Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip (/ˈɡɑːzə/;[3] Arabic: قِطَاعُ غَزَّةَ Qiṭāʿ Ġazzah [qɪˈtˤɑːʕ ˈɣ]), or simply Gaza, is a Palestinian exclave on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.[4] The smaller of the two Palestinian territories,[5] it borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 km (6.8 mi) and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km (32 mi) border. Together, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank make up the State of Palestine, while being under Israeli military occupation since 1967.[6]

Gaza Strip
قطاع غزة
Flag of the Gaza Strip
Location of the Gaza Strip
and largest city
Gaza City
31°30′53″N 34°27′15″E
Official languagesArabic
Ethnic groups
365 km2 (141 sq mi)
 2022 estimate
6,507/km2 (16,853.1/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (Palestine Standard Time)
 Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (Palestine Summer Time)
Calling code+970
ISO 3166 codePS
  1. The State of Palestine is recognized by 138 members of the United Nations as well as the Holy See.
  2. Used since 1986; as in Israel, replaced the old Israeli shekel (1980–1985) and the Israeli pound (1967–1980).

The territories of Gaza and the West Bank are separated from each other by Israeli territory. Both fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority,[7] but the Strip is governed by Hamas, a militant, fundamentalist Islamic organization,[8] which came to power in the last-held elections in 2006. Since then, Gaza has been under a full Israeli-led land, sea and air blockade. This prevents people and goods from freely entering or leaving the territory.[9]

The Strip is 41 km (25 mi) long, from 6 to 12 km (3.7 to 7.5 mi) wide, and has a total area of 365 km2 (141 sq mi).[10][11] With around 2 million Palestinians[12] on some 365 square kilometers, Gaza, if considered a top-level political unit, ranks as the 3rd most densely populated in the world.[13][14] Sunni Muslims make up the predominant part of the population in the Gaza Strip. Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91% (2014 est.), the 13th highest in the world, and is often referred to as overcrowded.[11][15] Gaza suffers from shortages of water, electricity and medicines. The United Nations, as well as at least 19 human rights organizations, have urged Israel to lift its siege on Gaza,[16][17] while a report by UNCTAD, prepared for the UN General Assembly and released on 25 November 2020, said that Gaza's economy was on the verge of collapse and that it was essential to lift the blockade.[18][19]

When Hamas won a majority in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, the opposing political party, Fatah, refused to join the proposed coalition, until a short-lived unity government agreement was brokered by Saudi Arabia. When this collapsed under pressure from Israel and the United States, the Palestinian Authority instituted a government without Hamas in the West Bank, while Hamas formed a government on its own in Gaza.[20] Further economic sanctions were imposed by Israel and the European Quartet against Hamas. A brief civil war between the two Palestinian groups had broken out in Gaza when Fatah contested Hamas's administration. Hamas emerged the victor and expelled Fatah-allied officials and members of the PA's security apparatus from the strip,[21][22] and has remained the sole governing power in Gaza since that date.[20] Israel stopped issuing permits for Gazans to work in Israel in 2007 after Hamas took control. In 2007, more than 100,000 Gazans worked in Israel. In 2021, however, it began granting them again in a search for stability following an 11-day war with Hamas.[23] In 2022 Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided to issue an additional 1,500 work permits for a total of 17,000 and aims to increase it to 20,000.[24][25]

Gaza Strip, with borders and Israeli limited fishing zone.

Despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza,[26] the United Nations, international human rights organisations, and the majority of governments and legal commentators consider the territory to be still occupied by Israel, supported by additional restrictions placed on Gaza by Egypt. Israel maintains direct external control over Gaza and indirect control over life within Gaza: it controls Gaza's air and maritime space, as well as six of Gaza's seven land crossings. It reserves the right to enter Gaza at will with its military and maintains a no-go buffer zone within the Gaza territory. Gaza is dependent on Israel for water, electricity, telecommunications, and other utilities.[26] An extensive Israeli buffer zone within the Strip renders much land off-limits to Gaza's Palestinians.[27] The system of control imposed by Israel was described in the Fall 2012 edition of International Security as an "indirect occupation".[28]

Gaza City skyline, 2007.
Downtown Gaza, 2012.
Beit Hanoun region of Gaza in August 2014, after Israeli bombardments.

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