The Gaza Strip is a narrow strip of land just northeast of the Sinai Peninsula. At the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War it was occupied by the Egyptians, under which it remained until it was claimed by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. The Gaza Strip is unusual in being a densely settled area not recognized as a de jure part of any sovereign country.
Together with parts of the West Bank, it is mostly run by the Palestinian Authority. Substantial portions of the Gaza Strip, (mainly the sites of areas populated by Israeli citizens) are controlled by Israel. The Palestinian Authority is not permitted conventional military forces; there are, however, a Public Security Force and a civil Police Force.
1 New Israeli sheqel
(NIS) = 100 Agorot
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Around 1.2 million Palestinians live in the Gaza strip, the majority of whom are refugees or their direct descendants, who fled Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. (see Palestinian exodus); as a result it has one of the highest population densities in the world. Since 1967, around 25 Israeli settlements have been constructed in the Gaza Strip. These Israeli residents are allocated several orders of magnitude more land per capita than the Palestinian population. The population is growing by around 4% a year, with both Palestinians and Jewish settlers having large families. Most people in the strip are Muslim, with small Christian (0.7%) and Jewish (0.6%) minorities.
- Birth rate: 41.85 births/1,000 population
- Death rate: 4.12 deaths/1,000 population
- net migration: 1.73 migrant(s)/1,000 population
- infant mortality: 24.76 deaths/1,000 live births
- fertility: 6.29 children born/woman
The Gaza Strip is located in the Middle East (at 31 25 N, 34 20 E). It has an 11km border with Egypt, near the city of Rafah, and a 51km border with land that is internationally recognized as Israel. Jews claim the entire Gaza Strip as part of Israel while Palestinians claim it for a future Palestinian state they intend to create. Some Israelis including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon intend to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza and remove all the Jewish residents which reside mainly in Gush Katif along the South Western coast of Gaza. It also has a 40 km coastline onto the Mediterranean Sea, but has no maritime claims due to Israeli military Administration.
The Gaza Strip has a temperate climate, with mild winters, and dry and hot summers, subject to drought. The terrain is flat or rolling, with dunes near the coast. The highest point is Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Auda ), at 105 metres above sea level. Natural resources include arable land (about a third of the strip is irrigated), and recently discovered natural gas. Environmental issues include desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne disease ; soil degradation; and depletion and contamination of underground water resources. It is considered to be one of the fifteen territories that comprise the so-called "Cradle of Humanity."
Economic output in the Gaza Strip—under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority since the Cairo Agreement of May 1994—declined by about one-third between 1992 and 1996. This downturn has been variously attributed to corruption and mismanagement by Yasser Arafat and to Israeli closure policies—the imposition of generalized border closures in response to terror attacks in Israel—which disrupted previously established labor and commodity market relationships between Israel and the Strip. The most serious negative social effect of this downturn was the emergence of high unemployment.
Israel's use of comprehensive closures decreased during the next few years and, in 1998, Israel implemented new policies to reduce the impact of closures and other security procedures on the movement of Palestinian goods and labor. These changes fueled an almost three-year-long economic recovery in the Gaza Strip. Recovery was ended in the last quarter of 2000 with the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada, triggering tight Israeli closures of Palestinian self-rule areas and a severe disruption of trade and labor movements. In 2001, and even more severely in early 2002, internal turmoil and Israeli military measures in Palestinian Authority areas resulted in the destruction of capital plant and administrative structure, widespread business closures, and a sharp drop in GDP. Another major loss has been the decline in income earned by Palestinian workers in Israel.
According to the CIA World Factbook, GDP in 2001 declined 35% to a per capita income of $625 a year, and 60% of the population is now below the poverty line. Gaza Strip industries are generally small family businesses that produce textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis have established some small-scale modern industries in an industrial center. Electricity is supplied by Israel. The main agricultural products are olives, citrus, vegetables, beef, and dairy products. Primary exports are citrus and cut flowers, while primary imports are food, consumer goods, and construction materials. The main trade partners of the Gaza Strip are Israel, Egypt, and the West Bank.
A study carried out by Johns Hopkins University and Al Quds University for CARE International late in 2002 revealed very high levels of dietary deficiency among the Palestinian population. The study found that 17.5% of children aged 6–59 months suffered from chronic malnutrition. 53% of women of reproductive age and 44% of children were found to be anemic.
Transport and communication
The Gaza strip has a single railway line, abandoned and in disrepair, little trackage remains. It has a small, poorly developed road network. Its one port is Gaza City. It has two airports, one paved, one unpaved, including Gaza International Airport, which opened on 24 November 1998 as part of agreements stipulated in the September 1995 Oslo II Accord and the 23 October 1998 Wye River Memorandum. GIA was largely closed since October 2000 by Israeli orders and its runway was destroyed by the Israel Defense Force in December 2001. Gaza has a seaport, which was also closed by the Israeli army.
The Gaza strip has a rudimentary telephone service provided by an open wire system, two TV stations run by the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority), and no radio stations. It has four ISPs. Most Palestinian households have a radio and a TV, but there are no figures available.
- West Bank
- Political status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip
- Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt
- Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan
- Smuggling tunnels
- Jabalia (Refugee Camp and village)
- Legal Status of West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem
- Gaza Strip from the CIA World Factbook
- Nutritional Assessment of the West Bank and Gaza Strip
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