In August 2005, 8,500 Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip were forcibly evacuated by Tel Aviv. Nevertheless, the period since that time has been a catastrophe for many Palestinians.
Gaza’s 1.8 million residents have endured four wars with Israel that killed thousands of Gazans and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.
A blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt means residents cannot import many basic construction materials to rebuild their homes. Israel no longer gives work permits to Gazans, and only a tiny few ever receive permission to set foot out of the increasingly impoverished enclave.
According to the World Bank, Gaza now has the world’s worst-performing economy, with the world’s highest unemployment of 43 percent, 68 percent among the unemployed aged 20-24.
Since 1994, real per capita income has fallen by nearly a third. Manufacturing - once the hoped-for backbone of an economic revival - has shriveled by 60 percent.
Four months after the pullout, Hamas won legislative elections in the Palestinian territories.
But Hamas has not been given the chance to govern like most administrations have the chance to. Instead, they have been bombed, blockaded and squeezed, with the complicity of the international community.