Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 2 citizens being held in Gaza: 'We are working to return the 2 Israelis who crossed the fence into Gaza. We hold Hamas responsible for their welfare.' - @IsraeliPM
The Gaza Strip (/ˈɡɑːzəˈstrɪp/;Arabic: قطاع غزة Qiṭāʿ Ġazzah[qɪˈtˤɑːʕ ˈɣazza]), or simply Gaza, is a pene-exclave region of Palestine on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km (32 mi) border. Gaza makes up part of the Palestinian territories which includes the West Bank, and in 2012 the United Nations General Assembly "accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations".
In 1994, Israel granted certain rights of civil self-governance to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza through the Oslo Accords. Gaza has been subject to military occupation by Israel since 1967 and prior to that by Egypt (1948–67) (see Occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt). Previously, it was ruled by the United Kingdom (1918–48) and Turkey when Gaza was part of the Ottoman Empire. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been de facto governed by Hamas, a Palestinian group claiming to be the representatives of the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian people. Gaza forms a part of the Palestinian territory defined in the Oslo Agreements and UNSC Resolution 1860.
The territory is still considered to be "occupied" by the United Nations, International human rights organisations, and the majority of governments and legal commentators, despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza. Israel continues to maintain direct external control over Gaza and indirect control over life within Gaza through controlling Gaza's air and maritime space, control of six of Gaza's seven land crossings, reserving the right to reenter Gaza at will through regular military incursions, maintaining a no-go buffer zone within the Gaza territory, and maintaining Gaza's dependence on Israel for trade, water, sewage, electricity, currency, communication networks, issuing IDs, and permits to enter and leave the territory and the Palestinian Population Registry.
Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91% (2014 est.), the 13th highest in the world, and is often referred to as overcrowded. There is a limited capability to construct new homes and facilities for this growth. The territory is 41 kilometers (25 mi) long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers (3.7 to 7.5 mi) wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi). As of 2014, Palestinians of the Gaza Strip numbered around 1.82 million people. Sunni Muslims make up the predominant part of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.
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. Article V of the Agreement declared that the demarcation line was not to be an international border. At first the Gaza Strip was officially administered by the All-Palestine Government, established by the Arab League in September 1948. All-Palestine in the Gaza Strip was managed under the military authority of Egypt, functioning as puppet state, until it officially merged into the United Arab Republic and dissolved in 1959. From the time of the dissolution of the All-Palestine Government 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 while Israel maintained control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings with the exception of the land border with Egypt. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip under their unilateral disengagement plan. In July 2007, after winning the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas became the elected government. In 2007 Hamas expelled the rival party Fatah from Gaza. This broke the Unity Government between Gaza Strip and the West Bank, creating two separate governments for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
In 2014, following reconciliation talks, Hamas and Fatah formed a Palestinian unity government within the State of Palestine. Rami Hamdallah became the coalition's Prime Minister and has planned for elections in Gaza and the West Bank. In July 2014, a set of lethal incidents between Hamas and Israel led to the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.
Following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, the territory has been subjected to a blockade, maintained by Israel and Egypt, with Israel arguing that it is necessary to impede Hamas from rearming and to restrict Palestinian rocket attacks. Critics argue the blockade extends to drastic reductions in basic construction materials, medical supplies, and food stuffs. Under the blockade, Gaza is viewed by some critics as an "open-air prison," though the claim is contested.