The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian-held territory situated north of Egypt, on the south-east of Israel. The capital of Gaza Strip is Gaza City. Many people are curious about it, as its name often appears all over the news due to its prominent role in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. By reading this article, you can improve your understanding of the Gaza Strip, its history and people.

What Is the Gaza Strip?

The history of Gaza Strip starts when the Ottoman rule ended, after World War I. At that time, Gaza became part of the League of Nations’ mandate for Palestine, under British rule.

Before this mandate ended, in 1947, the United Nations accepted a plan for the Arab-Jewish partition of Palestine under which the town of Gaza and an area of surrounding territory were to be allotted to the Arabs.

The Mandate ended in 1948, and that’s when the first Arab-Israeli war began. Egyptian forces marched to the town of Gaza and made it their headquarters. They fought heavily against the Israeli, that the area around the town was reduced to a Strip of territory that is 40 kilometers long. This area would become known as the Gaza Strip.

– Area, Temperature and Climate

As of today, the Gaza Strip is an independent Palestinian territory located east of the Mediterranean. The Gaza Strip is 25 miles long and from 4 to 8 miles wide. It has a total area of 140 square miles. In its small size, it holds around 1.85 million Palestinians, making it the third most densely populated region in the world.

Of these 1.85 million, around 1.4 million are Palestinian refugees. Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91 percent, the 13th highest in the world. People living in the Gaza Strip are mostly Sunni Muslims.

During winter, temperatures average around 13 °C and around 20 °C in the summer. The Gaza Strip receives an average of about 12 inches of precipitation each year. The employed population in the Gaza Strip works mostly in agriculture. Around 75 percent of the Gaza Strip area is reserved for farming. Their chief crops are mostly citrus fruits, which are exported to Europe through Israel. They also produce wheat and olives.

– Why Is the Gaza Strip Important?

Between 1917 and 1948, the Gaza Strip was part of Great Britain’s Palestine Mandate from the League of Nations. After the armistice agreement of 1949 and until the 1967 war, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian administration.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, an influx of Palestinian Arab refugees to the Strip tripled the region’s population. Many young refugees in the area were recruited by Arab guerillas to launch attacks on Israel. Their continued attacks were among the root causes of the Suez Crisis of 1956, when the Strip was taken by Israel.

However, the Egyptians gained control back in 1957 after strong international pressures on Israel. These refugees were never given Egyptian citizenship, thereby remaining stateless. During the Six Day War of June 1967, the Gaza Strip was again taken by Israel, which established settlements there.

In December 1987, violent street riots between Gaza’s Palestinians and Israeli troops marked the rise of the Intifada. The Gaza Strip remained under military curfew. The people suffered from unemployment and low wages.

During the Persian Gulf War of 1991, Palestinian workers fled back to their families in the Gaza Strip. This made the economy even worse, with hundreds of thousands of people unemployed.

– The Attempted Agreements Between Israel and the Gaza Strip

In 1993, an agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) pushed for limited self-rule in the area. This agreement forced most of Israel’s troops to leave the Gaza Strip. In replacement, the Palestinian police force was deployed. Israel retained frontier areas and buffer zones around its settlements.

In 1994, Israel strarted to gradually transfer the authority over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the terms of the Oslo Accords, previously signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Led by Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian governments struggled with economic problems. Terrorism was also rampant, as militant Muslims such as Hamas refused to compromise with Israel. The subsequent resumption of violence continued to hurt the local economy.

Although there was less fighting with Israelis, their army became more aggressive and controlled sections of the Gaza Strip in retaliation to Palestinian attacks.

The Israelis attacked the leaders of Hamas, who were known for their member’s suicide attacks. In late 2000, a breakdown in negotiations between the PA and Israel followed more instances of violence. To end the fighting, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew Israeli soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip. By 2005, Israel completely stayed away from the Gaza Strip. However, they continued to patrol the Gaza border.

The Gaza Strip Conflict

The Gaza Strip has endured years of violence, protest, and military clashes because of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The territory of the Strip is separated by Israel from Jerusalem, which holds deep religious value for both Arabs and Jews. Both groups claim that Jerusalem is their capital city.

In 2018, tensions rose once again when the U.S. President Donald Trump transferred the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. This was viewed as American support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinians responded to this by protesting at the Gaza-Israeli border, where the Israeli forces killed dozens of protestors.

Palestinians in Gaza are not equipped with any army — however, they do possess firearms. Since Israel controls the coastlines and all entry points, many experts believe that the weapons are smuggled into the region through anti-Israeli countries such as Iran.

Since 2005, three major conflicts have occurred between Hamas and the Israelis. First is the Operation Cast Lead, which occurred in 2008. Second is the Operation Pillar of Defense of 2012, where rockets fire over the Gaza-Israel border. The third is Operation Protective Edge in 2014, which followed the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers by two Hamas members.

Israel and The Gaza Strip

Since the early 1990s, Israel has enforced movement restrictions on the Gaza Strip. The restrictions got worse in 2007, when Hamas took over that Palestinian territory. For this reason, the Strip is currently placed under an Israeli and U.S.-led international economic and political boycott.

Currently, people are not allowed to leave or enter the Gaza Strip. Import and export of goods are also banned. The restrictions relaxed in recent years but more than 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are still trapped in their own country.

– The Government of Hamas and Its Consequences

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been governed by Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist militant group based in Gaza. The United States and other countries currently consider Hamas a terrorist group. Hamas was founded in 1987 as a resistance group. They wanted to destroy Israel and replace it with an all-Palestinian state.

As of today, they still do not formally recognize Israel as a legitimate country. Hamas also commits violent acts against Israeli troops and civilians. They have regularly fired rockets into nearby areas of southern Israel.

Gaza has recently been suffering from shortages of water, power, and medicine. A situation that has been made worse by the coronavirus crisis. Because of this, human rights groups have urged Israel to stop its siege on the Strip. The UN also encouraged Israel to lift the blockade, as Gaza’s economy is on the verge of collapse.

This was not the first attempt to convince Israel to take a step back. After the Israeli blockade on Gaza, an organization known as the Free Gaza Movement tried to breach it. In 2010, a clash between activists and Israeli commandos resulted in 9 deaths.

– The Power of Israel Over the Gaza Strip

In 2005, as part of its disengagement plan, Israel retained exclusive control over Gaza’s border. It continued to patrol and monitor the external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, with the exception of its southernmost border. Israel controlled Gaza’s air and maritime space and almost all of Gaza’s land crossings.

Israel also has the right to enter Gaza at will with its military. Furthermore, the Gaza Strip is dependent on Israel for its essential utilities such as water, electricity and telecommunications.

When there isn’t much political tension between Israel and Gaza Strip, around 10 percent of the Palestinian population travels daily to Israel for work. However, currently, due to frequent outbreaks of violence, the Israeli authorities closed the border for extended periods of time.

The Gaza–Israel conflict is much larger than it seems. It includes regional powers such as Egypt, Iran and Turkey, together with Qatar. All of these powers support different sides of the conflict in light of the regional standoff between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Gaza Strip Today

Living conditions in the Gaza Strip are poor and it gets worse each year. For the past 10 years, the socio-economic situation in Gaza has been in constant decline. The blockade has had a devastating effect on the market and on the people living in the country.

More than 80 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip now relies on international assistance. Most of the refugees today are dependent on the aid of The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA.)

– The Role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations, They were tasked to carry out relief and works programs for Palestinian refugees. The agency began on May 1, 1950, as a temporary organization

The organization provides education, health, relief, and social services to the refugees in the area. UNRWA is funded by voluntary contributions from the UN member states. Its largest single donor is the United States, with a total contribution of $240 million. This was followed by Europe, at $175 million.

Unlike other United Nations organizations that work through locals, UNRWA provides its services directly to Palestinian refugees. It also has its own activities and projects, such as the building of schools and clinics in the area.

– Economy and Demography

The Gaza Strip’s economy is in a deeply shattered state. So much so that it currently doesn’t have the capacity to create enough jobs for its people. This has resulted in impoverishment in society. In 2018, the region reached an unemployment rate of 50 percent!

Access to clean water and electricity remains at a crisis level. In fact, clean water is unavailable for 95 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip. The region’s rapidly increasing population is also causing severe problems within the country. Currently, the Gaza Strip suffers from water shortages, sewage problems, electricity loss and high rates of unemployment.

Experts believe that the root cause of the Gaza Strip’s economic and social problem was the presence of huge numbers of Palestinian Arab refugees in the area. The Egyptian government did not consider the area part of Egypt, so they didn’t allow the refugees to become Egyptian citizens or to migrate to Egypt. Israel, on the other hand, did not allow them to return to their former homes or to receive compensation for their loss of property.

Today, the United Nations, international human rights organizations, and all other legal organizations consider the Gaza Strip territory of Israel. This explains why Israel was able to retain control over the Gaza Strip’s border and still has the right to intervene militarily in Gaza.

Conclusion

After reading this article, you know all the basics of the Gaza Strip! Here you can find some of the highlights:

  • The Gaza Strip is an independent Palestinian territory. The Gaza Strip location is on the east of the Mediterranean. It has a total area of 140 square miles and holds around 1.85 million Palestinians, making it the third most densely populated region in the world.
  • For the past ten years, the socio-economic situation in Gaza has been worsening. More than 80 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip now rely on international assistance.
  • Between 1917 and 1948, Gaza Strip was part of Great Britain’s Palestine mandate from the League of Nations.
  • During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, an influx of Palestinian Arab refugees to the Strip tripled the region’s population.
  • During the Six Day War of June 1967, the Gaza Strip was again taken by Israel. In December 1987, violent street riots between Gaza’s Palestinians and Israeli troops marked the rise of the Intifada.
  • Experts believe that the root cause of the Gaza Strip’s economical and social problem was the presence of huge numbers of Palestinian Arab refugees in the area.
  • In 1993, an agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) pushed for limited self-rule in the area.
  • After 2005, Israel retained exclusive control over Gaza’s territory. It continued to patrol and monitor the external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, with the exception of its southernmost border.
  • As of today the United Nations, international human rights organizations, and all other legal organizations consider the Gaza Strip territory of Israel.

At this point, you are ready to face any discussion on this topic and sound like an expert!

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