The earliest known inhabitants of the region we call the Holy Land (bounded by the Jordan River, the Mediterranean, Lebanon, and the Sinai Peninsula) were the Canaanites. Under Joshua's leadership, the Hebrews conquered Canaan around 1250 B.C. Over the centuries, the land's rulers have included the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Seleucids, Romans, Fatimids, Sljuks, the Crusaders, Saracens, Mamelukes, and—after the Ottoman Empire victory in 1517—Turks.

The first Zionist immigrants moved to Palestine in 1878 to form an agricultural colony. An Israel-friendly Britain took over Palestine during World War I, promising Zionist immigrants "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." When hostility between Arabs and Jews erupted, the British-appointed Peel Commission, after exhaustive research, declared that Arabs and Jews could never coexist peacefully; it recommended dividing Palestine into a small Jewish state, a much larger Arab state, and a British-governed neutral state. When Israelis accepted the plan and Arabs did not, the British made plans to abandon Palestine. A timeline of events since:

Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion declares Israel a state and the first Arab-Israeli war erupts as Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, Egypt, and Iraq invade the new country.

During the Six-Day War, Israel takes the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank and Jerusalem from Jordan.

Egypt and Syria strike Israel on Yom Kippur, Israel's holiest fast day.

During negotiations led by President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Israel agrees to return the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for Egypt's recognition of Israel.

1982 Israeli armies invade Lebanon and force ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.