Israel and the Gaza Strip

500 words we should know about Israel-Gaza Strip relations

The Gaza Strip is an autonomous Palestinian territory on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Egypt to the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel to the east and north along a 51 km border. The territory is 41 kilometers long and 6-12 kilometers wide, with an area of 365 square kilometers inhabited by about 1.85 million Palestinians (no reliable census). Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91%, the 13th highest in the world, which is why it is usually referred to as an overpopulated territory.

Unfortunately, and despite the fact that there is not a single Israeli left in Gaza (2005), the political and security situation in Gaza continued to deteriorate. In January 2006 the Hamas organization won the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council and was invited by Fatah to join a coalition government headed by the latter. In June 2007 Hamas staged a coup in the Gaza Strip in a violent campaign, resulting in the assassination and assault of dozens of Fatah officials. After this coup Hamas gained control over all Palestinian government apparatus in Gaza.

Is it true that Israel occupies Gaza? While the Belligerent Occupation Law does not provide an explicit answer, the accepted approach is that of a “mirror image” of the conditions for its creation, i.e., when the occupying army no longer maintains effective control in the territory and in its place, there is a new regime that possesses such control. Occupation can end by agreement or when the occupier is forced to leave, but also by a unilateral act of departure of the occupying power. Israel withdrew from the Gaza area in 2005.

During Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), Israel declared a blockade against the Strip to prevent the entry of weapons. The blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal (San Remo Convention 1995 and according to the Palmer Commission of Inquiry (UN) on the Gaza flotilla 2010). Palmer concluded that: 1) Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and Israel has the right to impose it; 2) the decision to break the naval blockade (by the flotilla) was a reckless act; 3) the conduct and true objectives of the organizers of the flotilla, in particular the IHH, were violent.

Until 2011, Hamas’ main benefactor country was Iran, and according to various estimates 80% of Iran’s foreign aid went to Hamas’ armed wing. Because Hamas opposed Assad in Syria and Assad is a great ally of Iran, Hamas had to leave Damascus (their headquarters at the time) and Iran stopped giving them money. For the last 6 years, Qatar has been the main financier and, with Israel’s approval, some 25 million dollars per month are given to the rulers of the Gaza Strip (this is how they pay public employees).