Joseph E. Goldberg, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Political Science and Regional Studies at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), in an entry on the Gaza Strip from the 1996 An Historical Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, wrote:
"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. However, it was taken by the Egyptian army during the 1948-49 war and placed under Egyptian military administration. Held briefly by Israel in 1956-57, the Gaza Strip then returned to Egyptian control, where it remained until 1967, when Israel 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 made little progress until 1993.
Violence and protests directed at Israel and the Israeli administration in the area increased considerably beginning in late 1987, and both Jews and Arabs have been killed during the course of the intifada. In the Oslo talks, the Gaza Strip was the main territory to be turned over to the Palestinian Authority. A transitional period of no more than five years would exist, with an elected Palestinian council exercising limited controls. Israeli troops would control the external borders and continue to maintain the security of existing Israeli settlers in the area. During the third year of the interim period, negotiations over the permanent status of Gaza and Jericho would take place."
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook, in a section titled "Gaza Strip - Introduction" on its website (accessed Aug. 25, 2006), wrote the following explanation:
"The Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (the DOP), signed in Washington on 13 September 1993, provided for a transitional period not exceeding five years of Palestinian interim self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Under the DOP, Israel agreed to transfer certain powers and responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of the interim self-governing arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A transfer of powers and responsibilities for the Gaza Strip and Jericho took place pursuant to the Israel-PLO 4 May 1994 Cairo Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area and in additional areas of the West Bank pursuant to the Israel-PLO 28 September 1995 Interim Agreement, the Israel-PLO 15 January 1997 Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron, the Israel-PLO 23 October 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and the 4 September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement.
The DOP provides that Israel will retain responsibility during the transitional period for external and internal security and for public order of settlements and Israeli citizens. Direct negotiations to determine the permanent status of Gaza and West Bank began in September 1999 after a three-year hiatus, but were derailed by a second intifadah that broke out in September 2000. In April 2003 the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005 based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine.
The proposed date for a permanent status agreement has been postponed indefinitely due to violence and accusations that both sides have not followed through on their commitments. Longtime Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT died in November 2004 and Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005, bringing hope of a turning point in the conflict. In February 2005 Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments, focused on security issues, in an effort to move the peace process forward.
Progress has been slow because of different interpretations of the verbal agreement by the two sides. In September 2005, Israel withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. An agreement signed by the PA and Israel in November 2005 authorized the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt under joint PA and Egyptian control, with monitoring provided by the EU."
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Online, on a page titled "Profile: Gaza strip" in the News section (accessed Apr. 11, 2007), wrote:
"An Israeli-built metal fence separates Israel and the Gaza Strip. It is heavily guarded by Israeli forces and is the frequent target of Palestinian militant attacks. Guerrilla fighters are often spotted and killed before they reach the fence, which is protected by an open 300-metre-wide buffer on the Gaza side. After the 2005 pullout, Israeli [sic] wanted to keep control of Gaza's border with Egypt, known as the Philadelphi Route, to control traffic and prevent smuggling. However, it was obliged by international pressure to abandon the plan and it handed over responsibility for the border to Egypt. Palestinian forces, monitored by European Union officials, are stationed at the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. Under a deal brokered by the US, Israel uses video surveillance at Rafah, but cannot stop people crossing.
Rafah crossing is Gaza's sole contact with the outside world not under direct Israeli control. It is open to pedestrians and can be used to export goods, but imports are not allowed. Officially goods can enter from Egypt by the Kerem Shalom crossing and from Israel via the Sufa and Karni crossings, both of which are controlled by the Israeli army. But troops have frequently closed the goods crossings, citing security reasons. This has occasionally led to shortages of basic humanitarian supplies and severely hampered Gaza's main exports - perishable goods such as fruit and cut flowers. The main passenger crossing point into Israel, Erez in the north, has been closed to Palestinians for long periods, preventing labourers from working in Israel, though internationals and emergency medical cases are allowed to cross. In the late 1990s, the Palestinians were allowed to open their own airport in the Gaza Strip, but this has been put out of use by Israeli attacks since the 2000 intifada. Israel agreed in principle to the opening of a seaport for Gaza and to allow bus connections with the West Bank in a US-brokered deal in November 2005. But both moves are yet to be implemented.
Gaza is one of the strongholds of the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in January 2006. Other groups such as Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (affiliated to the former ruling party Fatah), and the Popular Resistance Committee all have a strong presence in the Strip. Despite Gaza's isolation, militants have continued to attack Israeli interests from the Strip since the 2005 pull-out. The main vehicle of resistance, as the militants describe it, is the firing of short-range homemade rockets which can reach nearby Israeli population centres, such as Sderot, less than a kilometre from Gaza's north-east corner. These have caused a handful of deaths and injuries, but severe disruption for Israelis living within range. Israeli shelling and rocket attacks, meanwhile, which Israel says are meant to stop the rocket fire, have killed dozens of Gazans, including many civilians."