Location: Gaza bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel West Bank: west of Jordan Area: West Bank: 5,860 sq km Gaza: 360 sq km Coastline: (Gaza) 40 km Elevation extremes: Gaza: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Auda) 105 m West Bank: lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m highest point: Tall Asur 1,022 m Pop (Gaza): 1,324,991 Pop (West Bank): 2,311,204 Age structure: Gaza 0-14 years: 49% 15-64 years: 48.3% 65 years and over: 2.7% West bank 0-14 years: 43.8% 15-64 years: 52.8% 65 years and over: 3.5% Member: Arab League
At this time, Palestine is made up of the West Bank, west of the Jordan River; and the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean Sea. The main cities are Jerusalem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus, and Gaza City. The total Palestinian population of 7million are citizens of the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and many are refugees in Arab countries.
Palestinian can be divided into distinct topographic regions:
1) The Jordan Valley region:
extends along the western bank at the Jordan River from the village of Bardal in the north to the northern tip of the Dead Sea in the south. It is approximately 70 Km long with a total area of about 400,000 dunums. Elevation ranges from 200 – 300 m below sea level to approximately 100 m above sea level in the north and 200 m in the south. The climate is semi-tropical characterized by hot summers and warm winters. Annual rainfall ranges from 20 mm in the northern parts of the valley to 100 mm in the south.
The northern Jordan Valley does get adequate rainfall as there are no hills blocking it from the sea winds. The lower Jordan Valley has a different transitional climate, between dry steppe and the extreme desert conditions of the Dead Sea region. The soil is sandy and calcareous. The region grows off-season vegetables and semi-tropical fruit trees including bananas and citrus. Natural plants are mainly Ziziphus spina_christi, Acacia raddiana, Acacia birtilis, Tamarix galica, and Atriplex halimus .
2) Eastern Slopes region:
extends along the eastern side of the West Bank, east of Jenin in the north to thr eastern hills of Hebron district in the south. The total area is approximately 1.5 million dunums. Elevation ranges from 800 m above sea level to approximately 150 m below sea level. The climate is semi-dry with low annual rainfall. This area is used mainly for grazing sheep and goats.
Native plants include some trees and shrubs, among these are Ceratonia siliqua, pestacialentiscus and remnant of Pestacia (in the northern parts ) and Sarcopoterium spinosum, Thymus capitatus Artemisia herba alba, Ononis natrix,Ballota undulate, Hordeum bulbosum,Poa bulbosa .
The climate of the West Bank, especially in the south, is influenced by the nearby Negev and Arabian deserts. Desert storms move through in the spring and early summer carrying hot winds full of sand and dust (khamaseen).
3) The Central Highlands Region:
the largest region in the West Bank with an approximate area of 3.5 million dunums. Its length is 120 Km from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south. It is mountainous with some areas exceeding an elevation of 1000 m. It has annual rainfall ranging from 400 mm to about 700mm. Soils in the valleys between the hills and mountains are alluvial, in the mountains the dominant soils are Terra-Rosa, and Rendzina soils on the eastern and southern slopes. Native plants include Aleppo Pine and Maquis, Evergreen Oak, Carob-Lentisk Maquis, Garique and Batha. Today they are found only in a small area.
A GAZA TIMELINE
Pharaoh Pepi I invades Canaan five times
The Hyksos invade Egypt form Syria
Pharaoh Thutmose III bases his invasions of Canaan and Babylon on Gaza
Babylonian and Hittite kingdoms battle pharaohs Seti I abd Ramses II for southern Palestine
The Sea Peoples establish Philistia
Gaza, with Philistia, falls uncer the influence of the Israelite kingdom
Pharaoh Shisak raids Palestine through Gaza
Assyrian Tiglath Pileser III conquers Palestine
Pharaoh Psammetichus takes Palestine
Coastal cities fall to Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar
Gaza resists, the falls, to Persian king Cambyses
Alexander the Great besieges Gaza for two months, takes it and Hellenizes the city
Gaza changes hands six times between Ptolemies and Seleucids
Jonathan the Hasmonean besieges and takes the city
Janneus conquers Gaza, the last coastal city to resist him
Pompey takes Palestine for Rome after besieging Jerusalem
Gaza is the last coastal city to resist official conversion to Christianity
Persian Chosroes II takes Gaza
Heraclitus regains Gaza and Palestine for Byzantium
Muslims take Gaza from the Byzantines, move into Palestine, Syria and Egypt
Ahmad ibn Tulun conquers Syria and Palestine for Egypt
Through Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid and early Seljuk periods, more than 20 armies pass through Gaza
Crusaders take Gaza and re-Christianize the city
Saladin takes Gaza's hinterland
Saladin captures Palestine and marches into Gaza
Richard the Lion-Hearted receives Gaza from Saladin
Gaza reverts to Syria
Allied Mamluks and Khwarezmians attack Gaza from north and south
Gaza besieged by Syria in effort to take it from Egypt
Egypt breaks Syrian siege and retakes Palestinian coast
Mamluks repel Mongols and make Gaza the capital of the region stretching from Egypt to Syria
Gaza stricken by plague
Sultan Selim II takes Palestine for Ottomans
Bedouin raids on the city become severe
Gaza revolts unsuccessfully against Ottoman rule
Ali Bey takes Gaza, along with much of Syria and Arabia, for Egypt
Ottomans retake Egypt
Napoleon enters Gaza unopposed
Allied Turkish and British forces take Gaza from Napoleonic administration
Muhammad Ali of Egypt briefly takes Gaza in war against Ottomans
British besiege and capture Gaza form Ottomans
League of Nations establishes British rule
From Aramco World MagazineSeptember/October 1994
Palestine Wildlife Society (PWLS), founded in 1999 in Beit Sahour- Bethlehem District is one organization whose mission is the conservation and enhancement of plantlife , biodiversity and wildlife in Palestine.
Palestinian economy has always depended on agriculture. Of the total cultivated area, olives and grapes predominate, and with almonds and fruit trees occupying 60% of the area. Winter cereals, grain legumes are cultivated on 35% of the area. Vegetables are the main crops in the remaining 5% of land, and they are irrigated from artesian wells and the springs.
4) Coastal region (Gaza Strip):
this is a flat coastal plain with a temperate climate, dry, hot summers and mild winters. Its resource is natural gas. Fishing is a source of livelihood, but fishing boats are often prevented by an Israeli naval blockade of coastal waters. Palestine has been at the crossroads of empires from ancient times. It was once known as Canaan. Jerusalem was built around 3000BC. King David conquered it in 1000BC followed by his son Solomon the Wise. The kingdom was divided into two parts: Judea with the capital at Jerusalem, and Israel with the capital Samaria. In 332 BC Alexander of Macedon took control of Jerusalem, followed by the Romans in 66 AD. Seventy years after the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and the spread of Christianity, the Jews took Jerusalem, and in 135AD the Roman Emperor Hadrian destroyed the city and exiled the Jews from Jerusalem.
The Persian armies came next in 614 AD. In 636 AD the Arab Muslims conquered Jerusalem and the Levant, led by the Caliph Omar ibn al Khattab to become a part of the Arab Empire. From then till 1948 and -- with the exception of the years of the Crusades1099-1187 AD – the region came under the rule of one Arab Islamic dynasty after the other: the Rashidun, the Ummayads, the Abbasids, the Tulunids, Akhshids, Fatimids, Seljuks. Mamluks, Ottoman Turks.
In 1917 Britain occupied Palestine and set up a military rule, they installed Herbert Samuel as the ruler. He worked under the influence of the Zionist movement. From 1933 the Jewish immigration to Palestine increased as Jews escaped Nazi Germany and persecution in Europe. An Arab Nationalist movement under the leadership of Hajj Amin al Husseini was formed to fight British power and stem the flow of Jewish immigrants. Two conferences were held in London for that purpose, in 1946 and 1947 but they failed to reach agreement between Arab and Jews.
Before the withdrawal of Britain, the mandatory power from Palestine it had passed the question of Palestine on to the United Nations. The UN proposed a partition plan to establish an Arab state and a Jewish state. Partition resolution 181 was passed on 29 January 1947. As a result, the State of Israel was established on 15 May 1948 in Palestine, and was immediately recognized by the US and USSR and the UN. The Jewish population of that State was 550,000 Jews and 500,000 Arabs. Arabs owned 2/3 of the land area.
On 4 March 1949 Israel was accepted as a member of the United Nations.
Four Arab Israeli wars have been fought: 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. One of the main stumbling blocks to a peace settlement is the status of the 4,000,000 Palestinian refugees in the neighboring Arab countries who demand a right to return to their homes ion accordance with UN Resolution 194. The demand is rejected by Israel.
Several Arab-Israeli peace deals have been signed: 1979 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, under which Egypt recognized the State of Israel and established diplomatic relations in return for the Sinai Peninsula. The Oslo Peace Accords in 1991 called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and Jericho; the Palestinian Authority established itself as a self-governing body in Gaza. The Oslo Accords were to lead to demilitarized, self-governing Palestinian state, but left the important issues like the status of Jerusalem, the status of settlements, and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees unanswered.
Throughout this time until the present (2005) the occupation realities (restriction of movement for the Palestinian population, home demolitions, building of settlements on Arab land, the building of the separation wall and restricted highways in the West Bank) have made it impossible to reach a final just peace for Palestine and Israel.