Galilee

The Galilee is a geographical region in the modern State of Israel and a region best known as the site for many biblical events in the Old and New Testaments. The area defined as the Galilee falls between Litani River in Lebanon to the north and the Jezreel Valley in Israel. The area is divided into three: Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee and Western Galilee, and is home to Jewish and Arab communities.

Control over the Galilee changed hands several times throughout ancient history. The region was at various points captured by Egyptians, Assyrians, Canaanites, and Israelites, and is best known as the area from where Jesus conducted the majority of his ministry.

Today the Galilee has several large cities, with Haifa as its commercial center and Israel's main port. Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) attract pilgrims year round, and the Galilee is also home to many of Israel’s nature reserves and hiking trails. The city of Safed in the Upper Galilee is also one of Judaism’s four holy cities and where important Jewish texts were written in ancient times.

The Jewish population of the Galilee greatly increased during Ottoman rule in Palestine, when Jews expelled from Spain resettled in the region. Jewish immigration to the Galilee continued with the Zionist movement and in the 1948 War of Independence all of the Galilee was incorporated into the nascent State of Israel.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the area came under the attack by armed militants from the Palestine Liberation Organization based in Lebanon, and in 1982 Israel launched an invasion of Lebanon, known as Operation Peace for Galilee, in an effort to end these attacks. That invasion was the start of an 18-year Israeli presence in southern Lebanon and sporadic attacks on the Galilee by Lebanese-based militias opposed to the Israeli presence.

The Galilee was battered by near constant rocket attacks throughout the month-long Second Lebanon War in 2006, which claimed the lives of several Israelis.

As well as being a popular destination for pilgrims, the area is also popular with Israelis from other parts of the country, due to its scenery, nature preserves and numerous arts festivals, and the area is dotted throughout with zimmers (bed and breakfast hotels).