Middle East :: Gaza Strip

Introduction ::Gaza Strip

    Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., Gaza has been dominated by many different peoples and empires throughout its history; it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. Gaza fell to British forces during World War I, becoming a part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Egypt administered the newly formed Gaza Strip; it was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War with Egypt in 1967, and later transferred to the Palestinian National Authority. Under a series of agreements signed between 1994 and 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled after the outbreak of an intifada in mid- 2000. In early 2003, the "Quartet" of the US, EU, UN, and Russia, presented a roadmap to a final peace settlement by 2005, calling for two states - Israel and a democratic Palestine. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political party) as the PA president, Israel and the PA agreed to move the peace process forward. Israel in late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip, but continues to control maritime, airspace, and other access. In early 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won the Palestinian Legislative Council election and took control of the PA government. Attempts to form a unity government failed, and violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters ensued, culminating in HAMAS's violent seizure of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and HAMAS in early 2011 agreed to reunify the Gaza Strip and West Bank, but the factions have struggled to implement details on governance and security. Brief periods of increased violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2007-08 and again in 2012, both led to Egyptian-brokered truces. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and the PA governing the West Bank.

Geography ::Gaza Strip

    Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel
    31 25 N, 34 20 E
    total: 360 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 206
    land: 360 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
    total: 62 km
    border countries: Egypt 11 km, Israel 51 km
    40 km
    see entry for Israel
    note: effective 3 January 2009 the Gaza maritime area is closed to all maritime traffic and is under blockade imposed by Israeli Navy until further notice
    temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers
    flat to rolling, sand- and dune-covered coastal plain
    lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
    highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Awdah) 105 m
    arable land, natural gas
    arable land: 7.39%
    permanent crops: 10.96%
    other: 81.64% (2011)
    240 sq km; note - includes West Bank (2003)
    desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne disease; soil degradation; depletion and contamination of underground water resources
    strategic strip of land along Mideast-North African trade routes has experienced an incredibly turbulent history; the town of Gaza itself has been besieged countless times in its history

People and Society ::Gaza Strip

Government ::Gaza Strip

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Gaza Strip
    local long form: none
    local short form: Qita' Ghazzah

Economy ::Gaza Strip

Energy ::Gaza Strip

Communications ::Gaza Strip

    337,000 (includes West Bank) (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 112
    2.405 million (includes West Bank) (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    general assessment: Gaza continues to repair the damage to its telecommunications infrastructure caused by fighting in 2009
    domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed-line services; the Palestinian JAWWAL company provides cellular services
    international: country code - 970 (2009)
    1 TV station and about 10 radio stations (2008)
    .ps; note - same as West Bank
    1.379 million (includes West Bank) (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 87

Transportation ::Gaza Strip

Military ::Gaza Strip

Transnational Issues ::Gaza Strip

    the status of the Gaza Strip is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations; Israel removed settlers and military personnel from Gaza Strip in August 2005
    refugees (country of origin): 1.167 million (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)) (2012)
    IDPs: 160,000 (persons displaced within both the Gaza strip and the West Bank since 1967; as estimated by unofficial sources) (2011)