The Gaza Strip has one of the highest population densities in the world, with almost 2 million people living in only 365 km2. Two-thirds of the residents are refugees – evicted from their villages and land during the 1948 war – unemployment rates are over 40%, and nearly half are below the age of 14. Gaza was increasingly isolated and under direct Israeli military occupation from 1967 to 2005: it was legally run by hundreds of Israeli military orders, with no resident allowed to leave the Strip without Israeli permission. Israel’s 2005 unilateral disengagement effectively completed Gaza’s total separation from the West Bank, and lead to the 2007 Hamas take-over of the strip, and the creation of a distinct governing authority. Israel subsequently imposed a comprehensive land-sea-air blockade on Gaza that continues until today, leading to a total collapse of the formal economy, a social and humanitarian catastrophe, and the total dependence of Gaza’s population on foreign aid, smuggling and UN agencies such as the Palestine refugee agency, UNRWA.
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