(1918-1981) Third President of Egypt from 1970-1981. Sadat succeeded Gamal Abdul Nasser upon Nasser’s death on September 28, 1970, and was elected president in a plebiscite on October 15. He guided the country through economic liberalization as well as gradual political liberalization, and increased ties with the West. In 1973, Sadat co-led an Egyptian and Syrian coalition, backed by Jordan and Iraq, and attacked Israel in an attempt to regain land lost in the 1967 War. Despite not regaining the Sinai Peninsula, some saw the war as a political victory for Sadat. By 1978, after years of negotiations with the Israelis (including an unprecedented official visit to Israel where he spoke to the Israeli Knesset, an act that greatly impressed many Israelis), Sadat secured the return of the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for bilateral peace with Israel. This agreement, signed at Camp David and implemented in 1979, won Sadat the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin and Shimon Peres. Sadat lost support in Egypt, due to opposition to the treaty, political repression, and economic crisis. On October 6, 1981, Sadat was assassinated in Cairo by extremist Islamist officers in the army who were thought to be members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. See "Sadat Assassinated at Army Parade as Men Amid Ranks Fire Into Stands; Vice President ‘Affirms all Treaties,’" William E. Farrell, New York Times, October 7, 1981.
(1928-2014) A Jewish Israeli political and military figure. Sharon served as a commander and officer in the Israeli army from1948 (when the State of Israel was established) until 1973. Upon his retirement from the army, he helped found the Likud party and went on to serve in many ministerial positions within the Israeli government. Sharon was the Minister of Defense during the 1982 War in Lebanon, resigning from the post after a government commission found him indirectly responsible for the September 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre. Sharon was considered one of the settlement movement’s greatest champions. While Minister of Construction and Housing (1990-1992), he oversaw the most comprehensive expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories in the 1967 War. On September 28 2000, then head of the opposition Likud party, Sharon visited Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount flanked by over 1,000 Israeli police, and declared that the complex would remain under permanent Israeli control. This sparked protests that escalated into the Second Intifada. Sharon was elected Prime Minister of Israel from 2001-2006, and initiated and oversaw the Gaza Disengagement. In November 2005, he quit the Likud Party and formed Kadima. In early January 2006, Sharon suffered a massive stroke, dying in 2014. See "Israel’s Ariel Sharon Dies at 85," Al Jazeera English, Jan 11, 2014.
(1935-2003) A leading intellectual figure in the Palestinian Diaspora/refugee community and in the international discourse about Israel/Palestine. Said was a prominent literary critic and professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York. A prolific author, he is known for his anti-colonialist and anti-Orientalist writings. He also commonly wrote and spoke out about the Palestinian cause, the abuses caused by Israeli occupation, his opposition to the Oslo Process and his criticism of the governance of Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. See "Obituary: Edward Said," Malise Ruthven, The Guardian, September 26, 2003.
(1986- ) An Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas on June 25, 2006 in a cross-border raid near the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza Strip. The first Israeli soldier captured by Palestinians since 1994, Hamas held Shalit hostage until October 2011 (without any visitations from the International Committee for the Red Cross) when he was released in exchange for the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. The two main obstacles in the previous negotiations between Hamas and Israel for Shalit’s release had been: 1) Hamas’ insistence on the release of Marwan Barghouti, currently serving five life sentences for murder (ultimately, he was not part of the prisoner exchange); and 2) Israel’s demand that 230 Hamas-affiliated prisoners held by the Palestinian Authority be expelled from the West Bank. Those who called for Shalit’s release include the United Nations as well as various international human rights and aid organizations. See "Egypt: Shalit will disappear unless Israel compromises with Hamas," Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Haaretz, June 19, 2011 and "Gilad Shalit reveals details of his five years held hostage by Hamas," Phoebe Greenwood, The Telegraph, Oct 12, 2012.
On September 16, 1982, the fighters of the Phalange (a Maronite Christian militia group in Lebanon allied at that time with Israel) entered Sabra (a neighborhood in south Beirut housing Palestinian refugees) and Shatila (a Palestinian refugee camp near Sabra) to seek revenge for the assassination of their leader Bashir Gemayel two days prior. Both Sabra and Shatila were guarded at that time by the Israeli army, who was briefly occupying Beirut during its 1982 War, and who permitted the Phalange militiamen to enter the camps. A slaughter of the civilians in Sabra and Shatila ensued until September 18, with fatality estimates ranging from 700-3,500 people. Eyewitness reports include evidence of mass rape and mutilations. When news of the massacres became public, an estimated 400,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv, demanding an official inquiry. The Israeli government established the Kahan Commission, which found several Israeli officials indirectly responsible for the killings, including Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Defense Minister, who was forced to resign as a result. See "Flashback: Sabra and Shatila massacres," BBC, January 24, 2002.
A distinct religious and ethnic community who believes in an ancient Israelite religion that is distinct from Judaism. While, like Jews, Samaritans consider the Five Books of Moses to be the word of God and their sacred scripture, they reject the remainder of Judaic scripture. The Samaritans consider Mt. Gerizim, located just outside the West Bank city of Nablus, their holiest site. As of May 2014, there were 760 Samaritans in Israel and the West Bank—about half living on Mt. Gerizim and the other half in the town of Holon in central Israel. Samaritans typically speak both Hebrew and Arabic, and are considered in various ways part of both Israeli and Palestinian society. See The Samaritan Update.
Also known as Lake Tiberias and Lake Kinneret. The largest fresh water lake in Israel, located in the north of the country. It supplies about 30% of Israel's water. According to the New Testament of the Bible, much of the ministry of Jesus occurred in communities on the shore of the lake. Many Christians believe that several of the miracles performed by Jesus, as described in the gospels, also took place on the lake, such as walking on water. The Jordan River flows through the Sea of Galilee and it is therefore part of ongoing conflict between Israel and its neighboring states around the control of water resources. See "Resort in Galilee Rises Where Jesus May Have Taught," Isabel Kershner, New York Times, May 13, 2014.
Area in the West Bank that is located between the Green Line and the Separation Barrier. Though populated largely by Israeli settlers, 150 Palestinian communities have land in the Seam Zone (as of 2014); these Palestinians are required to apply for Israeli-issued permits in order to access their farmland. These permits are difficult to obtain, with only a 50% rate of being granted between 2010-2014. 11,000 West Bank Palestinians live in the Seam Zone as of 2014, with an anticipated 25,000 more to be in the Seam Zone if the Barrier is completed as planned. Thousands of Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs live in the Seam Zone as well. See "10 years Since the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion," United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, July 9, 2014.
(Arabic for "shaking off") Also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada. It refers to the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. The intifada began on September 29 2000, two months after the failure of the Oslo Process (specifically the Camp David (II) Summit) and immediately following Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit (flanked by 1,000 police) to the politically and religiously charged Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. In its first days, the intifada was characterized by large demonstrations, stone-throwing, and civil disobedience, starting in Jerusalem and quickly spreading to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The riots were met with large-scale repression from Israeli forces, including rubber coated bullets and live ammunition, and soon thereafter, by helicopter gunships and tanks, followed later by targeted assassinations and military incursions into Area A of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the first five days of the Intifada, 47 Palestinians were killed and 1,885 were wounded, 80% of whom were (according to Amnesty International) posing no life-threatening danger to Israeli forces. Five Israelis were killed by Palestinians in the same period. In the first month, Israeli forces fired 1,300,000 bullets, averaging 40,000/day. Some analysts point to this overwhelming force by Israeli forces as the reason why the phase of popular protest in the Intifada ended quickly, and armed resistance took its place. Though suicide bombings characterize the Second Intifada for many Israelis, it was not until Nov 2 (more than a month after the Intifada began) before suicide bombings inside Israel began. Events/images from early in the Intifada seared in the memories of Israelis and Palestinians include (for Israelis) the Ramallah lynching of two Israeli soldiers and (for Palestinians) the killing of 12-year old Mohammad Al-Dura. Palestinian communities inside Israel also demonstrated, leading to the October 2000 Events, in which 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces. By the end of 2004, more than 3,000 Palestinians had been killed by Israelis, and nearly 1,000 Israelis had been killed by Palestinians. The Second Intifada also had a prominent unarmed character that was largely overlooked by mainstream media, with local Palestinian communities organizing predominantly nonviolent actions to combat the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlements and the Separation Barrier; Israeli and international civilians were also involved in many of these actions. Unlike the First Intifada, which ended at the signing of the Oslo Accords, there is no clear ending date to the Second Intifada. Some claim the uprising ended with Yasser Arafat’s death in November 2004, while others say it ended as late as 2008. See "Intifada toll 2000-2005," BBC, February 8, 2005; "Al-Aqsa Intifada timeline," BBC, Sept 29, 2004; and "Broken lives—a year of intifada," Amnesty International, 2001. See also "Remembering the second intifada," Jon Elmer, Al Jazeera English, October 31, 2010; and "Nonviolent Resistance in the Second Intifada: Activism and Advocacy," Maia Carter Hallward and Julie M. Norman, eds, Palgrave Macmillian, 2011.
Also termed the Wall, the Fence, Separation Wall, Security Fence, Annexation Wall and Apartheid Wall. A long structure of connected walls and fences that separates Israel from most of the West Bank, some sections of which run along the Green Line, but most of which cuts into the West Bank. Critics and supporters of the Barrier disagree over the intent behind the structure, its route and its name. Israel began constructing the Separation Barrier in 2002, purportedly as a reaction to the violence of the Second Intifada. Still under construction as of 2014, Israel claims the Separation Barrier is needed for security, and cites decreases in suicide bombings within Israel since its construction as proof that the structure is both effective and necessary. Opponents criticize the structure as an attempt to annex Occupied Palestinian Territory and to unilaterally define future borders. They maintain that the route of the Separation Barrier is a land-grab, stealing privately-owned Palestinian land, and makes certain Palestinian villages and cities economically unviable. The Barrier has imposed new restrictions on movement for Palestinians living near its route or in the Seam Zone, as well as additional restrictions on access to farm land, medical care, education, and more. Popular Struggle Committees in villages along the route of the barrier (such as Budrus, Bil’in, Ni’ilin, and Maasara ) have been organizing unarmed demonstrations against the barrier for years, with Israeli and international allies frequently invited to join the demonstrations. Israel has modified some of the routes in response to various Israeli High Court of Justice rulings as well as in response to international pressure and Palestinian-led demonstrations, but the route is still disputed. The debate over the barrier’s legality intensified after the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion in 2004 declaring it a breach of international law. See "Separation Barrier," B’Tselem, Jan 1, 2011; and "10 years Since the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion," United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, July 9, 2014. See also Just Vision’s documentary film, "Budrus." See also infographic "Where Law Stands on the Wall," Visualizing Palestine.
Also known as "colony." A Jewish Israeli community existing within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, outside the Green Line. Israelis who live in settlements are often referred to as "settlers." A conglomeration of Jewish Israeli settlements in the West Bank is known as a "Settlement bloc." One such example of a Settlement bloc is Gush Etzion, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The Settler movement began following the 1967 War, when Israel occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights in Syria and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Israel annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, and withdrew its settlements from the Sinai following the Camp David Accords. Many proponents of the Settler movement claim that Settlement of the Occupied [no-lexicon]Palestinian Territories[/no-lexicon] is a divine right, mandated by religious texts, and part of the Zionist imperative to settle the Land of Israel. Less ideological proponents regard settlements as a security necessity for Israel. Opponents argue that such settlements are illegal under international law (a position which is supported by the international community including the International Court of Justice, the United Nations, and the U.S. Government), that they annex Palestinian-owned land, and preclude the final status of disputed borders between the state of Israel and a future Palestinian state. By and large, settlements and settlers receive Israeli government funding and considerable subsidies, as well as military and infrastructural support. There are some Israelis who live in settlements for ideological reasons; others live in settlements (especially those considered "suburbs" of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv) to take advantage of the economic benefits. In 2005, the Israeli government initiated the Gaza Disengagement, withdrawing 8,000 settlers from Gaza and from a handful of settlements in the West Bank; however over 130 settlements remain in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), with a population of approximately 700,000 in 2014. Additionally, there are Settlement outposts, which were established by Jewish Israelis in the Occupied [no-lexicon]Palestinian Territories[/no-lexicon] without seeking permission from the proper Israeli authorities; many of these later become official settlements and many more receive Israeli government support and funding, though the Israeli government has dismantled a few. Friction and violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians occurs frequently. When settlers initiate attacks against Palestinians and their property, the Israeli army rarely intervenes. See "Land Expropriation and Settlements," B’Tselem, Jan 23, 2014; "Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year," Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, July 26, 2012; and "West Bank Settlement Blocs," Peace Now, May 2008. See also, "Lords of the Land: The War for Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007" Akiva Eldar, Nation Books, 2009.
(Acronym for the Hebrew "Sherut haBitachon haKlali," which means General Security Services.) This agency conducts security intelligence work within Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as opposed to the Mossad, which deals with intelligence gathering on the international front. The Shabak is especially involved in providing intelligence about organizations and individuals it deems to be involved in terrorist activities. Its methods of recruiting Palestinian collaborators have been controversial, and Israeli and international human rights groups labeled its interrogation methods as torture. In 1999, the Israeli High Court ruled Shabak’s use of torture illegal, yet the Israeli human rights organizations B’tselem and the Public Committee Against Torture state that the agency continues to torture. See BBC’s "Profile: Israel’s Shin Bet Agency"; and "Israeli rights group accuses Shin Bet of using torture despite High Court ban," The Jerusalem Post, September 11, 2014. See also "Spotlight shines on Palestinian collaborators," Jonathan Cook, Al Jazeera English, Feb 17, 2014. For a documentary film based on interviews with all the surviving former heads of the Shin Bet, see "The Gatekeepers."
(Commonly used in Arabic to mean "martyr," though literally means "witness" in Qur’anic Arabic.) It is a term used in Islam for Muslims who died while fulfilling a religious commandment, including jihad. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the word "shahid" or "martyr" is used to refer to Palestinians or supporters of the Palestinian cause who have been killed in the conflict. It may refer to a Palestinian civilian killed by an Israeli, or a Palestinian fighter/militant, whether killed by a soldier, or in an attack on civilians, including suicide bombings. See "Martyrdom (Shahada)," David Cook, Oxford Bibliographies.
An Israeli religious political party formed in 1984 to represent Mizrahi Jews, who have historically faced social and economic discrimination in Israel. The party believes in maintaining the Jewish identity of the state, calling for a "state with a Jewish soul" in all aspects, including in its laws. Shas strongly advocates for the compensation by Arab countries of Mizrahi Jews who were forced to leave their countries of origin after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948; this compensation is a condition for the party’s consideration of a peace deal with the Palestinians. Since 2009, the party has become more supportive of Jewish Israeli settlements, particularly those surrounding historic Jewish religious sites and in the greater Jerusalem area. See "WATCH: Shas' stunning election ad is a challenge to both Right and Left," Dimi Reider, +972mag, Jan 18, 2015; and "Ultra-Orthodox Shas inks deal to join coalition," Marissa Newman, the Times of Israel, May 4, 2015.
Bordering Israel, Syria and Lebanon, the status of this 25 sq. km stretch of land, consisting of 14 farms named after a nearby village, remains controversial. Israel occupied the Sheba’a Farms after the 1967 War. Following Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah and Lebanon, backed by Syria, demanded that Israel also pull out from the Sheba’a Farms. Israel, however, claimed the territory was part of Syria, and thus could only be turned over as part of negotiations with Syria. The maps of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon sided with Israel, showing that the strip of land was part of Syria at the time of the 1967 War. See "In Focus: Shebaa Farms," BBC, May 25, 2000.
(1938-2004) A Palestinian political and religious figure. Yassin was the co-founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. Due to a childhood accident, he was paralyzed and left partially blind. As a Palestinian refugee in Gaza after the 1948 War, Yassin worked as a teacher, imam and community leader. He spent many years in Israeli prison, first for being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and later (in 1989) for ordering the killing of Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Israeli army.He was released in 1997 in exchange for the return of two Israeli Mossad agents who had been detained in Jordan. The Israeli military attempted to assassinate Yassin on several occasions, stating that he masterminded suicide attacks on Israelis. Yassin opposed the Oslo Process, was a proponent of armed resistance, and made frequent public statements in support of suicide bombings. Yassin also worked to maintain a good relationship with the Palestinian Authority, believing that internal conflict would not be in the best interests of the Palestinian people. Prior to his death, he proposed a ceasefire with Israel on condition that they withdraw to 1967 borders and cease their policy of targeted assassinations. The Israeli military assassinated Yassin by air strike on March 22, 2004. See "Sheikh Yassin: Spiritual figurehead," BBC, March 22, 2004.
(Hebrew for "twelfth graders") A movement of high school students that publicly refuse to serve in the Israeli army due to their conscientious objection to occupation and oppression by the Israeli military. They chose to go by the name "Shministim" as a reference to a group of high school seniors who wrote a letter to the late Prime Minister Golda Meir expressing their concern about the Israeli occupation on the eve of their draft into the army. Today’s Shministim often serve time in prison, as do many other refuseniks. See "The Shministim Letter 2008." See also december18.org.
A triangle-shaped peninsula in Egypt, located between the Mediterranean and Red Sea. The Suez Canal runs along the northwestern edge of the peninsula. It was a strategic location in the 1956 War, the 1967 War, and the 1973 War. Captured by [no-lexicon]Israel[/no-lexicon] in 1967, [no-lexicon]Israel[/no-lexicon] returned the peninsula to Egypt in 1979 in an agreement reached at Camp David, in exchange for bilateral peace between the two countries. See "Seeking a solution for Egypt's troubled Sinai Peninsula," Al Jazeera English, April 13, 2015.
Also referred to in the Arabic language and by many Islamist groups as "martyrdom operations." According to such groups, the person carrying out the operation did not commit suicide but rather died as a martyr on behalf of a sacred cause. In most cases, the term is used to refer to militant operations during which the assailant detonates a bomb nearby targeted victims, surrendering his or her own life during the attack. While Palestinian suicide bombers do target Israeli military installations, they most often strike Israeli civilian areas, often in buses and cafes. This tactic began to be widely used starting in 1994, during the tense years of the Oslo Process, employed most often by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. A second, more frequent, slew of attacks began after the start of the Second Intifada, including attacks by the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in addition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Some of the suicide bombings that are particularly seared in Israeli memory include two bombings on the #18 bus line in Jerusalem in the winter/spring of 1996 which jointly killed 45 people, a 1996 bombing coinciding with Purim at the Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv which killed 13, a bombing in the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium disco in June 2001, killing 21, and the Passover bombing at a hotel in Netanya, killing 30. Suicide attacks began to subside after 2005. Human rights and other organizations have condemned such attacks, labeling them, in most cases, crimes against humanity. See "Erased In A Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians," Human Rights Watch, October 2002.
This was the secret 1916 agreement made during World War I between France and Great Britain (with Russia’s agreement), to divide the Ottoman Empire-controlled Middle East into French and British spheres of control. Britain was accorded control over what is present-day Palestine/Israel, Jordan, and southern Iraq. France was accorded control over what is present-day Lebanon, Syria, northern Iraq and south-eastern Turkey. The Sykes-Picot Agreement is what led to the British Mandate of Palestine. See "Why border lines drawn with a ruler in WW1 still rock the Middle East," Tarek Osman, BBC, Dec 14, 2013.
(1915-2012) A Jewish Israeli military and political figure. Born in current-day Belarus and educated in Poland, Shamir immigrated to Palestine in 1935. He was a member of both the militant Irgun and Stern/Lehi Gang (Jewish paramilitary groups that were subsumed into the Israeli army in 1948), and, upon the creation of the State of Israel, became an active Israeli foreign intelligence agent in Europe. Shamir joined the Herut party (the precursor to the Likud party) in 1969, and was active in politics from then on. Prime Minister of Israel from 1983–1984 and 1986–1992, his government entered the Madrid Conference talks with Palestinian representatives, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon in 1991. See "Yitzhak Shamir, Former Prime Minister, Dies at 96," Joel Brinkley, The New York Times, June 20, 2012.
(1940- ) A Jewish Israeli political and media figure. He served as a member of the Knesset from 1974-2006, including the positions of Minister of Education and Minister of the Environment. From 1996-2003, he led the Meretz party, which emphasizes a two-state solution, human rights, and social justice. Due to Meretz’s decline in power, Sarid retired from politics in 2006. Sarid now writes a weekly column for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. See "Writer Profile: Yossi Sarid," Haaretz.