Gaza

Largest City

Gaza City

Population

1.8 million

Languages

Arabic

Global Peace Index Rank

148 of 162

Population without Access to Clean Water

49%

History

Along with the West Bank, the Gaza Strip constitutes the Occupied Palestinian Territories, located between the Mediterranean Sea and Israel. Gaza has a population of roughly 1.8 million people living in a territory of only 139 square miles, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Conflict with Israel has escalated numerous times since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and Israel’s occupation of Gaza in 1967. The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, initiated in the 1970s in an attempt to agree on a resolution between Israel and Palestine, has broken down following the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, and has failed to prevent conflict and violence between the two groups.

Current Conflict

Escalating hostilities, including Israeli naval and aerial strikes and Palestinian rocket fire, resulted in the declaration of a humanitarian emergency in Gaza on July 8, 2014. This re-emergence of conflict has been the most intense since the creation of the Israeli nation-state. Around 2,200 people were killed with more than 12,000 homes destroyed, and 100,000 more damaged. The recent conflict has exacerbated an already fragile water situation in Gaza by displacing numbers of people, creating electricity and fuel shortages, damaging infrastructure, and reducing the availability of chlorine used to purify water. The water crisis was affected severely, with around $34 million in damages to Gaza’s water infrastructure, which had only been operating at an estimated 56% efficiency. The UN estimates that 1.4 million people, 78% of Gaza’s population, have been affected by the reduction or halt of the water supply and are in urgent need of assistance. This dire water and sanitation situation is a serious health concern, as it could lead to massive levels of chronic dehydration and, combined with overcrowding, widespread outbreaks of waterborne disease present a real threat to the people of Gaza.

In May 2015, after winning a surprise victory at early elections in March, Prime Minister Netanyahu formed a new coalition government. In October 2015, a wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks targeting Israelis in Jerusalem, the West Bank and other parts of Israel has escalated tensions. The destruction of infrastructure and ongoing interpersonal violence has led to a dire humanitarian situation for many in Gaza.

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