Gaza Strip * | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017

Gaza Strip *


Freedom Status: 
Not Free

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 
Not Free

The political rights and civil liberties of Gaza residents are severely constrained by multiple layers of interference. Israel’s de facto blockade of the territory, along with its periodic military incursions and rule of law violations, has imposed serious hardship on the civilian population, as has Egypt’s tight control over the Rafah border crossing in the south. Meanwhile, the Hamas militant group governs Gaza without democratic legitimacy, and its unresolved schism with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank has contributed to legal confusion and repeated postponement of overdue elections.

Key Developments: 
  • Hamas and the West Bank–based PA agreed to hold joint local elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in October, but the PA government chose to postpone them all by at least four months after the PA High Court of Justice suspended the Gaza voting due to legal irregularities.
  • Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) came under scrutiny and pressure from both Israeli and Hamas authorities, with Hamas attempting to impose its own regulations and Israel accusing some aid workers of links to Hamas.
  • Reconstruction efforts in the wake of a 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas faltered during the year due to Israeli-imposed restrictions on the entry of building supplies into Gaza.
Executive Summary: 

The Gaza Strip remained without an elected government in 2016, as PA presidential and legislative elections were last held in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Hamas retained de facto governing authority in Gaza due to a 2007 schism with the rival Fatah faction, which controls the PA structure in the West Bank.

In June, the Ramallah-based PA cabinet announced that municipal elections would be held in October, and Hamas stated in July that it would participate in the voting, meaning elections could be held in both the West Bank and Gaza. However, after the PA High Court of Justice found that elections could not proceed in Gaza or East Jerusalem, the PA cabinet decided to postpone all voting by at least four months, drawing objections from Hamas.

Also during the year, Hamas carried out its first executions since 2014, in contravention of PA law, and continued attempts to impose its own regulations on foreign journalists and NGOs. Separately, Israeli authorities accused certain aid workers of colluding with Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organization, and maintained tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza, impeding civilian life and reconstruction efforts dating to Israel’s 2014 conflict with Hamas. The unemployment rate exceeded 40 percent, and some 80 percent of the population remained dependent on international aid.

Explanatory Note: 

The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in Israel or the West Bank, which are examined in separate reports. Prior to its 2011 edition, Freedom in the World featured one report for Israeli-occupied portions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and another for Palestinian-administered portions.

Aggregate Score: 
Freedom Rating: 
Political Rights: 
Civil Liberties: 

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