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This section will cover the demographics of Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza (where a large number of Palestinians live). Please note that the numbers cannot be 100% accurate, but I have verified them with multiple sources. I list the sources when they are available, but please let me know if you feel some of these stats are wrong: please make sure you back up your claims with links or books.

Population - Israel

Let's start with a breakdown of the total population for Israel proper (not including the West Bank and Gaza, see the history page for details), by religion. We will include the numbers for 1948 and September 2001, we have:

1948 2001
Religion Population Population
Jewish 646,000 80.1% 5,240,000 81.3%
Muslim 160,000 19.9% 980,000 15.2%
Christian N/A N/A 130,000 2.1%
Druze N/A N/A 110,000 1.6%
Total 806,000 100% 6.46 Million 100%

Figures taken from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics and here. For more details check this page.

An Israeli Soldier. All single women serve 2 years in Israel's army.

Population - West Bank and Gaza

Now let's check the total population for the West Bank and Gaza, see the history page for details), by religion. We will include the numbers for 1948 and September 2000:

1948 2001
Religion Population Population
Jewish     182,900 5.5%
Muslim 570,000 100% 3,268,832 94.5%
Total 570,000 100% 3.45 Million 100%

Figures taken from the CIA Website (West Bank and Gaza).

1948 Demographics 2001 Demographics

Israeli Settlements

After Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, some Israelis started to live on the land. These Israelis created villages and whole cities (such as Ariel, today with a population of over 10,000) and settled in these disputed territories. These territories are named the West Bank (of the Jordan river) and Gaza, or Judea and Samaria (the official Israeli names).

When you hear about the Israeli Settlers, it is in reference to the above israelis. There are today about 200,000 of them in the West Bank and Gaza as shown in the picture below (the blue dots in the West Bank represent an Israeli settlement - town or city):

It is interesting to note that the 200,000 Jews that live in the West Bank and Gaza are called "settlers", while the 980,000 Muslim Arabs that live in Israel are "Israeli Citizens".

Population - Palestinian Refugees

As mentioned in the history page, many Arab residents left the area after Israel won its war of independence.

These Palestinians fled to the West Bank and Gaza, but also to other Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, etc... Since the Palestinians refused to accept an independent state of their own in 1948 and in October 2000, and the Arab states mentioned above never gave them citizenship, these Palestinians are refugees. Here's how their numbers break down:

1948 2001
Country/Area Palestinian
West Bank 380,000  652,855
Gaza  190,000  766,124
Lebanon  100,000  408,008
Syria  75,000  444,921
Jordan  70,000  1,741,796
Iraq  4,000  74,284
Egypt  7,000  40,468
Total 826,000 4,128,456

Figures taken from Palestinians sources in the Jerusalem Post article, "Deciphering the refugee code" of 2/8/2002.  Since I only had data for the above countries for 1948, I have not included Palestinian refugees in 2001 from other countries such as Saudi Arabia (274,762), Kuwait (34,370), Other Gulf States (105,578), Other Arab States (5,544), the US (173,050) and Other Countries (220,361).

Population - Jewish Refugees

In 1948 there were over one million Jews living in various Arab Muslim countries. Many of their communities dated back 2,500 years. Throughout 1947 and 1948 these Jews were persecuted and their property and belongings were confiscated. There were anti-Jewish riots in Yemen, Egypt, Lybia, Syria, and Iraq (in Iraq, Zionism was even made a capital crime).

1948 2000
Country Jewish Refugees Jewish Refugees
Morocco 265,000 5,800
Algeria 140,000 100
Tunisia 105,000 1,300
Libya 38,000 0
Egypt 75,000 200
Lebanon 6,000 0
Syria 30,000 200
Iraq 150,000 100
Iran 100,000 12,500
Afghanistan 5,000 2
Pakistan 2,000 300
Yemen 63,000 200
Ethiopia 23,270 100
Total 1,002,270 Most Jewish Refugees in the Arab World went to Israel after having their money and property confiscated

Aproximately 600,000 Jews sought refuge in the State of Israel (Howe & Gershman, op. cit., p. 168.) They lost everything they had and arrived in Israel destitute.

A Jewish Habani woman
Ein Shemer immigrant's camp (1/9/1950)

They were absorbed into the society and became full Israeli citizens and an integral part of the state. This is in contrast to the Palestinians refugees who never received citizenship or rights from the above Arab States. Since the Palestinians did not accept a State of their own in 1948 nor in 2000, they are still stateless and refugees.

Jewish Refugees Jewish Refugees in the Arab World
1948 and 2000 - click on image to enlarge
(Thanks to Jill S. for the map)

Palestinian Terror - 2000-2002

Since the Palestinians started their current terrorist campaign on October 2000 (see the history page for details), there were 10,582 attacks on Israeli targets:

Description Number of Incidents
Shootings at military installations 5,748
Shootings at vehicles 1,513
Grenades 922
Shootings at towns and villages 762
Bombs (detonated, including suicide
bombers in civilian areas)
Mortar Bombs 491
Anti-Tank Missiles 360
Bombs Found (but not detonated) 234
Assaults / Stabbings 34
Hit and Runs 12
Rockets 6

These numbers are true up to February 2002, more incidents have happened since I last recorded the above table. The majority of these attacks are terrorit incidents where the targets are unarmed civilians, including children and elderly. For a complete list of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism, click here.

I got these stats from Israel's Defense Forces site . For more graphs and stats check http://www.idf.il/geut/english/main.html

Creation of States

As noted in the history page, Israel's independence occured on May 15th, 1948. Many states in the region also became independent only in the 20th century. The following states were all under the control of the Turks and part of the Ottoman Empire before they became independent:

Country Year of Independence
Saudi Arabia 1913
Lebanon 1920
Iraq 1932
Syria 1941
Jordan 1946 (Transjordan 1922)
Israel 1948
Kuwait 1961
Palestine Palestine is not and has never been an independent State. Palestinians refused a State of their own twice: in 1948 and in 2000.

Population - Israel and Middle East Neighbors

Here are the population stats for Israel and her neighbors (source: CIA website, July 2000) :

Country/Area Population
Egypt 68,359,979
Iran 65,619,636
Iraq 22,675,617
Saudi Arabia 22,023,506
Syria 16,305,659
Jordan 4,998,564
Lebanon 3,578,036
(West Bank+Gaza)
Total 206,713,358
Israel 5,842,454

Area - Israel and Middle East Neighbors

Here are the total area stats for Israel and her neighbors:

Country/Area Total Area
  Square Kilometers Square Miles
Saudi Arabia 1,960,582 756,982
Iran 1,648,000 636,294
Egypt 1,001,450 386,660
Iraq 437,072 168,753
Syria 185,180 71,498
Jordan 89,213 34,445
Lebanon 10,400 4,015
West Bank+Gaza 6,220 2,401
Total 5,338,117 2,061,048
Israel 20,770 8,019

Armed Forces - Israel and Middle East Neighbors

Here are the total number of armed forces (soldiers) for Israel and her neighbors:

Country/Area Armed Forces
  Active Reserves Total
Iraq 429,000 650,000 1,079,000
Iran 545,600 350,000 895,600
Syria 316,000 396,000 712,000
Egypt 450,000 254,000 704,000
Saudi Arabia 105,000 57,000
(National Guard)
Jordan 104,000 35,000 139,000
Lebanon 67,900 0 67,900
Palestinian 40,000
(Police Force)
0 40,000
Total 2,057,500 1,742,000 3,799,500
Israel 173,000 425,000 598,000


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