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Israel

Yearbook 2011

2011 IsraelIsrael. According to Countryaah official site, hundreds of thousands of Israelis, primarily in Tel Aviv but also in Jerusalem, demonstrated on a number of occasions during the summer for cheaper housing and food. The government, apparently shaken by the commitment to an issue that had nothing to do with the Palestinian conflict, responded with a swiftly bundled reform package that included an investment in cheap student housing. Israel's economy was good, with growth of 4-5% and falling unemployment, but the price levels were so high that even the middle class had a hard time getting together everyday.

In exchange for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners, the militant Islamist group Hamas released October 19, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held hostage for over five years. Shalit was received as a hero upon returning home. By exchanging so many prisoners for a single, the government lived up to the promise to do everything for the safety of its soldiers, but at the same time signaled to potential new hostages that it was susceptible to extortion.

2011 Israel

In August, the Israeli military accidentally killed five Egyptian border guards on the Sinai Peninsula. The target was, according to Israel, militant Islamists who had killed eight Israelis near Eilat. Israel lamented the incident, but angry Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo on September 9, after which diplomats and other personnel were evacuated to Israel.

Relations with Turkey became even worse. In a September report, the UN criticized Israel's attack on the Mavi Marmara vessel in 2010, stating that the killing of nine Turkish activists was "disproportionate and unreasonable". Some activists had been shot several times, others in the back, which, according to the UN, countered that the Israelis would have acted in self-defense. Turkey demanded an Israeli apology, and when none came, Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador, downgraded diplomatic relations and interrupted all military cooperation, including trade in military equipment.

Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in the coalition government and former Prime Minister, left the Labor Party in January and started a new party called Atzmaut (Independence). Barak retained his ministerial posts, but three other Labor Party ministers jumped out of the government and joined the opposition, which weakened the government.

Around New Year 2011, it was reported that the US oil company Noble had encountered a record-breaking natural gas field, Leviathan, off the northern Israeli coast. Together with an adjacent field, the discovery could make Israel self-sufficient in energy.

Former President Moshe Katsav, who in 2010 was dropped for rape, received his sentence March 22: seven years in prison.

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