Gaza (Arab. Ghazze or Ghuzze), a town of Syria; built partly on a steep hill, partly on the plain below, on the road leading to Egypt, between the Mediterranean and the desert; pop. about 15,000. It is situated about 3 m. from the sea, in the neighborhood of rich gardens, is not fortified, and consists partly of mud cottages, partly of ruinous stone buildings, which are occupied by the government and chief citizens. It is an important entrepot for the caravan traffic between Egypt and Syria. It has few relics of antiquity, and its only interesting edifice is a mosque which was originally a Christian church, founded, according to tradition, by the empress Helena.-The ancient city of Gaza, which some suppose to have stood nearer the sea, is known in the Bible as the most southern of the five confederate cities of the Philistines, and is often mentioned, as in the history of Samson. Its Hebrew name ('Azzah) signifies "strong." On the conquest and division of Palestine by the Israelites, it was allotted to the tribe of Judah, which conquered it, but lost it again.
It shared in the wars of the Philistines with the Hebrews. Having become a possession of Persia, it was taken after an obstinate siege by Alexander the Great (332 B. C.); nearly all its inhabitants perished during the assault, and its commander Batis, at the conqueror's order, was dragged around the walls at the wheels of a chariot. After Alexander's death it was taken by Antigonus, and witnessed the defeat of Demetrius Poliorcetes by Ptolemy (312). After the restoration of Jewish independence by the Maccabees, it was several times assaulted, besieged, and taken by the princes of that house. The Romans ceded it to Herod the Great. Under Nero it was taken by the revolted Jews. Constantine restored its ancient splendor, made it a bishopric, and gave it the name of Con-stantia, with various privileges. These were abolished by Julian the Apostate, and restored by his Christian successors. The Arabs took it in 634, two years after the death of Mohammed. The crusaders captured it in 1100, and from them it was wrested by Saladin. In the 13th century it witnessed the defeats of the Christian armies by the Kharesmians and of the emir of Damascus by the Egyptians, and in 1516 that of the Mamelukes by the Turks. In 1771 it was seized by the revolted Ali Bey, and in 1799 by the French under Kleber.-Another Gaza (correctly, Gazaea) was in Media Atropatene, a summer residence of the Median kings.
Ruins of it are seen between Miana and Tabriz.