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PCBS | Ms. Ola Awad, reviews the conditions of the Palestinian people via statistical figures and findings, on the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.

Ms. Ola Awad, President of the PCBS, reviews the conditions of the Palestinian people via statistical figures and findings, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.

On the 70th Annual Commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba

The number of Palestinians worldwide has doubled about nine-times, Israeli Occupation Controls More than 85% of the Land of Historical Palestine

Ms. Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), via figures, historical and current data, reviewed the geographical, demographical and economic situation of the Palestinian People on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, which occur takes place on May, 15th; and those figures and data run as the following:  

The Nakba: Ethnic cleansing, displacement of Palestinians and settler colonization

Nakba in Palestine describes a process of ethnic cleansing in which an unarmed nation was destroyed and its population displaced systematically by another nation. The Nakba resulted in the displacement of 800 thousand out of the 1.4 million Palestinians who lived in historical Palestine in 1948 in 1,300 villages and towns. The majority of the displaced Palestinians ended up in neighboring Arab countries and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and other countries in the world. Furthermore, thousands of Palestinians – who stayed in the area controlled by the Israeli occupation in 1948 – were driven out of their homes and lands, seized by the occupation government.  

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 thousand Palestinians were martyred, To date, the Israeli occupation continues its control over 85% of the area of historical Palestine, which amounts to 27,000 sq. km, while the remaining areas continue to endure further attempts of usurpation and control.


The Demographic Reality: Palestinian population has doubled nine times since the Nakba

The population of Palestine in 1914 was around 690 thousands of whom only 8% were Jewish. In 1948, the number of Palestinians in Palestine exceeded 2 million, 31.5% of them were Jews, where the number of Jews doubled more than six times during this period. Between 1932 and 1939, the largest number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine reached 225,000 people. Between 1940 and 1947, more than 93 thousand Jews poured into Palestine. Palestine received around 318 thousand Jews Between 1932 and 1947 and 540 thousand from 1948 to 1975.

Despite the displacement of more than 800 thousand Palestinians in 1948 and the displacement of more than 200 thousand Palestinians to Jordan and other countries after the 1967 war, the 2017 Population, Housing and Establishments Census showed that the Palestinian population in State of Palestine at the end of 2017 was (4.8 million in the West Bank and Gaza Strip), in addition to 1.56 million in the occupied territories in 1948. The Palestinians in Jerusalem governorate count 435 thousand people due to census 2017 results, 64.6% of them (281 thousand people) live in those parts of Jerusalem which were annexed by Israeli Occupation in 1967. These data show that the Palestinians represent 49.4% of the population of historical Palestine.  It is noteworthy that the number of Palestinians in the world reached by the end of 2017 about 13 million people, which means that the number of Palestinians in the world has doubled more than 9 times since the events of the Nakba of 1948.


Percentage of Palestinians and Jews in Historic Palestine, Various Years

Palestinian Refugees Status

Records of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) reported on 1st January 2017 a total of 5.87 million Palestinian refugees, 28.4% of whom live in 58 camps (10 in Jordan, 9 in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank and 8 in the Gaza Strip. Estimates however indicate that this is the minimum number of refugees since many of them are not registered. This number does not include the Palestinians displaced in the period from 1949 till the six-day war in June 1967. The UNRWA definition of refugees does not cover the Palestinians who migrated or who were displaced after 1967 because of the war and who were not registered refugees.


On the other hand, the 2017 Population, Housing and Establishment Census showed that refugees represented 42.5% of the population of the State of Palestine.

Population Density: Gaza Strip has one of the highest population densities in the world

The population density in State of Palestine at the end of 2017 was 794 individuals per square kilometer (km2): 509 individuals/km2 in the West Bank and 5,203 individuals/km2 in Gaza Strip, noting that 66% of the total population of Gaza Strip are refugees. The flux of refugees turned the Gaza Strip in one of the highest population densities in the world.

Israeli Settlements: Continuous Expansion

There were 425 Israeli Occupation settlements and military bases in the West Bank (including 150 settlements and 107 outposts) by the end of 2016.  Data indicated that the total number of settlers in the West Bank was 636,452 by the end of 2016, 302,188 (47.5%), of them lived in Jerusalem Governorate, including 222,325 of them lived in Jerusalem J1 (those parts of Jerusalem which were annexed by Israeli Occupation in 1967). In demographic terms, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in the West Bank is around 21.8 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared with 68.3 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem Governorate.


The data indicated that the Expansion and Annexation Wall isolates more than 12% of the West Bank area, this imposed restrictions on 1.9 million inhabitant living in areas close to the wall and / or settlements, around 400 thousand inhabitant live in Area "C"


Jerusalem: The Occupation Demolishes Over a Hundred Buildings a Year

In 2017, the Israeli occupation demolished 433 buildings (houses and establishments), 46% of them in Jerusalem in 2017. Demolished houses include 170 building house (148 of them in Jerusalem), and 263 establishments, forcibly displacing 128 households (700 persons) in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, half of them are children. They also threatened to demolish 1,030 buildings in 2017, at a time when the needs of housing units for Palestinians increase. In figures, about 61% of households in Palestine need to build new housing units over the next decade according to the data of housing conditions survey 2015 (one residential unit or more), The demolition of the buildings resulted in large economic losses with a value of about 300 US dollars per square meters, meaning that the losses of Palestinians in Jerusalem amounted to about 51 million US dollars during the years 2000-2017.


Indicators of Housing Demolished in Jerusalem 2000 - 2017



Number of houses Demolished


Area of houses Demolished (1,000 m2)


Number of persons displaced


Number of children displaced


Abdullah Al-Hourani Center for Studies and Documentation, 2018. Israeli violations 2017, Ramallah.


At the time that the Israeli occupation demolish Palestinian buildings, and put obstacles and impediments to the issuance of building permits, they approve licenses to construct thousands of housing units in Israeli settlements on the Palestinian land of Jerusalem. The Israeli occupation began building 1,600 housing units in the settlements of Gilo and Harhoma during the year 2017 within the framework of a plan to separate the city of Jerusalem from the city of Bethlehem, and it accelerated the preparation of plans for the construction of a new settlement on the Qalandia airport to isolate Jerusalem from its Arab surroundings from the North West side, in addition to the annexation of 250 dunams to the municipality of Jerusalem, which located within the area so-called "no-man's land since 1967 for the establishment of new settlements projects, as well as announcing a plan to build 6 hotels including 1,300 hotel rooms on the land of Jabal AL-Mukaber. In 2017, the Israeli occupation intensified settlement expansion in the West Bank ratifying the construction of 16,800 new housing units, one third of which in Occupied Jerusalem. Furthermore, the Israeli occupation approved plans for the construction of four new settlements to the south of Nablus Governorate and three other in the Jordan Valley, with the objective of tripling the settlers’ population in the Jordan Valley. In the same time, the occupation authorities hinder any Palestinian construction expansion, especially in the areas in and around Jerusalem and in the so-called “Area C” in the West Bank, which is still under full Israeli control.



More than 10 thousand martyrs since Al Aqsa Intifada 2000

The number of martyrs between September 29th, 2000 and December 31st, 2017 was 10,463.  The bloodiest year was 2014 with 2,240 Palestinian martyrs, 2,181 of whom from Gaza Strip.  The number of Palestinian martyrs reached 94 persons during the year 2017, out of them 16 children and 2 women. The Israeli occupation also detained the bodies of 15 martyrs, the number of martyrs since marches return start reached 49 martyrs, 6 of them children and two journalists.


More than 9,500 wounded since the start of the marches of return

During the year 2017, the number of wounded was 8,300, of them 5,400 were wounded in December 2017, following the announcement by President Trump on Jerusalem, the number of wounded in the Gaza Strip reached 9,520 since the beginning of the marches of return on the occasion of Land Day on March 30 2018, more than 800 children, 283 women and 163 paramedics.


About 1 million detentions since 1967

The Israeli occupation arrested around 6,500 Palestinians, 350 of them are children, 62 are women; (21 of them are mothers and 8 minors), in addition to 6 deputies in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Since the beginning of 2018 till the end of April 2018, the Israeli occupation has arrested 2,378 Palestinians (including 459 Children and 47 women). In addition, the Israeli occupation imposed home stay on 300 children in Jerusalem since October 2015. Around 20 children still imposed home stay. Most of these children have been arrested after the end of the period of a home stay, which ranged from six months to one year.


Land Confiscation

The Israeli occupation approved the confiscation of about 2,100 dunams of Palestinian land during the year 2017, as well as the confiscation of hundreds of dunams of Palestinians through the expansion of Israeli roadblocks and the establishment of military checkpoints to protect the settlers, in addition to renewed orders to seize 852 dunams of Palestinian land in the West Bank.


The Israeli measures are one of the main reasons for the decline in agricultural land in the West Bank. Area C forms about 60% of the West Bank, which is still under full Israeli control, depriving many farmers from accessing their land and farming it. The Israeli occupation razed and uprooted about 10 thousand trees in 2017, and more than 70 thousand dunams, most of them are cultivated with irrigated crops were transferred to the settlers in the Israeli settlements.




Continuous Siege on Gaza Strip

Despite the small area of Gaza Strip, the Israeli Occupation set up a buffer zone over more than 1,500 meter along the Eastern border of Gaza Strip.  Consequently, the Israeli Occupation controls about 24% of the total area of Gaza Strip (365 km2), which is considered the most populous area in the world with about 5,203 capita/km2. This resulted in skyrocketing unemployment rates (43.9%, compared to 17.9% in the West Bank). Data also showed that 64.7% of youth aged 15 – 24 years are unemployed. The siege also shakes the economy of the Gaza Strip and turns over half of its population into poor (53.0%). This is four times the poverty rate in the West Bank (13.9%) according to 2017 data.



1.    Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2017: Israeli settlements in the West Bank, 2016. Ramallah- Palestine

2.    Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2018: Final Results of the Population, Housing and Establishments Census 2017.  Ramallah- Palestine

3.    Abdullah Al-Hourani Center for Studies and Documentation, 2018. Israeli violations 2017, Ramallah.

4.    Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Statistical Abstract of Israel.  Jerusalem, 2017.

5.    Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-detainees database, unpublished data. 2018

6.    The Jerusalem Center for Israeli and Palestinian Studies, a detailed study of Israeli violations following the Trump Declaration on Jerusalem.