Israel's Year in Photos

Marked with uncertainty and resiliency around the world, 2020 created truly unique, never-before-seen moments that changed Israel as we know it.

JANUARY

1.5 EASTMED PIPELINE
Greece, Israel and Cyprus agree to build the world’s longest underwater gas pipeline, which is expected to meet 10 percent of Europe’s gas needs by 2025. Italy will be the largest single purchaser of Israeli gas, and several other European countries also stand to benefit.

PHOTO CREDIT: Energean/TWITTER

1.23 REMEMBERING THE HOLOCAUST
The fifth World Holocaust Forum is held in Jerusalem, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp’s liberation, as well as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Several world leaders take part in the event, including Vladimir Putin, Mike Pence, Emmanuel Macron, King Willem-Alexander, and Prince Charles of Wales.

PHOTO CREDIT: Kremlin.ru

1.28 PEACE TO PROSPERITY
At a White House press conference, U.S. President Donald Trump formally unveils his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People.” The plan’s proponents called it “the deal of the century.”

PHOTO CREDIT: The White House from Washington, DC

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FEBRUARY

2.21 CORONAVIRUS HITS ISRAEL
The first case of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel is confirmed when a female citizen tests positive for coronavirus at Sheba Medical Center, following her return from quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

PHOTO COURTESY: joel leyden/TWITTER

2.26 AIR IT OUT
Israel becomes the first country to urge its citizens to refrain from international travel entirely because of the coronavirus outbreak, which had since infected more than 80,000 people worldwide to date.

PHOTO CREDIT: Yochai Mossi/INSTAGRAM

MARCH

3.2 THREE ELECTIONS IN ONE YEAR’S TIME
The 2020 Israeli legislative election takes place, with incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc of right-wing and religious parties winning 58 seats, three short of the majority in the next Knesset required to form a government.

PHOTO CREDIT: Laliv g/wikipedia

3.4 CANCEL CULTURE
Concerts, sporting events and parades for Purim are canceled less than a week before the Jewish holiday, as Israel’s Health Ministry bans gatherings of more than 5,000 people to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Still, locals take to the bars and streets in true Israeli fashion.

Jerusalem’s City Hall suggested it could also cancel or curb the city’s marathon, with tens of thousands of people due to participate in the March 20th race, including some 5,000 runners from abroad.

PHOTO CREDITS: tel aviv/instagram, ICE HOKKU/instagram

We are in control of the situation, thanks to the great caution we have adopted. We have been forced to take very severe steps to slow the spread of the virus in Israel and that is what has happened.

israel prime minister benjamin netanyahu

3.20 A FIRST FOR EVERYTHING
An 88-year-old Holocaust survivor in Jerusalem is Israel’s first fatality from COVID-19.

PHOTO CREDIT: YAIR TALMOR

APRIL

4.1 HISTORY IN ISRAEL’S DRUZE COMMUNITY
Mowafaq Tarif, the current spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, announces that the traditional festivities of the Ziyarat al-Nabi Shu’ayb — a Druze festival and public holiday in Israel — are canceled for the first time in the history of the Druze community.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Antonov/instagram

4.8 THE COUNTRY’S FIRST LOCKDOWN
Lawmakers enforce a three-day nationwide lockdown in conjunction with the Passover Seder, prohibiting city-to-city travel.

PHOTO CREDIT: vivaisrael/instagram

4.18 WHAT A MENSCH
Dr. Abed Zahalka, an Muslim ICU doctor at a hospital in Bnei Brak, brings a Torah scroll wrapped in a prayer shawl into the coronavirus ward for the use of Orthodox Jewish patients.

PHOTO courtesy: avi mayer/twitter

4.20 UNITY GOVERNMENT
The leaders of the two largest parties in Israel’s legislature, Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu, announce that they have reached a coalition agreement to form the next government of Israel. Netanyahu is set be Prime Minister until October 2021, after which Gantz will become prime minister unless Netanyahu should leave the premiership before then.

PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Huber/twitter

4.28 IN MEMORIUM
For the first time since Israel’s founding 72 years ago, military cemeteries are blocked off, and most people mourn or pay their respects in private on Memorial Day, “transforming the country into an extraordinary mosaic that depicts the infiltration of COVID-19 into a nation’s most sacred spaces,” the Times of Israel wrote.

PHOTO CREDIT: Eyal Mass/instagram

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MAY

5.10 PRIDE AND JOY
Tel Aviv’s annual Pride Parade, as well as parades celebrating LGBTQ pride in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba, are postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. The parades are usually held in June, during Pride Month worldwide. Last year’s Tel Aviv Pride Parade, the 21st annual event, drew a record 250,000 participants.

PHOTO CREDIT: nir oren/INSTAGRAM

5.12 SLEEP LIKE A BABY
Israeli startup Nanit, which uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to revolutionize sleep, secures more than $21 million in a VC funding round, part of the roughly $10 billion that Israeli hi-tech companies raised in 2020 — another record year for the local tech industry.

PHOTO CREDIT: nanit

5.21 STREAM ISRAEL
IZZY launches as the first and only TV streaming platform that exclusively offers unlimited Israeli movies, TV shows, and documentaries to audiences around the world.

PHOTO CREDIT: IZZY – STREAM ISRAEL

JUNE

6.10 BIG DEAL  
Israeli pop star Noa Kirel, the country’s leading musical sensation and celebrity idol, signs with U.S. music label Atlantic Records in what’s reported to be the largest such deal for an Israeli artist. In February, Kirel enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces, where she serves in a military band that was established just for her.

PHOTO CREDIT: noakirel_/instagram

6.14 LIFE OR DEATH
Dr. Alain Serraf, head of the International Congenital Heart Center at Sheba Medical Center’s children’s hospital, performs life-saving surgery on a 10-day-old Syrian refugee with a rare heart defect, who was airlifted from Cyprus just days before.

PHOTO courtesy: Israel Ambassador to Cyprus, Sammy Revel

6.22 COURSE OF ACTION
Tel Aviv University’s free online cybersecurity course takes the top spot in the world among online courses available in the field, according to Class CentralLaunched in December 2019 by Professor Avishai Wool and Dan Gittik, with the help of the Israeli company Checkpoint, the online course “Unlocking Information Security,” reached number one in just six months.

PHOTO CREDIT: EDX.ORG

JULY

7.2 WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS
Lemonade becomes 2020’s best IPO debut after the Israeli mobile-based insurance startup’s stock closed up 139 percent to finish its first day on the New York Stock Exchange.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lemonade/Facebook

7.18 UP IN ARMS
Thousands of Israelis participate in concurrent anti-government protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with the former focusing on the government’s economic policies amid the resurgent coronavirus pandemic, and the latter calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over his corruption trial. Gaining momentum as the year goes on, the protests continue each and every weekend on Saturday evenings.

PHOTO CREDIT: amir appel/instagram

AUGUST

08.13 ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Israel-United Arab Emirates peace agreement is announced, making the UAE the third Arab country (after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994) to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel.

PHOTO CREDITS: The White House from Washington, DC, U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

It is a significant advance in Arab-Israeli relations that lowers tensions and creates new energy for positive change across the region. Closer UAE-Israel ties will accelerate growth and innovation, expand opportunities for young people, and breakdown long-held prejudices.  It will help move the region beyond a troubled legacy of hostility and strife to a more hopeful destiny of peace and prosperity.

uae Ambassador to the usa Yousef Al Otaiba

IZZY Presents: Israel Year in Search 2020

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In 2020, Israelis searched “how” more than anything else.

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SEPTEMBER

9.11 AND ANOTHER ONE
The Bahrain-Israel normalization agreement is announced, with the two countries agreeing to establish full diplomatic relations, making Bahrain the fourth Arab state to recognize Israel and the second within a month.

PHOTO CREDIT: Spokesperson unit of the President of Israel

9.25 WHEN IN IRAN
“Tehran” is the latest Israeli drama series to make it global (this time on Apple TV+). The series features the story of a young female Mossad operative who gets stuck in Iran after her mission fails.

PHOTO CREDIT: Apple TV+

9.28 DAY OF ATONEMENT
The holiest day in the Jewish calendar is marred with political battles over openings of synagogues and limits on gatherings as Israel’s quietest day of the year is set to be quieter than ever amid tough nationwide lockdown. It’s the second nationwide lockdown since the pandemic began, an attempt to contain one of the most severe outbreaks in the world. Israel, with a population of just 9 million, is reporting more than 7,000 new cases a day.

PHOTO CREDIT: Roy Malinger/Instagram

OCTOBER

10.15 FOOD FOR THOUGHT
MasterClass, a learning platform featuring the world’s best across a wide range of subjects, announces that James Beard Award-winning Israeli chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, is teaching a class about modern Middle Eastern cooking.

PHOTO CREDIT: MASTERCLASS

10.20 ACT OF CONGRESS
The 38th World Zionist Congress — which has taken place since 1897 and only been canceled on two occasions during both world wars — is conducted virtually from Jerusalem, with participation of more than 700 delegates from 35 countries to elect leadership positions and determine policy for the World Zionist Organization.

PHOTO CREDIT: Modern_Ritual/INSTAGRAM

10.23 SUDAN JOINS THE PACK
The Israel-Sudan normalization agreement is announced, making Sudan the fifth Arab country to establish formal relations with Israel and the third in 2020. Unlike the former two countries that formalized ties with Israel this year — the UAE and Bahrain — Sudan sent troops to fight against Israel in major Arab-Israeli wars and considered Israel an enemy state.

PHOTO CREDIT: PM of Israel/twitter

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NOVEMBER

11.12 FORTUNES OF WAR
The Israeli mini-series about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, “Valley of Tears,” debuts in the U.S. on HBO Max. The production of the series lasted about a decade, and is one of the most expensive television series in Israel, partly because of advanced technologies used to recreate the battles.

PHOTO CREDIT: Valley Of Tears/instagram

11.18 HOOPFUL 
Deni Avdija, who’s been called “the greatest talent in Israeli basketball history,” is selected by the Washington Wizards in the 2020 NBA Draft, which was originally scheduled to be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on June 25th, but is instead conducted via videoconferencing.

PHOTO CREDIT: deni avdija/instagram

11.20 GOLD STANDARD
Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram wins a gold medal at the European Championships in Kyiv, two days after Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics team took the gold in the group all-around category. Ashram is considered another one of Israel’s contenders in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

PHOTO CREDIT: LINOY ASHRAM/INSTAGRAM

11.23 GIRL POWER
Mastercard ranks Israel as the best country for women entrepreneurs, up from fourth place in the previous year’s rankings. According to the report, Israel has set out to double its number of female entrepreneurs within two years.

PHOTO CREDIT: Adi Barel/INSTAGRAM

11.25 NERD ALERT
Students from Tel Aviv University take home top prize at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, beating out teams from leading universities like Harvard, MIT, Cornell and Stanford.

PHOTO COURTESY: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY

DECEMBER

12.1 TIME TO SHINE
Six Israeli products made TIME magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2020: 100 Innovations Changing How We Live” — including Beewise (pictured), Augmedics, City Transformer, Incredo Sugar, Carfoldio and TrialJectory.

PHOTO Courtesy: beewise

12.10 MOROCCAN OIL
Morocco and Israel agree to establish diplomatic relations, and Morocco becomes the sixth Arab country to recognize Israel.

PHOTO COURTESY: David M. Friedman/TWITTER

12.12 SIGN HERE
Bhutan establishes diplomatic relations with Israel.

PHOTO COURTESY: ANI/twitter

12.13 SPRINGBOARD TO SUCCESS
Israeli gymnasts pick up gold and bronze medals in the European Championships. Artem Dolgopyat (pictured) won first prize for the floor exercise, while Alexander Myakinin took home bronze for the high bar.

PHOTO CREDIT: Artem Dolgopyat/Facebook

12.14 TUNNEL VISION
Jerusalem’s world-famous Old City wins global recognition by the International Tunneling and Underground Space Association, coming in at first place in the “Oddities of the Underground” category in the ITA’s sixth annual contest.

PHOTO CREDIT: eliel_travel/instagram

12.17 LIGHT MY FIRE
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla lights the Hanukkah candles at a virtual ceremony organized by the Israeli embassy in Washington, just days after his pharmaceutical corporation received approval to distribute its coronavirus vaccine across the U.S. The business executive is also the son of Holocaust survivors.

PHOTO CREDIT: Screen capture/Israeli Embassy in D.C.

12.20 SHOT IN THE ARM
Coronavirus vaccination begins with doses from both Pfizer and Moderna to first immunize healthcare workers, followed by the elderly and other high-risk individuals. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the world’s first head of state to receive the vaccine.

PHOTO COURTESY: PM of Israel/twitter

12.23 SAY IT AIN’T SO
The 23rd Knesset is dissolved as the deadline to approve the 2020 state budget expires without agreement, automatically requiring elections within 90 days, for the fourth time in less than two years.

PHOTO CREDIT: Oren Ohana/INSTAGRAM

Israel needs a government that will work for the public. An efficient government that will focus on life itself, on the real problems of real people, on small businesses, on the unemployed, on healthcare. Not a government focused on petty politics and corrupt deals and press conferences.

yesh atid chairman Yair Lapid

12.27 ISRAEL IMPOSES THIRD LOCKDOWN
A week after launching its vaccination campaign — which has already seen more than 250,000 Israelis receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine — Israel imposes its third nationwide lockdown since the start of the pandemic.

PHOTO CREDIT: KYC Israel/twitter

Israel's Year in Photos

presented by IZZY

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