IDF Official: Five Million Arabs in PA, Gaza

Gaza City seen in the background near the border fence between Israel and Gaza (foreground). (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The IDF Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that there are some five millions Arabs living in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas and Gaza. The data was presented to the Committee by Reserve General Uri Mendes, Deputy Director of the Civil Authority. The report does not include Israeli Arabs who consider themselves Palestinians, and Arab residents of Yerushalayim.

MK Avi Dichter (Likud), chairman of the Committee, demanded that Mendes produce an official document showing the number claimed. “I remember that the Palestinians themselves presented such numbers, which was a completely new statistic from the ones we were familiar with. If this is correct, it is very surprising, and frightening. If it is not correct, we would of course want to get the official, correct figures,” said Dichter.

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) dismissed the numbers as “Palestinian propaganda,” issued by the PA Interior Ministry. “Unfortunately, the IDF has not fulfilled its responsibility to take its own census of Palestinians, and is instead relying on PA figures. The PA is known to lie, and includes among its population the 317,000 Arab residents of Yerushalayim.

“The PA does not report death statistics, and as a result its population reports show that 10 times more Palestinians were born in the last decade than died,” Yogev continued. “In 2016 they claimed 80,000 births and only 8,000 deaths, a statistic that cannot be duplicated anywhere in the world. I call on the defense minister to order the IDF’s liaison to PA-controlled areas to acquire the proper numbers, and not to allow this uncertainty in this very important topic to continue,” Yogev said.

Figures considered official by the Israeli government say that there are 2.61 million Arabs living in PA-controlled areas, while Gaza has some 1.94 million residents. Together, that amounts to about 4.5 million, not far off from the number cited by Mendes. There are between 2.1 and 2.7 million Palestinians in Jordan, 400,000 in Syria, 327,000 in Saudi Arabia, 60,000 in Egypt, and 100,000 in the Gulf states. In addition, there are about 250,000 in the United States, as well as some 400,000 in Chile.

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