Urban density in Gaza (left) and Israel (right)
The Gaza strip, a narrow corridor of 6-12 km width and an area of 360 square km, is one of the densest territories on earth. If it were recognized as a sovereign country it would by fourth in population density worldwide, after Monaco, Singapore and Gibraltar. The list follows with already much lower densities such as the Vatican and Bahrein.
Population per square kilometer: (countries)
In this list, all small territories were established as strategic sovereign countries within an existing country as a result of superior economic or political power, except Gaza. While in these countries the population density increased because of growing wealth and influence within fixed geographic boundaries, in Gaza the high population density was reached by compression of the Arab population in the areas known as Palestinian Territories.
During the 2008/2009 offensive of Israel against the Gaza strip, controlled by Hamas, what has happened demographically to this narrow strip of land with 1.4 million inhabitants, whose borders have been closed and which has been sealed off from the Mediterranean Sea? Where did all those people go after their houses and enterprises were bombed?
If built structures have disappeared, if no new building materials are entering the territory and if the current fertility rate is maintained in Gaza, the parts of the urban area that have not been destroyed must now be even more dense than they used to be.
Population per square kilometer: (cities)
Source: Demographia – World Urban Areas
Palestinians gather around a crater left by an Israeli missile in farmland at Jabaliya refugee camp (photograph by UPPA/The Independent)
Note by the editor: The question, whether airstrikes and bombings of this kind, in high-density civilian areas, are a responsible and civilized practice, falls outside the scope of this website.