Is the Gaza Strip a country

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The Gaza Strip ...

... is a coastal area on the Mediterranean Sea and borders Israel and Egypt. It is part of the Palestinian Authority. The Gaza Strip's borders with Israel are also under Israeli control. The Gaza Strip is surrounded by large fences, where there are crossings to Egypt and Israel in some places. These are currently largely closed.


Surface: 365 square kilometers (slightly smaller than the state of Bremen)
Capital: Gaza
Residents: approx. 1,795,000 (about as many as in Hamburg), approx. 1.3 million are refugees. According to calculations by the United Nations, 40 percent of the population were poor in 2016. Six out of ten young people have no work.
Density: With around 5,000 people per square kilometer, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Population growth is among the highest in the world, with almost half of the population under the age of 15.
Landscape: Mainly sand and dunes, only a few parts of the country are suitable for agriculture. Since 1949, the population in the Gaza Strip has been largely dependent on supplies from the United Nations Aid Organization for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA), around half of all food is obtained through the aid organization.
Religion: The majority of the population are Sunni Muslims. There are also approximately 1,000 Greek Orthodox and Catholic Christians.

How did the Gaza Strip come about?

The Gaza area has been an important interface between Africa, Asia and Europe since early antiquity. Over the centuries it belonged alternately to Persia, Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. Great Britain had occupied the area in 1917, but returned the administrative mandate to the UN after the population began to strive for independence. These had proposed dividing Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state - with Jerusalem as a neutral place under international administration. The plans could not be realized after the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948/1949, from which Israel emerged victorious. The war gave the Gaza Strip its current geographical shape.

In the 1967 Six Day War, the Gaza Strip, which had been controlled by Egypt since the 1948/1949 war, was occupied by Israel. The Israeli government approved the construction of settlements in the south of Gaza. These were called Gush Katif and were difficult or impossible to access for the Arab residents. After internal political disputes, the then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the withdrawal of around 6,500 settlers in August 2005. The last Israelis left the area within a few weeks.

Living conditions:

Among other things, high unemployment, poor infrastructure and the economically disastrous situation contribute to the fact that large parts of the population in Gaza live under very harsh conditions. A UN report in July 2017 warned that the area could become “uninhabitable” by 2020. Health care, education and public life were no longer functioning adequately, the report said.
In 2000, 98 percent of Gaza's residents still had access to clean drinking water; in 2014 this proportion had fallen to 10.5 percent. Electricity is also only available in Gaza for around four hours a day.

The blockade by Israel and Egypt, which has been going on for over ten years, is also responsible for the overall situation in Gaza. Because Egypt is also afraid of Hamas, above all of the fact that Salafists who are prepared to use violence will travel from Gaza to Sinai. Many people in Gaza also suffer from the consequences of the three military conflicts with Israel in 2008, 2012 and 2014. According to UN figures, up to 18,000 houses were destroyed or damaged by bombs. That resulted in half a million internally displaced persons within the strip.

More information on the topic:

Read more about the history of the Middle East conflict here.

... more about the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.

... and the dilemma of internal conflicts.

25 years ago attempts were made to negotiate a peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine under the name of the “Oslo Peace Process”. That is why it has only remained with the idea to this day.

... more about the Palestinian diaspora and how some have come to terms with the difficult living conditions: Gaza Surf Club.

Cover picture: Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images