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On eve of Land Day: Israel occupies more than 85% of Palestinian land

March 28, 2019 12:01 P.M. (Updated: April 1, 2019 10:59 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- As Palestinians mark the 43rd anniversary of Land Day, Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land in the occupied territories continues unabated, according to a report published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), on Thursday.

On March 30th 1976, thousands of Palestinians inside Israel demonstrated against Israeli government confiscation of 21,000 dunams (5,189 acres) of their land. Israeli police responded violently to the demonstrations killing six young Palestinians. Since then, Palestinians at home and in the Diaspora have been marking Land Day with rallies and remembrance.

On the eve of this Land Day commemoration, Ola Awad, president of PCBS, highlighted Land Day in statistical figures, as follows:

Israel occupies more than 85% of the total area of historical land of Palestine, which totals about 27,000 square kilometers. Palestinians, the original population of the land and who comprise 48% of the total population of historical Palestine, utilize only 15% of their ancestral land.

The Israeli occupation used the land classification according to the Oslo Agreement (A, B, C) to tighten control over the Palestinian land, especially in areas classified as (C) with an area of 3,375 thousand dunams. About 2,642 thousand dunams, constituting 76.3% of the total area classified (C) is exploited by the Israeli occupation directly. The area classified (A) is about one million dunams, and the area classified (B) is 1,035 thousand dunams, and the area classified "Others" is 250 thousand dunams includes (Natural Reserves, East Jerusalem, and H2 in Hebron, and unclassified areas). In 2018, the Israeli occupation confiscated 508 dunams of the Palestinian land, in addition to confiscating hundreds of dunams of the Palestinian lands through the expansion of Israeli checkpoints and establishments of military checkpoints to protect the settlers.

The total area of land classified as high or medium agricultural value in the West Bank is 2,072 thousand dunams, constituting about 37% of the West Bank. The Palestinians use only 931.5 thousand dunams, which constitute about 17% of the West Bank area.

The non-exploitation of agricultural land in the West Bank where Area (C) constitutes about 60% of the area of the West Bank which is still under full Israeli control deprived many farmers from accessing their land and its cultivation or taking care of cultivated areas that led to the destruction of most of the crops in those areas. In addition, 7,122 trees were uprooted during 2018 by the Israeli occupation forces, bringing the number of trees uprooted to more than one million trees from 2000 until the end of 2018. Thousands of dunams were confiscated by settlers for their own use and the planted area in the Israeli settlements in the year 2018 reached about 110 thousand dunams, the majority of irrigated agriculture.

There were 435 Israeli settlements and military bases in the West Bank (including 150 settlements and 116 outposts) by the end of 2017. Furthermore, the year 2018 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 9,384 new housing units. In addition, the Israeli occupation approved the establishment of 9 new settlement outposts in the year 2018.

The areas of influence in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank amounts to 541.5 square kilometers (km2), representing about 9.6% of the West Bank, while the confiscated areas for the purposes of military bases and military training are about 18% of the West Bank, which deprives the Palestinian farmers and herders of access to their farms and pastures. The Israeli occupation places all obstacles in tightening the siege and restricting the urban expansion of the Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem and areas (C) in the West Bank, which are still under full Israeli control, in addition to the expansion and annexation wall, which also isolates more than 12% of the West Bank land.

Data findings indicated that the total number of settlers in the West Bank was 653,621 by the end of 2017, where about 47% of them were living in Jerusalem Governorate with a total number of about 306,529, while 225,335 of them were living in the parts of Jerusalem which were annexed by the Israeli occupation in 1967. In demographic terms, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in the West Bank is around 22.6 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared with 70 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem Governorate.

Despite the small area of Gaza Strip, the Israeli occupation set up a buffer zone over the Eastern border of Gaza Strip, which is considered the most populous area in the world with about 5,204 persons/km2 compared to 509 persons/km2 in the West Bank.

At the time that the Israeli occupation demolishes Palestinian buildings and put obstacles and impediments to the issuance of building permits, the Israeli occupation issued deportation orders for 12 Bedouin communities in East Jerusalem, comprising some 1,400 people, in the effort to Judaize Jerusalem City. During the year 2018, the Israeli occupation approved the building permits for 5,820 settlement units, in addition to the wall of expansion and annexation that surrounds the city of Jerusalem with the length of 93 km isolating about 84 km of the area of Jerusalem Governorate, while the incomplete part of the wall which is about 46 km will isolate about 68 km2 of the area of Jerusalem governorate. The Israeli occupation demolished 215 buildings in the Jerusalem governorate, leading to the forced displacement of 217 people, including 110 children.

The violations of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians continue in terms of demolishing buildings (housing units and establishments) and forced displacement of residents. Israeli occupation demolished 471 buildings in 2018 (houses and establishments), of which about 46% were in the city of Jerusalem with 215 demolitions. The demolished buildings were divided into 157 residential buildings and 314 establishments. In the year 2018, the Israeli occupation issued orders to demolish 546 buildings in the West Bank and Jerusalem at a time when the need of housing units for Palestinians increases. In figures and according to the data of the housing conditions survey 2015, about 61% of households in Palestine need to build new housing units over the next decade (one housing unit or more).

The number of Palestinian and Arab martyrs since the Nakba in 1948 up to the present day (inside and outside Palestine) has reached about 100,000 martyrs. The number of martyrs killed since the Al-Aqsa Intifada between September 29th, 2000 and March 27th, 2019 was 10,811. The bloodiest year was 2014 with 2,240 Palestinian martyrs, 2,181 of them in Gaza Strip.

The number of Palestinian martyrs reached 312 persons during the year 2018, out of whom 57 were children and three women, while the number of wounded Palestinians during the year 2018 reached about 29,600 persons. There are around 6,000 Palestinian detainees at end of 2018 among them 54 were women and more than 250 children, while the number of cases of detention during the year 2018 amounted to about 6,500 cases, including 1,063 children and 140 women.

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