PCBS: Special Statistical Bulletin On the 64th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba

Posted: May 10, 2012 by Rex Brynen in new publications

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics today released a “Special Statistical Bulletin On the 64th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.”

The Nakba: Ethnic cleansing and displacement of the population

Nakba in literary terms means a natural catastrophe such as an earthquake, volcano, or hurricane. However, the Nakba in Palestine describes a process of ethnic cleansing in which an unarmed nation has been destroyed and its population displaced to be replaced systematically by another nation. Unlike a natural catastrophe, the Palestinian Nakba was the result of a man-made military plan with the agreement of other states, leading to a major tragedy for the Palestinian people. The subsequent occupation of the remaining land of Palestine in 1967 resulted in additional tragedy.

In 1948, 1.4 million Palestinians lived in 1,300 Palestinian towns and villages. More than 800,000 of the population were driven out of their homeland to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, neighboring Arab countries, and other countries of the world. Thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes but stayed within the Israeli-controlled 1948 territory. According to documentary evidence, the Israelis controlled 774 towns and villages and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages during the Nakba. The atrocities of Israeli forces also included more than 70 massacres in which 15,000 Palestinians were killed.

The Demographic Reality: Palestinian population has increased 8-fold since the Nakba

The Palestinian population was 1.37 million in 1948 but by the end of 2011, the estimated world population of Palestinians totaled 11.2 million. This indicates that the number of Palestinians worldwide has multiplied eight-fold in the 64 years since the Nakba. According to statistics, the total number of Palestinians living in historic Palestine (between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean) by the end of 2011 was 5.6 million and this number is expected to rise to 7.2 million by the end of 2020 based on current growth rates.

Statistical data also show that refugees constitute 44.1% of the total Palestinian population in the Palestinian Territory. UNRWA records at the end of 2011 showed that there were 5.1 million Palestinian refugees registered, constituting 45.6% of the total Palestinian population worldwide. These were distributed as 59.1% living in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, 17.1% in the West Bank, and 23.8% in Gaza Strip. About 29% of Palestinian registered refugees live in 58 refugee camps, of which 10 are in Jordan, nine in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank, and eight in Gaza Strip.

These estimates represent the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, given the presence of non- registered refugees. These estimates also do not include Palestinians who were displaced between 1949 and the 1967 war, according to the UNRWA definition, and do not include the non-refugees who left or were forced to leave as a result of the war in 1967. The number of Palestinians who remained in their homeland in the 1948 territory after the Nakba was estimated at 154 thousand persons, now estimated as 1.37 million on the 64rd anniversary of the Nakba. In the 1948 territories, the sex ratio is 102.2 males per 100 females, while 37.5% of the population are below 15 years of age and 3.9% are aged 65 years and over, based on available statistics relating to Palestinians living in Israel in 2010. This illustrates that the composition of Palestinians in the 1948 territory is young, as it is in Palestinian society as a whole.

The number of the Palestinians in the Palestinian Territory was estimated at 4.2 million at the end of 2011: 2.6 million in the West Bank and 1.6 million in Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinians in the Jerusalem governorate at end of 2011 was around 393 thousand, of whom 62.1% live in the areas of Jerusalem annexed by force by Israel in 1967 (J1). The fertility rate in the Palestinian Territory is high compared to other countries. The total fertility rate in 2010 was 4.1 births (3.8 births in the West Bank and 4.9 births in Gaza Strip).

As far as I can see, it is simply a poorly-written press release that then goes on to offer a few unrelated paragraphs on Gaza (which it describes as “the most crowded place in the world”—which although often said, isn’t true), settlement expansion, water, martyrs, detainees, health, agriculture, and the environment. There is strikingly little discussion of the legacies of ethnic cleansing or contemporary refugee distribution. It isn’t even a particularly thoughtful, analytical, or useful summary of existing PCBS data.

Unimpressive stuff.

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