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Gaza Strip
Arabic: qitā¢ ghazzaPlay sound



Gaza Strip

Palestinian territory of about 360 kmē, bordered on the south by Egypt and on the north and east by Israel.
The coastline is 40 km long, the border with Egypt being 11 km and the border with Israel being 51 km. The width of Gaza is at its minimum 6 km and at its maximum 14 km. Annual rainfall seldom exceeds 400 mm and arable land is a mere 13%. The Gaza Strip is mostly flat and large areas are sandy, often continuing from the beaches which run along the entire coast.
Today, all of Gaza is governed by the Palestinian National Authority independently from West Bank, and by the Islamist organization and party Hamas. Israel has effectively ensured that not all of the land is inhabited, thereby helping to secure Israeli homes from rocket attacks.
The population is about 1.44 million (2005 estimate), of which 500,000 are indigenous. Until 2005, about 9,000 Jewish settlers lived in designated protected territories within this area.
Large parts of the population on Gaza Strip have by the UN the status as refugees, but very few of these are true refugees, but are rather children of refugees.
The main city of the strip is Gaza from which the strip takes its name, as does the English word "gauze." The majority of the population are Muslims, although there is a group of Christians as well.
The economy of the Gaza Strip is highly dependent on Israel, where many Gazans find their regular employment. About 35% of Gaza's GNP is from wages earned in Israel. Israel is also a major trading partner and many Gazan agricultural products are exported from Israel as Israeli products. Little has been achieved in recent years to change the economy of Gaza.

History
The oldest sources about Gaza relate that it was the residence of the Egyptian governor to Canaan.
Around 1180 BCE: Arrival of the Philistines, making Gaza an important coastal city.
7th century CE: The Gaza territory comes under Muslim rule.
1947: By the partition plan of the UN, the territory of Gaza is projected to become part of an independent Arab state.
1948 May: Egyptian forces move up along the Palestinian coastline in an attempt to reach Tel Aviv. Being pushed back by Jewish forces, a British ceasefire agreement stops the Jewish troops while the Egyptians still hold the Gaza territory. Soon after, large groups of Palestinian refugees arrive in Gaza.
— During the Egyptian occupation little is done to improve the conditions in the Gaza Strip and the borders between Egypt and the occupied Strip are virtually closed. The Gazan population receives no citizenship, and large portions of the population survive on UN relief efforts.
1956: As part of the Suez-Sinai War, the Gaza Strip is occupied by Israel, but Israel leaves as a result of international pressure.
1967 June 5-10: As one of several territories, Gaza is occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War. This time Israel remains.
1987: Beginning of the Palestinian Intifada, making Palestinian struggles for independence and political and human rights more evident in the media, forcing Israel to face the real situation of the Palestinians in Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
1993: Signing of the Oslo Agreement, intended to secure the establishment of a Palestinian State on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
1994 May 18: Israeli troops leave most of the Gaza Strip, and control reverts to the Palestinian National Authority.
July 1: Arrival of Yassir Arafat in Gaza, where an enthusiastic crowd meets him.
1995 January 2: 3 Palestinian police officers are shot by Israeli military, at Bayt Hanun.
1996: January 20: Elections for the Palestinian National Council and president of the council. The Gaza Strip has 37 seats in the 88 seat council. PLO and Yassir Arafat become the great victors of the election. However, no other candidate receives more votes than the leading Arafat critic, Haidar Abd ash-Shafi, a citizen of the Gaza Strip. Out of the Gaza Strip Hamas candidates are elected, although Hamas boycotts the elections in most constituencies.
February 26: After a bomb kill 26 people in Israel, Israel closes the borders to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This creates economic hardship on the thousands of Gazans who are employed in Israel. When the borders are closed for a couple of weeks, Israel begins to enlist workers from East Asia.
2004 May 13: The Israeli army launches a campaign against quarters of Rafah, which they claim shows strong resistance, being specifically involved in arms smuggling. Around 50 people are killed, and Israel is strongly condemned internationally.
2005 February: The Israeli government adopts a plan for its disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
August 15: Despite heavy Jewish protests, the Israelis start dismantling Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip , concurrently removing the Jewish settlers.
September 12: The Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip is completed. Israel also moves out of the Philadelphi Route, the Israeli corridor parallel to the border line, making it possible for Palestinians and Egyptians to cross between the two countries.
December 28: Israel starts bombarding the northeastern section of the Gaza Strip, thereby creating a buffer zone along the border, aimed at preventing missles being fired upon Israeli territory.
2006 June 25: An Israeli soldier is kidnapped by militant Palestinians. Israel starts a campaign against Gaza Strip, lasting 2 weeks, in which many central infrastructure is destroyed.
July 17: Israeli attacks on the Palestinian foreign ministry in Gaza, destroying the remaining parts of the building.
2007 June: Heavy fighting between Hamas and Fatah militia. Hamas, being the strongest party of the two on the Gaza Strip, manages to secure control over most important positions.
2008 December 20: Hamas declares it will not prolong the cease-fire signed in June. Hamas blames Israel for having closed borders for little but humanitarian aid, and begins shooting off rockets into Israeli territory.
December 26: Israel opens several border points to Gaza, but Hamas' attacks on Israel continues.
December 27: Israel launches a wave of air strikes on Gaza Strip, killing hundreds within few hours. Many civilians are killed, due to Hamas strategy of placing military installations among civilian homes. Within two weeks more than 800 Palestinian are killed, but the number of civilian is unusually low for any war, and especially for a war fought against military placed around civilian homes.




By Tore Kjeilen