Gaza Strip

Gaza, (Arabic Ghazze), city and port near the Mediterranean Sea, about 32 km north of the Egyptian border. This ancient city has given its name to the Gaza Strip , a territory that was occupied by Israeli forces from 1967 until 1994. The Gaza Strip covers about 378 sq km (about 146 sq mi) and extends northeast from the Sinai Peninsula along the Mediterranean for about 40 km (about 25 mi).
Gaza was an important city in the 15th century BC , when the Egyptian king Thutmose III made it a base for his army in a war with Syria . In biblical times Gaza was one of the five royal cities of the ancient Philistines .

In the 8th century BC it was conquered by the Assyrians; from the 3rd to the 1st century BC , Egyptian , Syrian , and Hebrew armies fought for its possession . During Roman occupation it was called Minoa .

In the 7th century AD it became a sacred Muslim city, but the Crusaders found it almost deserted in the 12th century . Gaza fell to the French general Napoleon Bonaparte during his Egyptian campaign .

In 1917 , during World War I, the city was taken from Turkey by British forces under General Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby.

By the terms of the United Nations (UN) plan of 1947 providing for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, Gaza was to have been included in the Arab area. In 1948 , during the war between Jewish the Arabs , Egyptian forces retained Gaza and the surrounding area , which came to be called the Gaza Strip. This territory came under the control of Egypt by the terms of the Arab Israeli armistice agreement of 1949 . In the course of the war some 200,000 Palestinian refugees from the Palestinian occupied land by Israel settled in the strip, doubling the population. Although the city of Gaza has bazaars and markets and some light industry, and the Gaza Strip is an established citrus producing area , the economy cannot support the large population , which has been aided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East.

In the spring of 1956 several military clashes between Egypt and Israel took place in the Gaza Strip. Israel accused Egypt of using the area as a base for commando raids into Israeli territory . In October 1956, shortly before the invasion of the Suez Canal Zone of Egypt by French and British forces, Israeli troops seized the Gaza Strip and advanced into the Sinai Peninsula. The following March a UN emergency force replaced the Israeli troops, and Egypt regained control of the civil administration of the strip.

Israeli forces seized the area again during the Arab Israeli War of June 67.

The 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel called for eventual self rule for the Palestinians in the strip.

Beginning in December 1987, the area was site of al-Intifada, demonstrations by Palestinians demanding self rule.

In September 1993, after secret negotiations, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization signed a peace accord calling for withdrawal of the Israeli military from the Gaza Strip and other areas , and for Palestinian administration of the local government.

In May 1994 Israeli troops withdrew from the Palestinian towns and refugee camps of the Gaza Strip, and the area came under Palestinian authority.


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