Sunday, December 28, 2014

Modern Geography Israel - Judea and Samaria

Modern Geography Israel

Modern Geography
West Bank
The land on the west bank of the Jordan River is a hotly contested region which goes by many names. Many Israelis call it "Yesha" (though the Hebrew acronym—Judea, Samaria, and Gaza—technically includes the Gaza Strip as well, which is no longer part of Israel); Palestinians and the United Nations refer to the land as "occupied Palestinian territories"; others call it the "disputed territories"; and others simply call it "the West Bank."

The land shares its western, northern, and southern border with Israel; to the east lies the Jordan River, and Jordan beyond that. The area of the West Bank was part of the province of Syria during Ottoman rule prior to World War I. Following the war, the land became part of British Mandate Palestine and was known as Judea and Samaria, harking back to its Biblical appellation. In 1947, the UN Partition Plan allocated most of the West Bank to the envisioned Arab State, though this plan never came to fruition due to the Arab attack on a fledgling Israel, which ended in the 1948 War.

During the 1948 War, the area came under the control of Trans-Jordan, which subsequently renamed itself Jordan as it controlled land both east and west of its namesake river. However, Jordan's territorial claim was not recognized by leading powers in the world.

In the days and weeks leading up to the Six Day War in 1967, Egypt had taken steps to cut off Israel from the outside world by blockading the Straits of Tiran, which were crucial for trade. Egypt and Jordan had threatened to act together against Israel, and fearing an attack, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt, launching the region into a full-scale war. Jordan, despite Israel's entreaties to stay out of the war, began attacking Israel as well. Israel responded with military action, and then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan personally oversaw the recapture of the Old City of Jerusalem. The IDF quickly captured the rest of the West Bank as well, and blew up the bridges over the Jordan River, severing the East Bank from the West.

Though Israel conquered the West Bank, only the Old City was annexed to the state. The international legal status of the West Bank, however, has been murky for over 40 years—the area is frequently referred to being "over the Green Line"—meaning: beyond a quasi-border with Israel proper. The Israeli army oversees residents' safety in the area, which is mostly rural and peppered with Palestinian villages and Israeli settlements.

Despite the lack of Israeli ownership over the West Bank, Jewish settlements began to crop up following 1967 at the encouragement of the government at the time. The growth of these settlements in a contested area (though it was won in a time of war) provoked resentment in both the Left wing in Israel and in the Arab communities, and was the stated reason for the first Intifada in 1987.

Talks between the PLO and Israel during the early 1990's led to a cease-fire (until the second Intifada began in 2000…) and granted the PLO sovereignty in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Jewish West Bank cities continued to grow; some of the most densely populated Israeli areas and cities in the West Bank are the Etzion Block, with approximately 60,000 residents; Ma'ale Adumim, with a population of over 33,000; Ariel, over 18,000; and Beitar Illit, comprised of over 32,000 Jewish residents. Following several attacks in the West Bank and involving terrorists traveling from the West Bank into Israel during the 2000—2004 Intifada, Israel maintains over 600 checkpoints in the region, and Palestinian cars are banned from many highways leading to Israeli cities.

In 2005, a massive disengagement plan began under the auspices of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Cities and settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were completely evacuated by the IDF, and Jewish residents forced to leave. In all, about 9,000 residents were evacuated from twenty-one settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank.


  1. Jerusalem Becomes David's Holy City

    Jerusalem at the time of David; the fortress he occupied, Jebus, is in the lower right of the map

    He also brought the Ark from Hebron to Jerusalem, thus making his new capital a sacred city.

    In the procession leading the Ark into the city, a lightly-clad David pranced at the head of the procession so that his genitals were displayed. Michal, conscious of the need for royal dignity, was contemptuous of his behavior and said so. He no longer needed the royal status she had given him so he relegated her, now an unnecessary thorn in his side, to perpetual chastity.

    One of the first things that David did in Jerusalem was get an extended building program under way. He began to plan a suitable temple to house the Ark, and a palace for himself and his growing family.
  2. David Becomes King

    When David heard that Saul and his sons were dead, he went to Hebron. There he was anointed king by the men of Judah who had received his gifts.

    One of Saul's sons remained alive, Ishbosheth, but he was murdered in his bed by two of his retainers who brought the boy's head to David.

    David, now a king himself, sensibly killed the two retainers who had killed their king. He also took Michal back from her second husband, even though she was most reluctant to leave him - and he to leave her.

    David now launched himself on the task of uniting Israel and extending its territory - by alliance or warfare. He moved his capital to Jerusalem, since it was more central to the northern provinces he now included in his territory.
  3. No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel -
    David Ben Gurion

    (David Ben-Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel and widely hailed as the State's main founder).

    "No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel.
    No Jew has the authority to do so.
    No Jewish body has the authority to do so.
    Not even the entire Jewish People alive today has the right to yield any part of Israel.
    It is the right of the Jewish People over the generations, a right that under
    no conditions can be cancelled.
    Even if Jews during a specific period proclaim they are relinquishing this right, they have neither the power nor the authority to deny it to future generations.
    No concession of this type is binding or obligates the Jewish People. Our right to the country - the entire country - exists as an eternal right, and we shall not yield this historic right until its full and complete redemption is realized."

    (David Ben Gurion, Zionist Congress, Basel, Switzerland, 1937.)

    "No country in the world exists today by virtue of its 'right'.
    All countries exist today by virtue of their ability to defend themselves against those who seek their destruction."

    “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope”

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