Crisis by the numbers in the Gaza Strip
Casualties are beginning to mount as an Israeli effort to reclaim a captured soldier turns increasingly violent. At press time on July 6, one Israeli Defense Force soldier and as many as 22 Palestinians including civilians and at least two armed militants had died in a suddenly intensified fight.
Just about half of all residents in the refugee camps, villages, and farms which make up Gaza are children. Living conditions for Gaza's civilians have been described as "deplorable" since IDF air strikes destroyed the strip's only electric power facility and severed water and gas lines. Thousands of Gaza residents are without gas, water, or electricity and UN and NGO officials fear a large-scale humanitarian disaster is inevitable. The crisis seems in danger of spiraling out of control.
Here is some basic information about Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth, and the people who live there (Source: CIA World Factbook):
Population: 1,428,757 (July 2006 est.)
Square miles: 360
Arable land: 29 percent
0-14 years: 48.1 percent (male 351,642/female 335,060)
15-64 years: 49.4 percent (male 360,147/female 345,318)
65 years and over: 2.6 percent (male 15,231/female 21,359) (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate: 31 percent (includes West Bank) (January-September 2005 avg.)
Population below poverty line: 81 percent
Economic overview: High population density, limited land access, and strict internal and external controls have kept economic conditions in the Gaza Strip—the smaller of the two areas under the Palestinian Authority (PA)—even more degraded than in the West Bank. The beginning of the second intifadah in September 2000 sparked an economic downturn, largely the result of Israeli closure policies; these policies, which were imposed in response to security interests in Israel, disrupted labor and commodity relationships with the Gaza Strip. In 2001, and even more severely in 2003, Israeli military measures in PA areas resulted in the destruction of much capital plant, the disruption of administrative structure, and widespread business closures. Including the West Bank, the UN estimates that more than 100,000 Palestinians out of the 125,000 who used to work in Israel or in joint industrial zones have lost their jobs. Half the labor force is unemployed.
Infant mortality rate: total: 22.4 deaths/1,000 live births
Religion: About 1 percent of Gaza residents are Christian; 99 percent are Muslim, primarily Sunni
Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
Literacy: 91.9 percent
GDP per capita: $600