days later if they do not agree to peace talks. The war of words continues when a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas announces that the Palestinians will not meet with any representative of the US government until the US withdraws its decision on Jerusalem.
The United States is losing support to Palestinians
The United States decides to withhold $ 65 million in support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians, UNRWA. According to plans, the United States would have contributed $ 125 million to the organization in 2018. A representative of the US government says the money is not being withdrawn to punish Palestinian leaders outside of encouraging other countries to help fund UNRWA. It’s a different picture than President Trump conveyed in a Twitter message in early January when he wrote “Why should we continue to make these big money transfers to the Palestinians if they no longer want to talk about peace?” The crackdown between Trump and the Palestinians has deepened since Trump announced in early December 2017 that the US should move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (see December 6, 2017).
Netanyahu is visiting India
Prime Minister Netanyahu is visiting India. It is the first visit made by an Israeli government official in India in 15 years. Israel is an important arms supplier to India, but relations are being strained by India’s traditional support for the cause of the Palestinians. In the summer of 2017, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic visit to Israel when he became the first Indian leader to ever visit the country. During the visit, Netanyahu and Modi signed a number of cooperation agreements, including cyber security and energy.
Clear sign for more housing for settlers
The authorities provide green light for more than 1,100 new homes in Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank. For 352 of the homes, this is the last approval required before they can be built. The others have come a long way in the permit process. According to the government’s plans, clear signs will be given for a total of about 12,000 new homes in settlements in 2017. That is about twice as many as 2016, which was also a record year.
Netanyahu’s son in windy weather
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffers another hardship when it is revealed that his son Yair, in conversation with the son of a financial magnate, said he should be able to lend him money because Netanyahu provided his father with business benefits in connection with a natural gas project. “My dad fixed a contract for you worth $ 20 billion so you should be able to lend me 400 shekels,” Yair says on tape recording. The situation is made worse by the conversation taking place at a strip club where Yair and his friend discuss how to get hold of prostitutes. The recording played on TV must have been made by the driver who drove the young men that night. The driver later stopped at Netanyahus for unknown reasons. The trips around the gas contracts have previously been criticized by the opposition for giving the companies involved too great benefits. When recording becomes known, Yair Netanyahu apologizes and says the reference to the natural gas contract was a joke. Prime Minister Netanyahu dismisses it all as part of a continued witch hunt for his person.
Rabbi killed on the West Bank
A 35-year-old Israeli rabbi is shot dead in his car near his home in a settlement east of the Palestinian city of Nablus on the West Bank. Two days later, a Palestinian teenager is killed as Israeli security forces search Nablus in search of those who killed the rabbi. In Gaza, there are also unrest along the border with Israel and a 16-year-old Palestinian is shot dead.
Entry bans for NGOs
7 th of January
Israel names 20 foreign NGOs that are not allowed to visit the country with reference to the law passed in March 2017 and which bans visits by people supporting a boycott of Israel.
Plan to expel migrants
The government presents a plan to persuade around 40,000 African migrants to leave the country. The migrants, mostly Sudanese and Eritreans, are offered a plane ticket home as well as € 2,900 if they leave Israel before the end of March. Thereafter, the sum will be reduced and those who continue to refuse to leave the country will be imprisoned and eventually expelled against their will.
New law makes settlement difficult for Jerusalem
The Israeli parliament is voting for a law aimed at making it harder for the Israeli government to hand over parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians in a future peace agreement. The bill drafted by the Jewish Home Settlement Party means that a two-thirds majority is required for Parliament to be able to transfer territories that Israel considers to belong to Jerusalem.