Urban Issues

The average individual consumption of water per day

1,5% (2014)1 GDP Growth
101/187 (2013)2 IHDI Rank
4,68 Million (2015)3 Population
73.9% (2015)4 Urban Population
30% (2015)5 Youth Population (15-29)
9.40% (2015)6 Refugees population as a percentage of urban population
3.3% (2014)7 Urbanization Growth Rate
3.0% (2014)8 Population Growth Rate

Population of Major Cities (2015)

Density (person/km2) Population Area (km2) Governorate
615.87 372,600 605 Nablus
395.78 338,400 855 Ramallah and al-Bireh
1228.66 411,600 335 Jerusalem
85.66 50,800 593 Jericho
319.42 210,500 659 Bethlehem
686.3 684,200 997 Hebron
8198.64 606,700 74 Gaza

Rapid urbanization, high population growth rates, scarcity of land and territorial fragmentation resulting from the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories are considered the main challenges facing the Palestinian urban areas. High population growth rates are among the main challenges affecting the Palestinian urban environment. The growth rate in the occupied Palestinian territories is estimated to be 3%, which is among the highest in the world.11 In 2013, the population of the occupied Palestinian territories was estimated to number 4.4 million people, 2.7 million are in the West Bank and the rest 1.7 million are in the Gaza Strip.

The gross population density has reached 468 capita per square kilometer in the West Bank and 4,505 capita per square kilometer in the in the highly crowded Gaza Strip. This high population growth rate is accompanied by rapid urbanization – currently, around 74% of the population are located in urban areas – creating growing pressure on land, infrastructure and resources. The urbanization rate in the Palestinian territories is estimated to be 3.3% compared to the 1.98% world average. As a result, random and uncontrolled developments have expanded in the cities and around the fringes of towns, encroaching on surrounding agricultural land and poor infrastructure. Moreover, there is an increasing demand for job opportunities, services and housing.

Spatial Fragmentation

The political instability and the territorial fragmentation caused by the Israeli occupation and illegal confiscation of Palestinian land as well as the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem was – and still is – the main challenge affecting the Palestinian territories. In addition to the restrictions on the Palestinian economy, borders and people, the Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories has many physical consequences that affect the Palestinian urban environment.

The division of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C as part of the Oslo Accords allowed Israel to maintain full control over Area C – which comprises 61% of the West Bank and accommodates only 4% of the Palestinian population – and gave the Palestinians control over area A and partially over area B, which are mainly the urban areas. These restrictions have negatively impacted the Palestinian physical environment and led to unbalanced urban development. Moreover, Israel has control over the water resources, especially in Area C. Palestinians receive only a small margin of the water that Israel controls and as a result Palestinians suffer from shortage in water supply, especially during summer time, and cannot utilize water for agriculture or industry efficiently.

Urban Economy

The fragile economy is another challenge facing the Palestinian urban areas. The Palestinian economy is largely dependent on Israel and very vulnerable to Israeli policies and decisions. In 2011, the GDP was estimated 9,775 USD, and the poverty rate reached 25.8 percent. The concentration of the economic activities in the main urban centers and the lack of investments in rural areas have led to an high level of rural-urban migration creating an additional pressure on the existing infrastructure and urban services.

Consequently, all these challenges had lead to rapid physical development, increasing pressure on the already deteriorated infrastructure, encroachment of agricultural land, deterioration of the urban environment, and accordingly rapid and unbalanced urbanization.


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