This week in Israeli history

Mordechai Vanunu was brought back to Israel to face espionage charges. 

By the Center for Israel Education

Sept. 27, 1950: Third Maccabiah Games: The Third Maccabiah Games, originally scheduled for 1938 but canceled by the British, begin in the 50,000-seat stadium in Ramat Gan. The first games held in an independent Israel draw 800 athletes from 20 countries. 

Sept. 28, 1995: Deal Signed: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat sign the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, known as Oslo II, at the White House. The deal establishes the Palestinian Authority as an elected, self-governing body and says neither side should take unilateral action on the status of the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

Sept. 29, 1923: Syria Gains Golan: Under borders drawn primarily by Britain and France after World War I, the new nation of Syria gains control of the Golan Heights. The French block Zionist efforts to buy large portions of the Golan over the next two decades. 

Sept. 30, 1986: Vanunu Returns: Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician who left Israel in 1985 and leaked details about the country’s nuclear program and the reactor at Dimona, is brought back to Israel to face trial for espionage after being lured from London to Italy by an undercover Mossad agent. He is convicted in 1988 and serves 16 years in prison. 

Oct. 1, 1981: Jets for Saudi Arabia: President Ronald Reagan announces a plan to sell American F-15 fighter jets and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) planes to Saudi Arabia. Israel adamantly opposes the sale, but Reagan says, “It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy.” He says the sale is no threat to Israel, contradicting Israeli officials.

Oct. 2, 1187: Capture of Jerusalem: Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, captures Jerusalem from crusaders after a siege that began Sept. 20. Saladin eventually signs a treaty with English King Richard the Lionheart that divides the Land of Israel between crusaders along the coast and Muslims in Jerusalem and the interior. Unlike the crusaders, Saladin is tolerant of Jews and allows them to live in the holy city.

Oct. 3, 2005: Choreographer dies: Sarah Levy-Tanai, a choreographer who won the Israel Prize in art, music and dance in 1973, dies at age 94 or 95 (the Jerusalem native was never sure whether she was born in 1910 or 1911). The daughter of Yemeni parents, she founded the Inbal Dance Theater in 1949 and directed it into the 1990s. 

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.