The Western Wall (Ha-Kotel Ha-Maʿaravi) is the most important place of prayer and pilgrimage for the Jewish people. Although dating back to Antiquity, following the destruction of the Second Temple, it did not become a focal point until the 17th century. Individual prayers evolved into group prayers, soon establishing the same tradition we can observe in present day.
The Western Wall traces its origins to the time of Herod, King of Judah, who commissioned the expansion and renovation of the Temple Mount complex around 19 BCE. Here, the Second Temple had been established following the return from Babylonian captivity. Herod artificially expanded the platform on which it stood by building a perimeter of retaining walls. Nonetheless, the new temple would last less than one century. The entire Jerusalem was destroyed following the First Jewish-Roman war.
Following the destruction of the Second Temple at the hands of the Roman Legions in 70 CE, the western part of the edifice (Part of the Temple & closest to the Holy of Hollies) miraculously remained standing. It grew to become a symbol of resistance and promised rebirth for a defeated population. Once the temple’s walls were fully destroyed, the role passed on to the adjacent portion of the retaining walls (right behind the spot that is close to the Holy of Hollies), which survived destruction because they served a practical role. Another explanation suggests that the Western Wall became so important because it was the contact point between the Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem and the holy space at Temple Mount. Although other sections of the retaining wall remained in places until this day, supporting the elevated plaza to the South and East, the Western section grew in importance.
Indeed, past chronicles of travelers visiting the Holy Land do not mention explicitly the Western Wall. An anonymous traveler from Bordeaux described in 333 how Jews climbed to the site of the Temple Mount once a year (the anniversary day of the destruction – the 9th of Av) and mourned over the remains of their temple. They cried and washed the hashtyah השתייה with oil. Following Muslim conquest, it seems this practice was discouraged by the new rulers, who used the place for their own religious pursuits, building the Dome of the Rock. It is also possible that Jews themselves gave up the climb for halakhic reasons. The retaining walls became the closest place the Jewish people were allowed to reach. Ashtori Haprachi, a famous 14th century geographer of the Land of Israel, speaks of the prayers made at the walls. Inscriptions from that period are a testimony of the practice, which was tolerated (though not made easy) during Ottoman rule.
The 17th century was an important landmark in the history of the Wailing Wall. For the first time, chronicles make clear reference to the western section as a preferred site for prayer. Until then, accounts mentioned prayers held on every side. However, urban development of Jerusalem made little compromise for the increasingly popular prayer place. Houses were built very close to the wall, and access ended up being made through a narrow passage way. Over time, the increasingly larger gatherings at the site resulted in tensions between the Jewish worshipers and the residents. Under British rule, wall engravings became forbidden, giving birth to the present-day practice of placing small slips of paper containing prayers into the cracks between the stones. And the idea of partitioning prayer between men and women there is also relatively modern.
Centuries of difficulties and oppression made the Western Wall the most important national-religious site for today’s Judaism, a symbol of the Jewish people’s concept of Zion.
Today the Western Wall Is the most visited site in Israel & it is the only place where you will find active with people praying all day every day!
In March 2000 Pope John Paul II visited the Western Wall And placed a prayer that read:
"We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the covenant" - Pope John Paul II.
Israel as a nation has so much to offer – whether it be extraordinary cuisine, award-winning wine, scenic destinations or cultural impact. What many don’t know is that some of the greatest innovations and life-altering breakthroughs have come from Israel. Apart from the creation of a flash-drive, micro-chip Intel 8088, Mobieye, iron dome, the art of self-defense, Waze and the humble cherry tomato, what else was an Israeli discovery?
1955 – The creation of the Solar Water Collector.
It was essentially in Israel where this was first seen: Solar Power that is gathered in order to collect heated water. The innovation allowed for more hot water to be generated than ever before and which was able to produce more electricity than a turbine.
1958: Language of dance was created.
This radical innovation included the study and documentation of movement and dance so that it can be understood universally. This included general movement, physical therapy and even animal behavior.
1963: The structure of Marijuana.
It was Raphael Mechoulam from Israel, who was able to separate the Marijuana elements, like THC and CBD, and it was here where this was first used for the treatment of serious medical conditions, like seizures.
1865: Modern drip irrigation was created.
The modern drip irrigation is a key system used today by many governments and farmers especially. It is often used for controlled watering of vines – and is a system design in Israel.
1867: Multiple Sclerosis treatment.
It was in Israel where three individuals spent years working on a drug to reduce the symptoms of MS. It was only 30 years later where the drug, Copaxone and Teva Pharmaceuticals were approved for MS by the FDA.
1879: The first Microchip.
The first-ever microchip was developed in Israel by Intel Haifa, known as the Intel 8088.
1985: Creation of Grain Bags.
This was a significant development for farmers, as this large, grain cocoon was able to seal rice, grains, spices and legumes without requiring pesticides.
1987: Aircraft-bird collision prevention.
Another significant innovation was the development of radars, drones and bird watches that helped track birds that migrated over Israel every year. By doing this, he was able to reduce bird collisions by over 70% and saving almost a billion dollars as a result.
1993: Brain surgery GPS.
The device used for deep brain stimulation and the treatment of tremors, Parkinson’s and other brain disorders was created in Israel by the greatest Arab high-tech company. It was an innovation that changed medicine forever.
1995: Ovarian Cancer drug.
Two Israeli doctors from Israel were responsible for the first-ever FDA approved drug that was used for Ovarian cancer. This Nanodrug, Doxil, is known to extend life by between 20 and 30%.
1996: Parkinson’s Disease treatment.
After discovering a paper written by Moussa Youdim, which stated that Rasagiline could help fight Parkinson’s Disease, Teva Pharmaceuticals developed a drug that was immediately marketed in several western countries.
1998: Pillcam creation.
The Pillcam, which is a camera and radio that is digestible, aids doctors in understanding a patients gastro-tract and any illnesses the patient might have. This is a less invasive method to do screening, diagnosis and treatment of GI-related illnesses.
1998: Mobieye establishment.
Mobieye, an innovative device that warms drivers against potential danger, makes a sound when the vehicle edges to close to another object. This is key for parking or if a car gets to close to another while driving.
2001: Robotic back surgery.
The revolutionary technology that allows a for precision surgery takes place, was invited by the founders of Mazor Robotics. This system allows for a 3D blueprint of the patient’s spine so that the procedure would be faultless.
2004: Smartbeds in hospitals
The smartbed is another revolutionary design that allows devices to monitor the patient’s heartbeat, raspatory rate, sleep stages and movement wirelessly with sensor plates in the mattress beds.
2004: Rewalk Walking device.
The Rewalk exoskeleton is a life-changing device created in Israel, which allows paraplegic patients to walk again.
2006: Dementia drug.
The first drug approved for the treatment of mild Dementia symptoms that relate to Parkinson’s was developed in Israel.
2006: Geo-locator and ambucycle.
A group of volunteer EMT’s came together to form as first-dispatchers, with the 5 closest people to the individual being notified of the incident. Additionally, these volunteers would get to the scene via an ambucycle, which as motorcycle refitted to act as a small ambulance.
2007: Nano Bible.
The nano-sized bible, with the complete Hebrew Bible was created in Israel, using incredible lazer beams.
2007: EarlySense and patient care.
EarlySense was created to dramatically improve healthcare by designing a system that that monitors heart rates, raspatory rates and bed motion of patients that are in critical condition, rehab or surgery.
2007: Eyemusic for the blind.
A progressive device, known as Eyemusic, was designed which allows blind individuals to use their other senses to recognize everyday items. The glasses these individuals wear, will then scan the environment and notify them about these items using a musical code.
2014: Tikkun Olam Makers.
This is not so much an object, but a platform where intellectuals from across the globe gather together. This is considered a technology marathon which builds custom models and prototypes for disabled individuals.
Biobeat is an advanced, wearable device that monitors several vital signs, without being invasive. This includes blood pressure, body temperature and calories.
2015: Sniffing cancer.
A breathalyser test that can pick up on unfamiliar human-compounds allows doctors to recognize the first signs of lung cancer in an individual.
2016: Bioabsorbable bandages
These Wound Clot bandages designed in Israel are capable of absorbing large amounts of blood, whereafter it dissolves into the human body.
More recently: Sweetch AI.
One of the greatest medical breakthroughs comes in the form of AI, which is capable of predicting and preventing chronic diseases. By analyzing personalized behavior, past behavior and real-world data, Sweetch is able to intervene.
Israel Institute for Biological research
The IIBS is a world-renowned institute that contributed to several, global medical breakthroughs, including: the development of polio vaccine and the development of kits for detection of explosives.
MIGAL Research Institute
Another important research institute, is MIGAL. This internationally-recognized institute is known for their revolutionary findings on several topics, including computer-science, plant science, food science and nutrition. Their list of employees includes a staggering 94 individuals who hold a PDHs.
RealView Imaging Ltd.
The company provided a realistic 3D in-air holograms.
CEO and co-founder Aviad Kaufman said the company was really excited for the installation of the HOLOSCOPE-i medical holographic system for real-time use, resulting in better overall patient care,
Potential Corona Virus Treatment.
Kamada Pharmaceuticals is at the forefront with the Covid19 Pandemic and has enlisted their first patient for a clinical trial for a potential Corona treatment.
With all these ground-breaking innovations in technology and medicine, who know what else will emerge from Israel and where they will take the world in the future!
The Eastern Mediterranean is indeed home to the richest natural gas reserves – the countries that enclose the region have immense capabilities in expanding their economies in accordance with this availability. But abundance comes with a certain cost – disputes are nearly unavoidable when the gas fields become a bone of contention between equally dominant countries. Be it the energy war between Israel and Lebanon or that between Egypt and Turkey, the key concern has been the sources lying in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The business rings in billions as profit to the developers and exporting countries. The gains are enough to affirmatively exploit the gas fields here.
In the Middle East, conflicts and bilateral disputes are no new observations. In these, natural gas fields play a crucial role. Looking at one of the largest gas fields in the Gulf, this fact becomes all the more evident to us. It lies between Qatar, a Sunni country, and Iran, a Shiite nation. For Europe, seeking to relieve itself of its dependence on Russia for natural gas, this field is of great significance. It put forward two options for the pipeline that can meet its demand. The first follows a Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Syria-Turkey-Europe route, while the second follows the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Mediterranean Sea-Cyprus-Europe path. In both cases, Syria is a common factor linking either side of each pipeline option. But, theological and political differences play the spoilsport in a matter as important as this. Bashar al-Assad, free to agree or express his discontentment, has given his nod to the pipeline route that comes from Iran, given his Alawite-Shia inclination. Politics and natural-gas dependent economics aren’t two widely distanced points in this landscape. They are tied to one another and this makes the conflicts that erupt in the region stand out from the rest. This can also be said of the Gaza Marine field at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The Gaza Marine Project was plagued with corruption right from its beginning. Secrecy and selfish motives drove its political actors towards decisions that brought little or no benefit at all to the commoners in Palestine’s Gaza. When Ismail al-Misshal put forth the possibility of great wealth in terms of the availability of natural gas off the coast of Gaza, there was a lot of hope. Yasser Arafat even proclaimed it to be a gift from God. It spelled progress and immense opportunities for the generations that have had to bear the brunt of ripped identity. In 1995, Misshal began putting his best foot forward to seal the perfect deal for Palestine’s people. He was, however, not aware of the underground developments being carried ahead by the Palestinian administration. On the day that his carefully studied agreement was to be signed, another had already been made formal and finalized. The terms laid down in this new contract were rather controversial since it contained the very conditions that Misshal had disagreed with earlier. According to the contract signed in October 1999, British Gas was to get 60% of the revenue, followed by Consolidated Contractors Company with a 30% and the Palestine Investment Fund with a mere 10%. The logic behind this system of sharing cannot be sensible or fair – it hasn’t been revealed to date. Why would a foreign contributor be entitled to more than the one who owns the resource?
The clause that drew most of the attention was that which held that Palestine had to inform Israel of any oil found or exploration activities being carried out in the offshore region – Why was a nation, at odds with Palestine, being made a party to the latter’s internal matters? There were so many questions that needed answers. But these are still out there in the open with no takers whatsoever. It has been termed the Black Box – you don’t know what happened or why it happened; why the terms were agreed upon or what were the true intentions behind these compromises. The contract was never released or published. It wasn’t placed before the Legislative Council. Only Arafat’s close circle had any knowledge about the gas deal. From the developments that have taken off since, it can be assumed with certainty that the administration in Palestine is still reluctant to delve into the details of the contract or even let it out for public scrutiny. There are details that need to be hidden, the volatility of which may be too much for the administration to handle if its murky truths are revealed. Nobody wants to be held responsible for the strategies adopted back then.
The Palestine Investment Fund had also come under the scanner for a while. Mohammed Rashid, heading it during Arafat’s time, was eventually accused of money laundering and diverting public money for personal profits. Billionaires were made at the expense of the residents’ standards of living. Palestine had issued an arrest warrant against Rashid, but the disheartening part of this is the fact that it’s not because of his hand in the gas deal. There has been no mention of it – the investigative authorities haven’t found any ample reason to open up the files of the deal for scrutiny. It was a mere act that erupted out of the split between Mahmoud Abbas-Mohammed Dahlan split. Further, Rashid continues to be a free man – he can commute as and when he wishes. There are no restrictions placed before him.
Along the history of developments that the Gaza Marine Project has seen, there have been blockade measures from the side of Israel, as expected in any dispute. Partnering up with Egypt, it enforced restrictions, drawing limits for Gaza’s exploration. Just as British Gas was talking with Egypt to open up a potential market in the latter for Gaza’s energy reserves, Israel went a step ahead and finalized its own deal with Egypt (the lower prices being the seal here). Before this, Israel itself had dropped out of plans with British Gas to open up as a market for Gaza’s oil. That a gas for electricity exchange was even thought of and enabled by the authorities in Palestine is a matter of idiosyncrasy or worse. Palestine is today an energy-dependent nation. It could very well have been on the path towards self-reliance – the first door to this was charted in 1999. Twenty-one years have passed and the bureaucratic and selfish reservations of the PA have just ceaselessly sent matters downhill. Why should Palestine continue to buy electricity from Israel when it has the resources to produce it lying just off its own coast?
The PA, in not initiating a claim over the Mari B zone, is pushing the region towards aggressive economic vulnerability. It has failed to categorize any area as an EEZ specific to itself – this gave an opening for Israel venture into their territory to tap the most for their own collective benefit. If PA’s complacency continues, large areas of enormous economic value will be lost similarly in the time to come, thus robbing the Palestinians of opportunities that could have been theirs. What is lost will remain lost – reclaiming these areas is an impossible feat. Gaza needn’t import 85% of the electricity needed to meet their needs. Shortages in energy need not be the norm in the strip. What is rightfully Palestine’s gets taken away with not a whimper being let out by the native administration. To put the people through ridicule yet again with a replica of the 2014 deal (to buy gas from Israel when it has its own field right off the coast) would be a disastrous step to take.
In 2018, without citing any reason at all, Shell chose to give up the 55% stake that it held in the Gaza Marine Project. Two decades of inaction was additionally entangled with this development. Some say that it has now been left to the PA and PIF to find a new partner for the venture. However, a notice let out in 2015 suggests that invitations were sent to Russian and Chinese companies for exploration. The chances of a Palestinian party coming in and getting engaged in the gas deal were thus poured off the discourse. For the PA, facets pertaining to the 20-year old transactions must be shut away as a perennial secret. Inclusion of indigenous companies would threaten this aim and perhaps unveil the actions carried out under the pretext of an economic good. And contributing to the troubling predicament that the Palestinians have to face is not just the Israel-Palestine stalemate – the lack of consensus between the Hamas and Fatah factions has done no good either.
Eating up the fruits of their own whimsical contracts with agencies and governments, the PA has been depriving its people, the residents of Palestine, of basic amenities. Beneath the clamours for liberation and sovereignty lies a bitter layer of corrupt intentions which goes against the very banner that the PA holds while declaring itself a champion of the Palestinian cause. It appears so that the Palestinian Authority is distanced from its own objective. The administrators and leaders in Palestine continue to shy away from discussions regarding the gas field and what needs to be done about it. With no resolve at the top to be self-reliant, those at the lower rungs suffer most.
For how long do the Palestinians have to carry the weight of the wrongs written by their leaders? While the people suffer and endure in varying measures across Gaza, the Authority eyes a different league of profits. With neither the Israel-Palestine differences dying down, nor the internal issues of governance in Palestine seeing a resolution, the future of the Gaza Marine, and with it, that of the Palestinians, seem hazy. But, this is not how it should have been.
Israel is at the forefront of weapon manufacturing, with some of the greatest international weapons designed in Israel. With significant weapons, including the famous Uzi pistol, Jericho 941, Tavor Rifle, Galil Rifle and Desert Eagle Pistol, Israel has managed to create some of the world’s greatest artilleries, used in several significant wars.
So, what other weapons are Israel responsible for?
Rifles & Pistols
MAG Light Machine Gun
This belt-fed machine gun is a significant weapon to come from Israel, first introduced in the 1960s. Although it is similar to the U.S. Army’s Browning Automatic Rifle used in World War 2, there are two significant differences. The MAG Light Machine gun’s difference lies in the fact that it is a link-fed weapon, as well as it being a bottom-receiver locking system. These weapons hold major power as they weigh a full twenty-three pounds without ammunition and is capable of impressive suppressive fire. This weapon is one of the key factors that lead Israeli through successful warfare.
FN FAL Battle Rifle
The FN FAL rifle was developed in 1955, which was a significant weapon. The weapon, which is made of steel and wood, using a round of 20 7.62mm. Although the weapon was able to fire 650 to 700 round per minute, it was a 40-inch long rifle, which made it impossible to use up-close or indoors.
The success of the rifle was so great, that it was used almost immediately after the development and was used in the 1956 war, and then later again the 1973 war.
The IWI Masada is a semi-automatic that is a recoil-operated pistol, first manufactured in 2017. The significance of this design is that not only is it suited for the police force and military force but also individuals looking for a weapon as self-defence.
This semi-automatic pistol was first created in Israel in 2002 and is another weapon that is suited both for police and for self-defence. Although the weapon was first manufactured in Israel, the largest market for the pistol are western countries, like the UK and US.
IAI Heron – Machatz-1
The IAI Heron was developed by the Israeli Aerospace industry, known especially as a long-endurance vehicle. The drone is capable of operating for 52 consecutive hours and travel up to 10km. The significance of the Heron is that it can carry several sensors, cameras, intelligent systems, radars and is capable of target acquisition.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UaVs)
The UaVs of Israel have allowed them to become a global military force to be reckoned with. These remote drones are used daily in Israel, using its camera to monitor everything in and around the country. It’s these aerial vehicles that inspired the US to develop their own version of the drone, but manufacturing mini UaVs that are used by Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One of the most significant UaVs, is the Elbit Hermes 900 – an endurance drone that is able to fly for over 30 hours on end. The drone is fully equipped with surveillance, electro-optical sensors, radars, communications and target indication. It is a modern piece of equipment, used in several countries.
It should be no surprise that many western countries prefer Israeli designed weapons above any other. It is the technology and innovations from Israel that has allowed them to be a significant contributor to some of the greatest and most powerful weapons in the world.