A four-year Israeli blockade, a 23-day military assault in 2009 and political infighting between Hamas and Fatah have created what a number of UN agencies and governments have described as a “humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza Strip.
The economy, food security and health of the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians - about 80 percent of whom are refugees - have deteriorated markedly since the economic embargo was imposed in 2006, the UN says.
Israel contends there is no humanitarian crisis, as it says the basic needs of the population are being met, and says its blockade is meant to punish the Hamas-led government in Gaza and not the civilian population.
IRIN tracks the main events leading to Gaza’s current predicament.
11 September 2005 - Israel unilaterally removed about 8,000 Israeli residents from the Gaza Strip. Israel said it had ended its nearly 40-year occupation of the Strip after withdrawing all its soldiers and dismantling its military facilities in Gaza.
According to the UN [page3, section I], however, Israel’s occupation continued since Israel retained control of Gaza’s airspace, sea space and borders, and enforced a restricted zone along the border inside Gaza.
15 November 2005 - Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA), signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), stipulates that Rafah and all other crossing points to Gaza operate continuously and that Israel allow the movement of goods and persons between the West Bank and Gaza.
25 November 2005 - Rafah terminal with Egypt opens to select passengers under AMA. The European Union (EU) Border Assistance Mission (BAM) supervises border control.
January 2006 - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has a stroke. Ehud Olmert becomes interim PM.
Widespread violence perpetrated by Fatah militants in Gaza during lead-up to Palestinian parliamentary elections.
25 January 2006 - Hamas wins most seats, defeating Fatah in parliamentary elections.
30 January 2006 - The Quartet (the USA, EU, UN and Russia) dictates three conditions to Hamas for international assistance to continue: recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previously signed agreements.
February 2006 - Israel decides to withhold millions of dollars of monthly tax revenue owed to the PA.
12 March 2006 - Israel closes Erez, the only passenger crossing on the Gaza-Israel border for Palestinians. Only special permit holders, usually emergency medical cases and aid workers, may cross.
Forces loyal to Fatah such as these troops have been unable to stop Hamas from taking control of Gaza.
Photo: Tom Spender/IRIN
Forces loyal to Fatah were unable to stop Hamas from taking control of Gaza
March 2006 - USA suspends assistance to the PA, bans US government contacts with the PA, and prohibits unlicensed transactions with it.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department bars financial transactions with the PA, UN agencies and EU officials halt contact with the PA in the West Bank and Gaza.
March 2006 - According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Karni crossing, Gaza’s main commercial crossing, has been closed 60 percent of the year and the price of food items has risen 30 percent.
March 2006 - Olmert elected prime minister.
April 2006 - Hamas-led PA government rejects Quartet conditions.
Unemployment hovers at 50 percent in Gaza, and 67 percent of families live below the poverty line, according to the UN.
May 2006 - As a result of the worsening crisis, the EU creates the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) to channel funds to the PA and enable the continued functioning of essential public services and weekly fuel deliveries to Gaza.
June 2006 - Palestinian militants capture Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit during a cross-border raid, triggering a massive Israeli incursion into Gaza dubbed Operation Summer Rain.
Israel bombs Gaza’s sole power station. Israel arrests most Hamas cabinet members.
July-August 2006 – Israel launches air and land offensive against Lebanon aiming for with the armed wing of Lebanese group Hezbollah. Ceasefire declared and Israeli forces begin withdrawing from Lebanon. At least 1,200 people in Lebanon and 157 Israelis were killed during the fighting. UN peacekeeping force deploys along southern border.
[Israel] A Qassam rocket is displayed in Sderot town hall against a background of pictures of Sderot residents killed in rocket and other attacks. [Date picture taken: 09/25/2006]
Photo: Tom Spender/IRIN
A Qassam rocket fired from Gaza is displayed in the Israeli town of Sderot against a background of pictures of residents killed in rocket and other attacks
October 2006 - Negotiations on Palestinian unity government collapse. Relations between Fatah and Hamas continue to deteriorate.
26 November 2006 – Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli PM Olmert agree to a ceasefire, ending a five-month-long series of Israeli military incursions into the Gaza Strip that claimed the lives of more than 457 people, a quarter of them children, and injured over 1,000, according to the PA health ministry.
The operations resulted in the destruction of agricultural land, infrastructure and homes, while thousands of residents sought refuge in UN shelters.
December 2006 - Israel agrees to release U$100 million of Palestinian tax revenues.
March 2007 - New Palestinian National Unity government sworn in, headed by Hamas member Ismail Haniyeh, and with a cabinet comprising Fatah, Hamas and independent and left-wing MPs.
7 June 2007 - Hamas seizes control of Gaza after Fatah is ordered to abandon its posts. Abbas disbands the unity government and declares a state of emergency.
9 June 2007 - The Rafah crossing with Egypt is closed to the public. Until 1 June 2010, it only opens sporadically for special cases, such as medical patients, students and foreign visa holders.
12 June 2007 - Israel closes the Karni crossing on the Gaza-Israel border. It is Gaza’s only crossing with the capacity to bring in large quantities of commercial goods, according to the UN. A single-lane conveyor belt that transfers grain continues to operate.
November 2007 - Israeli and Palestinian leaders agree at a conference in Annapolis hosted by US President George Bush to begin talks to reach an agreement on a future Palestinian state by the end of 2008
2 Dec 2007 - Israel's High Court rules that limiting fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza is in accordance with Israeli law.
The court rejects a petition filed by Palestinian residents of Gaza, and Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations, such as B'Tselem, arguing that the measures are likely to cause extensive humanitarian harm.
December 2007 - US$7.4 billion in aid pledged for Gaza at a donor conference in Paris
[Gaza] A Palestinian girl gets help from her relatives to get across the wall of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Gaza, 7 February 2007. The border crossing opened on Tuesday allowing people to travel in and out of the Gaza Strip. Israel, citing secu
Photo: Asmaa Waguih/IRIN
A Palestinian girl gets help from relatives to get across the wall of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on 7 February 2007
January 2008 - 700,000 Gazans break through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, according to UN estimates, to get food and fuel due to shortages under the blockade.
Underground tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border used to smuggle goods and, Israel says, weapons into Gaza now also being used to bring in other supplies such as food and medication.
March 2008 - At least 110 people killed in an Israeli aerial and ground assault in Gaza, described by the UN as a "disproportionate use of force" and by Israel as an operation to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets into southern Israel
Major aid agencies say humanitarian situation in Gaza has never been worse since 1967.
June 2008 - Hamas and Israel agree to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which calls on militants to stop firing rockets into Israel in exchange for Israel easing its blockade of the territory, and halting targeted assassinations in Gaza.
4 November 2008 - Israel seals all border crossings into Gaza after an Israeli military incursion in Gaza prompts Palestinian militants to resume daily rocket-fire into Israeli towns. Five-month ceasefire had been largely holding.
Humanitarian aid and staff prohibited from entering Gaza. UN officials warn of a worsening humanitarian crisis.
19 December 2008 - The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) is forced to suspend food distribution services in Gaza due to continued border closures.
Six-month truce ends as rocket-fire continues from Gaza. Hamas says Israel failed to ease its blockade of the territory and continued targeted assassinations. Food, fuel, medical supplies and other basic necessities dangerously low in Gaza, according to UN agencies.
27 December 2008 - Israel launches a 23-day military offensive, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, against Gaza, including aerial bombardments and a subsequent ground invasion with the stated aim of halting rocket-fire into Israel.
Fire and smoke billow following an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah near the border with Egypt on 12 January
Photo: Iyad El Baba/UNICEF-oPt
Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on 12 January 2009
19 January 2009 - Israel declares a unilateral ceasefire. Statistics about Palestinians who lost their life during the military operation vary, but NGOs place the overall number of persons killed between 1,387 and 1,417. The Gaza authorities report 1,444 fatal casualties, whilst Israel provides a figure of 1,166, At least 5,380 people were injured, including 1,872 children and 800 women, said the World Health Organization.
From June 2004 to 19 January 2010, 19 civilians were killed in Israel by rockets and mortars fired by Palestinians, including four minors. In addition, two Israeli soldiers, an Israeli civilian and one foreign national were killed by homemade Qassam rockets in Israeli settlements, according to rights group B'Tselem.
February 2009 - Gaza post-war humanitarian crisis looms. Thousands lack shelter.
March 2009 - Benjamin Netanyahu sworn in as Israeli prime minister and head of new coalition government.
April 2009 - 150,000 Gazans still lack tap water as a result of Operation Cast Lead.
May 2009 - US President Barack Obama meets Netanyahu and calls for Palestinian statehood and a curb on West Bank settlements.
June 2010 - ICRC report says blockade having "devastating" impact on Palestinians' lives.
June 2010 - Eighteen months after Israel’s 23-day offensive in the Gaza Strip, three-quarters of damaged homes, buildings and infrastructure remain unrepaired, according to a reconstruction needs assessment published by the UN Development Programme in Jerusalem.
June 2010 - Nine pro-Palestinian activists killed by Israeli naval forces in international waters while trying to sail to Gaza aboard a flotilla of six ships carrying 10,000 tons of goods in an effort to break the blockade.
Some 973,600 people are food insecure out of a population of about 1.5 million, more than half of whom are children
Photo: Suhair Karam/IRIN
More than 915,000 Gazans, 61 percent of the population, are food-insecure
July 2010 - Israel announces intent to ease the Gaza blockade and publishes an official list of items prohibited from entering Gaza. The UN says only the complete lifting of the blockade can address the humanitarian crisis.
Today, about 1.1 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza receive UNRWA services; 61 percent of Gaza's population is food insecure; and unemployment is nearly 40 percent, according to the UN.
30 July 2010 - Rocket fired from Gaza strikes the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, causing damage but no injuries. Israel strikes Gaza port and Gaza city from the air, killing a Hamas fighter and injuring a number of civilians.
(reissued on 6 August 2010, correcting some of the dates from 2010 to 2009)
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions