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As Palestinians Mark Land Day, Israel Illegally Controls More Than 85% Of Palestine
The following is a press release by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistic (PCBS), marking the fortieth anniversary of the Palestinian Land Day – March 30, 2016.
Israeli Occupation Authorities laid hand over more than 85% of the total area of historical land of Palestine which totals about 27,000 km2. Arabs comprise 48% of the total population but utilize only 15% of the land.
Israeli Occupation also set up a buffer zone along the border of the Gaza Strip extending over 1,500 m along the eastern border.
Consequently, the zone usurps about 24% of the total area of the Gaza Strip (365 km²), which is one of the most densely populated area in the world with about 5,000 capita/km².
Furthermore, Israeli Occupation maintains tight control over more than 90% of the area of the Jordan Valley, which constitutes 29% of the total area of the West Bank.
Every year, the Palestinian people remember the confiscation of 21 thousand Dunams of land in Al-Jalil (Galilee), Al-Mothallath and Al-Naqab (Negev) on 30 March 1976.
On this day, the Israeli authorities expropriated the land and responded violently to the protestations, killing six young demonstrators.
Jerusalem 2015; Intensive Judaizing
While the Israeli occupation authorities keep demolishing Palestinian houses and denying Palestinians the right to build any new houses, they grant permits to build thousands of housing units in the Israeli settlements in and around Jerusalem.
Only in 2015, they authorized the building of over 12,600 housing units in the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, in addition to 2,500 hotel rooms.
Moreover, the Israeli occupation authorities ratified regulations to replace the original Arabic names of the streets in the old town of Jerusalem by Hebrew ones.
This inscribes in Israel’s ongoing policy of Occupation of Jerusalem and falsification of its history and geography not to mention the imposition of new demographic facts on the ground.
The Israeli occupation authorities demolished about 152 Palestinian buildings (houses and establishments) and sent hundreds of demolition orders to owners of other buildings; moreover, the Israeli occupation authorities confiscated 546 Dunams of the Palestinian land in the Eesawiyya locality and Shu’fat camp to establish a national park and dumping site for wastes from illegal Jewish settlements.
Israeli Violations: Martyrs, Wounded and Prisoners
The number of martyrs reached 181 martyrs during the year 2015 were 32 martyrs of children and 9 women and 26 martyrs in the Gaza Strip, while the number of injured has risen during the year 2015 about 16,620 wounded, while the number of cases of detention amounted to about 6830 case, including 2,179 children.
Israeli Settlements: Unjust Expansion
There were 413 illegal Israeli constructions in the West Bank (including 150 settlements and 119 outposts) by the end of 2014.
Furthermore, the Israeli occupation authorities approved the building of over 4,500 housing units in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank Except those that were approved in Jerusalem.
Still, these same authorities deprived Palestinians of their right to build and laid obstacles, which undermine any potential urban expansion especially for the Palestinians in Jerusalem and Area “C” which is under full Israeli control.
It should be noted that Area “C” constitutes over 60% of the West Bank area. Israel also erected its Expansion and Annexation Wall, which isolates more than 12% of the West Bank land.
Data indicated that the total number of settlers in the West Bank was 599,901 at the end of 2014, 286,997 of whom in the Jerusalem Governorate (they represent 48% of all settlers in the occupied West Bank). 210,420 of these illegal settlers live in Jerusalem J1 (that part of Jerusalem, which was annexed forcefully by Israel following its occupation of the West Bank in 1967).
In demographic terms, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in West Bank is around 21 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared with 69 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem governorate.
Environment: Continuing Degradation
Israeli settlements cause direct damage to the Palestinian environment. They actually discharge 40 million cubic meters (mcm) of wastewater annually into Palestinian valleys and agricultural land.
Only 10% of such water is treated. If compared to the wastewater produced by Palestinians in the West Bank, which stands at 34 mcm per year, Israeli settlers produce five times the Palestinian.
Moreover, the Israeli authorities prevent Palestinians from building their own wastewater treatment plants. On another level, they allocated part of the Palestinian land in Jordan Valley to an Israeli dumpsite of industrial waste.
Consequently, Palestinian agricultural land endured enormous damage not to mention impact on health animals and biodiversity, in addition to the Israeli authorities bulldozed and burned more than 15,300 trees of Palestinian farmers during the year 2015.
Water: Deficiency and Suffering
Like other Arab countries, Palestine suffers from scarcity of water and resources.
However, the situation in Palestine is more complex because of prolonged Israeli occupation, which controls most of the existing water sources and prevents the Palestinians of their right to access their water sources or any alternative sources.
The Israeli occupation controls the majority of renewable water resources totaling 750 MCM (Million Cubic Meter), while Palestinians receive only about 110 MCM.
The Palestinian share from the three groundwater aquifers should be 118 MCM according to Oslo Agreement II. This share was supposed to increase to 200 MCM by the year 2000 had the Interim Agreement been fully implemented.
Buildings: Demolish of Housing Units and Establishments
On the fortieth remembrance of the Land Day, the Israeli occupation violations against the Palestinians continue, in terms of land confiscation, demolition of buildings (housing units and establishments) and forcible displacement of residents. Israeli occupation authorities usurped 6,386 Dunams of Palestinian land in the various governorates of the West Bank in 2015.
Furthermore, they demolished 645 building (houses and establishments), forcibly displacing 2,180 persons in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 1,108 of whom are children.
They also threatened to demolish 780 building, at a time when the needs of housing units for Palestinian increase.
In figures, 60.9% of households in Palestine need to build new housing units over the next decade according to the reported data survey of housing conditions in 2015 (one residential unit or more).
Tourism: Israeli Monopoly
The Israeli narrative is based on falsification of the culture, civilization and history of Palestine. Therefore, the occupation authorities alter Palestinian national treasures and monuments of ancient times.
In figures, 53% of the archeological sites in Palestine are in Area “C”, which is under full Israeli control. The Israel occupation prevents any excavating or restoration of these sites for the building of recreational and tourist attractions.
They also create obstacles to prevent Palestinian tourism agencies from organizing proper visits of the Holy Land.
With these restrictions, they give a competitive edge to the Israeli companies that market the Nativity Church in Bethlehem and Deir Quruntol in Jericho, for instance, as part of tourism in Israel.
By granting more facilities to Israeli companies, tourists are ‘advised’ to stay in Israeli hotels as Palestinian areas are ‘denounced as unsafe’. With these measures, Palestinians are deprived of over 75% of potential touristic services revenues.
1. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2015: Israeli settlements in the West Bank, 2014. Ramallah- Palestine
2. Abdullah Al-Hourani Center for Studies and Documentation, Annual Report, 2015.
3. National Office for the Defense of the Land and Resist Settlement, Impact of Israeli Settlements on the Palestinian Environment. 2016
4. Land Research Center report of the Association Arab Studies, Sum of Israeli Violations Against the Palestinian Right to Housing and Land.
5. Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, 2015.