RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- As Palestinians prepare to mark Nakba Day, statisticians released figures Thursday showing the world-wide Palestinian population is eight times that of 1948, the period commemorated Sunday.
The Nakba, or catastrophe, refers to fighting which saw an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homes in fighting that would lead to the establishment of the state of Israel.
The population that year was 1.4 million, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said, while at the end of 2010 it was estimated at 11 million globally, and 5.5 million in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, while 5.7 million Jews reside in the area.
At current growth rates, the bureau said, Jewish and Palestinian populations are predicted to equal at 6.1 million at end of 2014, and reach 7.2 million Palestinians and 6.7 million Jews at the end of 2020.
Refugees in the Palestinian territories make up 44 percent of the population, and Palestinian refugees world-wide make up 43.4 percent of all Palestinians, PCBS said, noting that the figures did not include non-registered refugees, such as those who left in the 1967 war.
The bureau noted that 154,000 Palestinians remained in the newly-created state of Israel in 1948, and today number 1.36 million. Demographic trends among Palestinian Israelis mirror the youth-bulge in the Palestinian territories, with 40.6 percent of Palestinians in Israel under the age of 15.
According to PCBS figures, at the end of 2010 Palestinians numbered 2.5 million in the West Bank, 1.6 million in Gaza Strip, and 386,000 in the Jerusalem governorate, 62.1 percent living in areas annexed to Israel in 1967, in a move never recognized by the international community.
The high population density of Gaza was noted, at 4,279 individuals/kilometer squared, compared to 450 in the West Bank and 357 in Israel.
There were 470 illegal Israeli settlements at the end of 2010, PCBS said, with 517,774 living in the West Bank, and 201,273 in Jerusalem areas annexed by Israel.
It noted that there are 21 settlers per 100 Palestinians in the West Bank, and 71 settlers to 100 Palestinians in the Jerusalem governorate in 2010.
It continued to state that 13 percent of West Bank land, almost 733 kilometer squared, was appropriated by Israel's building of the separation wall, which reaches inside the internationally-recognized 'green line.'
PCBS noted further that 29 percent of the West Bank is considered 'restricted area' and 3.5 percent has been confiscated for settlements and bypass roads. Israel's unilaterally-declared no-go buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip, PCBS said, gives Israel control over 24 percent (87 kilometer squared) of Gaza's territory.
Data from the Palestinian Water Authority, PCBS said, shows water purchased for domestic use from the Israeli Water Company [Mekorot] increased in 2010 by 6 million cubic meters from 2009, making up an estimated 15 percent of all water available to Palestinians.
In 2010, Israeli authorities demolished 145 housing units in the Palestinian territories, the bureau noted, and kept 6,000 Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, including 245 children.