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Bureau: Majority of Palestinians live in diaspora

May 13, 2015 9:28 A.M. (Updated: May 13, 2015 4:04 P.M.)
Palestinians in the Gaza City Shujaiya neighborhood on May 11, 2015. (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- As the Palestinian Nakba approaches, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday it has recorded a population of 12.1 million people worldwide, the majority of whom live outside of the occupied Palestinian territories.

The figures show that at the end of 2014, 2.8 million Palestinians lived in the West Bank and 1.8 million in the Gaza Strip.

In the impoverished Gaza Strip, the population of 4.9 people per square kilometer makes its density one of the world's highest.

Of the 4.6 million people living within in the occupied Palestinian territories, 43.1 percent are refugees.

The remaining 7.5 million Palestinians live in exile, the majority in 31 UN-installed refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, withUNRWA, the world body's aid agency for Palestinian refugees, having 5.49 million people registered on its books.

The figures were announced ahead of Friday's 67th anniversary of the "Nakba", or "catastrophe" in Arabic, the day when Palestinians mourn the over 800 thousand forced to flee their homes during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

In a statement, the head of the statistics bureau said that in 1948, "1.4 million Palestinians lived in 1,300 towns and localities in historic Palestine."

During the war that led to the establishment of state of Israel, "Israel took control of 774 towns and villages, destroyed 531 and committed 70 killings and massacres in which 15,000 people died," she said.

The statistics bureau reported10,062 Palestiniansdied between September 29, 2000 and December 31, 2014 in what thebureautermed as "continuous efforts to build a state," the figure including those who fought during the Second Intifada and those who died during last summer's war in Gaza

Some 154,000 Palestinians remained on their land after the 1948 establishment of, and their descendants now number nearly a million and a half, around 20 percent of the state's population.

Other figures made public by human rights group Association for Civil Rights in Israel show that Palestinians make up 37 percent of the population of occupied East Jerusalem.

The eastern part of Jerusalem was captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community, which considers East Jerusalem to be illegally occupied to this day.

Of the Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, 75 percent live below the poverty line and the homes of almost 40 percent are threatened with destruction because they lack building permits from Israeli authorities.Building permits are nearly impossible for Palestinian residents of the city to obtain, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to increase ongoing Jewish settlement in the area.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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