By Hedaya al-Saedi
GAZA CITY, Palestine
The population of the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip has now surpassed the two-million mark, the Interior Ministry in Gaza’s Hamas-run government has announced.
In a statement, the ministry’s General Directorate for Civil Affairs said the strip’s total population had surpassed two million after the birth of two babies on Tuesday evening.
According to the directorate, 4,983 babies were born throughout the strip -- at a rate of about 166 per day -- in the month of September alone.
The 360-square-kilometer Gaza Strip is considered one of the most densely-populated areas in the world, which each square kilometer accommodating an average of 4,661 people, according to a January report released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
Since 2007, the coastal enclave has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade, depriving its inhabitants of most basic commodities, including food, fuel, medicine and desperately-needed construction materials.
According to a 2015 World Bank report, the nearly decade-long blockade has cut Gaza’s gross domestic product in half and led to one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has described the blockade -- first imposed after resistance movement Hamas swept Palestinian polls in 2006 -- as "collective punishment".