Join us on a journey through the last 70 years to discover how Israel has become one of the most creative and innovative countries in the world. Our fascinating timeline of accomplishment is the first part in a special multimedia package we’ve created to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Israel is founded on May 14, 1948
- Israel is founded on May 14, 1948, a few hours before the British Mandate is due to expire. Eleven minutes later, the United States becomes the first country to recognize the Jewish state when it grants Israel de facto recognition. On May 15, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria invade Israel. The War of Independence lasts 13 months.
- The Supreme Court of Israel is inaugurated, the Israeli lira replaces the Palestinian pound, the Israeli flag becomes the state’s official flag.
- El Al, Israel’s new national airline, operates its maiden flight, bringing Israel’s first president, Prof. Haim Weizmann, home from a diplomatic visit to Geneva.
- The new country’s population numbers 806,000.
El Al Israel Airlines, established in 1948, begins flying nonstop between Tel Aviv and New York, setting a world record for the longest nonstop flight.
IBM Israel opens its doors in Israel, 1972
IBM Israel opened its first R&D center at the Technion’s Computer Science Building in Haifa. Today, more than 1,000 people work at IBM R&D offices across Israel
Israel unveils its first locally manufactured fighter jet, the Kfir, on Independence Day. The Kfir became a mainstay of the Israel Air Force for 20 years, and was used by the US Navy and Marine Corps for air combat training.
Maccabi Tel Aviv wins the European Basketball Championship & Israel’s first Academy Award, 1977
- Maccabi Tel Aviv wins the European Basketball Championship.
- Israeli director Moshé Mizrahi wins an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for “Madame Rosa.”
Introduction of the shekel, 1980
The lira is replaced by the shekel (1 shekel = 10 lirot) as Israel’s national currency The “new Israeli shekel” (NIS) introduced on January 1, 1986, is still in use, available in coin and banknote forms.
Operation Magic Carpet begins, 1949
Some 49,000 endangered Yemenite Jews, and some from countries including Saudi Arabia, are airlifted to Israel in a secret operation involving 380 flights by British and American transport planes taking off from Aden.
The Law of Return is formally enacted, 1950
Israel’s Law of Return, approved by the Knesset on July 5, entitles anyone of Jewish matrilineal descent, or a Jewish convert, to immigrate to Israel and obtain full citizenship.
The law was later amended to state that the same rights are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who had been Jewish and voluntarily changed his or her religion.
The National Water Carrier is completed, bringing water from Israel’s north to the parched south. The development is a major step forward in enabling Israel to turn the Negev Desert into the center of crop production in Israel.
The research behind Copaxone begins; Israel Wins 6 Day War, 1967
Michael Sela, Ruth Arnon and Dvora Teitelbaum begin experimenting with synthetic substances to reduce the symptoms associated with MS. Thirty years later, the FDA approves Copaxone, the drug the three developed along with Teva Pharmaceuticals.
- Israel successfully overcomes attacks by Egypt, Jordan and Syria in the Six-Day War. In the wake of this unlikely victory, the historical and religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem are rebuilt and become the most popular tourist destination in Israel.
A year Of Interesting Achievements, 1983
- Israeli wine. Golan helped transform the way Israeli wines are perceived worldwide, and firmly placed Israel on the world wine map.
- Mario Moshe Levi and Yaakov Nakash launch Bio-Bee Biological Systems at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, which cultivates bees, wasps, and mites for pest control and natural pollination on farms across the world.
- Israel creates a national search-and-rescue unit to respond to domestic and foreign disasters.
Russian Jews begin to emigrate to Israel en masse, 1989
Start of mass immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Between 1989 and 2006, more than one million Russians emigrated to Israel, transforming the culture, high-tech industry, education system and politics of the country.
M-systems launches the the world’s first flash drive, the DiskOnKey, 2000
Israel gets a national bus company, 1951
The Egged bus company becomes a cross-country public transportation network after merging with the northern Shahar bus company and the southern Drom Yehuda bus company. Today, Egged buses make more than 25,000 trips every day, providing about half of Israel’s public transport services via a fleet of 3,057 buses. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange opens for business. Today, about 544 companies are listed on the exchange.
Conquering t he desert, 1953
- The Israel Prize, the state’s highest cultural honor, is awarded for the first time. The nine recipients represent the fields of Jewish studies, literature, education, social science, medical science, fine arts, exact sciences and life sciences.
- The Conquest of the Desert world’s fair opens in Jerusalem, focusing on the themes of reclamation and population of desert area. Some 600,000 people visit the fair.
Israel wins its first Olympic medals, 1992
Israel wins its first two Olympic medals in its 10th Olympic appearance, in judo. Judoka Yael Arad wins a silver medal and her teammate Oren Smadja wins bronze. Since then, Israel has won seven more bronze medals and a gold — by Gal Fridman in men’s windsurfing in 2004.
Save a Child’s Heart is founded, 1995
The non-profit organization Save a Child’s Heart is founded at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, offering free heart surgery to children from developing countries all over the world, including Gaza and the Palestinian Authorities. To date, Save a Child’s Heart has saved the lives of more than 4,500 children from 56 countries
First desalination plant opens, 1997
Israel opens its first reverse osmosis desalination plant, in Eilat. Since then, five more desalination plants have opened along Israel’s Mediterranean shore, these plants have helped relieve Israel’s chronic water shortages.
Eli Beer founds United Hatzalah, 2006
Eli Beer starts United Hatzalah of Israel, a network of volunteer neighborhood EMTs who often travel on ambucycles – refitted motorcycles nimble enough to weave through traffic. Today the organization has 4,000 EMTs, certified first responders, paramedics and doctors dispersed throughout Israel.
Tel Aviv celebrates its centennial, 2009
Tel Aviv celebrates its 100th anniversary. In the last decade or so, Tel Aviv (which has both more vegans per capita and more dog owners per capita in the world) has won accolades from all over the world, being named third best city in the world by Lonely Planet
A Nobel Prize, Iron Dome, aid to Japan, 2011
- A test of the revolutionary Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts a short-range rocket for the first time in history
- Technion Prof. Daniel Shechtman wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the quasicrystal.
- Israel sends aid to Japan in the wake of the deadly earthquake and tsunami.