Facts about Modern Israel

Israel Facts

A Comprehensive Summary of Modern Israel

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Israel facts

Tel Aviv shoreline

Israel Facts:
Lesser known Facts that you may Find Interesting

Before all the other facts about Israel, first read some facts that seldom hit the headlines:

EVANGELISM: Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel vehemently oppose those who spread the Christian Gospel. Such activity undermines the Jewish character of Israel, link. Generally speaking, Israel’s laws make it illegal to convert anyone under 18 years of age, from Judaism to another religion, link.

UK BIAS: The Queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries,  Including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Qatar. But the British Foreign Office has always prevented her from making a state visit to Israel, link. Why? Because Britain does not want to upset her Arab friends?

DEMOGRAPHICS: The population increase of England (not UK) between 1920 and 2000 was about 40%. In comparison, the increase in the Jewish population (i.e. excluding non-Jews) of Israel/Palestine over the same period was about 8,000%, link. Astonishing! Why? Is the God of Israel having an influence here?

ONE STATE: The Western Nations call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But that’s not how the Palestinians see it. Initially, the Palestinians want a two state solution, but, long-term, a recent survey showed that they want just one state – a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, link. The revised Hamas Charter (2017) “rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea”, link, link. Put simply; the Arab leadership wants to eliminate the Jewish state.

ISLAM: ISIS is also known as ISIL (“Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”). The Levant embraces all of Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and areas of southern Turkey, link. So the ISIS objective embraces the latest Hamas end-game – the elimination of the Jewish state.

NUCLEAR: Israel’s aging nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev desert has over 1,500 defects in its aluminium core and should be shut down, link. Hezbollah (Lebanon) say their rockets can reach the reactor and turn Israel’s reported nuclear arsenal (some 400 nuclear weapons) against herself, link.

PERSECUTION: The global Jewish population is 14.3 million, of which 6.5 million live in Israel (2017). But although Israel is the biblical homeland of the Jewish people, statistically, they are at far greater risk there than in America or Europe, link. This is because the surrounding Arab nations reject the Jewish state.

JERUSALEM: has been fought over sixteen times in its history. It has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times, link. Why? Because the city has deep spiritual significance. It is God’s city (Isa 62.1-7), and it will again be fought over at the end of this age:

Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples … And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it (Zech 12.2,3)

Honest Reporting believes that Israel is entitled to fair treatment by the world press according to the same standards applied to any other country. They believe that public opinion is significantly shaped by media coverage.

Israel Facts: Modern Israel is Quite Amazing

  • 1. Israel, the modern nation, was literally ‘born in a day’, as prophesied in the Bible. The date: May 14, 1948
  • 2. Israel is the only nation that uses a previously dead language as its native tongue (Hebrew)
  • 3. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, as in a multiparty system, regular elections, changeover of
    governments, free media, impartial judiciary, and a military under civilian rule
  • 4. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where women enjoy full political rights
  • 5. Israel has survived over 3,500 years despite 2,500 years of exile and severe persecution
  • 6. Israel’s Jewish population grew by an amazing 7400% between 1915 and 2013
  • 7. Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East
  • 8. Israel’s Nobel Prize winners account for 23% of all individual recipients worldwide between 1901 and 2014
  • 9. Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world
  • 10. Israel has the highest density of start-up companies in the world
  • 11. Israel, with just 0.1% of the world’s population ranks 1st in the world for total expenditure on R&D
  • 12. Israel created the first antivirus software for computers (in 1979)
  • 13. Israel pioneered Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology (as in Skype)
  • 14. Israel has the highest number of solar-power water heaters per capita
  • 15. Israel is a worldwide pioneer in smart drip and micro-irrigation systems
  • 16. Israel exports 8 different species of biological control agents, plus pollinating bumblebees, to 32 nations
  • 17. Israel is one of the few countries in the world that began the 21st century with more trees than it had in 1900
  • 18. Israel produces 93% of its own food requirements
  • 19. Israeli technology has developed aquaculture – fish farming in the desert
  • 20. Israel’s average annual milk production per cow is the highest in the world

Israel Facts: Statistics

Geographic Size: About 470 km (290 miles) in length and 85 miles (135 km) across at the widest point (about the area of Wales)

Currency: New Israel Shekel (NIS). Shekels are termed shkalim in Hebrew

Population: 8.3 million, growth rate about 1.8% pa (2015)

Official Language: Modern Hebrew (based on biblical Hebrew). Arabic has “special status”, and English is also widely used.

Ethnic Groups: Jewish (75%), Arab (21%), Others, including Christian (4%)

Religious Jews : Orthodox (20%), traditional (38%), secular (42%)

Politics: The Israeli government is a parliamentary democracy: a multiparty system with regular (4 year) elections

Economy: GDP growth rate averages 1% pa. Israeli Government debt to GDP (2015): 67.5% (US 101%, UK 90%)

National Expenditure on Research & Development (2012): 4.2% (UK 1.6%)

Military Strength: over 4,000 tanks, nearly 700 aircraft, 3 million fit for service (2016)

Unemployed Persons: 5% (May 2015)

Israel Facts: What the Bible Says

Search the Bible and you will find the following themes:

  • 1. Israel is God’s chosen witness to the world – a sign that God ‘IS’
  • 2. Israel has been, and will be, a blessing to the world
  • 3. Israel, the nation we now see, is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy – God is gathering His people
  • 4. Israel is being gathered into her own land, the land given to Abraham’s descendants
  • 5. Israel will be the world focus for the rest of this age – ‘a heavy stone’ for nations to lift
  • 6. Israel will be severely persecuted by a ruthless world ruler (Jacob’s trouble)
  • 7. Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, will be attacked by all nations at the very end of this age
  • 8. Israel will always be defended against aggression – God defends her
  • 9. Israel will be the world focus in a glorious ‘millennial’ age on earth
  • 10. Israel will one day be at peace with her neighbours and will welcome foreigners
  • 11. Israel (the twelve tribes) and the true Church are ‘one’ in the New Jerusalem
  • 12. Jerusalem will be the seat of a future world theocratic government
  • 13. Jerusalem will be the dwelling place of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, who will rule the nations
  • 14. Jerusalem will be called ‘The City of Truth’
  • 15. Nations will go up to Jerusalem to pay homage to the Jewish Messiah
  • 16. Nations will keep some ancient Israelite festivals, according to the Hebrew calendar
  • 17. Nations, and not just Israel, will speak Hebrew – a revived language
  • 18. Nations will greatly respect the people of Israel – the Jews
  • 19. The land of Israel will be bounded on the east by the Jordan river
  • 20. The land of Israel will be blessed and become very productive

Israel Facts: The Birth of Modern Israel

Israel (the land and the people) is vastly different to what observers saw a century ago. Before 1900, visitors to Palestine described it as follows:

Palestine sits in sack cloth and ashes … desolate and unlovely … hardly a tree or shrub anywhere
[Mark Twain on his visit in 1867]
I traveled through sad Galilee in the Spring and I found it silent … as everywhere in Palestine, cities and palaces have returned to dust
[Pierre Loti, La Galilee, 1895]

Israel facts

Fig.1: Central Israel and the West Bank

Zionism

The restoration of the ancient nation of Israel started in the late 19th century, and the first wave of emigration (first ‘aliyah’ or ascent) to Israel came in 1882, mainly from Russia and Romania. Then, in 1897, Theodor Herzel convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. The Congress dealt with ways for implementing the goals of Zionism – the movement to restore Israel as a nation in her own land and to create a Jewish state.

Major milestones followed, with the liberation of Jerusalem from Turkish rule in 1917 and the declaration of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. Specifically, this declared ‘the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL’, link.

War and the ‘Green Line’

This declaration led immediately to Israel’s War of Independence, when five Arab armies invaded Israel. After the war, in 1949, Arab countries refused to sign a permanent peace treaty with Israel and so UN Security Council Resolution 62 called for armistice agreements that would lead to permanent peace. This resulted in Israel’s borders being temporarily re-established along the armistice or “Green Line” and the creation of the so-called ‘West Bank’ (Fig.1).

Israel Facts: Israel’s Rapid Development

Despite aggressive neighbours and international pressure, Israel has nevertheless prospered, as in:

  • The establishment of a western-style democracy
  • Rapid population growth (mass immigration), outstripping other nations
  • Rapid land restoration, afforestation, and growth in agriculture and food production
  • Rapid industrial growth, with some of the most hi-tech industries in the world
  • Rapid development of modern cities and infrastructure (as in highways and water systems)
  • The revival and daily use of the ancient Hebrew language
  • Discovery of abundant natural resources of gas and oil
  • The development of an effective hi-tech defense force, the IDF

Israel Facts: Israel is Small but Outstanding

Within just 100 years, Israel has been remarkably transformed in terms of land and people. Israel has gone from a land of very mixed ethnicity, desolate agriculture, low industrialization and impoverished cities to a democratic nation with a clear identity, vibrant hi-tech agriculture, successful hi-tech industries, modern cities and new infrastructure. Israel today now ranks high in the world in terms of research, science and technology, link, and is seen as entrepreneurial and innovation-based and a good place for investors, link. It figures third after the USA and China on New York’s Nasdaq stock exchange, link – a small country that punches above its weight!

Add to all this Israel’s rich biblical history and it is natural to ask: ‘Why has all this happened – what is special about Israel – does she have a special role in the world? More …

Israel Facts: Tourism

Favorite Tourist Sites: Israel offers many historical and religious sites, as well as beach resorts. Favorite sites are the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, link, the mountain fortress of Masada at the south west tip of the Dead Sea, link, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (Israel’s largest cultural institution), link, the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley to the east of Jerusalem, link, the Garden of Gethsemane on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, link, the picturesque Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), link, and the Dead Sea (who’s shores are the lowest points of dry land on earth), link.

Cities: Historic Jerusalem is the most visited city followed by Tel Aviv which attracts tourists for its famous night life, great beaches, modern dining and café culture. Tel Aviv is also the financial and business hub of Israel. The picturesque city of Haifa on the northern coast is the perfect base to explore the views from Mt Carmel (546m) and the beautiful, green Galilee region to the east. Eilat, located at the southern tip of Israel is Israel’s premier resort town and a favourite for tourists. Nazareth has grown from an insignificant backwater during the time of Christ (Yeshua) to one of northern Israel’s largest cities.

In recent years tours in Israel have increased. The year 2013 was Israel’s record year for incoming tours with 3.54 million visitor entries. Christians represented more than half (53%) of all incoming people. More …

Israel Facts: Weather

Israel is a subtropical region located 29°-33° north of the equator and the climate is midway between the Mediterranean and the desert type. Summers are hot, peaking in July and August at around 30°C (hotter in the south), link, but tempered on the coast by westerly winds from the Mediterranean. Winters are cool, dropping to 16°C in January, and snow falls on the Golan heights. The transitory seasons are characterized by occasionally dry and very hot weather, often combined with drying easterly winds. For Jerusalem, rainfall occurs almost exclusively between October and April, with peak rainfall in January and February, link. Further south, the sparsely populated desert area (the Negev) between Be’er Sheva in the north and Eilat in the south has an annual rainfall of just 2-6 inches.

There are indications in the Bible that towards the end of this age there will be a restoration of the regular autumn (October-November) and spring (March-April) rains, as needed for productive farming (Joel 2.23, Deut 11.14)

Israel Facts: Language

Until July 2018, tourist information claimed that Hebrew and Arabic were the official languages of the State of Israel, with English as a semi-official language, link. The CIA claimed that Hebrew is the official language, Arabic is the official language for the Arab minority and English is the most commonly used foreign language, link.

The Importance of Hebrew: In Israel today, Modern (secular) Hebrew is spoken by the majority of the population, link, and all new immigrants to Israel are requested to learn Hebrew via intensive language programs (Ulpan, link). Speakers of Modern Hebrew can typically read Biblical (ancient) Hebrew without difficulty. So Israel is unique in that it is the only nation that uses a previously dead language as its native tongue! The restoration of Hebrew to a modern day spoken language is a unique historical phenomenon and many claim it aligns with Bible prophecy (Zeph 3.9, Isa 19.18), link. More …

The 2018 Nation-State Law: There were political moves to remove Arabic from the list of official languages on the basis that, in 1948, Israel’s Declaration of Independence declared the new state to be ‘open to Jews from all countries’. Consequently, in July 2018 the Knesset passed a controversial law characterising the country as principally a Jewish state. This law became one of Israel’s “Basic Laws” which, like a constitution, guide Israel’s legal system. The Nation-State Law says Jews have a unique right to national self-determination there and puts Hebrew above Arabic as the official language, link, link. So Hebrew is now the official state language, whilst Arabic has “special status” in the Jewish state, link. Pressure to redefine Israel’s official language came from the need to underscore the 1948 declaration of Israel as a “Jewish State”.

Israel Facts: Capital City

In 1950 the Israeli Knesset proclaimed Jerusalem to be the capital of the new State of Israel, link. This proclamation was based upon historical connections, Bible prophecy and the true legal position defined by the 1920 San Remo Resolution, the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine and Article 80 of the UN Charter, link. Today, Jerusalem is where the Israeli government resides, where the country’s parliament stands and legislates and where the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet have their offices.

But Israel’s stance was disputed by the international community (as in the UN and the EU) which argued that Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine. According to the US Supreme Court, ‘Jerusalem is not a part of Israel’, link. So, until recently, the US and all other countries kept their embassies in Tel Aviv.

US Embassy Move: On December 6, 2017, President Trump made a courageous decision when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced that the US embassy would be moved there. The embassy moved to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018.

The 2018 Basic Law: In 18 July, 2018 Israel passed the Nation-State Law (Basic Law) which formally declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, .

Israel Facts: Demographics

In the early 20th century the land of Israel was a mix of many peoples representing some 50 languages, link. It was described as ethnologically a chaos of all the possible human combinations with no common Arab identity i.e. no ‘native Palestinians’, link, link. In contrast, Israel today has a distinct ethnicity, namely Jewish. In fact, Israel is the world’s only Jewish State and the only country in the world where a majority of citizens are Jewish. In 1915 there were just 83,000 Jews, link, but this increased to 6.2 million Jews in 2015, corresponding to an amazing 7400% increase. Today the ethnicity is Jews (74.9%), Arabs (20.7%) and ‘others’ (4.4%), link. ‘Others’ includes for example non-Arab Christians and non-Arab Muslims.

Demographics of the West Bank: Areas A,B, and C: see map.

Under the 1995 Oslo Accords II, the West Bank was divided into three areas (A, B, and C) and within these areas the Palestinian and Israeli authorities have different levels of control. Area A is under full control of the Palestinian Authority, Area B is under Palestinian civil control and shared Palestinian and Israeli security control, and Area C (62% of the West Bank) is under full Israeli control, link. Areas A and B are distributed throughout contiguous Area C. No Israelis live in Area A, most Palestinians live in Areas A and B, and some 350,000 Jewish settlers live in the relatively lightly populated Area C, link. Israel is often accused of holding a discriminatory housing policy in Area C, but is nevertheless justified in building Jewish settlements in this area under international law, link.

Israel Facts: Jewish Talent & Innovation

facts about Israel

Haifa Hi-Tech Industrial Park

The Israeli people demonstrate an above average gifting for ingenuity and innovation. Jewish Nobel Prize winners accounted for 22% of all individual recipients worldwide between 1901 and 2015, link. These were Jews or people of half or three-quarters-Jewish ancestry, and prizes were given in fields such as Economics, Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Peace. This is an amazing achievement bearing in mind that Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world population!

By 2011, Israel had almost 4,000 active technology startups – more than any other country outside the United States, link, link. This probably reflects the fact that Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.

Jewish Intelligence: It is claimed there is a biological basis of Jewishness. This may partly explain why Jews hold such a relatively high number of Nobel Prizes and demonstrate a distinctly higher IQ than their European counterparts, link, link. Ashkenazi Jews in particular have high intelligence. Research shows that on many measures Ashkenazi Jews are top of the IQ chart. Their average IQ of 115 is approximately 40% higher than the global average IQ of 79, link.

Israel Facts: Religion

Religion in Israel is closely tied to Israel’s demographics. Of the 6.2 million Jews in Israel (2015), some 80% of these practice Judaism in some form whilst the remaining 20% are non-religious or secular. Some divide the 80% between ultra-Orthodox/’haredi’ (8%) and traditional/modern-Orthodox (72%), link, whilst others put the ultra-Orthodox/modern-Orthodox mix at 20% and 60%, link. Within these Jewish sects lies Reform Judaism – the most liberal expression of Judaism – which provides innovation whilst preserving tradition, link.

Since Israel is a democracy it welcomes people of all faiths to participate fully in Israeli life. So Muslims (a significant 17% of the Israeli population) observe Islam freely according to their beliefs and practices. There are also various Christian communities in Israel, including Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant, and there many Christian sites for tourists, link. Christians make up about 2% of population and 4 out of 5 Christians are Arab.

Israel Facts: Economy

According to an OECD report, Israel’s economy has enjoyed year-on-year growth, demonstrating remarkable resilience, link. Increases in output, averaging nearly 4% annually since 2003, have exceeded those of most other OECD countries. Israel’s Ministry of Finance claims that Israel is:

  • first in the world for scientific research
  • first in the world for entrepreneurship
  • first in the world for IT skills
  • first in the world for expenditure on R&D (as % of GDP)

Not surprisingly, Israel today has a technologically advanced market economy, driven mainly by science and technology, and manufacturing and agriculture are highly developed and sophisticated. Exports, which account for some 40% of economic activity, rose by 18% between 2010 and 2014, with top exports including cut diamonds, electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemical goods, machines and medical equipment, link. Israel’s innovative hi-tech economy is reflected on the stock markets, with Israel third after the USA and China on New York’s Nasdaq stock exchange, link. As of 2015, Israel’s debt-to-GDP ratio (a critical economic indicator) of 67.5% compared favourably with 90% for the UK and 101% for the US, link. Trade deficits are part compensated by tourism and foreign investment inflows.

If you diligently obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands … you will be blessed in the city (Deut 28.1,3)

Israel Facts: Poverty and Socio-economic Divide

Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with a debt-to-GDP ratio that compares favourably with western democracies. Economic growth has exceeded most other OECD countries rates for more than a decade. On the other hand, a recent OECD economic survey says Israel needs to address productivity, inequality and poverty if it wants to improve well-being and reduce socio-economic divides, link.

Today, Israel is characterised by high poverty and the OECD ranks Israel as the country with the highest rates of poverty among its members, with over 20% of Israelis living under the poverty line, link, link. Poverty is especially high among seniors, partly because of low basic pensions. The quality of education, especially for Haredim (strictly orthodox Jews) and Israeli Arabs, is poor, and these groups are not well integrated into the labour market, resulting in widespread poverty. Those making aliyah and arriving in Israel are also in great need.

Share your bread with the hungry and clothe those in need (Isa 58.7)

Israel Facts: Industry

Israel facts

Fig.2: The world’s largest solar energy dish
Ben-Gurion Solar Energy Center, Israel
Image: David Shankbone [CC BY 3.0]
Wikimedia Commons.

Israel today has highly developed banking, health, and university systems and her industries include textiles, food processing, mining, agriculture and forestry. Israel is particularly advanced in the hi-tech industry (see also Technology) such as computer science, electronics, genetics, medicine, optics, solar energy (Fig.2) and electric cars. Research projects include transportable solar energy, link, solar-pumped lasers and production of hydrogen from water for use as a clean fuel. Israel manufactures the world’s first solar window using transparent photovoltaic glass, link.

Some 1,000 Israeli companies are in healthcare or life-science products, including 700 in medical devices. The mining sector of Israel extracts magnesium, bromides, phosphates, potassium, calcium and chlorides of sodium (mainly from the Dead Sea) and exports via Israel’s southern port of Eilat. In 2010 Israel’s share of the world’s output of monopotassium phosphate was over 40%, link. More …

Israel Facts: Science & Technology

facts In 2015 Israel was ranked as the world’s fifth most innovative country ahead of the US and the UK, link. In terms of Nobel Prizes, over 850 have been awarded to individuals worldwide, of whom some 23% were Jews or people of strong Jewish ancestry. Of these, Jews have won a total of 28% in medicine, 26% in Physics and 19% in Chemistry, link.

Technology: Israeli technology is wide-ranging. Computing: Intel microprocessors, USB thumb drive storage, Microsoft operating systems, Microsoft Office, firewalls, voice mail, body controllers e.g. for games, cell phones. Transport: development of a national transport system without oil using a nationwide grid for recharging electric cars. Agriculture: development of hi-tech drip-irrigation offering 40% more crops for half the normal amount of water. These are self-cleaning and maintain uniform flow rate regardless of water quality and pressure. Medical: development of cardiac stents, swallowable camera pills (PillCam) for intestinal visualization, and radiation-free diagnosis of breast cancer. More ….

Israel Facts: Agriculture

facts about modern Israel

Fig.3: Agriculture in northern Israel
Image: publicdomainpictures

Today, Israel’s agriculture is the success story of a long hard struggle against adverse conditions, Fig.3. In 1909 Israel’s first kibbutz was founded by young Jewish immigrants and kibbutzim played a key role in Israel’s agricultural development. New immigrants also embarked upon an extensive program of afforestation, and since 1900 almost 250 million sub-tropical trees have been planted in all regions of Israel. Some claim that the reforestation programme has had a favourable effect on the humidity of the soil and on rainfall, thereby changing the climate, link.

In recent years, technology has played a key role as in the Israeli drip and micro-irrigation systems (sales of which have spread worldwide). This is enables more than 40% of the country’s vegetables and field crops to be grown in the Negev desert. Israeli fruit production includes oranges, grapefruits, lemons, apples, apricots, grapes peaches, mangoes, plums and pears. All this calls to mind the Bible prophecy “Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the world with fruit” (Isa 27.6). More …

Israel Facts: Natural Resources

Israel facts

Fig.4: Known oil and gas fields.

Figure 4 shows known oil and gas fields in the Levant Basin – oil and gas fields in grey. [Image: US Energy Information Administration, Wikimedia Commons]. It is often claimed that Israel has few natural resources. But in 2010 Israel discovered nearly 1000 billion cubic meters of natural gas – much off it offshore in the Eastern Mediterranean Levant Basin. This is more than enough to feed Israel’s domestic demand, with surplus for export. In 2014 Israel’s proved reserves of natural gas (estimates with a high degree of confidence) were 10 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), and Israel’s proved reserves of oil were 11.5 million barrels, link. Israel also has one of the world’s largest deposits of shale oil with a potential of some 250 billion barrels in the Shfela basin. Recent drilling has found thick oil strata in the Southern Golan Heights north-east of the Sea of Galilee, link.

Besides oil and gas, timber, potash, copper ore, phosphate rock, and magnesium bromide are also of commercial importance. In particular, the Dead Sea contains some 45,000 million tons of salts rich in minerals, making the Dead Sea the largest concentration of minerals in Israel. More …

Israel Facts: Water Systems

Israel facts

Fig.5: Israel’s NWC
Enlarge

Figure 5 shows Israel’s National Water Carrier (NWC) [Image: NielsF [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons]. Israel’s total annual renewable natural sources of fresh water are well below the UN definition of water poverty. Some 80% of Israel’s natural water is in the north and the National Water Carrier system (Israel’s traditional water ‘artery’) conveys water from Lake Galilee southwards. The NWC was started in 1959 and now comprises a system of giant pipes, open canals, tunnels, reservoirs and large scale pumping stations.

Desalination: Today, Israel is meeting much of its water needs by purifying seawater from the Mediterranean and some 80% of domestic water in Israeli cities comes from desalinated water, link. Expansion of existing plants will supply 100% of Israel’s domestic water by 2020, link. The construction of the coastal desalination plants required a change in direction for Israel’s traditional water arteries, and Israel’s New National Carrier connects the desalination facilities to the NWC. So Israel today makes extensive use of desalination plants, reuse of treated sewage for agriculture, computerized early-warning systems for leaks, and computerized drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers. Israel’s desalination plants require an immense amount of energy. In 2010 the national average energy requirement per cubic meter of desalinated water was 3.5 kilowatt hours, link, and today desalination plants require roughly 10% of Israel’s total electricity generation capacity, link.

Under the 1995 Oslo II Accord, Israel continues to supply agreed water amounts to Palestinian areas, link. As of 2007, the total water available to West Bank Palestinian areas was 200 million cubic meters per year, link. But the actual water supply would be improved significantly if the Palestinian Water Authority drilled all the sites approved for drilling by the JWC in the Eastern Mountain Aquifer (West Bank area), stopped serious leakage and utilized wastewater for agriculture, link, link.

Israel Facts: Electricity Generation

Israel’s five largest power stations were built adjacent to the coast to ensure a supply of cooling water. These coal and natural gas-fired stations are operated by the (essentially government owned) Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), link. There is also a set of inland gas-fired power stations. By the end of 2012, IEC installed capacity was some 13 Gigawatts, corresponding to a peak demand of some 12 GW, link. Water desalination amounts to some 10% of this demand.

Other Sources: The target for electricity generation from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass) is 10% of total electricity generation by 2020, link. Israel is not permitted (by International Treaty) to establish a nuclear power station on its territory, although civil off-shore nuclear power might be possible in the future from an artificial island constructed off the coast, link.

Israel Facts: Politics & Democracy

The Israeli political system has three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) is the legislative branch with the power of legislation i.e. to pass laws. It has 120 members and supervises the work of the Israeli government (the executive branch). Israeli’s don’t vote for a particular politician, but for a political party. So members of the Knesset are not elected directly, but they run as representatives of the parties that were elected. In 2015, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu formed a right wing coalition government consisting of Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, Kulanu and the Jewish Home parties.

Democracy: Israel’s Declaration of Independence guarantees freedom and equality for all, regardless of which religion one may choose:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL … will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace … it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture … [ The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, May 1948 ]

Such a promise of democracy is to be welcomed in the Middle East. For example, Israel’s free press contrasts with the mostly government-controlled media outlets in the region, and Israel is the only country in the Middle East where women enjoy full political rights. In fact, Israel today is the only democracy in the Middle East, as in a multiparty system, regular elections, changeover of governments, free media, impartial judiciary, and a military under civilian rule. It is claimed that Israel’s remarkable economic development is mainly due to Israel’s liberal democracy. The Israeli government counters international political bias against Israel by disseminating positive information about the country (the practice of ‘Hasbara’, link). More …

Israel Facts: International Relations

Israel facts

Fig.6: Israel’s Neighbours
Image: University Texas

In recent years Israel’s relationship with her strongest ally, the US, has sunk to an all-time low. This is attributed in part to Israel’s pursuit of her settlement policies on the West Bank and her building policies in Jerusalem, link, link:

We view Israeli settlement activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace” [US State Department]

As a result, the US could even withdraw her diplomatic cover or shield for Israel at the United Nations, link. At present this cover protects Israel’s desire to maintain the status quo and refrain from reaching an accommodation with the Palestinians. If this cover was removed, the US could refrain from vetoing any UN resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state. This happened in 2016/17. As for the UN, its numerous resolutions against Israel speak for themselves. As of 2013, the UN Security Council had adopted 77 resolutions critical of Israel and only 1 against the Palestinians, link. For her part, Israel continues to ignore such resolutions.

It’s not all bad news for Israel. Canada has a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations with Israel, and in 2015 rejected BDS, an international boycott of Israeli goods, link. And new British Government directives aim to prevent any UK public body from imposing a boycott since such activity is ‘potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel’, link.

Also, despite long-standing US policy concerning Israel and the ‘occupied territories’, the US has introduced legislation which discourages corporate or state-affiliated entities from participating in the BDS movement, link. Unfortunately, although major Western governments oppose BDS, the international community (including the EU) generally supports some form of boycott, link.

Israel’s relationship with Islamic countries, notably Iran, is non-existent. Iran maintains that there can be no two-state solution; in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s view there can be only one state and that would be called Palestine under Muslim rule, link.

The international political situation is rapidly aligning itself to Bible prophecy which says that at the end of this age all nations will be aligned against Israel (Zech 14.2).

Israel Facts: Israel’s Defense against Hostile Neighbours – the IDF

Israel facts

Israel’s Iron Dome
IDF & Nehemiya Gershoni
Flickr, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Israel is a tiny country just 290 miles (470 km) long and 85 miles (135 km) across (at it’s widest point), see Fig.6. She is a single Jewish State surrounded by 22 hostile Arab/Islamic dictatorships totaling 640 times her size, link. Since her birth, Israel has been repeatedly attacked by her neighbours, most notably in 1948–49, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982, link, and today they aim to replace her with an Islamic caliphate.

Such hostility birthed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1948, with the mission to defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State of Israel. As of 2015, the IDF had nearly 3 million fit for military service, some 160,000 active front line personnel, over 4,000 tanks, nearly 700 military aircraft and over 50 coastal defense craft, link. Israel’s multi-tier missile defense system is state-of-the-art. The Iron Dome system defends against short-range rockets e.g. from Gaza, the David’s Sling missile interceptor defends against medium-range missiles e.g. from Hezbollah (Lebanon), and the Arrow system intercepts long-range ballistic missiles in the stratosphere e.g. from Iran. More …


facts about Israel

Israel’s Hi-Tech Industries

Israel’s hi-tech industries are truly astounding. The country has been described as an “economic miracle” since it has consistently had more companies listed on NASDAQ than all of Europe combined. Israel consistently, scores as one of the top countries for patents per capita, see Venture Capital.

Israel’s industry now boasts many thousands of hi-tech companies in a wide range of fields such as computer science, electronics, genetics, optics, biotechnology, medical electronics, solar energy and electric cars. The majority of these companies are from startups, and Israel ranks second only to the US Silicon Valley for startups.

Hi-tech Engineering Industries

These include: water engineering, aerospace engineering, agricultural engineering, computer engineering, bio-medical engineering, hydraulic engineering and marine engineering.

Software Engineering

Cyber-security is big business in Israel, link. For instance, if you use ZoneAlarm to protect your computer you are using a product from Israel’s biggest cyber-tech firm, Check Point Software. Overall, about 200 Israeli companies now specialize in cyber-security, accounting for US$3 billion worth of anti-hacking exports in 2013. And about 25% of the world’s venture capital-funded cyber-security startups are Israeli.

Industrial and Domestic Solar Power

Israel’s goal is to produce 10% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. When it comes to solar research, The Weizmann Institute is equipped with one of the most advanced solar research facilities in the world. This enables Institute experts to pursue the development of new cost-efficient ways to harness, store, and transport the sun’s energy.

Agricultural Industry

Since Israel’s establishment in 1948 the country has almost tripled the territory used for farming; the result is that production has multiplied 16 times, link. Although still relatively small compared to other industries, Israel’s net domestic product in agriculture has increased more than four-fold since 1986, link. And Israel still manages to produce 95% of its own food requirements, link. Today, Israel is a major exporter of dates, avocados, olive oil, pomegranates and almonds, and is a world-leader in agricultural technologies, link. When it comes to technology, Israeli drip and micro-irrigation solutions have rapidly spread worldwide. The newest models are self-cleaning and maintain uniform flow rate regardless of water quality and pressure.

Water Generation from the Air

natural resources

Air is a ‘natural resource’ and so it only needs clever technology to turn it into a water resource. Watergen, an Israel-based company uses humidity in the air to create clean and fresh drinking water. The heart of the Watergen product line is the revolutionary GENius™ heat-exchange technology. Air is drawn into the Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG), where it is thoroughly cleaned, removing any dust and dirt and leaving only pure air in the system. The clean air is then directed through the heat exchange and cooling process, bringing it to its dew-point – the temperature at which condensation occurs – to create water.

Watergen’s Large Scale unit is an industrial scale AWG, designed for towns, villages, factories, off-grid settlements and communities. It can generate up to 5,000 liters of clean water each day. The first AWG system was installed in New Delhi, India in 2017.

Water Generation from the Sea

The desalination method Israel uses in its largest plants is called reverse osmosis (RO), link. In reverse osmosis, saltwater is hurled at a plastic filter with holes big enough only for the water molecules to pass through. Since Na and Cl are too large to fit through the plastic membrane, the salt stays on one side and only pure water reaches the other. The method works because water molecules are much smaller than both Na and Cl atoms.

At Israel’s largest desalination plant two enormous pipes carry in water from the Mediterranean Sea. Once the water reaches the plant, which is called Sorek, it progresses through stacks of RO membranes. Not all of the water makes it through. If it did, you would end up with a hard block of salt stuck to one side of the membrane, which would be very difficult to clean or remove. Instead, some water stays behind with the salt. This leftover water is called brine. Another large pipe carries the brine from the plant back out to sea, where the salt quickly becomes dispersed. After the water has passed through the RO membranes it is fit to drink and used in Israeli homes.

Medical Industry – Health Care

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Gaza Strip resident giving birth to quadruplets at an Israeli hospital, 2008. Image: Edi Israel [CC BY-SA 2.0], Wikimedia Commons

About 1,000 Israeli companies are in healthcare or life-science products, including 700 in medical devices. Israel leads the world in medical device patents per capita, link, link.

Medical Research: Israel pursues excellent medical research work in areas such as breast cancer, leukemia, heart monitors and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Specific examples; a system to correct severe curvature of the spine, stem-cell therapy products, MRI-guided focused ultrasound to destroy tumors without surgery, and a tiny implantable device inserted into the retina that turns into an artificial retina.

GO DEEPER

God Protects Israel – Hezbollah Beware!

How do we know that God protects the nation of Israel?

We know from several standpoints:

1. Biblical Promises

First, the God of Israel promises protection for His chosen people:

I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses (despises, dishonors, treats with contempt) you (Gen 12.3)

Whoever assails you will fall … no weapon that is formed against you will prosper (Isa 54.15,17)

I will be a wall of fire around her … he who touches you, touches the apple (pupil) of the LORD’s eye (Zech 2.5,8)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you (Isa 41.10)

Those who strive with you (Israel) shall perish (Isa 41.11)

2. Historic Examples of Israel’s Protection

Secondly, there are well-known examples of God’s intervention on behalf of His people:

  • When the Egyptian army pursued the Israelites during the Exodus, God slowed them by removing their chariot wheels, and drowned them as the parted waters returned (Exod 14.19-31)
  • In the fifth century BC a number of Jews were still in Babylon under Persian rule. God used a brave Jewess, Queen Esther, to prevent the killing of Jews, both young and old (see the book of Esther)
  • God promised Joshua that, when the Israelite armies marched around Jericho seven times, blew their trumpets and shouted loudly, then Jericho would be given into their hands. When they did this the city walls fell flat (Joshua chapter 6)
  • When five kings went up with their armies and made war against the men of Gibeon, the LORD said to Joshua “do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand”. The armies fled, struck down by large hailstones. And “the sun stood still” (didn’t set) until Israel had revenge on their enemies (Joshua 10.1-15)

3. Long-term Verification of God’s Protection

Despite some 2,500 years of scattering and persecution, the people of Israel (generically, the Jews) have survived. Furious attempts to annihilate this people have all failed. From the Babylonians to Queen Isabella to Hitler, their plans to totally exterminate the Jews failed. When King Louis XIV of France asked Blaise Pascal, the great Christian philosopher to give him proof of God, Pascal answered, ‘Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!‘ The fact that the Jews have survived whilst many other nations have disappeared points to their protection over the ages.

In fact, in recent years God has actually restored the nation of Israel and blessed her. In just 100 years the Jewish population of Israel has risen an amazing 7,700 percent through mass Jewish immigration, or aliyah.

Protection is Sometimes Conditional

Of course, when the nation of Israel walked away from their God and Protector these promises seemed not to apply and Israel was scattered throughout the nations for some 2,500 years. The scenario is similar today. Most of the 8 million inhabitants of Israel do not recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as their promised Messiah. So, according to prophecy, in the near future is seems Israel will go through a time of great trouble (Mat 24.15-28). It will be a time of the refining of Israel until they recognize their true Messiah.

Recent Examples of God’s Protection

There are recent examples of God’s miraculous protection of Israel:

1948-49: When the Jewish State was born in May 1948, five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq) immediately invaded Israel. Arab rulers thought they were heading towards an easy victory; they had no difficulty obtaining all the arms they needed and even British RAF planes flew with Egyptian squadrons over the Israel-Egypt border, link. Israel was thought to be virtually defenseless, link. But they were wrong. The Arab armies suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of a combination of Jewish militias (there was no formal Israel Defense Force or IDF). Reasons have been advanced for the Arab defeat, such as inter-Arab political rivalries:

The rivalries were a major problem because they resulted in poor command, lack of transparency, and ultimately, failure [Sami Moubayed, Syrian political analyst]

It is claimed Arab leaders fought against each other for land and glory. Was this the hand of God? A similar scenario will occur in the imminent Gog-Magog War. The God of Israel says:

“I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains,” says the Lord God. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother” (Ezek 38.21)

1967: In the Six-Day War of June 5–10, 1967, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon (and later Iraq) again attacked Israel. Their goal was “to wipe Israel off the map”. The Arab armies had huge superiority in armour, aircraft and troops. For instance, Egypt had around 100,000 troops and 900–950 tanks in the Sinai, and the Israeli Air Force could pit only two hundred aircraft against six hundred Arab planes (which included many Soviet MiG fighters).

In the light of this, Israel resolved to make a preemptive strike aimed at destroying the Arab air forces on the ground, link. After the war Israel held the Sinai, the Golan Heights, Gaza, the West Bank and, for the first time in 2,500 years, all of Jerusalem. As in the 1948-49 war, this rapid military defeat of the Arab armies is attributed in part to the lack of coordination among Arab states, link. Others e.g. Bible scholars, see the defeat as God preparing the way for Christ’s millennial rule from Jerusalem.

1973: On October 6, 1973, hoping to win back territory lost to Israel in 1967, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. For Jews, Yom Kippur or ‘Day of Atonement’ is a solemn time of rest, prayer and fasting – a time of sincere reflection on the state of one’s relationship or ‘at-one-ment’ with God, link. So this attack came at a time when Israel was “resting” and looking to God.

God protects Israel

Israeli tank, Golan Heights, 1973

With the element of surprise to their advantage, Egyptian forces successfully crossed the Suez Canal, suffering only a fraction of the anticipated casualties, while Syrian forces were able to launch their offensive against Israeli positions and break through to the Golan Heights. But despite the surprise and consequent heavy losses, Israel, with urgent US help, once again defeated the attack, link. It seems the God of Israel once more helped Israel, this time when they were unprepared.

 

Did God Protect Israel against ISIS? Early December 2016 a strange storm cloud (dust and rain) put a barrier between Israel and ISIS. Reports say the storm stopped on the border of Syria and was ‘unable’ to enter Israel’s Golan Heights area.

Many believe God intervened on behalf of Israel to prevent ISIS from entering Israel, link.

Future Example of God’s Protection

The imminent Gog-Magog War against Israel will demonstrate to the world that God still protects His people Israel. When Russian-led Islamic armies come against Israel from the north, God promises to help Israel in Sodom and Gomorrah fashion:

I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains, says the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother … I will rain down on his troops flooding rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone (Ezek 38.21-22)

So if we examine the circumstances and events that led to the establishment and continued survival of the Jewish state, the facts point to a miraculous existence. Israel must have purpose in the world!
THE IDF

Israel’s Natural Resources

Summary

It is sometimes said that “Israel is famously low on natural resources” and that the country’s economic stability is largely due to its advanced high-tech sector, link. But in recent years things have changed with the discovery of very significant oil and gas reserves. The off-shore Levant gas field could eventually provide Israel with 50 to 200 years of gas at current levels of use, encouraging the construction of a gas pipeline to Europe. When it comes to oil, Israel has one of the world’s largest deposits of shale oil, with a potential of some 250 billion barrels in the Shfela basin. Israel’s mining sector extracts minerals from the Dead Sea (for export via Israel’s southern port of Eilat) and extracts millions of tons of aggregate from Judea & Samaria for the building industry.

Israel’s Natural Resources: Discoveries of Gas, Oil and Minerals

natural resources

Fig.1: Known oil and gas fields in the Levant Basin. Red = Levant Basin. Grey = oil and gas fields. Image: US Energy Information Administration, Wikimedia Commons

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Fig.2: Israel’s proved gas reserves

Gas Reserves

In 2010 Israel discovered at least 16 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, link, link. The reserves are in the Levant Basin some 130 km west of Haifa. Two offshore gas fields, the Leviathan and the Tamar (the large grey areas in Fig.1), hold the vast majority of Israel’s gas reserves, with more than enough to feed domestic demand, bring down Israel’s electricity costs and have enough gas for export. The most significant find is the Leviathan field, and in 2014 the Israeli government approved plans to supply the Palestinian Authority with natural gas from the Leviathan field once production commences, link.

As of 2014, Israel’s proved reserves of natural gas were 10.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), link, with the Leviathan having an estimated 22 Tcf (622 billion cubic meters) of reserves, link.

Looking to the future: Recent discoveries show that Israel is potentially rich in natural resources. The Leviathan could provide $230 billion in gross domestic product to Israel over the life of its exports and more than 20 years of domestic supply, link. It is estimated that Israel may discover 50-200 Tcf of natural gas (and possibly 500-3000 million barrels of oil i.e. up to 3 billion barrels). Some claim the Levant Basin gas field could eventually provide Israel with 50 to 200 years of gas at current levels of use, link. The US Geological Survey (USGS) says these are some of the biggest discoveries worldwide:

“The Levant Basin Province is comparable to some of the other large provinces around the world … its gas resources are bigger than anything we have assessed in the United States” [USGS]

New Gas Pipeline: Israel to Europe

December 2018: Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Italy signed a memorandum of understanding to build the world’s longest underwater natural gas pipeline to supply Europe. It will run from Israel’s off-shore gas fields via Cyprus and Greece to Italy, link. There will be high infrastructure costs (around US $6.2 billion) and construction would not begin for several years. It could go online in 2025, link. The project has full support of the EU and aims to produce gas at a price to rival that from Russia. Clearly, this is not good news for Russia, and may be a factor in the coming Russian-Iranian invasion of Israel.

Political Disputes

But ever since the Leviathan discovery, Israel has faced serious regulatory and political challenges, link. The Levant Basin is shared by Gaza, Lebanon, Cyprus and the Turkey-dominated Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, leading to maritime disputes. Turkey and Lebanon have challenged Israel’s right to the reserves, and the Israel/Lebanon maritime border in the Levant Basin is disputed (see map) with Lebanon claiming Israel is violating international law, link. Even so, it is claimed about 45% of the Levant Basin falls within Israel’s land and economic waters, link.

natural resources

Shfela lowlands, Israel. The Shfela Basin has the potential of some 250 billion barrels of shale oil. Image: Ilana Shkolnik CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

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Fig.3: Israel’s shale oil deposits.
USGS Wikimedia Commons

Oil Reserves

As of 2014, Israel’s estimated proved reserves of oil were 11.5 million barrels, link. Others claim an estimated 620-billion cubic meter reservoir, link.

Shale Oil: In 2009 an Israeli geologist discovered oil embedded in rock in the ground southwest of Jerusalem. “There’s lots of it — and it could change the Middle East forever” [TIME]

In fact, it turned out that Israel has one of the world’s largest deposits of shale oil, with a potential of some 250 billion barrels in the Shfela basin, link, link. This represents the world’s third-largest quantity of oil shale behind the US and China.

The basin spans Israel and Jordan and shale deposits have been found to the south of Jerusalem, and outside of the West Bank region, see map. Although expensive to extract, Israel is now pioneering shale oil technology. “Tried-and-tested oilfield technologies will be the key to delivering a new era of onshore oil in Israel” [Harold Vinegar, former Shell Oil Company Chief Scientist]. But, as for many shale oil projects, there is opposition on environmental grounds, link.

natural resources

Israel finds oil in the Southern Golan Heights. Image: ProCon.org

Oil in the Golan Heights: Recent drilling has found thick oil strata in the Southern Golan Heights north-east of the Sea of Galilee, link. Afek, an Israeli subsidiary of Genie Energy (a US oil company) say the oil strata thickness is ten times the normal world strata thickness, implying a potential production of billions of barrels. This could easily provide all Israel’s oil needs, link, link. Compared to gas finds, which are well off shore, the oil find is relatively close.

But this area is disputed: Israel claims the oil and ignores claims that it legally belongs to Syria, link. Certainly, this area is just outside the 1922 League of Nations sub-division of Palestine, which identified a Jewish homeland and which still legally stands under Article 80 of the UN Charter, see map. Israel only gained the Golan Heights in response to unprovoked Arab attack in June 1967. The combined forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon (and later Iraq) aimed to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, but failed. Will this dispute over huge oil deposits provoke the prophesied Gog-Magog invasion of Israel from the north? The Golan Heights or mountains could well be the battle field (Ezek 39.2).

Dead Sea Minerals

natural resources

Dead Sea Works Plant
Cole Goldberg [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons

Following thousands of years of evaporation, the Dead Sea now contains some 45,000 million tons of salts rich in minerals, link. This makes the Dead Sea the largest concentration of minerals in Israel. From a health point of view, minerals extracted from the water (such as calcium, magnesium and potassium) are said to improve the metabolism, stimulate circulation and aid in the natural repair of body cells. Some minerals are known to have unique qualities, giving a feeling of relaxation, nourishing the skin, activating the blood systems, healing rheumatic diseases and metabolic disorders. Even Dead Sea mud is believed to have benefits for deep cleansing and stimulation of the skin. Not surprisingly, the Dead Sea area has become a major center for health research and treatment, link, and thousands of people from all over the world come every year to the Dead Sea for healing, recovery, spa, and cosmetic treatment.

The mining sector of Israel extracts magnesium, bromides, phosphates, potassium, calcium and chlorides of sodium, all of which are important for the manufacture of fertilizers and explosives, link. Much of this is extracted from the Dead Sea and exported via Israel’s southern port of Eilat. These exports are significant worldwide. In 2010 Israel’s share of the world’s output of monopotassium phosphate was over 40%, link, and in 2013 her share of the world’s bromine production amounted to 32%, link.

Mining and Quarrying

Israel’s mining and quarrying sector supplies about 50 million tons of raw material per year for building and road construction, link. The sector supplies sand, gravel, chalk, gypsum, limestone and stone for cladding and flooring. Road construction requires gravel as a sub-grade and filler material, as well as quarry sand and basalt gravel for asphalt mixtures. Some 7-8 million tons of aggregate come from Judea & Samaria. The highlands of Israel and the West Bank are primarily underlain by forms of limestone, and this is quarried for building purposes. Many of the buildings in Jerusalem use forms of white, pink, yellow and tawny limestone (known collectively as Jerusalem stone).

Gold and Diamonds: Gold has been found in Israel since biblical times, and a survey around 1950 claimed that King Solomon’s mines had been discovered in Southern Israel, link. Today, Israel’s resources of gold and silver are being estimated by the Dynasty Goldfield Project and the Jerusalem Gold Project, link.

Although Israel does not produce rough diamonds, the country is one of the world’s leading diamond cutting, polishing and trading centers. Companies specialize in large, high-value gemstones, link.

Israel’s Natural Water Resources

natural resources

Israel’s National Water Carrier. Image: NielsF CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia, Enlarge

Rainfall Statistics: Israel is a dry land with no large replenishing rivers (like the Nile for Egypt). So, until recently, Israel has been totally dependent upon natural rainfall. In the Golan Heights region (which supplies the Jordan and Lake Galilee) typical annual rainfall is 600-900 mm dropping to around 500 mm in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In the south it drops to only 200 mm at Beer Sheva and a mere 20 mm at Elat, link. In contrast, parts of western and northern England average 1000-1500 mm per year. So, overall, Israel’s total annual renewable natural sources of fresh water are well below the UN definition of water poverty (which is obviously population dependent). According to the UN, when annual water supplies drop below 1,000 cubic meters per person, the population faces water scarcity, and below 500 cubic meters “absolute scarcity”, link. In Israel the renewable fresh water/capita was 327 cubic meters in 1962, falling to just 91 in 2014, link. The corresponding figures for the UK are 2,700 and 2,200. Clearly, Israel’s renewable fresh water is at a premium and existing resources are well over used.

National Water Carrier: As the statistics show, Israel’s surface water is concentrated mainly in the north and east of the country – notably Lake Galilee – which is fed primarily from the Jordan River system. In fact, 80% of Israel’s natural water is in the north and so the  National Water Carrier system conveys water from Lake Galilee southwards. The other two main sources of water are the Coastal Aquifer (the coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea) and the Mountain Aquifer (under the central north-south Carmel mountain range), both of which are accessed by pumping. It is claimed that these aquifers lie under Palestinian territory (Gaza and the West Bank respectively), link, although this can be disputed on legal grounds.

Desalination: Today, to boost natural rainfall, Israel makes extensive use of desalination plants, reuse of treated sewage for agriculture, computerized early-warning systems for leaks, and computerized drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers. As of 2016, Israel had five desalination plants, the largest (Sorek) producing over 600 million cubic meters of water/year, link. This plant alone provides enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people!

Israel’s Water Generation

From the Air

natural resources

Air is a ‘natural resource’ and so it only needs clever technology to turn it into a water resource. Watergen, an Israel-based company uses humidity in the air to create clean and fresh drinking water. The heart of the Watergen product line is the revolutionary GENius™ heat-exchange technology. Air is drawn into the Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG), where it is thoroughly cleaned, removing any dust and dirt and leaving only pure air in the system. The clean air is then directed through the heat exchange and cooling process, bringing it to its dew-point – the temperature at which condensation occurs – to create water.

Watergen’s Large Scale unit is an industrial scale AWG, designed for towns, villages, factories, off-grid settlements and communities. It can generate up to 5,000 liters of clean water each day. The first AWG system was installed in New Delhi, India in 2017.

From the Sea

The desalination method Israel uses in its largest plants is called reverse osmosis (RO), link. In reverse osmosis, saltwater is hurled at a plastic filter with holes big enough only for the water molecules to pass through. Since Na and Cl are too large to fit through the plastic membrane, the salt stays on one side and only pure water reaches the other. The method works because water molecules are much smaller than both Na and Cl atoms.

At Israel’s largest desalination plant two enormous pipes carry in water from the Mediterranean Sea. Once the water reaches the plant, which is called Sorek, it progresses through stacks of RO membranes. Not all of the water makes it through. If it did, you would end up with a hard block of salt stuck to one side of the membrane, which would be very difficult to clean or remove. Instead, some water stays behind with the salt. This leftover water is called brine. Another large pipe carries the brine from the plant back out to sea, where the salt quickly becomes dispersed. After the water has passed through the RO membranes it is fit to drink and used in Israeli homes.

God’s Provision of Natural Resources

When Israel’s natural resources of gas and oil are developed, they will bring Israel to energy independence, and will even enable Israel to be a net energy exporter, link, link. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the gas “a gift from nature” that could earn Israel $60 billion in tax and royalties.

A gift from ‘nature’? Some see these natural resources as part of God’s future blessing of Israel. Before Moses died, he blessed the tribes of Israel and some of these blessings involved blessing of the sea and the land. Joseph was to be blessed with ‘precious things from the deep lying beneath’ (Deut 34.13), Asher was to ‘dip his foot in oil’ (Deut 34.24) and Zebulun and Issachar were to find ‘hidden treasures in the sand’:

For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas and of the treasures hidden in the sand  (Deut 33.19, emphasis added)

The tribe of Zebulun would live at the seashore and go out in ships to engage in trade and make a profit. Today, this trade could be gas and shale oil.

Rain: Egypt has the Nile and Iraq has the Euphrates but Israel has no large replenishing rivers like this. Apart from modern desalination plants, Israel (and the River Jordan) is largely dependent upon natural provision from the sky – rain. Israel is dependent on “the heavens” in a very real and practical way. It seems that God chose this dry land so that the people of Israel (His chosen people) had to look to Him for such provision. The apostle Paul acknowledged that God provided Old Testament Israel with “rain from heaven” for their crops (Acts 14.17). Similarly, when it comes to the future (Millennial Israel), the God of Israel promises literal showers of blessings from heaven so that abundant crops will grow:

I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase (Ezek 34.26,27)

 


Israel’s Allies and Enemies

Is a Nation’s Stance on Israel Coded into their National Emblem?

Some nations are either supportive of the people and nation of Israel, or they are aggressively antisemitic. Other nations may have their true spiritual stance on Israel suppressed or unrecognized – until now!

Amazingly, this stance often appears to be encoded into the emblem or coat of arms of a nation! Is there a divine hand here enabling the true (aka spiritual) stance of nations to be easily recognized? Nations with a coat of arms (heraldry) displaying lions and crowns are often sympathetic to the people and nation of Israel. Conversely, nations exhibiting eagles in their emblem or coat of arms tend to be antisemitic, sometimes with the ultimate aim of destroying Israel.

Israel’s Allies and Enemies: Lions and Eagles

Countries and empires have their own official flags, crests, coats of arms, emblems, seals and other proprietary visual identity. A national coat of arms is a symbol which denotes an independent state in the form of a heraldic i.e. armorial achievement. In the absence of heraldry the national symbol is regarded as an emblem.

Upon close inspection of national symbols we see a binary divide. Many ancient nations have similar imagery to Judaic (Israelite) symbols whilst many others use symbols similar to Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Roman emblems.

allies and enemies

UK Coat of Arms. wikipedia. Enlarge


allies and enemies

Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation. Wikimedia. Enlarge

Specifically, our attention is drawn to the frequent occurrence of either symbolic lions (and crowns), or symbolic eagles in the emblems.

Amazingly, these symbols often identify nations generally sympathetic to the nation or people of Israel (lions) and nations which are generally aggressive towards Israel (eagles). For instance, Roman legions marched under eagle symbols and severely persecuted Israel. Today, nations bearing the eagle symbol (as in the Russian Federation, for example) again tend to be a threat to Israel.

Historical Roots of Israel’s Allies and Enemies

This binary divide is embedded in biblical history, principally around Abraham, his descendants Jacob and Esau, and Jacob’s descendants (the tribes of Israel). The significant point is that these ancient biblical blessings and hatreds (a spiritual divide) appear to have been carried over to many of today’s nations, and this divide is often encoded in their national emblem or coat of arms!

Israel’s Blessings

As a result of Abraham’s obedience and great faith, God blessed him and his descendants unconditionally:

Blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice … a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body (Gen 22:17-18, 35:11)

Abraham’s descendants would be uncountable, like the stars (Gen 15:5, 32:12, 48:19). These peoples would spread all over the world and would be blessed with fruitful, productive lands (Deut 33:13-16). They would also control key commercial and military locations in the world, link, and would be identified by kings (monarchies).

Many believe that Abraham’s descendants can be seen in some European nations, and particularly in Britain. It is claimed these peoples have hidden Hebraic descent due to Israel’s historic scattering throughout the nations.

Israel’s Ancient Enemies: The Edomites and Amalekites

Jacob’s elder brother, Esau, hated him for several reasons. First, Esau sold his family birthright to Jacob simply for a pot of red stew, and then he regretted what he had done (Gen 25:29-34). Secondly, Jacob later deceived his Father Isaac and stole the blessing due to the first born, Esau (Gen 27).

Esau’s descendants were the Edomites and Amalekites, and this historical background is crucial to understanding Israel’s enemies today. Bible maps locate the ancient Edomites south east of the Dead Sea, see map. Historically, Edom sought to block Israel’s first entrance into the Promised Land and attacked Israel during the reigns of her many kings, link.

The Amalekites are descended from Amalek, a grandson of Esau, and so fall naturally into the anti-Israel alliance. Amalek became a chief among the Edomites and his tribe distinguished itself as a ruthless enemy of Israel link.

Israel’s Enemies Today: Descendants of Amalek

The nation of Amalek is long gone, but many Israelis see Amalek living on in their daily enemies, link. The title of Amalek is frequently placed on the worst of their enemies.

Rabbis believe that Amalek exists in the world today, in individuals and in nations, but that it is impossible to say with certainty who is Amalek, link. They claim that due to the natural mixing of nations we cannot point at any one nation and say that they are Amalek. Rather, Rabbis claim “Amalek is a symbol, a character trait to kill Israel”. So some see Hamas as “the seed of Amalek”.

Germany: It is true that we cannot with certainty trace the Amalekites to a particular country. But there appears to be more certainty in the case of Germany. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, a spiritual leader of Ashkenazic Jewry in Israel once said: “I have a tradition that Germany is Amalek”, link. And to quote Rabbi Winston, link:

Every nation has a unique spiritual nature … there is certainly an aspect of Germany that is connected to that aspect of Amalek

Summary: Israel’s Allies and Enemies

It appears that Israel’s allies and enemies today can often be identified through their national symbols. It’s as though a divine hand has encoded a spiritual truth that is easily decoded for those with eyes to see! For example the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Bulgaria and Georgia (Caucasus region) exhibit lions and crowns in their emblems and tend to be sympathetic to Israel.

Conversely, nations that have used, or currently use, eagles in their emblems tend to be aggressive towards Israel. This seen for example in Russia, Germany, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Palestine, Libya and Sudan. Iran is a notable exception, but is openly hostile towards Israel. Iran is prophesied to be one of the leaders of the (essentially Islamic) invasion of Israel at the end of this age, see Gog-Magog war.

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