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The Gaza Strip

Panorama di Gaza City
Panorama di Gaza City
The Gaza Strip (Arabic: قطاع غزةQiṭāʿ Ġazzah, IPA: [qɪˈtˤɑːʕ ˈɣazza]) is a territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea that borders Egypt on the southwest (11 km) and Israel on the east and north (51 km (32 mi)). It is 41 kilometres (25 mi) long, and from 6 to 12 kilometres (3.7 to 7.5 mi) wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometres (141 sq mi).[1] The population of Gaza Strip is about 1.7 million people.[2] The population is predominantly Sunni Muslim. With a yearly growth rate of about 3.2%, the Gaza Strip has the 7th highest population growth rate in the world.[2]
 
The Gaza Strip acquired its current northern and eastern boundaries at the cessation of fighting in the 1948 war, confirmed by the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement on 24 February 1949.[3] Article V of the Agreement declared that the demarcation line was not to be an international border. The Gaza Strip continued to be occupied by Egypt. At first Gaza Strip was officially administered by the All-Palestine Government, established by the Arab League in September 1948. From the dissolution of the All-Palestine Government in 1959 until 1967, the Gaza Strip was directly administered by an Egyptian military governor. Israel captured the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the Six-Day War in 1967. Pursuant to the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, the Palestinian Authority became the administrative body that governed Palestinian population centers. Israel maintained control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings apart from the land border with Egypt. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Since July 2007, following the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and following the Hamas takeover in 2007, Hamas has functioned as the de facto ruler in the Gaza Strip, forming an alternative Hamas Government in Gaza.
 
The Gaza Strip forms part of the Palestinian territories,[4][5][6][7] now claimed by the State of Palestine.
On 22 September 1948, towards the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the All-Palestine government was proclaimed in the Egyptian occupied Gaza City by the Arab League. It was conceived partly as an Arab League attempt to limit the influence of Transjordan in Palestine. The All-Palestine Government was quickly recognized by six of the then seven members of the Arab League: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, but not by Transjordan.[9] It was not recognised by any country outside the Arab League.
 
After the cessation of hostilities, the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement of 24 February 1949 established the separation line between Egyptian and Israeli forces, and established what became the present boundary between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Both sides declared that the boundary was not an international border. The southern border with Egypt continued to be the international border which had been drawn in 1906 between the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire.[10]
Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or Egypt were issued All-Palestine passports. Egypt did not offer them citizenship. From the end of 1949, they received aid directly from UNRWA. During the Sinai campaign of November 1956, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula were occupied by Israeli troops, who withdrew under international pressure. The government was accused of being little more than a façade for Egyptian control, with negligible independent funding or influence. It subsequently moved to Cairo and dissolved in 1959 by decree of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser.
Palestinian Authority
 
In May 1994, following the Palestinian-Israeli agreements known as the Oslo Accords, a phased transfer of governmental authority to the Palestinians took place. Much of the Strip (except for the settlement blocs and military areas) came under Palestinian control. The Israeli forces left Gaza City and other urban areas, leaving the new Palestinian Authority to administer and police those areas. The Palestinian Authority, led by Yasser Arafat, chose Gaza City as its first provincial headquarters. In September 1995, Israel and the PLO signed a second peace agreement, extending the Palestinian Authority to most West Bank towns. The agreement also established an elected 88-member Palestinian National Council, which held its inaugural session in Gaza in March 1996.
Palestinian Authority rule under the leadership of Arafat suffered from serious mismanagement and corruption scandals. For example, exorbitant bribes were demanded for allowing goods to pass in and out of the Gaza Strip, while heads of the Preventive Security Service apparatus profited from their involvement in the gravel import and cement and construction industries, such as the Great Arab Company for Investment and Development, the al-Motawaset Company, and the al-Sheik Zayid construction project.[13]
 
Between 1994 and 1996, Israel built the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier to improve security in Israel. The barrier was largely torn down by Palestinians at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000.[14]

Second Intifada

The Second Intifada broke out in September 2000 with its waves of protest, civil unrest and bombings against Israeli military and civilians, many of them perpetrated by suicide bombers, and the beginning of rockets and bombings of Israeli border localities by Palestinian guerrillas from Gaza Strip, especially from Hamas and Jihad Islamic movements.
Between December 2000 and June 2001, the barrier between Gaza and Israel was reconstructed. A barrier on the Gaza Strip-Egypt border was constructed starting in 2004.[15] The main crossing points are the northern Erez Crossing into Israel and the southern Rafah Crossing into Egypt. The eastern Karni Crossing used for cargo, closed down in 2011.[16] Israel controls the Gaza Strip's northern borders, as well as its territorial waters and airspace. Egypt controls Gaza Strip's southern border, under an agreement between it and Israel.[17]
 
In February 2005, the Knesset approved a unilateral disengagement plan and began evacuating Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip on August 15, 2005. The evacuation was completed on September 12. All Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez Industrial Zone were dismantled, and 9,000 Israelis, most living in Gush Katif, were forcibly evicted.
On September 12, 2005, the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. To avoid allegations that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, a narrow strip of land adjacent to the border with Egypt, after Egypt agreed to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords, the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control to prevent the smuggling of weapons and people across the Egyptian border, but Egypt committed itself to patrolling the area and preventing such incidents. Israel maintained control over the crossings in and out of Gaza, and the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was monitored by special surveillance cameras.
 
Following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas and Fatah formed a Palestinan authority national unity government headed by Ismail Haniya. Shortly after, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in the course of the Battle of Gaza,[37] seizing government institutions and replacing Fatah and other government officials with its own.[38] By 14 June, Hamas fully controlled the Gaza Strip. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded by declaring a state of emergency, dissolving the unity government and forming a new government without Hamas participation. PNA security forces in the West Bank arrested a number of Hamas members.
In late June 2008, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia said that the West Bank-based Cabinet formed by Abbas was the sole legitimate Palestinian government and Egypt moved its embassy from Gaza to the West Bank.[39]
 
Saudi Arabia and Egypt supported reconciliation and a new unity government and pressed Abbas to start talks with Hamas. Abbas had always conditioned this on Hamas returning control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority. Hamas visited a number of countries, including Russia, and the EU member states. Opposition parties and politicians called for a dialogue with Hamas as well as an end to the economic sanctions.
After the takeover, Israel and Egypt closed their border crossings with Gaza. Palestinian sources reported that European Union monitors fled the Rafah Border Crossing, on the Gaza–Egypt border for fear of being kidnapped or harmed.[40] Arab foreign ministers and Palestinian officials presented a united front against control of the border by Hamas.[41]
Meanwhile, Israeli and Egyptian security reports said that Hamas continued smuggling in large quantities of explosives and arms from Egypt through tunnels. Egyptian security forces uncovered 60 tunnels in 2007.[42]
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