It's half the size of Toronto. And home to eight refugee camps. Since July 7, it has been the focus of the world's attention with rocket fire from Hamas militants into Israel being met by air attacks and now a ground war by Isreali Defense Forces. If suffering could be measured per capita, then Gaza would surely rate as one of the saddest places on the planet.
Total area 360 square kilometres, a little more than half Toronto's 630 square kilometres
Population 1.8 million
Refugees 1.3 million living in eight camps
Water emergency More than 30 per cent of homes in Gaza receive limited water supply - between 6 and 8 hours every four days - with average consumption below the World Health Organization's minimum health requirements. Almost all of Gaza's water comes from a coastal aquifer that is shared with Israel. According to the UN, the aquifer will become unusable by 2016.
Energy crisis Eighty-nine per cent of Gaza's total electricity supply is purchased from Israel. The rest comes from Egypt and a small amount is produced internally by the Gaza Power Plant. The entire supply still only meets less than half of total demand.
Eighty per cent of Gazans only receive fours hour of electricity per day.
40 Percentage unemployment rate, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, which has spiked since the Israeli government imposed a ban on the sale of construction materials to Gaza in October 2013 and restricted the purchase of cement, steel and gravel to international aid organizations in the Strip.
43 Percentage of population under 14 (402,848 of them males and 381,155 females)
15 deaths per 1,000 Infant mortality rate which is almost four times that of neighbouring Israel (3.9 deaths per 1,000)
Historical backdrop Israel withdrew from Gaza, removing Jewish settlements and military installations, in 2005 after a "road map to peace" brokered by the United Nations, the US, Russia and EU between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In 2006, however, the militant Islamic Resistance Movement, aka Hamas, won elections. Violent clashes followed between Hamas and the more moderate Fatah faction of the Authority with Hamas assuming outright control of Gaza in 2007.
Blockade Israeli controls of three border crossings out of Gaza became more restrictive after Hamas seized political power in the Strip. Gazans turned to tunnels running underneath the Egyptian border to smuggle fuel, construction materials and consumer goods. A crackdown by Egyptian officials has exacerbated an already desperate economic situation in Gaza with standard-of-living indicators dropping to mid-1990 levels.
Military Hamas's ‘Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades reports to Hamas political bureau leadership which has been in exile in Cairo and Doha since the closing of its headquarters in Damascus in 2011.
The current conflict by the numbers
June 30 The bodies of three Israeli teens who were kidnapped while hitchhiking are found in a field north of Hebron a few miles from where they were last seen.
July 7 Israel launches Operation Protective Edge "in order to restore quiet to the region and stop Hamas terrorism." IDF says that "the single goal of the operation is to stop Hamas's incessant rocket attacks against Israel's civilians," which had been on and off since January 2014.
July 16 Israel briefly halts bombing for five hours to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza; four Palestinian boys are killed by a bomb while playing on a Gaza beach. Israel launches a ground offensive the next day.
448 Palestinian casualties as of July 21 - 348 of them civilians, among those 54 women and 111 children.
3,008 Palestinians injured - 904 children and 533 women
75 Palestinian casualties believed to belong to an armed group.
1,497 Rockets fired by Hamas into Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Forces, 301 which have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defence System.
20 Israeli casualties - 18 soldiers and two civilians.
2,037 "Terror targets" the Israeli Defense Forces claim it has hit in Gaza
The IDF says it destroyed most of Hamas's long-range missile capability during its last military campaign in Gaza in 2012, but that Hamas still has missiles capable of hitting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Among them:
• Warhead 144 kilograms
• Range 160 kilometres
• Warhead 60 kilograms
• Range 75 kilometres
• Warhead 45 kilograms
• Range 48 kilometres
• Warhead 9 kilograms
• Range 17.7 kilometres
Fallout on the ground
1.2 million People with no or very limited access to water or sanitation services
43 Percentage of Gaza affected by evacuation warnings or declaration of ‘no-go' zone.
84,000 Displaced persons taking shelter in UN schools in Gaza as of Monday, July 21, the same day the United Nations Relief and Works Agency began airlifting humanitarian aid to the region.
2,200 Housing units destroyed or severely damaged.
2,720 Housing units that have sustained damage but are still considered inhabitable.
85 Schools damaged.
18 Health facilities damaged.
100 Unexploded bombs reported to UN
Sources: CIA World Factbook, United Nations Relief and Works Agency, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli Defense Forces.