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PCBS | PCBS: On the 68th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) 

Special Statistical Bulletin 

On the 68th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba

 The number of Palestinians worldwide has multiplied about nine-fold  Israel Controls More than 85% of the Land of Historical Palestine

The Nakba: Ethnic cleansing and displacement of the population

Nakba in literary terms means a natural catastrophe such as an earthquake, volcano, or hurricane. However, the Nakba in Palestine describes a process of ethnic cleansing in which an unarmed nation was destroyed and its population displaced to be replaced systematically by another nation. Unlike a natural catastrophe, the Palestinian Nakba was the result of a man-made military plan with the consent of other states, leading to a major tragedy for the Palestinian people. The subsequent occupation of the remaining land of Palestine in 1967 resulted in an additional tragedy.


In 1948, 1.4 million Palestinians lived in 1,300 Palestinian towns and villages all over historical Palestine. More than 800,000 of the population were driven out of their homeland to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, neighboring Arab countries, and other countries of the world. Thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes but stayed within the Israeli-controlled 1948 territory. According to documentary evidence, the Israelis controlled 774 towns and villages and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages during the Nakba. The atrocities of Zionist forces also included more than 70 massacres in which more than 15 thousands, Palestinians were killed.


The Demographic Reality: Palestinian population has increased 9-fold since the Nakba

The Palestinian world population totaled 12.4 million by the end of 2015. This indicates that the number of Palestinians worldwide has multiplied about nine-fold in the 68 years since the Nakba. According to statistics, the total number of Palestinians living in historic Palestine (between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean) by the end of 2015 was 6.2 million and this number is expected to rise to 7.1 million by the end of 2020 based on current growth rates.


Statistical data also show that refugees constitute 42.8% of the total Palestinian population in Palestine. UNRWA records showed that there were 5.59 million Palestinian refugees registered at the beginning of 2015.   Around 28.7% of Palestinian registered refugees live in 58 refugee camps, of which 10 are in Jordan, 9 in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank, and 8 in the Gaza Strip.


These estimates represent the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, given the presence of non- registered refugees. These estimates also do not include Palestinians who were displaced between 1949 and the 1967 war, according to the UNRWA definition, and do not include the non-refugees who left or were forced to leave as a result of the 1967 war.

The number of Palestinians who remained in their homeland in the 1948 territory after the Nakba was estimated at 154 thousand persons, but estimates for 2015 show that it has grown to 1.5 million on the 68th anniversary of the Nakba.  In the 1948 territories, the sex ratio is 102.2 males per 100 females, while 34.8% of the population are below 15 years of age and 4.2% are aged 65 years and over, based on available statistics relating to Palestinians living in Israel in 2014. This illustrates that the composition of the Palestinian population in the 1948 territory is young, as it is in Palestinian society as a whole.


The number of Palestinians in Palestine was estimated at 4.8 million at the end of 2015: 2.9 million in the West Bank and 1.9 million in Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinians in Jerusalem Governorate at the end of 2015 was around 423 thousand, of whom 62.1% live in the areas of Jerusalem forcibly annexed by Israel in 1967 (J1).  The fertility rate in Palestine is high compared to other countries. The total fertility rate in the period 2011-2013 was 4.1 births (3.7 births per woman in the West Bank and 4.5 births per woman in Gaza Strip).


Population Density: Gaza Strip the most crowded place in the world

The population density in Palestine at the end of 2015 was 789 individuals per square kilometer (km2): 513 individuals/km2 in the West Bank and 5,070 individuals/km2 in Gaza Strip. In Israel, the population density of Arabs and Jews in 2015 was about 391 individuals/km2.


Settlements: Most settlers in Jerusalem as part of Israeli campaign of Judaization  

There were 413 illegal Israeli constructions in the West Bank (including 150 settlements and 119 outposts) by the end of 2014. Furthermore, during 2015, the Israeli occupation authorities approved the building of over 4,500 housing units in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank in addition to the units approved in Jerusalem.  Still, these same authorities deny the Palestinians the right to build and lay obstacles, which undermine any potential urban expansion especially for the Palestinians in Jerusalem and Area "C" which is under full Israeli control. It should be noted that Area “C” represents over 60% of the West Bank area. Israel also erected its Expansion and Annexation Wall, which isolates behind it more than 12% of the West Bank land.  Data indicated that the total number of settlers in the West Bank was 599,901 at the end of 2014, 286,997 of whom in the Jerusalem Governorate (they represent 48% of all settlers in the occupied West Bank). Moreover, 210,420 of these illegal settlers live in Jerusalem J1 (that part of Jerusalem, which was forcefully annexed by Israel following its occupation of the West Bank in 1967). In demographic terms, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in the West Bank is around 21 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared with 69 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem governorate.


Historical Palestine: Israel controls more than 85% of its land

The area of the historical land of Palestine totals about 27,000 km2. Israeli Jews utilize more than 85% of the total area of land. The Palestinians comprise 48% of the total population and utilize less than 15% of the land.


Water: Israel controls more than 85% of Palestinian Water

Palestine suffers from scarcity of water and resources. The situation is further complicated by the prolonged Israeli occupation, which controls most of the existing water sources (85%) and prevents the Palestinians from their right to access their water sources or any alternative sources, Consequently, the Palestinians are compelled to buy water from the Israeli Water Company (Mekorot), purchasing around 63.5 million m3 in 2014. 

The Israeli occupation controls the majority of renewable water resources totaling 750 MCM, while Palestinians receive only about 110 MCM.  The Palestinian share from the three ground water aquifers should be 118 MCM according to Oslo Agreement. This share was supposed to increase to 200 MCM by the year 2000 had the Interim Agreement been fully implemented.


The daily allocation per capita from consumed water for domestic purposes is 79.1 letter/capita/day (l/c/d) in the West Bank in 2014.  Where it is 79.7 l/c/d in Gaza Strip in 2014 compared to 91.3 l/c/d in 2013, this shortfall is due to reduced pumping from ground water wells  in Gaza Strip because of Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip. However, 97% of drinking water in the Gaza Strip does not meet the World Health Organization (WHO) standards and is also less than the minimum quantities recommended by WHO (100 l/c/d) .


Martyrs: Continuous efforts to build a state

The number of martyrs killed in the al Aqsa Intifada between September 29th, 2000 and December 31st, 2015 was 10,243.  The bloodiest year was 2014 with 2,240 Palestinian martyrs, 2,181 of them from Gaza Strip, followed by 2009 with 1,219 martyrs. In addition, 306 martyrs, were killed during 2012, 15 of them from the West Bank, and 291 from Gaza Strip; 189 of them were killed during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in November 2012, and 181 martyrs, were killed during 2015, 155 of them from the West Bank, and 26 from Gaza Strip.



Data from the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-detainees show that Israel has arrested about a million Palestinians since 1967: more than 95 thousand were arrested since the Al-Aqsa Intifada. There are around 7,000 Palestinians in detention. Of these, 68 are female, more than 400 are children. More than 750 Palestinians are held under administrative detention (without trial) and 500 detainees are serving life sentences. Israel arrested 6,830 detainees during 2015: 225 detainees are female and 2,179 are children. Israel has arrested nearly two thousand detainees since the beginning of the current year.


Jerusalem 2015; Intensive Judaizing

While the Israeli occupation authorities keep demolishing Palestinian houses and denying Palestinians the right to build any new houses, they grant permits to build thousands of housing units in the Israeli settlements in and around Jerusalem. Only in 2015, they authorized the building of over 12,600 housing units in the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, in addition to 2,500 hotel rooms. Moreover, the Israeli occupation authorities ratified regulations to replace the original Arabic names of the streets in the old town of Jerusalem by Hebrew ones.



Statistics for 2014 showed that the number of physicians per 1,000 population registered in the Physicians Union in the West Bank was 1.3 and 2.2 in the Gaza Strip. In addition, there were 2.1 nurses per 1,000 population in the West Bank and 4.1 nurses per 1000 population in Gaza Strip. There were 80 hospitals in Palestine in 2014: 50 hospitals in the West Bank and 30 in Gaza Strip.  These include 26 governmental hospitals, 34 non-governmental, 16 private, 3 hospitals run by military institutions, and one run by UNRWA. There were 5,939 hospital beds: 1.3 beds per 1,000 population and allocated as 3,502 beds in the West Bank and 2,437 in Gaza Strip. There were 604 primary health care centers in the West Bank in 2014 and 163 centers in Gaza Strip.

This inscribes in Israel’s ongoing policy of Occupation of Jerusalem and falsification of its history and geography not to mention the imposition of new demographic facts on the ground. The Israeli occupation authorities demolished about 152 Palestinian buildings (houses and establishments) and sent hundreds of demolition orders to owners of other buildings; moreover, the Israeli occupation authorities confiscated 546 dunums of the Palestinian land in the Issawiya locality and Shu'fat camp to establish a national park and dumping site for wastes from illegal Jewish settlements.


Buildings: Demolish of Housing Unit and Establishment

On the fortieth remembrance of the Land Day, the Israeli occupation violations against the Palestinians continue, in terms of land confiscation, demolition of buildings (housing units and establishments) and forcible displacement of residents. Israeli occupation authorities usurped 6,386 dunums of Palestinian land in the various governorates of the West Bank in 2015. Furthermore, they demolished 645 building (houses and establishments), forcibly displacing 2,180 person in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 1,108 of whom are children. They also threatened to demolish 780 building, at a time when the needs of housing units for Palestinian increase. In figures, about 61% of households in Palestine need to build new housing units over the next decade according to the reported data survey of housing conditions in 2015 (one residential unit or more).


Environment: Continuing Degradation

Israeli settlements cause direct damage to the Palestinian environment. They actually discharge 40 million cubic meters (mcm) of wastewater annually into Palestinian valleys and agricultural land. Only 10% of such water is treated. If compared to the wastewater produced by Palestinians in the West Bank, which stands at 34 mcm per year, the Israeli settler produce five times the Palestinian.  Moreover, the Israeli authorities prevent Palestinians from building their own wastewater treatment plants. On another level, they allocated part of the Palestinian land in Jordan Valley to an Israeli dumpsite of industrial waste. Consequently, Palestinian agricultural land endured enormous damage not to mention impact on health animals and biodiversity, in addition to the Israeli authorities bulldozed and burned more than 15,300 trees of Palestinian farmers during the year 2015.


Tourism: Israeli Monopoly

The Israeli narrative is based on falsification of the culture, civilization and history of Palestine. Therefore, the occupation authorities alter Palestinian national treasures and monuments of ancient times. In figures, 53% of the archeological sites in Palestine are in Area "C", which is under full Israeli control. The Israel occupation prevents any excavating or restoration of these sites for the building of recreational and tourist attractions.  They also create obstacles to prevent Palestinian tourism agencies from organizing proper visits of the Holy Land. With these restrictions, they give a competitive edge to the Israeli companies that market the Nativity Church in Bethlehem and Deir Quruntol in Jericho, for instance, as part of tourism in Israel.  By granting more facilities to Israeli companies, tourists are ‘advised’ to stay in Israeli hotels as Palestinian areas are ‘denounced as unsafe’. With these measures, Palestinians are deprived of over 75% of potential touristic services revenues.



Labor Market 2015

The labor force participation rate in Palestine in 2015 was 45.8%: 46.1% among refugees and 45.6% among non-refugees. The participation rate in the West Bank was 46.1% (46.8% among refugees and 45.8% among non-refugees) compared with 45.3% in Gaza Strip (45.5% among refugees and 45.0% among non-refugees). The unemployment rate in Palestine was 25.9% (32.3% among refugees and 21.4% among non-refugees). The unemployment rate in the West Bank was 17.3% (18.7% among refugees and 16.8% among non-refugees) compared with 41.0% in Gaza Strip (41.8% among refugees and 39.4% among non-refugees).



According to the results of the Education data for the 2015/2016 scholastic year, there were 2,897 schools in Palestine: 2,193 in the West Bank and 704 in Gaza Strip. These were distributed in terms of their supervisory authority as follows: 2,135 governmental schools, 353 UNRWA schools and 409 private schools.  The total number of students in these schools exceeded 1.2 million, of whom 596 thousand were male and 604 thousand female. There were 788 thousand students enrolled in governmental schools, 299 thousand enrolled in UNRWA schools, and 113 thousand enrolled in private schools.


The illiteracy rate among Palestinians aged 15 years and above was 3.3% in 2015, distributed as 1.5% of males and 5.1% of females. It was 2.9% among refugees and 3.6% among non-refugees.  In the field of higher education, there are 14 universities: five universities in the Gaza Strip and nine universities in the West Bank, in addition to 18 colleges that grant bachelor's degrees: 6 in Gaza Strip, and 12 in the West Bank. There are 20 community colleges: 13 in the West Bank and 7 in Gaza Strip.


Consumer Price Index during 2015

The Palestinian Consumer Price Index increased by 1.43% in 2015 compared to 2014: by 1.29% in the West Bank, 0.33% in Jerusalem (J1), and by 1.77% in the Gaza Strip. In comparison with the base year of 2010, the Consumer Price Index in Palestine increased by 10.99%: by 13.89% in the West Bank, 14.02% in Jerusalem (J1), and 4.97% in Gaza Strip.


Trade: Limited Palestinian exports

Both imports and exports of goods increased in 2014 over 2013. In 2014, the value of imported goods totaled USD 5.68 billion, an increase of 10.1% compared to 2013. The total value of exports was USD 943.7 million, and increased by 4.8% compared with 2013. As a result, the net trade balance in goods recorded a deficit of about USD 4.74 billion in 2014, an increase of 11.2% compared to 2013.


The results indicate that 87.3% of exports were destined to Israel, while only 12.7% of total exports were exported to other countries excluding Israel. The limited value of exports to other countries was due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian exports, especially from the Gaza Strip.