The history of the state known as Israel has been turbulent and controversial. The following summary is from BBC Online’s profile of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

“The division of the former British mandate of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in the years after the end of World War II have been at the heart of Middle Eastern conflicts for the past half century.

Much of the history of the region since that time has been one of conflict between Israel on one side and Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbours, on the other. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced, and several wars were fought.

Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967. The settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank are home to around 400,000 people and are deemed to be illegal under international law.

Israel evacuated its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and withdrew its forces. However, after the Islamic group Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, Israel intensified its economic blockade of the Strip.”