Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip
a coastal area on the E Mediterranean: formerly in the Palestine mandate, occupied by Israel 1967-94; since 1994 under Palestinian self-rule.

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Gaza Strip

Introduction Gaza Strip -
Background: The Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self- Government Arrangements (the DOP), signed in Washington on 13 September 1993, provided for a transitional period not exceeding five years of Palestinian interim self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Under the DOP, Israel agreed to transfer certain powers and responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority, which includes the Palestinian Legislative Council elected in January 1996, as part of the interim self-governing arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A transfer of powers and responsibilities for the Gaza Strip and Jericho took place pursuant to the Israel-PLO 4 May 1994 Cairo Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area and in additional areas of the West Bank pursuant to the Israel-PLO 28 September 1995 Interim Agreement, the Israel-PLO 15 January 1997 Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron, the Israel- PLO 23 October 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and the 4 September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement. The DOP provides that Israel will retain responsibility during the transitional period for external security and for internal security and public order of settlements and Israeli citizens. Direct negotiations to determine the permanent status of Gaza and West Bank had begun in September 1999 after a three-year hiatus, but have been derailed by a second intifadah that broke out in September 2000. The resulting widespread violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel's military response, and instability within the Palestinian Authority continue to undermine progress toward a permanent agreement. Geography Gaza Strip
Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel
Geographic coordinates: 31 25 N, 34 20 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 360 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 360 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 62 km border countries: Egypt 11 km, Israel 51 km
Coastline: 40 km
Maritime claims: Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation
Climate: temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers
Terrain: flat to rolling, sand- and dune- covered coastal plain
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Auda) 105 m
Natural resources: arable land, natural gas
Land use: arable land: 26.32% permanent crops: 39.47% other: 34.21% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 120 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: droughts Environment - current issues: desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne disease; soil degradation; depletion and contamination of underground water resources
Geography - note: there are 25 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Gaza Strip (August 2001 est.) People Gaza Strip -
Population: 1,225,911 (July 2002 est.) note: in addition, there are fewer than 7,000 Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip (August 2001 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 49.7% (male 312,253; female 297,008) 15-64 years: 47.5% (male 296,488; female 286,393) 65 years and over: 2.8% (male 14,407; female 19,362) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.95% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 41.85 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 4.12 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.73 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/ female total population: 1.03 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 24.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.2 years female: 72.52 years (2002 est.) male: 69.95 years
Total fertility rate: 6.29 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: NA adjective: NA
Ethnic groups: Palestinian Arab and other 99.4%, Jewish 0.6%
Religions: Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 98.7%, Christian 0.7%, Jewish 0.6%
Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
Literacy: definition: NA total population: NA% male: NA% female: NA% Government Gaza Strip -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Gaza Strip local long form: none local short form: Qita Ghazzah Economy Gaza Strip
Economy - overview: 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. The downturn was largely the result of Israeli closure policies - the imposition of generalized border closures in response to security incidents in Israel - which disrupted previously established labor and commodity market relationships between Israel and the WBGS (West Bank and Gaza Strip). The most serious negative social effect of this downturn was the emergence of high unemployment; unemployment in the WBGS during the 1980s was generally under 5%; by 1995 it had risen to over 20%. 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 West Bank and Gaza Strip; real GDP grew by 5% in 1998 and 6% in 1999. Recovery was upended in the last quarter of 2000 with the outbreak of Palestinian violence, 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.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $750 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -35% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $625 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 9% industry: 28% services: 63% (includes West Bank, 1999 est.) Population below poverty line: 60% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (includes West Bank) (2001 est.)
Labor force: NA Labor force - by occupation: services 66%, industry 21%, agriculture 13% (1996)
Unemployment rate: 26% (includes West Bank) (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $930 million note: expenditures: $1.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $15 million (includes West Bank) (2000 est.)
Industries: 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 Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: NA kWh; note - electricity supplied by Israel Electricity - consumption: NA kWh
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: NA kWh; note - electricity supplied by Israel
Agriculture - products: olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products
Exports: $603 million (includes West Bank) (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: citrus, flowers
Exports - partners: Israel, Egypt, West Bank
Imports: $1.9 billion (includes West Bank) (c.i.f., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: food, consumer goods, construction materials
Imports - partners: Israel, Egypt, West Bank
Debt - external: $108 million (includes West Bank) (1997 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $800 million disbursed (includes West Bank) (2001 est.)
Currency: new Israeli shekel (ILS)
Currency code: ILS
Exchange rates: new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.2757 (December 2001), 4.2057 (2001), 4.0773 (2000), 4.1397 (1999), 3.8001 (1998), 3.4494 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Gaza Strip - Telephones - main lines in use: 95,729 (total for Gaza Strip and West Bank) (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: NA
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: rudimentary telephone services provided by an open wire system international: NA Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: NA; note - most Palestinian households have radios (1999) Television broadcast stations: 2 (operated by the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation) (1997)
Televisions: NA; note - most Palestinian households have televisions (1997) Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 3 (1999)
Internet users: 60,000 (includes West Bank) (2001) Transportation Gaza Strip -
Railways: total: NA km; note - one line, abandoned and in disrepair, little trackage remains (2001 est.)
Highways: total: NA km paved: NA km unpaved: NA km note: small, poorly developed road network
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Gaza
Airports: 2 (2001) note: includes Gaza International Airport (GIA), inaugurated 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 has been largely closed since October 2000 by Israeli orders and its runway was destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces in December 2001 Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Military Gaza Strip -
Military branches: in accordance with the peace agreement, the Palestinian Authority is not permitted conventional military forces; there are, however, a Public Security Force and a civil Police Force Military expenditures - dollar $NA
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
GDP: Transnational Issues Gaza Strip - Disputes - international: West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation

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Arabic Qiṭāʽ Ghazzah Hebrew Reẓuʽat ʽAzza

Territory, southeastern Mediterranean Sea coast.

Occupying 140 sq mi (363 sq km) northeast of the Sinai Peninsula, it is also the location of the city of Gaza, which has been a prosperous trading centre for much of its history and was first mentioned in the 15th century BC. Often besieged by invaders, including Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians, it declined in importance after the Crusades. It was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century. After World War I (1914–18), the city and the strip became part of the British mandate of Palestine. Following the first Arab-Israeli war (1948–49), the territory was occupied by Egypt, and the city became that country's headquarters in Palestine. The occupied area was later reduced to an area 25 mi (40 km) long, which became known as the Gaza Strip, still under Egyptian control. In the Six-Day War (1967) the area was captured by Israel. The area's chief economic problem was the large number of Palestinian Arab refugees who lived there in extreme poverty. In 1987, rioting among Gaza's Palestinians marked the beginning of the first intifādah. Continued unrest led, in 1993, to an agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization granting limited self-rule to the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. A breakdown in further negotiations in 2000 led to another outbreak of violence.

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Arabic  Qiṭāʿ Ghazzah , Hebrew  Reẓuʿat ʿAzza 
 territory occupying 140 square miles (363 square km) along the Mediterranean Sea just northeast of the Sinai Peninsula. The Gaza Strip is unusual in being a densely settled area not recognized as a de jure part of any extant country. The first accurate census, conducted in September 1967, showed a population smaller than had previously been estimated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) or by Egypt, with nearly half of the people living in refugee camps. Pop. (2006 est.) 1,444,000.

      The Gaza Strip is situated on a relatively flat coastal plain. Temperatures average in the mid-50s F (about 13 °C) in the winter and in the upper 70s to low 80s F (mid- to upper 20s C) in summer. The area receives an average of about 12 inches (300 mm) of precipitation annually.

      Living conditions in the Gaza Strip are typically poor for a number of reasons: the region's dense and rapidly increasing population (the area's growth rate is one of the highest in the world); inadequate water, sewage, and electrical services; high rates of unemployment; and, from September 2007, sanctions imposed by Israel on the region. Agriculture is the economic mainstay of the employed population, and nearly three-fourths of the land area is under cultivation. The chief crop, citrus fruit, is raised on irrigated lands and is exported to Europe and other markets under arrangement with Israel. Truck crops, wheat, and olives also are produced. Light industry and handicrafts are centred in Gaza, the chief city of the area. In politically stable times, as much as one-tenth of the Palestinian population travels daily to Israel (where they are not allowed to stay overnight) to work in menial jobs. Political tension and outbreaks of violence often led Israeli authorities to close the border for extended periods, putting many Palestinians out of work. As a result, a thriving smuggling industry emerged, based on a network of subterranean tunnels linking parts of the Gaza Strip with neighbouring Egypt. The tunnels provided Palestinians with access to goods such as food, fuel, medicine, electronics, and weapons.

      After rule by the Ottoman Empire ended there in World War I (1914–18), the Gaza area became part of the League of Nations (Nations, League of) mandate of Palestine under British rule. Before this mandate ended, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in November 1947 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 British mandate ended on May 15, 1948, and on that same day the first Arab-Israeli war (Six-Day War) began. Egyptian forces soon entered the town of Gaza, which became the headquarters of the Egyptian expeditionary force in Palestine. As a result of heavy fighting in autumn 1948, the area around the town under Arab occupation was reduced to a strip of territory 25 miles (40 km) long and 4–5 miles (6–8 km) wide. This area became known as the Gaza Strip. Its boundaries were demarcated in the Egyptian-Israeli armistice agreement of February 24, 1949.

      The Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military rule from 1949 to 1956 and again from 1957 to 1967. From the beginning, the area's chief economic and social problem was the presence of large numbers of Palestinian Arab refugees (refugee) living in extreme poverty in squalid camps. The Egyptian government did not consider the area part of Egypt and did not allow the refugees to become Egyptian citizens or to migrate to Egypt or to other Arab countries where they might be integrated into the population. Israel did not allow them to return to their former homes or to receive compensation for their loss of property. The refugees were maintained largely through the aid of the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). Many of the younger refugees became fedayeen (Arab guerrillas operating against Israel); their attacks on Israel were one of the causes precipitating the Sinai campaign during the Suez Crisis of 1956, when the strip was taken by Israel. The strip reverted to Egyptian control in 1957 following strong international pressures on Israel.

  In the Six-Day War of June 1967, the Gaza Strip was again taken by Israel, which occupied the region for the next quarter century. In December 1987 rioting and violent street clashes between Gaza's Palestinians and occupying Israeli troops marked the birth of an uprising that came to be known as the intifāḍah (Arabic: “shaking off”). In 1994 Israel began a phased transfer of governmental authority in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the terms of the Oslo Accords that were signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The fledgling Palestinian government, led by Yāsir ʿArafāt (Arafāt, Yāsirʿ), struggled with such problems as a stagnant economy, divided popular support, stalled negotiations with Israel over further troop withdrawals and territoriality, and the threat of terrorism from militant Muslim groups such as Islamic Jihad and Ḥamās, which refused to compromise with Israel and were intent on derailing the peace process. Beginning in late 2000, a breakdown in negotiations between the PA and Israel was followed by a further, more extreme outbreak of violence, termed the second, or Aqṣā, intifāḍah. In an effort to end the fighting, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Sharon, Ariel) announced in late 2003 a plan that centred on withdrawing Israeli soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip. In September 2005 Israel completed the pullout from the territory, and control of the Gaza Strip was transferred to the PA, although Israel continued to patrol its borders and airspace.

      In the 2006 PA parliamentary elections, Fatah—which had dominated Palestinian politics since its founding in the 1950s—suffered a decisive loss to Ḥamās, reflecting years of dissatisfaction with Fatah's governance, which was criticized as corrupt and inefficient. Ḥamās's victory prompted sanctions by Israel, the United States, and the European Union, all of which had placed the organization on its official list of terrorist groups. The Gaza Strip was the site of escalating violence between the competing groups, and a short-lived coalition government was ended in June 2007 after Ḥamās took control of the Gaza Strip and a Fatah-led emergency cabinet took control of the West Bank. Despite calls by PA Pres. Mahmoud Abbas (Abbas, Mahmoud) for Ḥamās to relinquish its position in the Gaza Strip, the territory remained under Ḥamās's control.

 In fall 2007 Israel declared the Gaza Strip under Ḥamās a hostile entity and approved a series of sanctions that included power cuts, heavily restricted imports, and border closures. In January 2008, facing sustained rocket assaults into its southern settlements, Israel broadened its sanctions, completely sealing its border with the Gaza Strip and temporarily preventing fuel imports. Later that month, after nearly a week of the intensified Israeli blockade, Ḥamās's forces demolished portions of the barrier along the Gaza Strip–Egypt border (closed since Ḥamās's mid-2007 takeover), opening gaps through which, according to some estimates, hundreds of thousands of Gazans passed into Egypt to purchase food, fuel, and goods unavailable under the blockade. Egyptian Pres. Hosnī Mubārak (Mubārak, Hosnī) temporarily permitted the breach to alleviate civilian hardship in Gaza before efforts could begin to restore the border.

      In June 2008, after months of negotiations, Israel and Ḥamās agreed to implement a truce scheduled to last six months; however, this was threatened shortly thereafter as each accused the other of violations, which escalated in the last months of the agreement. When the truce officially expired on December 19, Ḥamās announced that they did not intend to extend it. Broader hostilities erupted shortly thereafter as Israel, responding to sustained rocket fire, mounted a series of air strikes across the region—among the strongest in years—meant to target Ḥamās. After a week of air strikes, Israeli forces initiated a ground campaign into the Gaza Strip amid calls from the international community for a cease-fire. Following more than three weeks of hostilities—in which perhaps more than 1,000 were killed and tens of thousands left homeless—Israel and Ḥamās each declared a unilateral cease-fire.

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Universalium. 2010.

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