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Situated on the western Mediterranean seashore 32 km north of the Egyptian border, Gaza is considered one of the most ancient and historic towns in the world. Strategically located on the Mediterranean coastal route, ancient Gaza was a prosperous trade center and a stop on the caravan route between Egypt and Syria.
The city was first inhabited by the Canaanites and occupied by Egypt in the 15th century BC. Several hundred years later, Gaza became a chief Philistine city. Gaza is mentioned a number of times in the Bible, especially as the site where Samson brought down the Philistine temple on himself and his enemies.
Captured by the Muslims around 600 AD, Gaza is the site where Prophet Mohammed's grandfather was buried. Consequently, the city became an important Islamic center. In the 12th century, it was occupied by the Crusaders but returned to Muslim control in 1187.
Today, Gaza is the economic center for a region where citrus fruits and other crops are grown. The city is famous for its hand-woven carpets, wicker furniture, and pottery.
Famous for its fresh seafood, Gaza has numerous restaurants along the beach as well as public parks where visitors can enjoy the pleasant Mediterranean breeze. Nightlife in Gaza is also picking up and several beach hotels offer visitors enjoyable evenings of music and dance.

The Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (the DOP), signed in Washington on 13 September 1993, provided for a transitional period not exceeding five years of Palestinian interim self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Under the DOP, Israel agreed to transfer certain powers and responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority, which includes the Palestinian Legislative Council elected in January 1996, as part of the interim self-governing arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A transfer of powers and responsibilities for the Gaza Strip and Jericho took place pursuant to the Israel-PLO 4 May 1994 Cairo Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area and in additional areas of the West Bank pursuant to the Israel-PLO 28 September 1995 Interim Agreement, the Israel-PLO 15 January 1997 Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron, the Israel-PLO 23 October 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and the 4 September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement. The DOP provides that Israel will retain responsibility during the transitional period for external security and for internal security and public order of settlements and Israeli citizens. Permanent status is to be determined through direct negotiations, which resumed in September 1999 after a three-year hiatus. An intifadah broke out in September 2000; the resulting widespread violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel's military response, and instability in the Palestinian Authority are undermining progress toward a permanent settlement



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