Haredi Settler Population Up as Overall Population Growth Falls

Population growth in the West Bank and Gaza Strip increased by nearly 6 percent in 2002 as overall population growth fell by nearly one percentage point compared to 2000, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday.

Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in the settlements, such as Modi'in Illit and Betar Illit in the West Bank, experienced the highest rate of growth, which comprises half of the entire population growth in the settlements. On the low end, Haifa is the only one of the four largest cities whose population decreased last year.

The population of Modi'in Illit, which was established in 1996, went up by nearly 15 percent last year, and more than 22,000 people were living there at the end of 2002.

Betar Illit, which was established in 1985, went up by about 17 percent last year, and the population stood at some 20,000 people.