RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Following are key facts and statistics comparing conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Some 4 million Palestinians live in the Palestinian territories. There are 2.5 million in the West Bank and 1.5 million in Gaza, according to Palestinian figures. Some more recent estimates put Gaza’s current population at 1.7 million. Annual population growth in Gaza is estimated at 3.3 percent and in the West Bank at 2.7 percent.
About half a million Jewish settlers live in communities scattered all over the West Bank which have the protection of Israeli armed forces, as well as in Arab East Jerusalem. There are no Israeli settlers or troops in Gaza, from which Israel withdrew unilaterally in 2005. Israel’s army and navy control the borders of the enclave. Its short frontier with Egypt is also under Egyptian control. The Israeli army controls movement and access in the West Bank with a system of bases and checkpoints plus a barrier fence and wall. Compared with Gaza which is under Israeli blockade, West Bank trade with and travel to the outside world faces fewer restrictions. A recent relaxation of Israeli control allows Arab Israelis to visit the West Bank freely but other Israel citizens are not allowed to.
The size of the West Bank land, including East Jerusalem is 5,655 square km, while the narrow Gaza Strip covers 365 square km. Both territories were occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want them back for a state of their own but would agree to land swaps in the West Bank with Israel.
In 2008, gross domestic product in the West Bank stood at $3.70 billion. In Gaza it was $1.11 billion. Both economies are heavily dependent on outside aid, mainly from the West and Arab states. Per capita GDP in the West Bank is $1,718, compared to $774 in Gaza. According to official Palestinian statistics for 2007, the average West Bank family spends $1,000 per month. The average Gaza family spends $586.
Unemployment in the West Bank stood at 15.2 percent in the second quarter of 2010. The official jobless rate in Gaza was 39.3 percent but unofficial estimates put it much higher. By some calculations, 80 percent of Gazans live in poverty.
The average wage in the West Bank is almost double that of Gaza at 99.4 Israeli shekels per day versus 58.1 shekels per day in Gaza.
Life expectancy for West Bank men stood is 70.9 years versus 69.9 in Gaza. West Bank women on average live 73.7 years versus 72.5 in Gaza.
Figures from the Ministry of Health in Ramallah put the infant mortality rate in the West Bank in 2009 at 12.6 per 1,000. The latest figure available from Gaza was in 2007, and estimated the infant mortality rate at 32.7.
Islam is the main religion in both territories. The West Bank also has a Christian population of at least 57,000 versus only 3,000 Christians in Gaza.