What is the Gaza Strip? Who Controls It?

The Gaza Strip. Editorial credit: Val_Yankin / Shutterstock.com.
The Gaza Strip. Editorial credit: Val_Yankin / Shutterstock.com.

After World War II, in which millions of Jews were killed, the Jewish people wanted a land of their own. They were granted a large part of Palestine (then was a British territory) which they considered as their permanent home. However, the Arabs who already lived there felt that it was unfair for the Jews to settle there and refused to recognize the new country. The two sides went into a war, which resulted in Israel taking over the Gaza Strip. Israel held control of the Strip until the year 2005 when Hamas began control over the territory. 

What Is The Gaza Strip?

Gaza Strip, simply known as Gaza, is a self-governing Palestinian territory. The territory is governed by a pro-Palestine group known as Hamas, who are sometimes considered to be a terrorist group. Gaza was occupied by Israel from 1967 until 2005 when it withdrew its troops and settler. However, the UN, the international organizations, and most governments still consider Gaza as a territory occupied by the Israelis. Some countries exercise sanctions against Gaza. Israel still has control over Gaza's borders and limits who can get in or out. Residents of Gaza are not able to leave or enter the territory freely due to border closures and sea blockades. 

Location And Geography

Gaza Strip is found in the Middle East located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea between Israel and Egypt. The total area of Gaza is roughly comparable to the size of the US cities of Detroit or Philadelphia. It has a 32-mile border with Israel and a 7-mile border with Egypt. Gaza is separated from the West Bank (both of which are claimed by the state of Palestine) by an Israeli buffer zone. It is 25 miles long and 3.7-75 miles wide and covers an area of approximately 141 square miles. The Gaza Strip experiences hot semi-arid climate characterized by warm winters and hot, dry summers. Some of Gaza’s natural resources include arable land, natural gas, and water from Wadi Gaza which is also a major source of water for Israel.

Demography And Life In Gaza

There are approximately 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. About 1 million of the residents are UN-registered refugees. The population has grown over time with the growth attributed to a high fertility rate (4.24 children per woman). According to the UN, the Strip will effectively become inhabitable by 2020 if necessary steps are not taken to repair the infrastructure. The Palestinians in Gaza are predominantly Sunni Muslims with only 3,000 Arab Christians. Israel controls the coastline and the entry and exit points into Israel.

Gaza has no working airport. Since access is restricted, not many goods get into or out of the Strip. The unemployment rate is as high as 30%. This is higher than in the West Bank. According to the BBC, the economy of the Gaza Strip is worse off than it was decades ago. There are at least 5,479 people for every square kilometer in Gaza, which is more densely populated than places like the Vatican City, Malta, and about on par with Hong Kong. 


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