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Israel has so far occupied over 85% of Palestinian land: Report

An Ultra-Orthodox Jew prays outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs or the Ibrahimi Mosque in the divided West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), on June 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A new report says Israel has so far occupied more than 85 percent or some 27,000 square kilometers of historical territories of Palestine in an expropriation process which still continues unabated.

Ola Awad, the president of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), announced the grim news in a report carried by the Palestinian Ma'an news agency on Thursday, the eve of the 43rd anniversary of the Land Day.

In late March of 1976, Israeli troops killed six Palestinians, wounded 100 others and detained hundreds more who had held peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s confiscation of 21,000 dunams (5,189 acres) of their land.

Palestinians, both at home and overseas, have been marking the event known as the Land Day with rallies and remembrance ever since.

According to the report, Palestinians now live on and own only 15 percent of their ancestral land.

Awad said since the Oslo Agreement of 1993, Israel has used the deal’s land classification of A, B and C to further tighten control, particularly in areas classified as C with an area of 3,375,000 dunams.

Some 2,642,000 dunams, constituting 76.3 percent of the total Area C, was exploited by the Israeli occupation directly.

The Area A is about one million dunams, and the Area B is 1,035,000 dunams, and the area classified as “Others” is 250,000 dunams, which include Natural Reserves, East Jerusalem al-Quds, and H2 in al-Khalil (Hebron), and unclassified areas, Awad further said.

In 2018, the Israeli regime confiscated 508 dunams of the Palestinian land through the expansion of Israeli checkpoints and establishment of military checkpoints to “protect” its settlers.

The total area of land classified as high or medium agricultural value in the occupied West Bank is 2,072,000 dunams, constituting about 37 percent of the West Bank.

The Palestinians utilize only 931,000 dunams, which constitute about 17 percent of the West Bank area, the report added.

Elsewhere in the report, Awad said that by the end of 2017, there were 435 Israeli settlements and military bases in the West Bank, including 150 settlements and 116 outposts.

Last year witnessed a significant increase in the pace of construction and expansion of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where Tel Aviv approved the construction of 9,384 new housing units.

The report further showed that the total number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank was 653,621 by the end of 2017, 47 percent of whom were living in Jerusalem al-Quds province with a total number of about 306,529.

This is while 225,335 of these settlers were living in the parts of Jerusalem al-Quds which were annexed by the Israeli occupation in 1967.

The report concluded that the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank is around 22.6 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared to 70 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem al-Quds province.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of their future independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories has been a major sticking point in Israeli-Palestinian talks, which have stalled since 2014.

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