The Gaza Strip – A Humanitarian Crisis

The effects of a larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Key Actors

  • Binyamin Netanyahu – Israeli Prime Minister
  • Hamas: Seen as a terrorist group by much of the world, they fight against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
  • Syria and Iran: Supporters of Hamas
  • United States: See Hamas as a terrorist organization and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city

Where is the Gaza Strip?

The Gaza Strip is a small area located on the east of Israel on the Egyptian border. Egypt occupied this area until 1967, when Israel emerged victorious in the Six Day War. , Israel took over and held military presence until 2005, when they pulled out of the Gaza Strip.

What’s happening?

Considered “the world’s largest open-air prison”, the Gaza Strip is a highly contested area in the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was once part of Palestine before the state of Israel was established in 1949, when millions of Palestinians were forced from their homes. The continuation of Israeli occupation led to the creation of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist organization that seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian State through violent means. The infitadas* they led have resulted in Israel imposing a siege on the Gaza Strip, cutting off basic necessities like food, water, and medical supplies.

Between 2008 and 2014, the Israeli government has carried out three major offensives, resulting in the severe devastation of key infrastructure. One major example is the demolition of the only existing power plant in the Gaza Strip, leaving civilians in an electricity crisis. This has caused other consequences; hospitals have power outages frequently. Furthermore, the siege put in place has left Palestinians without building materials to reconstruct their demolished homes. However, displacement is the least of Palestinians’ worries; Israeli offensives have killed thousands of innocent civilians. Hamas and Israel regularly launch rockets at each other, a never ending cycle of retaliation against each others’ actions.

International actors have also played their role; Syria and Iran supplying Hamas with weapons, and the United States of America supporting Israel, their major ally in the middle east. The USA’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel with their symbolic plans to move the American embassy there has aggravated tensions, as Jerusalem is a city with deep religious roots for both the Jewish and the Arabs. The expected opening of this embassy is on May 12th, where many predict the existing heightening of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip will take a violent turn for the worse.

Intifadas*: Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank


There are nearly 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, and according to Oxfam, nearly 50% of are youth, most of which are unemployed. They also lack adequate food, clean water, healthcare, fuel, and are poverty stricken. Refugees have trouble fleeing the area, and many that make it to nearby countries are currently relying on UN support.

Casualties in the 3 major Israeli offensives

In the Israeli offensive of 2008, 47,000 homes were destroyed, and more than 1,440 Palestinians were killed, 920 being civilians. In 2012, 167 were killed, 87 of which civilians, and in 2014, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, 1,462 being civilians.



Synovitz, Ron. “The Israel-Gaza Conflict: A Guide to the Major Players.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 20 Nov. 2012

McElroy, Damien. “Gaza Explained: Why Israel and Palestinians Are in Constant Conflict over Gaza.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 14 Aug. 2014

“Key Figures in Latest Israel-Palestine Conflict.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 29 Dec. 2008

“Guide: Why Are Israel and the Palestinians Fighting over Gaza? – CBBC Newsround.” BBC, BBC, 20 Feb. 2015

Beauchamp, Zack. “What Is Gaza?” Vox, Vox, 31 Mar. 2014

Beauchamp, Zack. “The Israel-Gaza Crisis, Explained in 11 Facts.” Vox, Vox, 16 July 2014

Al Jazeera. “A Guide to the Gaza Strip.” Israeli–Palestinian Conflict | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 26 June 2017

Kershner, Isabel. “A Quiet Jerusalem Neighborhood Gets a U.S. Embassy, and a Spotlight.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Feb. 2018



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