Gaza strip has been described as "The world’s largest open-air prison" by multiple officials and organizations, one example is here

Since the end of WWII, has there been any situation where an occupying force controlled the entrances, supply of food, water, electricity, etc., in a densely populated territory similar to Gaza?

From this

The United Nations, international human rights organisations, and the majority of governments and legal commentators still consider the territory to be occupied by Israel despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza.[23] Israel maintains direct external control over Gaza and indirect control over life within Gaza:

  • Israel controls Gaza's air and maritime space and six of Gaza's seven land crossings
  • Israel reserves the right to enter Gaza at will with its military and maintains a no-go buffer zone within the Gaza territory
  • Gaza is dependent on Israel for its water, electricity, telecommunications, and other utilities [23]

Update: The above has been deleted from the Wikipedia page!

Link to the changes made to that page, the deleted part can still be found in red.

Here is another source on the international community's opinion of Gaza occupation:

Israel claims it is no longer occupying the Gaza Strip. What does international law say?

In contrast, many prominent international institutions, organizations and bodies—including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, UN General Assembly (UNGA), European Union (EU), African Union, International Criminal Court (ICC) (both Pre-Trial Chamber I and the Office of the Prosecutor), Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch—as well as international legal experts and other organizations, argue that Israel has occupied Palestinian territories including Gaza since 1967.1 While they acknowledge that Israel no longer had the traditional marker of effective control after the disengagement—a military presence—they hold that with the help of technology, it has maintained the requisite control in other ways.

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    If you leave aside population density (which I'm not sure it's actually so relevant), the undeclared blockade of Nagorno Karabach was fairly similar. Of course, Azerbaijan is/was internationally recognized as sovereign there, so "occupying force" is probably not an applicable term either, from most countries' perspective. Likewise Tigray until the blockade was lifted. Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 18:02
  • 6
    This question might be more suitable for history.stackexchange. It doesn't really have any political implications (yet). Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 18:06
  • 3
    No time for an answer, but Oklahoma's Indian territories in the 19th century, Warsaw ghetto in 1939-1945, Soweto and other Black ghettoes in Apartheid South Africa, Sichuan nowadays all come to mind, with more or less caveats (population, duration, exactions...) in each case.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 14:32

4 Answers 4


Gaza borders both Israel and Egypt. You will find plenty of countries which depend on border crossings with one or more other countries for imports, and those crossings being closed or regulated.

West Berlin.


Homelands within South Africa.

Each of these differs in specifics, but most specifics of the Gaza case can be found somewhere in recent history.

  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question. The question specifically asks about territories that are under the control of an occupier.
    – Mocas
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 17:37
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    @Mocas, Gaza is not fully under the control of Israel.
    – o.m.
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 17:46
  • 21
    @Mocas You'll have to then adjust your question to be more specific. Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Gaza Strip has been under self-rule since 2006 when they elected Hamas. Israel, since 2005, attempted to give the Gaza Strip to Egypt and Egypt declined this. The people of the Gaza Strip have denied numerous offers of methods of turning the Gaza Strip into its own independent entity. You will have to define how the Gaza Strip is occupied.
    – David S
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 17:46
  • 1
    @Mocas ...and explain why at least West Berlin and the South Africa Homelands differ from what you think is comparable. (For Biafra - declaring independence unilateraly - and Qatar - being blockaded from the outside - I can see those differences myself.)
    – ccprog
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 17:51
  • 2
    @Mocas, I might remove Quatar. Biafra was separatist after the colonial period, then got forcibly re-integrated into Nigeria, I think it is a good example.
    – o.m.
    Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 4:23

If we relax some requirements, namely the one on population density and whether the surrounding forces are "occupying" in an international-law sense... there are some examples of blockades in the recent past.

  • Nagorno Karabach was unofficially blockaded by Azerbaijan to subdue the [self-declared, but long running] Artsakh government. In the 2020 war, Azerbaijan recovered territories surrounding Nagorno Karabach (that had been lost in the 1993 Armenian offensives), which left the enclave entirely dependent on Azerbaijan's good will for resupply.

  • Tigray was likewise blockaded by Ethiopia during the war between the TPLF and Ethiopia (which also had Eritrea join, albeit unofficially--somewhat relevant here as an analogy too because Gaza has a border with Egypt as well, but it's also tightly controlled.)

In both of these cases however the vast majority of countries recognize the regions under blockade as legally belonging to the blockading country. That makes little difference in pure economic-military terms though, so I think these examples are relevant enough from a realpolitik perspective.

(As noted in the other answer, but sans a lot detail, Biafra was also blockaded during their war with Nigeria. This became possible after the capture of Port Harcourt. Biafra also enjoyed a bit more international recognition [as a country], than the more recent examples I gave.)

  • What about Darfur? Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 11:33
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    @SnackExchange: I'm not claiming the list is exclusive. Looking at a map though, Darfur is surrounded by 5 countries. Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 11:48

The ongoing blockade of Yemen by Saudi Arabia-led coalition is similar, although with much heavier humanitarian consequences (famine, epidemics of cholera, etc.):

The blockade of Yemen refers to a sea, land and air blockade on Yemen which started with the positioning of Saudi Arabian warships in Yemeni waters in 2015 with the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. In November 2017, after a Houthi missile heading towards King Khalid International Airport was intercepted, the Saudi-led military coalition stated it would close all sea land and air ports to Yemen, but shortly began reopening them after criticism from the United Nations and over 20 aid groups and some humanitarian supplies were allowed into the country. In March 2021, Saudi Arabia denied the blockade continued, however, UN authorized ships continued to be delayed by Saudi warships.

The blockade has contributed to the current famine in Yemen, which the United Nations said may become the deadliest famine in decades. The World Health Organization announced in 2017, that the number of suspected persons with cholera in Yemen reached approximately 500,000 people. In 2018, Save the Children estimated that 85,000 children have died due to starvation in the three years prior.

Overall death toll in the Yemen civil war (377 thousand killed) is comparable to that incurred by the US-led intervention in Iraq (ranging from 100 thousand to 1 million killed, depending on the estimate) and NATO invasion of Afghanistan (about 200 thousand killed), or the Civil war in Syria (nearly 600 thousand killed), but higher than the death toll in the Palestinian territories (about 22 thousands in the current round of fighting, and about 120,000 in all the preceding decades of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including all the belligerents.)

See also:
Famine in Yemen
Torture in slow motion: The economic blockade of Yemen and its grave humanitarian consequences
Yemen’s Tragedy: War, Stalemate, and Suffering


Sure. The western allies controlled everything about Germany, until the place was considered suitably denazified and not to pose a threat. Gaza, like Germany, was defeated in a war (in 1948, and to be precise, it was a piece of a larger area that was defeated), but according to the Israeli government and as appears to be the case from recent developments, it still poses a threat.

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    The allies physically occupied Germany; Israel (for the next few hours, at least) technically doesn't occupy Gaza.
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 14:45

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