The Survey of Israel (SI) is the official organization responsible for geodesy, mapping and geographic information in Israel. It carries out cadastral, topographic and engineering surveys, and publishes topographic and thematic maps in hard copy and digital form. These cover areas controlled by Israel, including at present the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Its history can be traced back to the establishment of the Survey of Palestine in 1917, SI itself being formed in 1949.

Topographic maps published by SI used the Cassini-Soldner transverse cylindrical projection, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid, but following readjustment of the geodetic control network a Transverse Mercator projection, GRS 1980 ellipsoid has been introduced. Sheets are printed with the Israeli kilometric grid, with an indication of the UTM grid at the margins. The basic scale for all developed areas of the country is a 340-sheet 1:10,000 scale topo-cadastral map. This series was started in the 1950s as a six-color map with 10 m contours, a cadastral overprint, and Hebrew names. Coverage has extended southwards and mapping is now available for settled areas of Israel in a three-color line map. Sheets cover 5 km quadrangles.

The 88 sheet 1:50,000 scale map was started in 1958 as the basic scale map for the country as a whole. It is photogrammetrically derived and shows relief with 10 m contours, the current specification uses four-color printing and includes names in Hebrew. From this map is derived a tourist edition compiled jointly with the Society for the Promotion of Nature in Israel (SPNI), which uses a larger sheet format and includes a footpath overprint. The first sheet with new English place name orthography appeared in 1995 and covers the Eilat area. Sheets include tourist and walking information printed on the reverse.

Until recently a 1:100,000 scale map covering Israel in 22 sheets was the largest publicly available scale. Its area of coverage includes the West Bank and its history can be traced back to a 16-sheet Survey of Palestine map, republished in 1958 to give 26 sheet coverage of the country. Recast in the 1970s, the current specification shows relief with 25 m contours and includes tourist information. This series is derived from 1:50,000 scale mapping and is also available with a partial overprint of names in Latin script. Sheets are revised at intervals between two and five years, depending upon the nature of the area and demand for the map.

Soviet military topographic mapping of Israel is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (2 sheets, complete coverage, published 1974-1990); 1:500,000 (3 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1987); 1:200,000 (12 sheets, complete coverage, published 1980-1986); 1:100,000 (30 sheets, complete coverage, published 1983-1985); 1:50,000 (82 sheets, complete coverage, published 1983-1993) and city (1:10,000) topographic mapping of Beersheba (Be’er Sheva), Elat, Haifa, Jerusalem, Natanya (Netanya) and Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv-Yafo) published between 1970 and 1985. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.

Digital versions of this data is also available. 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 scale series are available as raster scanned layers with or without vegetation and contours, and raster scanned versions of town maps may also be acquired. DTM data has been captured from existing maps and are available at 25 m, 50 m or 100 m density for the whole country.

As well as issuing digital data derived from hard copy mapping, a national GIS has been established and based upon direct input from analytical aerial photogrammetry at 1:40,000 scale. This is being used to generate custom-made and customer defined maps on both digital media and with plotted ‘worksheet’ output, but also for the creation of a new 1:25,000 scale national map series, published in Hebrew, with a 10 m contour interval. Sheets cover 15 km by 20 km blocks and are extending progressively across developed areas of the country. This new map is to replace the older conventional 1:50,000 scale mapping. Topographical layers from the national Geographical Information System were completed between 1994 and 1999, based upon digital photogrammetry with an accuracy of 2m, and data now covers the whole country. Cadastral boundary data is available in DXF or ARC/INFO formats, including administrative boundaries, block-key diagrams and block plans. Other digital map data sets include main road alignments for the whole country, street alignments for major urban areas and national boundaries. Work on a new hydrographic layer in the national GIS started in 1998 and is being used to create ‘sea-land’ maps, the first of which was released in 1999.

The Geological Survey of Israel (IGS) was established in 1949. A 1:100,000 scale geological map used the sheet lines of the old topographic series at this scale, but has been withdrawn since the initiation of 1:50,000 scale mapping in 1970. The 1:50,000 scale map includes the publication of stratigraphic and structural maps, with accompanying explanatory notes for each area. About 20 areas have been issued; the mapping is derived from a digital thematic database, and uses a topographic base from SI 1:50,000 maps. Smaller scale IGS maps include geological mapping superimposed upon satellite imagery of Israel and the Sinai, and a map of seismicity. IGS also maintains bathymetric mapping at different scales for coastal areas, the eastern Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Other earth science mapping of Israel is carried out by the Geophysical Institute of Israel (GII), (formerly the Institute for Petroleum Research and Geophysics (IPRG)), whose publications include digital mapping of magnetic anomalies, a 1:500,000 scale earthquake map and a 1:750,000 scale seismic map.

Keren Kayemeth Israel (the Jewish National Fund) has used an ARC/INFO-based GIS since 1995 to manage and develop planted forests in Israel, with a number of thematic and customised map outputs generated. The Nature and National Parks Protection Authority also uses ARC/INFO to generate environmental mapping of areas under its jurisdiction.

SI also publishes a range of smaller scale maps. These include two-sheet 1:250,000 coverage available as a layer tinted or hill shaded edition, with 100 m contours, or as a tourist edition with place name index. These maps are available as English or Hebrew language versions. Single sheet 1:400,000 coverage is also published, as well as image maps and smaller scale soil and geological mapping of the country. The large format National atlas of Israel last revised in 1985 in English or Hebrew versions, still offers the best small scale thematic coverage of the country. A small format fourth edition was issued in 1995 in Hebrew language.

Large-scale town maps are published, the current specification incorporates street and institution indices on the reverse. A range of eight towns are mapped in Hebrew versions at 1:12,500 scale, a further five are published at 1:10,000. English language editions are published for Jerusalem (also available at 1:2,000 and 1:2,500), Tel-Aviv-Yafo and Nazerat.

Commercial mapping of Israel is issued by Carta, whose publications include motoring maps and atlases, tourist maps, town maps and historical atlases of the country. Carta also distribute the national atlas, market a useful bilingual gazetteer derived from the Survey of Israel digital toponymic database, and have prepared a digital road and touring map of Israel and Jordan at 1:500,000 and a range of CD-based electronic mapping. A more recent competitor for Carta is Map Mapping and Publishing (Map) established as a subsidiary of Tel Aviv Books in 1992 and specializing in the publication of Hebrew and English-language road and town maps and atlases. Map is developing a digital package linking urban and road route finding, and name searching to GPS data. It is planned to release a 1:40,000 scale map series to cover the whole of Israel. Yavneh Publishing House issues a range of atlases, wall maps and other educational products.

Many western cartographic houses also publish mapping of Israel including Institut Géographique National (IGN), Paris, HarperCollins, New Holland and Kϋmmerly + Frey (K+F).

The Central Bureau of Statistics administers Israeli census data collection and geographically referenced social and economic data.

A wide variety of themes relating to Israel have appeared in the Tϋbinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO). The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a useful source of current mapping relating to ethnic and demographic issues on the West Bank and Gaza, including a looseleaf map folio of different thematic coverages of the areas.

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