The annexation of the Gaza Strip by Israel was an accidental by-product of the Six-Day War. Initially, Israeli forces were specifically prohibited from entering it, but when Palestinians there shelled nearby Israeli settlements, its capture was ordered. Prior to the war, the Strip had been under Egyptian military occupation since 1949, its residents stateless, unable to integrate into Egyptian society or return to former homes in Israel. Thus confined, the Strip has become one of the most heavily populated places in the world, with many of its inhabitants suffering overcrowding and deprivation. For security reasons, the Israelis mandated the establishment of a number of Jewish settlements in the Strip: the southernmost settlements were abandoned in 1982. To safeguard against terrorist infiltration, Israel built a security fence around the perimeter of the Strip, apart from the southern boundary, which has been an Egyptian controlled buffer zone since 1979.
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