The Gaza Strip is a coastal stretch of land that borders Egypt and Israel along the Mediterranean Sea. The total area of 360 square kilometers is identified as Palestinian territory. This strip is under surveillance and controversy owing to the presence of Hamas.
The de facto democratic government, Hamas, bears the administrative responsibility of the Gaza Strip. Until 1967, Egypt governed the area, but now only takes responsibility for the southern border and the Sinai desert. The area came under worldwide scrutiny when there was a breach of trust in 2008-09. The land was used to smuggle missiles.
Israel was responsible for governing the area from 1967 to 2005. The Gaza Strip has a history that is synonymous with the famous Oslo Accords.
This pact signed between Israel and the representatives of the PLO specified Israeli military control over the airspace, territorial waters, and neutral land borders.
The land takes its name from the city of Gaza. Gaza comprises more than one and a half million Palestinian residents. These are mostly refugees who fled during the exodus, after the formation of Israel via intervention by the United Nations, in 1948.
In the Hebrew Bible, the Gaza Strip is mentioned as the place where the mighty Samson died while razing the Dagon Temple. According to political records, the area was captured by the Philistines in the 13th Century. In fact, the name Palestine is derived from Philistines.
This highly controversial coastal strip has seen the rise and fall of many rulers for the last 2,000 years. The popular ones include the rule and decline of King David, the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Egyptians.
The Ottoman rule was established between 1517 and 1799. The strip was captured by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799, and thereafter dominated by Egypt, culturally and politically. The Egyptian residents fled the city amidst political turmoil.
The Gaza Strip was a battle front during World War I. The British and Ottomans fought tooth and nail to gain control over the important coastal route. Following the war, Gaza was made a mandate of the British Empire. In full empowerment of this declaration by the League of Nations, Palestine was declared 'home for the Jewish'.
According to the Balfour Declaration, any prejudice against the religious and civil rights of non-Jewish communities were questioned. The presence of the Jews in Gaza was taken for granted, until the riots in 1929. Thereafter, the Arabs forced them to vacate the Gaza Strip.
However, Jewish presence continued to be felt and observed around the region. The mandate ended in 1948, the same year that Israel declared independence. The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, declared Gaza as a part of the new Arab state.
However, the Arabs rejected the plan and felt betrayed with the Jewish presence on a land that had been theirs for centuries. This led to the invasion in 1948, by the Egyptian army.
Today, the Gaza Strip is the result of the Armistice Agreement of 1949. This strip serves as a 'Green Line' between Egypt and Israel. The Strip is basically inhabited by Palestinian Arab refugees. The Arab League declared an All-Palestine Government in 1948. However, this government was not recognized by any non-Arab country.
In 1959, the then President of Egypt, Gamal Abdul Nasser, annulled the All-Palestine government. Egypt has never annexed the Strip. Instead, it is more of a controlled territory. Israel controlled the area until 1994, and was responsible for military administration and civil facilities.
Amidst political upheaval, the strip has suffered from mismanagement and corruption. The passage of goods and personnel, in and out of the land, has been unmonitored and neglected, adding to the menace of global terrorism.
Perpetration by suicide bombers and guerrillas has been an ongoing challenge to both sides. Military rule has resulted in this beautiful coastal strip being converted into a surveillance camera concentrated barrier. Today, the land is full of wire fencing, technology-driven observation posts, and serves as a buffer zone.