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What is Palestine?

Palestine is a region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It has been occupied by many different empires over the centuries, but the majority of its indigenous people have a distinct culture and a strong national identity. Currently the region is comprised of the State of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, which are divided between the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. These territories declared themselves a state in 1988 on 22% of the land they held before Israel was established. By 2019, 138 of the 193 UN member nations had recognized the state of Palestine. Israel comprises 78% of Palestine's former territory, and continues to take land beyond its borders in violation of international law.


Israel has moved more than half a million of its Jewish citizens into segregated colonies in the West Bank, taking the most desirable land on hilltops and the majority of the water, and constructing segregated roadways for the colonists. A three-story concrete wall winds through much of the West Bank, dividing communities and separating Palestinians from their schools, hospitals, workplaces and farmland. While Israelis who have moved to illegal settlements in the West Bank can build and expand freely, Palestinians are seldom able to acquire permits to build on their own land. If they build without permits to accommodate their growing families, their homes are often demolished.

Partners For Palestine Inc. | Civil, Political, Religious and Human Rights

Seventy percent of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are refugees whose homes were in Israel. They are denied the right to return only because they are not Jewish. More than half of Gaza's population are children. The people of the Gaza Strip have been invaded and bombed repeatedly by the Israeli military, and are currently cut off from the outside world by a punishing blockade, which prevents the inhabitants from repairing damage from previous Israeli assaults, maintaining sewer and water systems, and traveling beyond Gaza. Fishermen are prevented from accessing the majority of fishing grounds off the Gaza shores. Ninety seven percent of the water in the Gaza Strip is undrinkable, and electric power is often unavailable. Most people are not permitted to leave Gaza, which has earned the designation as the largest open-air prison in the world. The majority of the Strip's 2.1 million inhabitants live in desperate poverty. 

Partners For Palestine Inc. | Civil, Political, Religious and Human Rights
Photo by Physicians for Human Rights, Destroyed homes in Gaza 2009 after Israeli bombing, used with permission under Creative Commons license CC 2.0, cropped 
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