- The southernmost section of the coastal plain of mandatory Palestine. It is some 25 miles long and between 4 and 8 miles in width. Its major city is Gaza, and there is substantial citrus agriculture. Although it lies between Israel and Egypt, it belongs to neither, and its disposition remains a matter of dispute. The territory, heavily populated by Palestinians, was to have been part of a Palestinian Arab state under the terms of the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (see PALESTINE PARTITION PLAN). However, it was taken by the Egyptian army during Israel's War of Independence (1948—49) and placed under Egyptian military administration. Held briefly by Israel in 1956-57 (after the Sinai War), the Gaza Strip was then returned to Egyptian control, where it remained until 1967, when Israel again occupied the area during the Six-Day War. Egypt did not claim sovereignty over the Gaza Strip as a part of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, and negotiations concerning its status have made little progress.Violence and protests directed at Israel and the Israeli administration in the area have increased considerably since late 1987, and both Jews and Arabs were killed during the course of the intifada. Pursuant to the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization Gaza-Jericho First Implementing Agreement (Cairo, May 1994), control over much of the Gaza Strip was transferred to the Palestinian self-rule authority, with the exception of a handful of small settlements in northern Gaza that continued to be defended by the Israel Defense Forces. Those settlements were major targets of Palestinian terrorist attacks and Qassam missiles fired during the Al-Aksa intifada, and weapons were smuggled to the terrorists in Gaza through tunnels extending from the Sinai Peninsula.In December 2003, Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon announced his plan to unilaterally disengage Israeli military forces and civilians from the Gaza Strip (and four isolated settlements in the northern West Bank). Among the factors provided by proponents of disengagement (see UNILATERAL DISENGAGEMENT [HIT-NATKUT, TOKHNIT HAHITNATKUT]) was the untenable status of 8,500 Jewish settlers in Gaza among 1.3 million Palestinians. Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on 12 September 2005.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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