By KALAMAZA JERUSALEM The number of Palestinians who have left the occupied West Bank has fallen to around 100,000, the Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday, marking a record low.
The figure represents the lowest level since the UN said it was taking measures to end the decades-long Israeli occupation.
Israel imposed a new blockade in December 2015 to halt a spike in the number of Palestinian refugees and displaced people who have sought refuge in Israel in recent months.
The number of displaced people is expected to reach 4 million by the end of the year, according to UN agencies.
The Palestinian Authority’s human rights office, which monitors the situation in the West Bank, said it counted 6,964 Palestinians leaving the occupied territories last year.
It said some of them had been able to return home through an informal process, but it did not give details of those cases.
Last year, Israel imposed new restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement and the entry of goods into the occupied territory.
The measures were intended to ease the pressure on Palestinians to leave.
Palestinians say Israel’s blockade is illegal and is an obstacle to their right to live, work and build their own homes.
Israel says the restrictions are necessary to protect its citizens and to stop rocket attacks on its cities.
The United States and European countries have imposed sanctions on Israel over its occupation of the West.