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Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip (gäz´ə), (2007 pop. 1,416,543) rectangular coastal area, c.140 sq mi (370 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea adjoining Egypt and Israel, in what was formerly SW Palestine, now officially administered by the Palestinian Authority.

People and Economy

The Gaza Strip is a densely populated and impoverished region inhabited primarily by Sunni Muslim Palestinian refugees; the majority live in large, overcrowded refugee camps. Arabic, Hebrew, and English are spoken. The city of Gaza is the principal city and administrative center. Other cities include Beit Lahia in the north and Khan Yunis and Rafah in the south. There were about 7,000 Israeli settlers living in 21 semimunicipal developments in the Gaza Strip until the settlements were evacuated in 2005. The number of inhabitants has fluctuated with tensions in the Middle East, increasing greatly due to the Arab-Israeli Wars.

The Gaza Strip has small construction and handicrafts industries, and some farming, including citrus fruits, olives, and livestock. However, Gaza depends on Israel for nearly 90% of its imports (largely food, consumer goods, and construction materials) and exports (mainly citrus fruit and other agricultural products), as well as employment. The economy, such as it is, has been devastated by recent fighting and, since 2007, the Israeli blockade.

History

Between 1917 and 1948 the region was part of Great Britain's Palestine mandate from the League of Nations. After the armistice agreement of 1949 until the 1967 war (with the exception of the Israeli occupation from Nov., 1956, to Mar., 1957), the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian administration; the 1948 Arab-Israeli war led to an influx of Palestinian Arab refugees that tripled the region's population. However, the Palestinians were never given Egyptian citizenship, thereby remaining stateless. After the 1967 war, Israel occupied the region and established settlements there, but autonomy for the area was promised by the 1978 Camp David accords.

With the inception of the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) in Gaza in 1987, the city became a major center of political unrest and violence, and the Gaza Strip remained under frequent military curfew, imposed by Israeli troops sent to quell violence and maintain order. High unemployment and low wages have been chronic problems. As a result of the Persian Gulf War (1991), masses of Palestinian workers in that region fled back to their families in the Gaza Strip, creating a dire economic crisis and greater unemployment.

In 1993 an accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) called for limited self-rule in the area. Under a May, 1994, agreement, Israel's occupying forces left much of the Gaza Strip and a Palestinian police force was deployed. Israel retained frontier areas and buffer zones around Israeli settlements. The breakdown in peace talks in 2000 and the subsequent resumption of violence hurt the local economy. Although the Gaza Strip saw less fighting with Israelis than the West Bank, in 2003 the Israeli army moved more aggressively to control sections of the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian attacks. The Israelis also launched attacks against leaders of Hamas, which has many supporters in the territory and has carried out many suicide attacks. The Gaza Strip is also the main base for the Islamic Jihad, another militant Palestinian group. The area also was the scene of fighting between PLO-dominated Palestinian Authority forces and Hamas.

In Jan., 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon announced a plan for the withdrawal of all Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip, and it was subsequently adopted by his government. The settlements were evacuated in Aug., 2005, and Israeli forces withdrew the following month. The Strip threatened to descend into anarchic violence after the withdrawal, with the Palestinian Authority unable to exert effective control over the territory. The Gaza Strip also continued to be a source of attacks against Israel and suffer retaliatory Israeli attacks. These escalated into open warfare in June, 2006, after Hamas guerrillas captured an Israeli soldier and Israel invaded the Gaza Strip, and in the following months Israel continued to mount operations into the territory.

The situation in Gaza became economically dire as a result of continual conflict (some of it between Hamas and Al Fatah) and the restricted funding available to the Palestinian Authority. In June, 2007, the fighting between Palestinians ended with Al Fatah's defeat, placing the Gaza Strip under Hamas's control. The region nonetheless continued to be the scene of intra-Palestinian conflict, and Israel subsequently restricted the flow of goods into Gaza to humanitarian aid.

In response to ongoing rocket attacks from region, Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip in Jan., 2008; the resulting shortages led Hamas to force open the Egyptian border, which had mainly been closed since 2005, for several days. In May, 2010, a Turkish aid convoy challenging the blockade was boarded in international waters in a deadly raid by Israeli forces. The raid, which was widely condemned internationally, focused global attention on the blockade; Egypt subsequently reopened its border crossing, and Israel eased its blockade on imports somewhat.

In June, 2008, a six-month cease-fire was established with Israel that included a partial reopening of the border. The cease-fire largely held until a significant outbreak of fighting in Nov., 2008, and was officially ended the next month. Late in Dec., 2008, Israel mounted an offensive against Hamas, with ground operations in Jan., 2009. Some 1,300 persons, about half of whom were civilians, died in the Gaza Strip before Israel and Hamas separately declared cease-fires in mid-January and Israeli forces withdrew; more than 20,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Both sides subsequently were accused of war crimes by international human-rights organizations and a UN fact-finding mission. In 2011 the head of the latter said he no longer believed Israel had targeted civilians as a matter of policy, but his coauthors defended their report.

Sporadic rocket and mortar attacks and Israeli air strikes, as well as minor cross-border incursions, continued. In Nov., 2012, Israeli air strikes, including one that killed the Hamas military chief, sparked the most intense cross-border attacks in four years. A new round of cross-border attacks began in July, 2014, after Israeli blamed Hamas for the murder of three teenage settlers in the West Bank and launched air strikes against the Gaza Strip, leading to a ground offensive by Israel; a cease-fire was established in August. Some 2,200 died in the fighting, the majority Palestinian civilians.

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Gaza Strip

GAZA STRIP

Region bordering Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea.

The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are almost all Palestinians with a population estimated at 1,100,000 (2003). Some 65 percent of these are refugees, descendants of the 250,000 refugees who flooded into the territory in 1948 during the first ArabIsrael War. Few carry passports and everyone is stateless. Arabic is the primary language; Islam is the primary religion, but Christians are also in residence. Eight UN-sponsored Palestinian refugee camps are located in the Gaza Strip.

The boundaries of the Gaza Strip have not changed since 1948; with only one-fifteenth the
area of the West Bank, it has one of the highest population densities in the world. The Strip is almost rectangular, bordered by Israel on the north and east and by Egypt on the south. It has no capital, but its largest cities are Gaza City, Khan Yunis, and Rafah. It measures some 28 miles (45 km) by about 5 miles (8 km).

The northern third belongs to the red sands of the Philistian plain; the southern two-thirds (south of the main watercourse, the Wadi Gaza) belong to the more fertile sandy loess of the northern Negev Desert coast. It is hot and humid in the summer, cooler and humid in the winter, with limited rainfall.

Gaza's economy is small, underdeveloped, and weak, historically generating close to 50 percent of its national product from external sources. Under Israeli control, its economy became heavily dependent on wage labor in Israel, where over half of Gaza's labor force was traditionally employed. Israeli military law undermined local economic development, and the combined impact of the first (19871993) and second (2000) Palestinian uprisings and the Israeli government's harsh response has seriously weakened the local economy. Natural resources, notably land and water, are very limited and diminishing, and no mineral resources exist. Agriculture historically played a large role in the local economy, with citrus the primary agricultural export. Industry is largely traditional and rudimentary. Small factories manufacture beverages, tobacco, textiles, clothing, wood products, and plastics.

In ancient times the area was inhabited by the Philistines. It is mentioned in the Bible as the place of Samson's death and as the burial place of one of the great-grandfathers of the Prophet Muhammad. The Gaza area was conquered by many peoples, including the Jews (Hebrews), Romans, and Arabs, before it became part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, when the Ottoman Empire was dismembered, the Gaza region became part of the British mandate over Palestine. In 1947 the mandate disintegrated and resulted in a call for the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. Following the ArabIsrael War of 1948, the EgyptIsrael General Armistice Agreement of February 1949 left Egypt ruling the Gaza Strip under a military administration. During the ArabIsrael War of 1956, Israel controlled the Gaza Strip from November until March of 1957, when it reverted to Egypt.

Since the ArabIsrael War of 1967, Gaza has been under Israeli military rule. The Palestinian uprising (or intifada) started in Gaza in 1987. In 1993 the Oslo peace process began with an agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to implement limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank town of Jericho. The failure of the Camp David Summit (July 2000) effectively ended this process. The second Palestinian uprising, known as the al-Aqsa Intifada, has created unprecedented hardship for Palestinians, especially those living in the more impoverished Gaza Strip.

See also Aqsa Intifada, al-; ArabIsrael War (1948); Camp David Summit (2000); Gaza (City); Intifada (19871991); Muhammad; Negev; Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); Palestinians; West Bank.


Bibliography

Roy, Sara. The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-Development, 2d edition. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2001.



Sara M. Roy

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Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip Strip of territory in sw Israel, bordering on the se Mediterranean Sea. It became an Egyptian possession after the first Arab-Israeli War (1948–49), and later served as a refugee centre. Occupied by Israel from 1967, it was the scene of the Intifada against Israel in 1988. In 1994 the Palestinian Authority took over the administration of Gaza. In 2000, the Intifada renewed, undermining the progress towards peace. Area: 363sq km (140sq mi). Pop. (1997) 1,001,569.

http://www.palestine-net.com

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"Gaza Strip." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Gaza Strip." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gaza-strip

Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip a strip of territory in Palestine, on the SE Mediterranean coast, including the town of Gaza. Administered by Egypt from 1949, and occupied by Israel from 1967, it became a self-governing enclave under the PLO–Israeli accord of 1994 and elected its own legislative council in 1996.

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