RAMALLAH, Tuesday, March 30, 2021 (WAFA) – Israel, since 1948, laid hand over more than 85% of the total area of the lands of historical Palestine at a time when Jews in the era of the pre-1948 British Mandate exploited only 1,682 square kilometers, or 6.2% of the lands of historical Palestine, today said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on the 45th anniversary of Land Day.
The estimated number of Palestinians by the end of 2020 was about 13.7 million; about 5.2 million of them live in the State of Palestine and about 1.6 million Palestinians live in the 1948 territories. Also, about 6.2 million Palestinians live in the Arab countries, whereas almost 738,000 Palestinians live in foreign countries, said the PCBS.
Palestinians every year mark Land Day on March 30 commemorating the six Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli police and the dozens others injured on that day in 1976 when they rallied against government plans to seize 21,000 dunums (21 square kilometers) of their lands, and to illustrate Palestinian adherence to the land of their ancestors.
The Israeli appropriation of Palestinian lands was not limited to only the Arab towns inside Israel. According to the PCBS report, the Israeli occupying authorities used the land classification of the occupied West Bank according to the 1993 Oslo Accords (A, B, and C) to tighten control over the Palestinian land, especially in areas classified as (C), which is under the full control of the Israeli occupation in terms of security, planning, and construction, where 76% of the total area classified as (C) is directly exploited by the Israeli military occupation government with the illegal settlements regional councils controlling 63% of it.
At the same time, illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank have authority over 542 square kilometers of the West Bank land by the end of 2020; representing about 10% of the total area of the West Bank. The confiscated areas for the purpose of military bases and military training locations represent about 18% of the West Bank area, in addition to the Annexation and Expansion Wall that has isolated more than 10% of the area of the West Bank. Consequently, more than 219 Palestinian localities were badly affected by the establishment of the Annexation and Expansion Wall.
Also, the Israeli occupation authorities confiscated about 8,830 dunums of the Palestinian lands, in addition to another 11,200 dunums declared to be natural reserves by the Israeli occupation in preparation for their seizure.
By the end of 2019, there were 461 Israeli occupation sites and military bases in the West Bank, including 151 settlements and 26 inhabited outposts that were considered as “neighborhoods” following established settlements, in addition to 140 settlement outposts.
As for the number of settlers in the West Bank, it reached 688,262 settlers by the end of 2019; at a growth rate of almost 2.6%. Data shows that around 46% of the settlers live in Jerusalem governorate, where their number reached about 316,176 settlers; out of which 232,093 settlers live in occupied East Jerusalem.
In regards to demographics, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in the West Bank is about 23 settlers per 100 Palestinians, and it was the highest in Jerusalem Governorate, where there were 69 settlers per 100 Palestinians.
Accordingly, 2020 witnessed a significant increase in the pace of construction and expansion of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where the Israeli occupation approved the construction of 6,719 new settlement housing units in addition to plans of establishing 12,159 colonial units during the same year and 11 new settlement outposts were approved to be established on illegally seized Palestinian land, said the PCBS report.