General information



Total : 8,813928; Total Inside Palestine - 4,311,692; Total Outside Palestine - 4,502,236;
West Bank - 1,873,476;
Gaza - 1,022,207;
In Areas Palestine 1948 - 1,012,741
West Bank & Gaza Strip - 3,298,951
Land area: 26,323 km2 (= 10,162 miles2);
Palestinian Territories: 6,170 km2 -
West Bank: 5,800 km2; 150 km long, 40-65 km in width; -
Gaza Strip: 365 km2; 45 km long and 6-13 km in width
(Self-rule area: 210 km2)
Inside and outside Palestine - Islam (85%) Christianity (15%);
Inside Palestine - Islam (97%) Christianity (3%)



Palestine history 

A historic region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt; also known as the Holy Land. Palestine is the Holy Land of the Christians because it was the scene of Jesus' life; and of the Muslims because Jerusalem is the traditional site of Muhammad's ascent to heaven.

Palestine comprises three geographic zones: a part of the Great Rift Valley, a ridge, and a coastal plain. The earliest known settlements in Palestine, e.g., Jericho, may date from c.8000 B.C. An independent Hebrew kingdom was established c.1000 B.C. After c.950 B.C. this kingdom broke up into two states, Israel and Judah. Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans in turn conquered Palestine, which fell to the Muslim Arabs by A.D. 640. The area was the focus of the Crusades and was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1516.

By the late 19th cent., Zionism arose with the aim of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and during World War I the British, who captured the area, appeared to support this goal. After the League of Nations approved (1922) the British mandate of Palestine, Jews immigrated there in large numbers despite Arab opposition. There was tension and violence between Jews and Arabs, and the British, unable to resolve the problem, turned (1947) the Palestine question over to the UN. In November 1947 the United Nations divided Palestine, then under British mandate, into Jewish and Arab states. Six months later the British withdrew, and on May 14, 1948, the state of Israel was proclaimed. The neighboring Arab states of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq rejected both the partition of Palestine and the existence of the new nation. In the war that followed (194849), Israel emerged victorious and with its territory increased by one half.

Arab opposition continued, however, and full-scale fighting broke out again in 1956 (the Sinai campaign), 1967 (the Six-Day War), and 1973 (the Yom Kippur War). Israel emerged from these conflicts (see Arab-Israeli Wars) with large tracts of its neighbors' territories. In 1978 Israeli Prime Min. Menachem Begin and Egyptian Pres. Anwar al-Sadat signed the Camp David accords; a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed (1979) in Washington, D.C., and Israel withdrew from the Sinai by 1982. Little progress was made, however, with respect to the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and in 1981 Israel annexed the Golan Heights (captured from Syria in 1967).

Israel's fierce, intermittent fighting with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon led to a devastating Israeli invasion in 1982. The invasion led to a massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Israel's Lebanese militia allies after Arafat's guerrillas had been evacuated from Beirut. An Israeli inquiry found Sharon indirectly to blame.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s there were increasingly violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the occupied territories. Israel began peace talks with Syria, Jordan, and the Palestinians in 1991.
In 1993 Israel signed an accord with the PLO that led to Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho in mid-1994; a 1995 accord called for the expansion of self-rule to all Arab cities and villages in the West Bank by 1996. Under an accord signed in 1998, Israel agreed to withdraw from additional West Bank territory, while the Palestinian Authority pledged to take stronger measures to fight terrorism.

In September 2000, Israeli-Palestinian relations turned extremely acrimonious when a visit by Ariel Sharon to the Haram esh-Sherif in East Jerusalem sparked riots (Intifada) that escalated into a new cycle of violence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel itself.







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