Gaza, Ghazzah (both: gäzˈə) [key], or Ghuzzeh gŭzˈə, town (2003 est. pop. 380,000), principal city and administrative center of the Gaza Strip, SW Asia, on the Philistia plain between the Mediterranean Sea and W Israel. In ancient times, Gaza was an Egyptian garrison town (it is mentioned in the Tell el Amarna letters); later, it was one of the chief cities of the Philistines. There Samson brought down the temple on his captors and himself. Gaza was besieged for five months by Alexander the Great and during the wars of the Maccabees and in the Crusades. The town has long been of commercial importance, the meeting place of caravans between Egypt and Syria. The site of modern Gaza dates from the building programs of Herod the Great. Opinions differ on the site of ancient Gaza.