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The perception of what constitutes Palestine’s eastern boundary has been especially fluid, although the boundary frequently has been perceived as lying east of the Jordan River, extending at times to the edge of the Arabian Desert.In contemporary understanding, however, Palestine is generally defined as a region bounded on the east by the Jordan River, on the north by the border between modern Israel and Lebanon, on the west by the Mediterranean Sea (including the coast of Gaza), and on the south by the Negev, with its southernmost extension reaching the Gulf of Aqaba.
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For further reading on the political units most closely associated with Palestine, Plain of ʿAkko (Acre), which extends with a breadth of 5 to 9 miles (8 to 14 km) for about 20 miles (32 km) from the Lebanon border in the north to the Carmel promontory, in Israel, in the south, where it narrows to a mere 600 feet (180 metres).
Farther southward the lowland opens out rapidly into the Plain of Sharon, about 8 miles (13 km) wide and extending south to the latitude of Tel Aviv–Yafo.
In its northern section the bed of the drained Lake Ḥula and of Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee) are blocked by natural dams of basalt.
Descending to about 1,310 feet (400 metres) below sea level—the lowest land depth on the Earth’s surface—the valley is exceedingly dry and hot, and cultivation is restricted to irrigated areas or rare oases, as at Jericho or at ʿEn Gedi by the shore of the Dead Sea.
Since the 20th century it has been the object of conflicting claims of Jewish and Arab national movements, and the conflict has led to prolonged violence and, in several instances, open warfare.
The word Palestine derives from Philistia, the name given by Greek writers to the land of the in “Syria Palaestina,” designating the southern portion of the province of Syria, and made its way thence into Arabic, where it has been used to describe the region at least since the early Islamic era.
The strategic importance of the area is immense: through it pass the main roads from Egypt to Syria and from the Mediterranean to the hills beyond the Jordan River.
Settlement depends closely on water, which is almost never abundant.
Palestine, area of the eastern Mediterranean region, comprising parts of modern Israel and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip (along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea) and the West Bank (the area west of the Jordan River).
The term Palestine has been associated variously and sometimes controversially with this small region, which some have asserted also includes Jordan.
Both the geographic area designated by the name and the political status of it have changed over the course of some three millennia.