Israel’s population exceeds 8 million

Israel's population has passed the 8 million mark, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Sunday, as the state prepared to mark 65 years since its founding.

"The population of Israel, on the eve of the 65th Independence Day, is 8,018,000 people," a bureau news release said, noting Israel counted just 806,000 residents at the time of its establishment in 1948.

Israel's Jewish population stands at 6,042,000 people, comprising 75.3 percent of the total population, with the country's Arab minority 1,658,000 representing 20.7 percent, and non-Jewish immigrants and their children at 318,000, making up 4 percent of the nation's residents.

The Central Bureau of Statistics counts among Israel's residents the roughly 270,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.

According to the bureau, since last year's Independence Day, Israel's population grew by 137,000 people.

The latest figures also showed that six Israeli cities have more than 200,000 residents: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rishon LeTzion, Ashdod and Petah Tikvah.

Israelis begin marking Independence Day Monday evening, when residents will let off fireworks and gather in the streets of major cities to sing and party.

Tuesday marks the official celebration of the anniversary of the declaration of the state of Israel on 14 May 1948. Israelis mark the day according to the Jewish calendar, which this year places the holiday on 16 April.

Palestinians mark the occasion on 15 May, when they commemorate the Nakba, or "catastrophe," of the creation of Israel, which sparked the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

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