The Occupied Territories


The Gaza Strip is a very narrow piece of land on the Mediterranean coast - where Egypt and Israel meet. 1.8 million people live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Gaza originally belonged to Egypt but the Israelis captured it in 1967 and were in power there until 1994. In the last 15 years, Hamas, has been in control of mort of the region. Many people are very poor Arab refugees. Some of them go to Israel to work there every day.

Gaza Strip

View of Gaza City

Image : OneArmedMan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The West Bank lies between Israel and Jordan , west of the Jordan River. About 2 million people live here. Most of them are Arabs but when Israel took over the area after the Six Day War in 1967 they built many settlements for Jewish people. The region is hilly and only about one fourth is farmland. The eastern part falls down to the Jordan valley. Much of the West Bank is dry and doesn't get a lot of rain. The Dead Sea lies in the south-eastern corner of the West Bank. It is the lowest place on the earth’s surface - about 400 metres below sea level.

In 1994, Israel started to pull back its troops from the West Bank. The area came under control of the PLO, which patrolled the area with its own police. When violence erupted after 2000, Israel sent its army back to protect the Jewish settlements there.

Ramallah, Palestinian town in the West Bank

Israeli settlement in the West Bank

Image : Salonmor

The Golan Heights is a hilly area in the south-western corner of Syria. It overlooks the Jordan Valley. Up to 1967 it was a part of Syria, but in the Six Day War Israel captured the Golan Heights because the Syrian army was threatening Israeli settlements near the border. Today, Syria wants this region back and has said there can be no peace with Israel unless it returns this land.

Sea of Galilee and southern Golan Heights

Image : Daniel Case