The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. It is home to more than two million Palestinians living within a stretch of territory 32 miles long by seven miles wide. Since 1967, this territory has been under Israeli military occupation.

Map of the Gaza Strip

While the UN Partition Plan of 1947 designated the Gaza Strip as part of a future Arab state, Palestinians in Gaza have never enjoyed total sovereignty. Between 1949 and 1967, the Gaza Strip was controlled by Egypt. After Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel occupied the Strip. The 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement gave the Palestinians in Gaza some autonomy, but Israel still maintained a military presence. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its soldiers and evacuated its civilian settlers from the Gaza Strip. The next year, Palestinians in Gaza expressed their frustration with the transitional Palestinian Authority by voting Hamas into power. Since then, Israel has imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Over the past several years, there have been three military escalations between the Israelis and militants in Gaza: 2008-09, 2012, and 2014. The 2014 conflict had devastating consequences on civilians in Gaza, including the death of over 500 children. Israel’s blockade has prevented Gazans from rebuilding the extensive damage caused by these conflicts. This has resulted in an infrastructure crisis that has crippled Gaza’s economy. Electricity is infrequent, drinking water is toxic, and raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean. About half of Gazans are unemployed and 70 percent depend on foreign humanitarian aid. After the war in 2014, the UN predicted that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020 unless the blockade was lifted.

CMEP advocates for an end to the blockade and closure of Gaza. The blockade limits the import of basic necessities and materials desperately needed to rebuild after the recent wars in Gaza 2008/2009, 2012, and 2014. The restrictions on travel have limited Palestinians’ access to health care, religious holy sites, and educational institutions outside of the Gaza Strip. CMEP also strongly condemns rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

Gazan children hold Luci lights.

Facts at a Glance

(Source: Gisha, 2018)

Area: 141 square miles
Population: 1.88 million
Unemployment Rate: 49%
Percent of Population Receiving Humanitarian Aid: 70%
Hours of Electricity Per Day: 4
Percent of Drinking Water Contaminated: 96%
Exit Permits Granted by Israel on Average Per Month: 6,200
Exit Permits Granted by Egypt on Average Per Month: 3,500

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ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress: Stand with the People of Gaza

On Friday, March 30 and continuing over the weekend, 30,000 Palestinians participated in demonstrations along the Gaza fence in observance of “Land Day,”: a nonviolent act of political protest commemorating the death of six Palestinians during the general strike of 1976. In response, Israel used live fire to suppress unarmed protest resulting in 18 fatalities and at least 1,400 casualties. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) strongly denounces the use of violence and grieves for all those who were killed and injured. Learn more and take action here

Lights for Gaza Campaign:

During Spring 2017 CMEP partnered with Rebuilding Alliance to send solar powered Luci Lights into Gaza. Individuals like you raised enough funds to send 570 Luci Lights to people in Gaza. Thank you to everyone who participated!! Learn more here.

Background: Infrastructure Crisis in Gaza 2017  

During the 2014 Gaza War, the main power plant is Gaza was damaged severely. Since then, the infrastructure crisis has grown exponentially. Exacerbated by the difficulty in purchasing Diesel due to a financial conflict between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, Gazans are impacted in three crucial areas, energy, water and communications, which stunts any hope for stability. Currently, Gazans typically only have electricity for 3-4 hours per day, leaving them in darkness for about 21 hours. Continue Reading

Gaza: Working Toward a Better Future [07/24/2017]

Gaza Field Manager for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Bassam Nasser, speaks with CMEP’s Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, Kyle Cristofalo, about CRS’ work in Gaza providing emergency relief to the most vulnerable. Nasser also discusses his hope for a better future and steps to take to help move toward a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Watch 

Growing Up In Gaza [07/18/2017]

Fulbright Scholar Oday Abdaljawwad speaks with CMEP Executive Director Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon about growing up in Gaza and the unique challenges the ongoing humanitarian crisis places on children. Abdaljawwad is currently a Development and Advocacy Intern with CMEP. Watch 

Gaza: Searching for Light [03/28/2017]

In 2014 Gaza’s main power plant sustained severe damage as a result of the Gaza War. Three years later the power plant remains mostly inactive. Today, most Gazans live in the dark for as many as 21 hours every day. Learn about the current realities of life in Gaza and where there might be opportunities for hope. Watch

Hand on the Switch and Lights for Gaza [03/09/2017]

Hear Tania Hary, Executive Director of the Israeli human rights organization Gisha, and Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, recently returned from Gaza, engage in a conversation on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Learn about the current realities of Palestinian life in Gaza where most Gazans live in the dark for as many as  21 hours every day. Watch

If the Heart Be Not Callous: On the Shooting of Unarmed Demonstrators in Gaza [B’Tselem, 2018]

“On 30 March 2018, demonstrations were held throughout the Gaza Strip along the fence separating from Israel. That day marked the beginning of a six-week protest that Gazans plan to hold until mid-May, to call for a lifting of the decade-long blockade imposed on the Strip by Israel and for fulfilling Palestinians’ right of return…Since the demonstrations began, the military has killed 32 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 26 of them demonstrators. More than 1,000 have been injured by live fire.” Read More

Closing In: Life and Death in Gaza’s Access Restricted Areas [Gisha, 2018]  

Contrary to the illusion held by many that Israel’s presence in the Gaza Strip ended with the implementation of the Disengagement Plan in 2005, to this day Israel continues to exercise control over nearly every aspect of life in Gaza, including through its control over movement and access.” Read More

Hand on the Switch: Who’s Responsible for Gaza’s Infrastructure Crisis? [Gisha, 2017]

Gisha’s 2017 report takes an in-depth look at the grim state of Gaza’s electricity, water, sewage and communications infrastructure. The report describes how we got to this point and, for the first time, outlines the responsibility shared among the various actors at play in the Gaza Strip today. The report shares short-, medium- and long-term solutions, culled by experts, to prevent collapse, but, more importantly, to help maintain and develop critical civilian infrastructure. Read More