The Gaza Strip at Israel’s southwestern border has been a thorn in the side of Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority alike. The challenge is not going away. It’s getting bigger. According to new statistics, the population of the Gaza Strip has doubled since the year 2000. It has grown from just over 1 million, up to 2,375,259 at the close of 2022, as reported by the Gaza Interior Ministry.
That’s a lot of people in a small space. The Gaza Strip is 41 km (25 miles) long and averages 9 km (5 miles) wide. It includes part of the area in which the Philistines lived in Bible times.
The Gaza government reports that during 2022, the population increased by 51,096. An average of 155 babies were born per day in Gaza for a total of 56,614, while the number of deaths was 5,518.
Like the rest of the “Greater” Land of Israel, the Gaza area was under Ottoman Turkish Muslim rule for centuries, until World War 1.
Then Great Britain was in control of Gaza from 1923 until 1948.
Afterward Egypt was in control of the Gaza Strip from 1948 to 1967.
At the end of the Six Day War in 1967, Israel was left holding the “West Bank,” Sinai and Gaza. During the peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt in 1979, it was agreed to return the vast Sinai Peninsula to Egyptian control, but Cairo was not interested in resuming control and responsibility of Gaza and its residents.
In 1994 as a result of the Oslo Accords, a Palestinian government under Yasser Arafat was given sovereignty over most of the Gaza Strip, not including several Israeli enclaves with around 9,000 Israeli Jewish residents.
To save Israel the cost in soldiers’ lives, of protecting the remaining small presence in Gaza; normally-hawkish Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to unilaterally withdraw the remaining Israeli military and civilian presence from Gaza in 2005, including forcefully removing Israeli citizens from houses they had built.
Instead of receiving peace as a result of handing over complete sovereignty of Gaza to the Palestinians, Israel instead got an extreme Palestinian terrorist regime as its new neighbor, under the dictatorship of Hamas, with thousands of rockets being launched against Israeli towns every few years.
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