Gaza Strip population said to reach 2 million
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Gaza Strip population said to reach 2 million

Newborn Waleed Shaath in Rafah brings Palestinian enclave above new threshold, Hamas says; UN says territory could be ‘unlivable’ by 2020

Tahany Shaath holds her three-day old new-born son Waleed at their house in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on October 12, 2016. (AFP/Said Khatib)
Tahany Shaath holds her three-day old new-born son Waleed at their house in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on October 12, 2016. (AFP/Said Khatib)

GAZA CITY — The two millionth person has been born in Gaza, the Strip’s Hamas rulers claimed Wednesday, with the birth of a baby boy named Waleed officially recognized as reaching the milestone in the densely populated Palestinian territory.

“There are now more than two million residents in the Gaza Strip after the baby Waleed Shaath was born last night in Rafah in southern Gaza,” Iyad Bezm, a spokesman for the Hamas-run interior ministry, told AFP.

The ministry said the population of the Gaza Strip was now 50.66 percent male and 49.34% female.

The 2 million and oneth person, a girl named Lana Ayad, was born shortly afterwards, the ministry said.

Gaza, a tiny enclave squeezed between Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea and just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) across at its widest point, has one of the highest population densities in the world, according to the United Nations.

The territory could be “unlivable” by 2020, the UN said last year, due in large part to “high population density and overcrowding.”

Socio-economic conditions in Gaza today are currently “at their lowest point since 1967,” when Israel took control of the territory following the Six Day War, the report said.

Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, removing both settlers and soldiers, and Hamas, an Islamist terror group dedicated to destroying Israel, seized control from Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority two years later. Israel and Egypt maintain a security blockade on the territory, in order to prevent Hamas, which has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, dug tunnels into Israel and waged three wars against it, from importing more weaponry.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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