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PoliticsMiddle East

Three graphics that show the situation in Gaza

October 14, 2023

The Israeli military urged people living in northern Gaza to evacuate to the territory's southern region on Friday. Here's what that would look like.

Aerial view of cars in a line to leave northern Gaza as plume of black smoke rises in the background
The Gaza Strip is one of the world's most densely populated areas and is under fireImage: Hatem Mouss/AP Photo/picture alliance

The Gaza Strip, currently under bombardment by Israel after the Islamist Hamas group conducted large-scale terror attacks that left more than 1,300 people dead on October 7, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Hamas, designated a terror organization by Israel, the European Union, the United States and other governments, has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Only 41 kilometers (25.5 miles) long and 10 kilometers wide in its narrowest section, the Gaza Strip is roughly the size of the Irish capital, Dublin — with quadruple the population.

Its border with Israel is secured by a 6-meter (about 20-foot) high double fence with sensors, interspersed with watchtowers, supported by drones, bordered by a no-go zone on Gaza's side. The watchtowers partially stopped operating after Hamas' attacks on October 7 after the fence was breached in many places.

The Gaza Strip has two border crossings for people — the Erez crossing with Israel in the north and the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the south — and one for goods into and out of Israel, the Kerem Shalom crossing, in the south.

Israel has closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings, leaving the Rafah crossing to Egypt the only remaining one in operation. Israel has also cut off the delivery of water, food, fuel and power to the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military told about 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza to evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Friday. The World Health Organization and the United Nations called on Israel to rescind the order.

About 1.7 million of the 2.2 million people in the Gaza Strip are registered Palestinian refugees, according to the United Nations. Around 35% live in eight refugee camps spread across the region.

These camps are widely considered some of the most densely populated areas on Earth. Around 130,000 people reside in the Rafah camp, the largest in the Gaza Strip, with a land area of just over 1 square kilometer. Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Mumbai, India, considered among the most densely populated cities in the world, have, respectively, 30,911 and 24,073 people per square kilometer.

Gaza also has one of the youngest populations in the world. The median age is about 18 years old. Approximately 65% of the population is under the age of 24. Youth unemployment in the Gaza Strip is nearly 80%, according to UNICEF.

Edited by: S. Sinico

Clare Roth
Clare Roth Editor and reporter focusing on science and migration