Israel has illegally seized more land this year than over the past 20 years combined.

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(Al Jazeera)

In 2024, Israel illegally seized 23.7sq km (9.15 sq miles) of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, amid its ongoing war on Gaza.

That’s more than the land it took over the past 20 years combined.

On July 2, Israeli authorities announced the largest single seizure in more than 30 years – 12.7sq km (4.9sq miles) in the Jordan Valley.

It was the latest in a series of land grabs announced this year by Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who oversees settlement planning.

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[Al Jazeera]

Israel has seized more than 50sq km (19.3sq miles) of Palestinian land since 1998 according to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog.

In this visual explainer, Al Jazeera unpacks the land Israel has stolen from Palestinians.

1917 – Pre-British Mandate Palestine

When the Ottoman rule of the Levant ended, Jewish people owned about 3 percent of the land in Palestine.

During World War I, Britain made agreements to gain the support of various groups in the Middle East. Most notable was the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.

The mandate facilitated Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine from the 1910s to the 1940s, bringing the Jewish population of Palestine to 33 percent by 1947.

Historical Palestine was 26,790sq km, about the size of Haiti (27,750sq km). Divided into 100 squares, it would look like this:

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[Al Jazeera]

1948 – Nakba

On May 14, 1948, the British Mandate expired and Zionist leaders announced they would be declaring a state, triggering the first Arab-Israeli war.

Zionist gangs expelled some 750,000 Palestinians and captured 78 percent of the land. The remaining 22 percent was divided into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The West Bank is the kidney bean-shaped area on the west bank of the Jordan River.

It is 5,655sq km, about 15 times bigger than the 365sq km Gaza Strip, which borders Egypt.

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[Al Jazeera]

In 1950, Israel enacted the Absentee Property Law, allowing it to confiscate Palestinian properties whose owners were forced to leave in 1948.

1967 – Naksa

During the June 1967 war, Israel occupied all of historical Palestine – including Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – the Syrian Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Shortly after the war, Israel started establishing settlements in territories it occupied, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.

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[Al Jazeera]

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and are often cited as the main barrier to any lasting peace agreement under a two-state solution.

The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in 1982 as part of a 1979 peace treaty, the other areas remain under Israeli control.

1980 –  Israel annexes East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem is on the Palestinian side of the 1949 Armistice Line – or Green Line – the generally recognised boundary between Israel and the occupied West Bank.

East Jerusalem is approximately 70sq km (27sq miles) and encompasses the Old City where some of the holiest sites in Christianity, Islam and Judaism are.

They include the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, the Western Wall, St James Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, among others.

On July 30, 1980, Israel claimed East Jerusalem in the Jerusalem Law, which said “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”.

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[Al Jazeera]

The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 478, declaring the Jerusalem Law “null and void” and calling on member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city.

On the ground, the law had profound implications for Palestinians, including further displacement, loss of property, and restricted residency rights and movement.

On December 14, 1981, Israel unilaterally annexed the Syrian Golan Heights.

Annexation and territorial conquest are illegal under international law.

1993-1995 Oslo Accords

The Oslo Accords, the first direct Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was meant to govern internal security, administration and civilian affairs in areas of self-rule for a five-year interim period.

Under Oslo, the occupied West Bank was divided into three areas:

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[Al Jazeera]

Area A Initially 3 percent of the occupied West Bank which grew to 18 percent by 1999. The PA controls most affairs here while Israel controls external security, meaning it has the right to enter at any time.

Area B About 22 percent of the West Bank. It is also governed by the PA with Israel controlling external security.

Area C Comprises 60 percent of the West Bank. Under Oslo, control of this area was supposed to be handed to the PA but Israel controls all matters, including security, planning and construction.

2002 – Israel’s separation wall

In 2002, Israel began constructing a wall that snakes more than 700km (435 miles) through the West Bank, dividing villages, encircling towns and splitting families from each other.

Israel says the wall is for security but it doesn’t follow the Green Line, 85 percent of it built on occupied West Bank territory.

The two-storey-high barrier carves through occupied East Jerusalem, Area C and parts of Area B, taking up more than 500sq km (10 percent) of the West Bank, B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organisation, calculated.

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[Al Jazeera]

2024 – Further land grabs and illegal settlements

About 700,000 settlers live in some 300 illegal settlements and outposts dotting the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Finance minister – and a settler himself – Smotrich was incensed by five countries recognising the state of Palestine.

In retaliation, he said: “For every country that unilaterally recognises a Palestinian state, we will establish a settlement,”  pledging a million new settlers in the occupied West Bank to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.

The settlements and their infrastructure, including Israeli-only bypass roads, occupy about 35 percent of the land in East Jerusalem and about 10 percent of the West Bank.

In January, at least a dozen Israeli cabinet members, including several from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, participated in a conference that called for rebuilding Israeli settlements in Gaza and encouraging the displacement of Palestinians living there.

For the millions of Palestinians under occupation, more settlement expansion and land seizures are stark reminders of their diminishing prospects for self-determination.

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[Al Jazeera]