The Nakba: Continuous Ethnic cleansing, displacement of Palestinians, colonialism and taking over Palestinian Lands

Dr. Ola Awad, reviews the conditions of the Palestinian people via statistical figures and findings, on the 76th Annual Commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba.

On the 76th Annual Commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba, Number of Palestinians Worldwide Doubled about 10 Times

  H.E. Dr. Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), via figures, historical and current data, reviewed the geographical, demographical and economic situation of the Palestinian People on the 76th  Annual Commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba, which occur takes place on May, 15th; and those figures and data run as the following:  

Nakba in Palestine describes a process of ethnic cleansing in which an unarmed native nation was destroyed and its population displaced systematically to be replaced by Jewish occupiers from all over the world. The Nakba resulted in the displacement of more than 1 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 Palestinians ended up in neighboring 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, Israeli occupation controlled 774 towns and villages and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages during the Nakba. The atrocities of Zionist forces also included more than 70 massacres in which more than 15 thousand Palestinians were martyred, The Israeli occupation has been waging its aggression since the Nakba, and has escalated it sharply during the current aggression against Gaza Strip since October 7th, 2023.

More than 134 Thousand Martyrs since the Nakba, 1948

The number of Palestinian and Arab martyrs killed since the Nakba in 1948 and until this day (inside and outside Palestine) reached more than 134 thousand martyrs[1]. Moreover, the number of martyrs killed in Al-Aqsa Intifada on September 29th, 2000 until April 30th, 2024 was about 46,500. The number of martyrs in Palestine since the start of the Israeli occupation aggression against Gaza Strip on October 7th, 2023 until May 7th, 2024 reached about 35 thousand martyrs; more than 14,873 children and more than 9,801 women, in addition to more than 141 journalists were martyred according to the records of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza Strip. In addition to the loss of more than 7,000 citizens, most of whom were women and children. While the number of martyrs reached 492 martyrs in the West Bank since the start of the Israeli occupation aggression on October 7th, 2023.

Israeli Settlements: Continuous Expansion

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 neighborhoods 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, it reached 745,467 settlers by the end of 2022, data showed that around 45.1% of settlers live in Jerusalem Governorate, where their number reached about 336,272 settlers; out of which 246,990 settlers live in East Jerusalem (J1) “includes those parts of Jerusalem which were annexed by Israeli occupation in 1967”,, 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 that reached 2,717 settlers.

In regards to demographics, the proportion of settlers to 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.

USD 30 billion the initial direct losses due to the Israeli occupation aggression against

 Gaza Strip.

Since the Israeli occupation aggression against Gaza Strip on October 7th, 2023, the Israeli occupation has destroyed more than 31 thousand buildings, 17 thousand severely damaged buildings and 41 thousand moderately damaged buildings, with a total of about 89 thousand damaged buildings, where 104 buildings 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 thousand, in addition to the partially destruction of more than 294 thousand 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, and the destruction of all aspects of infrastructure, including streets, water lines, electricity, and sewage lines, making Gaza Strip an uninhabitable place to survive in.  The initial direct losses due to the Israeli occupation aggression against Gaza Strip were estimated at approximately USD 30 billion according to the government information office.

Numbers of damaged buildings in Gaza Strip since October 7th, 2023, by type of building and type of damage

Type of DamageType of Building
Partially DamagedCompletely Damaged
294,00086,000Housing Units
311103Schools & Universities
181Government Headquarters

-: Nill

During 2023, the Israeli occupation demolished and destroyed more than 659 buildings and facilities, completely or partially in the West Bank, including 70 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 license.

Self-Demolitions in Jerusalem Governorate 2008 – 2023

Continuous Confiscation of Land

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 (50,526) dunums, compared to 2022, which was (26,000) dunums. 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 of such were part of the systematic and ongoing policy to control all Palestinian lands and deprive the Palestinians from utilizing their natural resources.

A severe water and famine crisis threatens the lives of the population of Gaza Strip

The population of Gaza Strip are lacking 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 that the population of Gaza Strip is suffering from catastrophic hunger, and this indicates that Gaza Strip is now considered one of the most famished regions in the world. Data indicate that 90% of children aged 6 to 23 months and pregnant women face severe nutritional deficiencies, and more than 30 Palestinians lost their lives due to hunger and dehydration, most of them children.

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 in Gaza Strip was estimated at approximately 84.6 liters/person/day. However and since the beginning of the Israeli occupation aggression, this figure has dropped to only 3-15 (l/c/d).

The Demographic Reality: Palestinian population has doubled about 10 times since the Nakba, 1948

The population of Palestine in 1914 was around 690 thousand; of whom only 8% were Jewish. In 1948, the number of Palestinians in Palestine exceeded 2 million; 31.5% of them were Jews. Between 1932 and 1939, the largest number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine reached 225 thousand Jews. Between 1940 and 1947, more than 93 thousand Jews poured into Palestine. Thus, Palestine received around 318 thousand 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 thousand Palestinians (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 Israelisreached 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).

Percentage of Palestinians and Jews in Historical Palestine in Various Years

Gaza Strip has one of the highest population densities in the world

The population density in the State of Palestine by the end of 2023 was 921 individuals per square kilometer (km2): 582 individuals/km2 in the West Bank and 6,185 individuals/km2 in Gaza Strip, noting that 66% of the total population of Gaza Strip are refugees. The flux of refugees turned 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 against Gaza Strip since October 7th, 2023.

More than 1 Million Detention Cases since 1967

More than 9,400 detainees in Israeli occupation prisons

According to the data of Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs the number of detaineesin the Israeli occupation prisons reached more than 9,400 by the end of April 2024, including (3,600) administrative detainees (detained without charge), and (849) classified by Israeli occupation as (unlawful combatants). There are (80) female detainees in the Israeli occupation prisons, and the number of detained children in the Israeli occupation prisons reached (229), while the number of arrest cases reached (the number includes those are still detained as well those released) 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 Gaza Strip during the Israeli occupation aggression since October 7th, 2023, knowing that their number is estimated to be thousands.

More than 12,000 attacks by settlers

In 2023, settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation army, carried out about 12,161 attacks against Palestinian citizens and their property; the attacks 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.


1. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2023: Israeli Settlements in the West Bank 2022. Ramallah – Palestine.

2. Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission 2024, the most prominent violations of the Israeli occupation State and colonizers in the occupied Palestinian territories, annual report, 2023. Ramallah – Palestine.

3. Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, 2024. Annual Detainees Report 2023. Ramallah – Palestine.

4. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories (OCHA), 2023.

5. Palestinian Ministry of Health – General Directorate of Emergency, 2024. Annual Report on Israeli occupation attacks, 2023. Ramallah – Palestine.

6. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2024.  Revised estimates based on the final results of Population, Housing and Establishments Census 2017. Ramallah-Palestine.

 Source: Embassy of Palestine, Islamabad.

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