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Israel has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, with Neanderthal remains from the region dating back 50,000 years.Its strategic location serving as the gateway from Asia to Egypt and Africa had made Israel an ideal target for conquerors through the ages.Israel thus contains a vibrant modern history and culture, based in part on the diverse, immigrant origins of its inhabitants returning from the Jewish Diaspora.These aspects make Israel a fascinating destination for many travellers and pilgrims.The Jewish nationalists, emboldened by support from the Americans and the French, grew impatient with the British delay in granting independence and started several armed uprisings of their own against British rule.After two years of growing violence and terrorism, in the fall of 1947 the British decided to withdraw their troops from the remaining western third of Palestine.Nonetheless, half a year later, on , the British withdrew and the Jewish nationalists immediately declared independence as the State of Israel.The Arabs responded with a military invasion of the nascent State of Israel, and consequently no Arab State in western Palestine was ever established.

Jerusalem is a sacred city for all three of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In the middle ages, European Christians invaded in a period known as the Crusades and established a small kingdom and killed off the non-Christian population, but after a few centuries were expelled.

The land was then ruled for many years by different Muslim empires, culminating in the Ottoman Empire.

Many major powers, including the Americans, endorsed Jewish independence in Palestine as the only way to ensure the survival of the Jewish people.

The British were more hesitant, however, as they worried about a possible Arab revolt.

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