The Gaza Strip is a small self-governing territory located in the Middle East on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The 141-square-mile territory gets its name from its largest city, Gaza, which is located in the north of the territory. The territory is home to over 1.85 million people making it one of the most densely populated regions in the world. The Gaza Strip is governed by Hamas, a militant Islamic organization which won the 2006 elections. The territory has been faced with numerous trade and economic sanctions from several countries including an Egyptian blockade. The Gaza Strip has been plagued by numerous conflicts between Israel and Hamas which have led to extensive loss of life and destruction of property. The conflicts compounded by the blockade have caused Gaza to have an enormous humanitarian crisis with minimal foreign aid able to reach the Palestinian civilians affected by the conflict. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank make up the Palestinian territory claimed by the Palestinians as the State of Palestine. Because of the Egyptian and Israeli border closures and the Israeli sea and air blockade, the population in Gaza is not free to leave or enter the Gaza Strip. They are also not allowed to freely import or export goods.
Gaza has been settled for thousands of years with numerous kingdoms having dominion over it. This includes the ancient Egyptian kingdom for many centuries, the Greek empire led by Alexander in the 3rd century BCE, the Roman Empire for over six centuries after capturing it in 63 BCE, and the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman Empire captured the city of Gaza in 1516 and ruled over it until the early 20th century. The British Empire captured Gaza from the Ottoman Empire during the First World War in 1917. After the First World War, the British Empire was granted dominion over the Gaza Strip by the League of Nations and became known as the British Mandate of Palestine. The region was temporarily occupied by Egypt after the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 with Gaza becoming part of the United Arab Republic. Israel obtained the authority of the region after being victorious against the coalition of Arab armed forces during the Six-Day War of 1967. Gaza has since been under Israeli either directly or indirectly but has in recent years been rallying for autonomy and international recognition.
Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza
The first armed conflict between Israel and Palestinians over Gaza was during the 1991-1993 First Intifada where the Palestinians protested against Israeli occupation in Gaza. After increased international pressure, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders met in September 1993 and signed the Oslo Accords which resulted in Israel withdrawing from Gaza in May 1994 and the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority. However, a new militant unit emerged from Palestine, the Hamas, and won the 2006 Palestinian elections. Soon after, the group began terrorist attacks against Israel ranging from rocket attacks to suicide bombings. In retaliation, Israel began several attacks against the group beginning in 2006 in the “Operation Summer Rains” followed soon afterward by the “Operation Autumn Clouds” in 2007. After a brief ceasefire brokered by several countries, the conflict continued with Israel launching “Operation Hot Winter in 2008”, “Operation Returning Echo” and “Operation Pillar of Defense” in 2012. The armed conflict that has lasted over two decades has resulted in thousands of deaths including those of civilians with the international community criticizing both parties on their respective involvement in the war.
The State of Palestine, which the Gaza Strip is a part of, was established in 1988 by the Palestine Liberation Organization. Over the years, many countries across the globe have formally recognized its statehood including 136 members of the United Nations.