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November 2012

Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip (a little more than twice the size of Washington, DC) borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel. It encompasses 360 sq km; 40 km are coastline. The climate of the Gaza Strip is generally temperate with mild winters and dry and warm to hot summers. The terrain is flat to rolling sand- and dune-covered coastal plains. It is a strategic strip of land along Mideast-North African trade routes that has experienced a turbulent history; the town of Gaza itself has been besieged countless times in its history.

High population density and Israeli security controls placed on the Gaza Strip since the end of the second intifada (2000) have degraded economic conditions in this territory, which is smaller than the West Bank. Israeli-imposed border closures, which became more restrictive after Hamas seized control of the territory in June 2007, have resulted in high unemployment, elevated poverty rates, and the near collapse of the private sector that had relied on export markets. Changes to Israeli restrictions on imports in 2010 resulted in a rebound in some economic activity, but regular exports from Gaza still are not permitted.

The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip; Israel still controls maritime, airspace, and other access to the Gaza Strip. Violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007 resulted in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. In June 2007, Hamas militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and Hamas (in May 2011) agreed to reunify the Palestinian territories, but the factions have struggled to finalize details. The status quo remains with Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip

Natural resources of the Gaza Strip are arable land and natural gas. Environmental issues include: desertification, salination of fresh water, sewage treatment, water-borne disease, soil degradation, and the depletion and contamination of underground water resources.

CIA World Factbook, 11/2012

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