This week in Israeli history: March 23-29


MARCH 26: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin shake hands at the White House signing ceremony for the peace treaty March 26, 1979. Photo by Ya’acov Sa’ar, Israeli Government Press Office

Center for Israel Education,

March 23, 1915 — Zion Mule Corps Is Created

A Jewish unit of the British army is formed in Alexandria, Egypt, with about 500 volunteers, including many expelled from Palestine because of the Ottoman Empire’s fear of the Jewish population. The idea comes from Ze’ev Jabotinsky and is embraced by one of the refugees, Joseph Trumpeldor, who becomes the highest-ranking Jewish officer in what begins as the Assyrian Refugee Mule Corps and is known as the Zion Mule Corps.

March 24, 1966 — Israeli TV Goes on Air

An instructional program in math targeting seventh- and ninth-graders in 32 schools becomes Israel’s first TV broadcast. Ten years behind Jordan and six years behind Egypt, Israel launches domestic television because the educational possibilities overcome fears of negative influences. Broadcasts for the general public begin in 1968, and Israelis have to wait more than two decades for a second domestic channel.

March 25, 2019 — Israel-Gaza Violence Flares

A rocket destroys a house in Mishmeret, north of Tel Aviv, and injures seven people. In response, the IDF bombs suspected military locations in Gaza and injures seven Palestinians. Thirty rockets then are fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ends a U.S. trip early. Egypt brokers a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel to prevent an all-out war two weeks before a Knesset election.

March 26, 1979 — Egypt, Israel Sign Peace Treaty

Sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem and six months after the Camp David Accords, Sadat joins Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the White House to sign the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, the first such agreement between Israel and an Arab nation. The treaty calls for Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai over three years in exchange for normal relations with Egypt.

March 27, 1839 — Iranian Mob Forcibly Converts Jews

A Shiite mob attacks the Jewish district of Mashhad, Iran, after alleged misconduct by a Jewish woman. The rioters kill 30 to 40 Jews, burn the synagogue, loot homes and abduct children. The entire community of nearly 2,400 is forced to convert to Islam in an event known as the Allahdad, although most of the converts continue to practice Judaism in secret. Some Jews flee to Herat, Afghanistan, or elsewhere to avoid conversion.

March 28, 1932 — 1st Maccabiah Games Open

The first Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics, begin with athletes from 18 countries (some sources say 14 or 21) in Tel Aviv. Mayor Meir Dizengoff rides through the streets on a white horse, and 120 carrier pigeons (10 for each of the 12 tribes of Israel) are released to carry the news. The Maccabi World Organization, with about 40,000 athletes in 24 nations by 1930, grows out of a federation of Zionist sports clubs established in 1903.

March 29, 2002 — Defensive Shield Begins

Israel calls up 30,000 military reservists and announces Operation Defensive Shield in response to a brutal month of Second Intifada terrorism, including 30 people killed in the bombing of a Passover seder in Netanya. During the 19 days of Defensive Shield, Israel controls most West Bank cities, kills or captures many terrorist leaders, and besieges Yasser Arafat inside his Palestinian Authority compound in Ramallah.

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