76th anniversary of Nakba Day – 15th May 1948!

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A Hamas fighter in Gaza fighting Israeli troops with a rocket propelled grenade in 2024, 76 years after the Nakba

TODAY, May 15th, marks the 76th anniversary of Nakba, ‘the Catastrophe’, when the unarmed population of Palestine was forcibly driven from their land to be replaced by Jewish occupiers from all over the world and the state of Israel established.

Since then, the worldwide population of displaced Palestinians has doubled ten times over, new statistics have revealed.

Dr Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), reviewed the geographical, demographical and economic situation of the Palestinian People ahead of the 76th Annual Commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba, which takes place on May 15th each year.

The Nakba resulted in the displacement of more than one million Palestinians out of the 1.4 million Palestinians who were living in historical Palestine in 1948 in 1,300 villages and towns.

The majority of the displaced ended up in neighbouring Arab countries, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and other countries in the world.

Furthermore, thousands of Palestinians – who stayed in the land controlled by Israeli occupation in 1948 – were driven out of their homes and lands which were seized.

According to the historical documentary evidence, the Israeli occupation controlled 774 towns and villages and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages during the Nakba.

The atrocities of the Zionist forces also included more than 70 massacres in which more than 15,000 Palestinians were killed.

The Israeli occupation has been waging its aggression ever since the Nakba, and has escalated it sharply during the current aggression against the Gaza Strip since October 7th, 2023.

The number of Palestinians and Arabs killed since the Nakba in 1948 until today (inside and outside Palestine) has reached more than 134,000 – the number killed in the Al-Aqsa Intifada on September 29th, 2000 until April 30th, 2024 was about 46,500.

The number killed in Palestine since the start of the Israeli occupation aggression against the Gaza Strip on October 7th, 2023 until May 7th, 2024 has now reached about 35,000, – including 14,873 children and more than 9,801 women, in addition, some 141 journalists have been killed according to the records of the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, 492 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the Israeli occupation aggression on October 7th, 2023.

By the end of 2022, there were 483 Israeli occupation sites and military bases in the West Bank, including 151 settlements and 25 ‘inhabited outposts’ that were considered as neighbourhoods following established settlements, in addition to 163 settlement outposts, and 144 classified as other sites (industrial, tourists, service areas and Israeli army bases).

As for the number of settlers in the West Bank, by the end of 2022 it had reached 745,467.

Data showed that around 45.1% of settlers live in the Jerusalem Governorate, where their number reached about 336,272, out of which 246,990 settlers live in East Jerusalem in those parts of the city which were annexed by the Israeli occupation in 1967.

This was followed by Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate with 149,143 settlers, 98,384 settlers in Bethlehem Governorate, and 53,455 settlers in Salfit Governorate.

Tubas & the Northern Valleys Governorate has the lowest number of settlers at 2,717.

In regards to demographics, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in the West Bank is about 23 settlers per 100 Palestinians. It was the highest in Jerusalem Governorate, where there were 69 settlers per 100 Palestinians. Accordingly, 2023 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 more than 18,000 new settlement housing units in the West Bank, including Jerusalem Governorate.

Since the Israeli occupation aggression against Gaza Strip on October 7th, 2023, the Israeli occupation has destroyed more than 31,000 buildings, with 17,000 severely damaged and 41,000 moderately damaged buildings, with a total of about 89,000 damaged buildings, 104 of which belong to the United Nations.

Data showed that the number of housing units that have been completely destroyed is estimated to be 86,000, in addition to the partial destruction of more than 294,000 housing units, constituting about 70% of the total housing units in Gaza Strip.

In addition to the destruction of schools, universities, hospitals, mosques, churches, and government headquarters, as well as the destruction of thousands of economic establishments and agricultural areas, is the destruction of all aspects of infrastructure, including streets, water lines, electricity, and sewage lines, making the Gaza Strip uninhabitable.

The initial direct losses due to the Israeli occupation aggression against the Gaza Strip are estimated at approximately $30 billion according to the government information office.

During 2023, the Israeli occupation demolished and destroyed more than 659 buildings and facilities, completely or partially in the West Bank, including 70 forced self-demolition operations in Jerusalem, according to data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in addition to issuing 1,333 demolition orders for Palestinian facilities under the pretext of not having a building license.

The Israeli occupation is still imposing its control over more Palestinian lands in the West Bank under various pretexts and names, as the confiscated areas doubled during 2023 (to 50,526 dunums) compared to 26,000 dunums in 2022.

During 2023, 32 sequestration orders were issued regarding about 619 dunums, four expropriation orders for approximately 433 dunums, two orders declaring state land for approximately 515 dunums, in addition to four orders amending the boundaries of natural reserves through which 48,959 dunums were confiscated. All were part of the systematic and ongoing policy to control all Palestinian lands and deprive the Palestinians from using their natural resources.

The population of the Gaza Strip lack the basic essentials of life, including housing, food, and water.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) indicated that no less than 70% of the population of Gaza Strip is at risk of famine, which means they are suffering from catastrophic hunger – this means the Gaza Strip is now considered one of the most famished regions in the world.

Data indicate that 90% of children aged six to 23 months and pregnant women face severe nutritional deficiencies, and more than 30 Palestinians have lost their lives due to hunger and dehydration, most of them children.

The Gaza Strip suffers from a severe crisis in accessing water, where under normal conditions in times before October 7th, 2023, the average per capita consumption of water was estimated at approximately 84.6 litres/person/day. However, since the beginning of the Israeli occupation aggression, this figure has dropped to only 3-15 (l/p/d).

The population of Palestine in 1914 was around 690,000; of whom only 8% were Jewish. In 1948, the number of Palestinians in Palestine exceeded two million; 31.5% of them were Jews. Between 1932 and 1939, the largest number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine reached 225,000. Between 1940 and 1947, more than 93,000 Jews poured into Palestine. Thus, Palestine received around 318,000 Jews between 1932 and 1947 and more than 3.3 million from 1948 to 2023.

Despite the displacement of more than one million Palestinians in 1948, and the displacement of more than 200,000 Palestinians (the majority of them to Jordan) after the 1967 war, the Palestinian world population was 14.63 million by the end of 2023, which means that the number of Palestinians in the world has doubled about 10 times since the Nakba.

Thus, the number of Palestinians in historical Palestine reached about 7.3 million, while the number of Israelis reached 7.2 million by the end of 2023, which means that the number of Palestinians exceeds the number of Israelis in historical Palestine, that Palestinians represented 50.3% of the population living in historical Palestine, while Jews constituted 49.7% by the end of 2023.

However, the Israeli occupation exploits more than 85% of the total land in historical Palestine (27,000 km2).

The population density in the State of Palestine by the end of 2023 was 921 individuals per square kilometre (km2): 582 individuals/km2 in the West Bank and 6,185 individuals/km2 in the Gaza Strip, noting that 66% of the total population of Gaza are refugees.

The influx of refugees turned the Gaza Strip into one of the highest population densities in the world – especially after the displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents to Rafah Governorate, in which more than 1.5 million people lived in an area not exceeding 65 km2 during the Israeli occupation aggression since October 7th, 2023.

According to the data of the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, the number of detainees in the Israeli occupation prisons reached more than 9,400 by the end of April 2024, including 3,600 administrative detainees i.e. detained without charge, and 849 classified by the Israeli occupation as ‘unlawful combatants’.

There are 80 female detainees in the Israeli occupation prisons, and the number of detained children currently stands at 229.

The number of arrests has reached more than 8,520 in the West Bank since the beginning of the Israeli occupation aggression on October 7th, 2023 until March 25th, 2024.

These data do not include cases of arrest in the Gaza Strip during the same period, but their number is estimated to be thousands.

In 2023, settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation army, carried out about 12,161 attacks against Palestinian citizens and their property; these included 3,808 attacks on property and religious places, 707 attacks on lands and natural resources, and 7,646 attacks on individuals.

These attacks also caused the uprooting, damage, and bulldozing of more than 21,700 trees, including about 18,964 olive trees.