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PCBS | PCBS: On the 65th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)

 Special Statistical Bulletin

On the 65th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba


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 has been 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 agreement 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 additional tragedy.


In 1948, 1.4 million Palestinians lived in 1,300 Palestinian towns and villages. 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 Israeli forces also included more than 70 massacres in which 15,000 Palestinians were killed.


Demographic Reality: Palestinian population has increased 8-fold since the Nakba

The Palestinian population was 1.37 million in 1948, but by the end of 2012 the estimated world population of Palestinians totaled 11.6 million. This indicates that the number of Palestinians worldwide has multiplied eight-fold in the 65 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 2012 was 5.8 million and this number is expected to rise to 7.2 million by the end of 2020, based on current growth rates.


Statistical data also show that refugees constitute 44.2% of the total Palestinian population in Palestine. UNRWA records showed that there were 5.3 million Palestinian refugees registered in mid-2013, constituting 45.7% of the total Palestinian population worldwide. They were distributed as 59.0% living in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, 17.0% in the West Bank, and 24.0% in Gaza Strip. About 29.0% of Palestinian registered refugees live in 58 refugee camps, of which 10 are in Jordan, nine in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank, and eight in 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 war in 1967. The number of Palestinians who remained in their homeland in the 1948 territory after the Nakba was estimated at 154 thousand persons, now estimated as 1.4 million on the 65rd anniversary of the Nakba.  In the 1948 territories, the sex ratio is 102.0 males per 100 females, 36.5% of the population are below 15 years of age and 4.1% are aged 65 years and over, based on available statistics relating to Palestinians living in Israel in 2011. This illustrates that the composition of Palestinians in the 1948 territory is young, as it is in Palestinian society as a whole.


The number of the Palestinians in Palestine was estimated at 4.4 million at the end of 2012: 2.7 million in the West Bank and 1.7 million in Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinians in the Jerusalem governorate at the end of 2012 was around 400 thousand, of whom 62.1% live in the areas of Jerusalem annexed by force by Israel in 1967 (J1).  The fertility rate in Palestine is high compared to other countries. The total fertility rate in the period 2008-2009 was 4.4 births (4.0 births in the West Bank and 5.2 births in Gaza Strip).


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

The population density in Palestine at the end of 2012 was 724 individuals per square kilometer (km2): 475 individuals/km2 in the West Bank and 4,583 individuals/km2 in Gaza Strip. In Israel, the population density of Arabs and Jews in 2012 was 369 individuals per km2.


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

There were 482 Israeli settlements and military bases in the West Bank at the end of 2012 and Jewish settlers numbered around 537 thousand at the end of 2011.  Most settlements are located in Jerusalem governorate. According to data, about 49.8% of settlers live in Jerusalem governorate, of whom 200 thousand live in Jerusalem (J1). The ratio of Palestinians to settlers in the West Bank is 21 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared to 68 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem governorate.


The Expansion and Annexation Wall absorbed about 12% of West Bank land

Based on data from ARIJ Research Institute, the Expansion and Annexation Wall runs for a total length of about 780 kilometers, of which 61% has been completed. The route of the Wall isolated 680 km2 of Palestinian land between the Wall and the Green Line, comprising approximately 12.0% of the West Bank. This land comprised about 454 km2 of agricultural and pasture land and open areas, 117 km2 were confiscated for Israeli settlements and military bases, 89 km2 were forest and 20 km2 were Palestinian built-up land. The Wall isolated 37 localities and affected over three hundred thousand people, particularly communities in Jerusalem where 24 of the localities affected are home to a quarter of a million people. More than 50,000 Palestinians holding a Jerusalem ID have been deprived of the right to reside in Jerusalem. Moreover, the Wall besieges 173 localities with a population of more than 850,000 inhabitants, including the city of Qalqilya.


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

At the end of 2012, there were 11.8 million people living in the historical land of Palestine with a land area of 27,000 km2. Jews constitute around 51% of the total population and utilize more than 85% of the total area of land. Arabs comprise 49% of the total population and utilize less than 15% of the land. A Palestinian therefore has less than a quarter of the area available to an Israeli.


Water: Realities and challenges

Israel controls the majority of renewable water resources totaling 750 MCM, while Palestinians receive only about 110 MCM.

According to Oslo Agreement II, the Palestinian share of the three ground water aquifers should be 118 MCM; this quantity was supposed to increase to 200 MCM by 2000.


Israel also restricts access to water resources and imposes obstacles on the drilling of new water wells, especially for area C that constitutes 60% of the West Bank.


Martyrs: Continuous efforts to build a state

The number of martyrs killed in the Al Aqsa Intifada between September 29th, 2000 and December 31st, 2012 was 7,766, up from 7,235 at the end of 2009. Of these, 2,183 were from the West Bank (2,059 males and 124 females) and 5,015 were from Gaza Strip (4,601 males and 414 females).  The remaining martyrs were from the 1948 territories and outside Palestine. The bloodiest year was 2009 with 1,219 Palestinian martyrs, followed by 2002 with 1,192 martyrs. In addition, 306 martyrs were killed during 2012, 15 from the West Bank and 291 from Gaza Strip, of whom 189 were killed during Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip in November 2012.



According to data from the Ministry of Detainees, around 800 thousand people have been in Israeli detention since 1967.  Of these, around 12 thousand were women, plus many children, some of whom were detained several times. At present, around 4,900 detainees are detained in Israeli prisons, including 14 women and 235 children, who represent 4.8% of all detainees. There are 77 detainees who have spent more than 20 years in Israeli jails and 25 detainees who have spent more than 25 years. During the Al Aqsa Intifada, Israel detained more than 78 thousand detainees, of whom
9 thousand were children, 950 were women (four of them were pregnant and gave birth in prison) and many were members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and former ministers.



Statistics for 2011 showed that the number of physicians per 1,000 of population registered in the Physicians Union in the West Bank was 1.3 compared to 2.3 in Gaza Strip.  In addition, there were 2.0 nurses per 1,000 of population in the West Bank compared to 4.1 nurses per 1000 of population in Gaza Strip. There were 81 hospitals in the Palestinian Territory in 2011: 51 hospitals in the West Bank and 30 in Gaza Strip. These were distributed as 25 governmental hospitals, 32 non-governmental, 20 private, three hospitals run by military institutions, and one run by UNRWA. There were 5,414 hospital beds: 1.3 beds per 1,000 of population and allocated as 3,163 beds in the West Bank and 2,251 in Gaza Strip. There were 601 primary health care centers in the West Bank in 2011 and 147 centers in Gaza Strip.



The main results covered all agricultural holdings enumerated in Palestine in the 2010/2011 agricultural year.  There were around 105 thousand agricultural holdings in Palestine, comprising around 72 thousand plant holdings or 68.2% of all holdings in Palestine; 23 thousand mixed holdings or 21.8% of holdings, plus 10 thousand animal holdings or 10.0% of all holdings.


There were around 40 thousand cows, 732 thousand sheep, and 240 thousand goats in Palestine on 01 October 2011.


The total cultivated area in Palestine in the 2010/2011 agricultural year was more than one million dunums. By type of crop, horticultural land made up around 660 thousand dunums comprising 63.8% of all cultivated land, 130 thousand dunums of vegetables comprising 12.5% of all cultivated land, plus 245 thousand dunums of field crops comprising 23.7% of all cultivated land in Palestine.




Housing: 46% of Palestinian housing units are at risk of demolition

In accordance with Israeli policy of dividing Palestinian land, Palestinians can only build on 13% of East Jerusalem and only on one percent of Area C; more than 94% of the construction requests made by Palestinians in past years have been rejected. According to United Nations estimates, 28% to 46% of Palestinian housing units are at risk of demolition.


The average number of persons per room in housing units in refugee camps was 1.6 in 2012, while 34.6% of households in refugee camps in Palestine lived in housing density of two or more persons per room: 29.2% in West Bank camps and 42.3% in Gaza Strip. The average area of housing units in the camps in Palestine was 119.6 m2: about 120.4 m2 in Gaza Strip camps and 119.1 m2 in West Bank camps.


Labor Market 2012

The labor force participation rate in Palestine in 2012 was 43.6%: 42.1% among refugees and 44.6% among non-refugees. The participation rate in the West Bank was 45.5% (45.1% among refugees and 45.7% among non-refugees) compared to 40.1% in Gaza Strip (39.9% among refugees and 40.6% among non-refugees). The unemployment rate in Palestine was 23.0% (27.9% among refugees and 19.8% among non-refugees). The unemployment rate in the West Bank was 19.0% (22.6% among refugees and 17.7% among non-refugees) compared to 31.0% in Gaza Strip (32.1% among refugees and 28.8% among non-refugees).



According to the primary results of the Education Survey for the 2012/2013 scholastic year, there were 2,751 schools in Palestine: 2,058 in the West Bank and 693 in Gaza Strip. These were distributed by supervisory authority as follows: 2,037 governmental schools, 344 UNRWA schools and 370 private schools.  The total number of students in these schools exceeded 1.1 million, of whom 570 thousand were male and 576 thousand female. There were 769 thousand students enrolled in governmental schools, 277 thousand enrolled in UNRWA schools and 100 thousand enrolled in private schools.


The illiteracy rate among Palestinians aged 15 years and above was 4.1% in 2012, distributed as 1.8% of males and 6.4% of females.  In the field of higher education, there were 14 universities and 15 university colleges offering programs leading to a bachelor degree: five universities and five university colleges in Gaza Strip and nine universities and 10 university colleges in the West Bank. There were 20 intermediate community colleges: 15 in the West Bank and five in Gaza Strip.


Macroeconomics: Consumer Price Index during 2012

The Palestinian Consumer Price Index increased by 2.78% in 2012 compared with 2011: by 4.08% in the West Bank, 3.23% in Jerusalem (J1) and 0.48% in Gaza Strip. In comparison with the base year of 2004, the Consumer Price Index in Palestine had increased by 36.40%: by 36.51% in the West Bank, 38.40% in Jerusalem (J1), and 33.19% in Gaza Strip.


Trade: Limited Palestinian exports

Both imports and exports of goods increased in 2011 compared to 2010. In 2011, the value of imported goods totaled USD 4.2 billion, and increased by 6.6% compared to 2010. The total value of exports was USD 720 million and increased by 25.0% compared to 2010. As a result, the net trade balance on goods recorded a deficit of USD 3.5 billion in 2011 and was 3.5% higher than in 2010.


The results indicated that 87.5% of exports were exported to Israel, while only 12.5% 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 Gaza Strip.


Information Society

In 2012, 51.4% of households in Palestine had a computer: 55.2% in the West Bank and 44.2% in Gaza Strip. An Internet connection was available in 32.1% of households in Palestine in 2012: 34.3% in the West Bank and 27.9% in Gaza Strip. The percentage of households with a satellite dish in Palestine was 95.0%: 96.6% in the West Bank and 92.1% in Gaza Strip in 2012, compared with 92.0% in 2009.  The results also indicated that 40.0% of households in Palestine had a fixed telephone line: 42.7% in the West Bank and 34.8% in Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, 95.7% of households in Palestine owned a mobile phone in 2012: 96.2% in the West Bank and 94.7% in Gaza Strip.



In Palestine, tourism is the sector most affected by the Israeli occupation since Israeli companies and tourist offices hold a monopoly over groups and Christian pilgrims to the Church of the Nativity and other historical and religious sites.


According to data from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism, the number of Christian pilgrims in 2012 to the Church of the Nativity alone totaled 1.3 million visitors. These visitors entered via Israeli crossings and borders and were accompanied by Israeli companies and tourist services, thus depriving the Palestinian economy of returns from tourism.  Data from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism show that there were around 3.5 million visitors to Israel at the end of 2012, worth more than USD 4.6 billion to the Israeli economy.