Israel is a small country on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean with land borders with Lebanon and Syria on the north, Jordan on the east, and Egypt on the south. About 60% of the country's 25,000 sq km/10,000 sq mi consists of the Negev Desert. The Negev lies south of Be'er Sheva and extends to Elat on the Gulf of Aqaba.
The weather and climate of Israel are very similar to those described for Syria. The main contrast of weather and climate within Israel is between that of the Negev and the northern part of the country.
The northern part of Israel has a typical Mediterranean climate with abundant sunshine, mild, wet winters, and long, hot, dry summers. Winter rainfall can be quite heavy but falls on a small number of days.
On the coast the summer heat is at times rather oppressive and humid but is tempered by afternoon sea breezes. Winters here are mild, and frost and snow are very rare events (see the table for Haifa).
Inland in Galilee and in the occupied West Bank territory covered by the ancient region of Samaria and province of Judea the country is hilly, with heights ranging from 500 m/1,650 ft to 1,000 m/3,300 ft.
Rainfall is rather heavier here and snow may occasionally fall. Nights are chilly in winter and fresh and cool in summer. The summer heat in the hills is drier and less oppressive than on the coast (see table for Jerusalem).
In the southern desert of Negev, annual rainfall is low, decreasing from about 200 mm/8 in in the north to as little as 50 mm/2 in at Elat on the Gulf of Aqaba. The scanty rainfall in the Negev comes as short but heavy local showers.
These may occur at any time from September until April. Cloudy skies are rare here even in midwinter. Winter nights may be quite cold with frost and occasional snow or sleet. Except under khamsin conditions, nights in the desert are rarely very hot and may feel pleasantly fresh after the dry heat of the day.
The most unpleasant weather in Israel, as in neighbouring countries, occurs when hot dry winds import high temperatures from the Arabian Desert. These khamsin winds go under the Hebrew name sharav in Israel. They are most frequent and most severe at the beginning and end of the hot, dry summer period.
Israel has a very sunny climate with an average of between six and seven hours of sunshine a day in winter and twelve to thirteen hours in summer. It is one of the few countries to have exploited its sunshine for solar heating of domestic hot water. A great many homes make use of rooftop solar heating panels for this purpose.
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