Quick Facts: Israel’s Settlement Enterprise (West Bank & East Jerusalem)

June 22, 2020
  • Israeli settlements are housing units for Jewish Israelis built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by the Israeli military since the June 1967 war. (Note: Israel has also built settlements on Syrian land in the occupied Golan Heights. This fact sheet focuses solely on Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.)
  • Israel’s settlement enterprise is intended to make its control over the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem permanent and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.
  • Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
  • Israeli settlements and settlers - many of them heavily-armed, violent religious extremists - cause severe hardships for Palestinians. Settlers terrorize and kill Palestinians, destroy their property, and drive them off their land, frequently while accompanied by Israeli soldiers who join in the violence.
  • Israeli military checkpoints, Israeli-only roads and highways, and other physical obstacles intended to privilege the movement of settlers make it difficult and dangerous for Palestinians to travel from one place to another on their own land to visit family or friends, go to school, work, the doctor, or lead a normal life, cutting Palestinians off from one another and the outside world. 

Israeli settlements by the numbers (as of 2023)

Upwards of 700,000: Total number of Israeli settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

More than 470,000: Number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

More than 229,000: Number of Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem

About 350: Total number of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including more than 145 official settlements and nearly 200 unofficial settlement "outposts," built with the support of the government even though they're illegal under Israeli law as well as international law. There are 14 official settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest are in the West Bank, an area smaller than the state of Delaware.

11: Number of large settlement “blocs” with vastly expanded and largely empty municipal boundaries, strategically located to sever large Palestinian population centers from one another and divide the West Bank into separate areas that can be easily controlled by Israel’s occupying army. They include Ma’aleh Adumim outside of East Jerusalem, Gush Etzion between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Ariel in the northern West Bank, and in the Jordan Valley.  

More than 42%: Amount of land in the occupied West Bank controlled by Israeli settlements.

More than 50,000: Acres of land, including farmland and pastures, Israel has appropriated from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to build settlements. 

More than 1,000: Miles of roads and highways that Israel has built for the use of settlers, and that Palestinians are barred from, on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank.

More than 500: Number of Israeli military checkpoints and other obstacles to Palestinian movement in the occupied West Bank, which are intended to privilege the movement of settlers.

More than 1,100: Number of Palestinians driven from their homes and communities in the occupied West Bank by Israeli settler violence between January 2022 and September 2023. 

1,096: Number of Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank recorded by the United Nations between October 7, 2023, and March 31, 2024, an average of six attacks per day, up from two per day in 2022. (Note: the actual number of attacks is higher because many go unrecorded).  

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