The history of Jews in the Land of Israel goes back to Biblical times. According to tradition, there was an Israelite presence in the Land as early as the 13th century BCE. Centuries of autonomous rule followed in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, at times independent and at other times living within the framework of larger empires. After more than a millennium, the majority Jewish presence in the Land came to an end after Rome destroyed the Second Temple, razed the Judean capital of Jerusalem, and began the major Diaspora. During the 18 centuries of Diaspora, the Jews who remained in the Land (toward the end concentrated in Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed) lived under the rule of a succession of empires. This began with Rome and then the Christian Byzantines, under whose rule the rabbis remaining in the Land of Israel compiled and redacted the Jerusalem Talmud (likely in the Galilee). The Byzantines were defeated in the 7th century by the Arab conquest, which brought 1,300 years of Muslim rule (interrupted by the Crusader kingdoms of the 11th and 12th centuries) to the Land of Israel. Six major Muslim empires ruled the area during that time, the last of them being the Ottoman Empire, which gained control in the 16th century, ruled for 400 years, and was defeated by the British in the World War I. This would bring an end to total Muslim rule in the Land of Israel and begin thirty years of British rule under the mandate of the League of Nations.
During the centuries of Muslim rule, the Jewish inhabitants of the land (as the descendants of the Judeans came to be called) were accorded the status of dhimmi, a special protected class of non-Muslim residents who were seen as members of the wider community, but of an inferior status and religion that did not provide them the same privileges enjoyed by Muslims. In the first few centuries of Muslim rule, Jewish communities expanded in coastal towns from Rafah to Caesarea where they were treated as a tolerated minority. Throughout the centuries, Jerusalem and the other holy cities maintained their status as pilgrimage sites for Jews around the world, and those who had the means would send their dead to be buried in the cemeteries directly outside Jerusalem's walls. Toward the end of Ottoman rule, romantic nationalism began to sweep across Europe, both exacerbating existing antisemitism and inspiring a minority of European Jews to envision a national renaissance for themselves in the Land of Israel. This manifested in the first two waves of aliyah to Ottoman Palestine at the end of the 19th century and up to the start of World War I. At the same time, twenty years before the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Theodore Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress with the aim of establishing a legally recognized home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Jewish philanthropists, most famous among them the Baron de Rothschild, began to purchase plots of land in Ottoman Palestine to be worked by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who would study agriculture and Hebrew in preparation for their immigration. Three more major waves of immigration followed in the interwar years. All together, these five waves of Jewish immigration brought over four hundred thousand Jews to Palestine from Central and Eastern Europe, Yemen, and elsewhere.
As the Jewish population of Palestine continued to grow under the British Mandate, conflict with the local Arab population intensified. In an attempt to appease the Arabs, the British closed Palestine to Jewish immigration just before and during the Holocaust, leading to Jewish resistance and clandestine attempts to bring Jews in from Europe. After World War II, the United Nations voted to partition the land into an Arab state and a Jewish one. The British withdrew from the Mandate, and on May 14, 1948 (5 Iyar, 5708), the establishment of the State of Israel was declared. The ongoing violence that had persisted between the Jews, the British, and the local Arabs erupted into full-scale war between Israel and the Arab states of the region, most of which had recently gained independence themselves. After the horrors of the Holocaust made obvious the need for a Jewish state, most of world Jewry, which had always considered the Land of Israel as its spiritual homeland, committed itself to working toward the establishment and, later, the wellbeing, of the State of Israel.