The birthrate of the Muslim community is on the decline, according to data released by the Central Burea of Statistics (CBS) ahead of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, which began yesterday.
According to a press statement by the CBS issued Thursday, at the end of 2008 the Muslim population in Israel stood at 1.24 million, an increase of 34,000 compared to the previous year.
The 2.8 percent growth rate is a whole percentage point lower than the 3.8% measured in 2000. Nevertheless, the Muslim population's growth rate remains higher than that of any other religious group in Israel (Druse at 1.8%, Christian Arabs at 1.3%, Jews and others at 1.6%).
The largest concentration of Israeli Muslims lives in Jerusalem, which, including eastern Jerusalem, is home to some 256,000 - 20.6% of Muslims in Israel and a third of the city's residents. Nazareth is second with a sizable Muslim population, where 46,000 people make up 69.4% of the city's population.
Rahat and Umm el-Fahm, each with 44,000 residents, are home to the next two largest Muslim populations in Israel.
The Muslim population in Israel is relatively young, with 510,000 - 41.2% of the overall Muslim population - under 15. Only 3% (around 37,000) were found to be older than 65. The relatively young age stems from Muslim women's high fertility rate; however, the overall fertility rate (the number of children a woman is expected to give birth to during her lifetime) has dropped from 4.7 per woman in 2000 to 3.8 per woman in 2008.
Israeli Muslim women are more prolific than other groups (Jews average 2.9 children per woman, Druse 2.5, Christians 2.1) and also more than women in neighboring countries (Jordan and Syria 3.1, Egypt 2.9, Morocco and Algeria 2.4, Lebanon 2.2 and Tunisia 1.9).
Israel is home to 225,000 Muslim families. Most have two parents and at least one child under age 17 (73%); 7% of families are childless couples; 5% are families with one parent and a child under 17.