Study Refutes Reporting
Of Intifada Casualties
Says Nearly 80% Of Israelis Killed Are Non-Combatants

By Jon Dougherty
© 2002

An Israeli counter-terrorism research group claims in a new study that Palestinian and Israeli death tolls from the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" are being grossly misrepresented, most likely for political gain.
The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, or ICT, is calling the latest Palestinian intifada - begun in September 2000 - an "engineered tragedy," because death toll figures being utilized by the Palestinians are creating "an image of lopsided slaughter, with Israel cast as the villain."
Since the violence began, the ICT says around 1,450 Palestinians have been killed, compared to about 525 Israelis. Though on the surface the figures appear to indicate rampant Israeli violence against helpless Palestinian civilians, the figures actually "lump combatants in with noncombatants, suicide bombers with innocent civilians, and report Palestinian 'collaborators' murdered by their own compatriots as if they had been killed by Israel."
"More meaningful figures show that Israel is responsible for around 568 Palestinian noncombatant deaths, while Palestinians have killed more than 420 Israeli noncombatants," said the study. "Over 50 percent of the Palestinians killed were actively involved in fighting - and this does not include stone-throwers or 'unknowns.'"
Furthermore, researchers found that "Palestinians are directly responsible for the deaths of at least 185 of their own number - one out of every eight Palestinians killed" in the conflict thus far.
Don Radlauer, an associate researcher with ICT, said he and his colleagues did an in-depth statistical study of fatalities on both sides of the conflict to reach their conclusions. Researchers broke down fatalities in terms of age, sex and whether or not they were combatants.
In so doing, Radlauer said, the ICT found that "while Israeli fatalities in the conflict have consisted of almost 80 percent noncombatants (and over 80 percent before the substantial IDF casualties suffered during the Jenin incursion of April 2002), Palestinian fatalities have consisted of more combatants than noncombatants."
The proportion of Israeli women killed was relatively low when the conflict broke out, but has risen to about 30 percent at present.
"Since June 2001, this proportion has remained fairly stable," the study said. "Palestinian fatalities, in contrast, have been consistently and overwhelmingly male," to the tune of around 95 percent.
"If we include combatants and fatalities for whom responsibility is unclear, 61 Palestinian females have been killed; the corresponding Israeli figure is 170," researchers said.
Officials at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not return phone calls seeking comment. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza City did not return a request for comment before press time.
Meanwhile, ICT researchers said the main reason why the number of Palestinian "civilians" killed may seem out of proportion is because of the nature of the conflict and the combatants battling it out in the streets.
"In any conflict between a country with conventionally organized military and police forces and an opposing force mostly composed of non-uniformed 'irregulars,' the uniformed forces cannot avoid killing a disproportionate number of 'civilians,'" said the study, "since even their most deadly opponents are usually not members of an official military, and in many cases have perfectly respectable 'day jobs.'"
In terms of classifying Israeli casualties, the study said it should be easier to do, but in many cases was not because "a substantial number of Israeli fatalities, especially those killed inside 'Israel proper,' have been members of the civil police or noncombatant members of the Israel Defense Forces - such as office workers and mechanics."
Yesterday, a 70-year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire between a Palestinian gunman and Israeli police.
The Jerusalem Post said the gunman was being identified by Shin Bet security forces when he pulled out a pistol and shot a police officer. Witnesses said the gunman fled as 20 other police officers engaged him in gunfire.
Initially, Israeli sources said the Palestinian man was killed by the gunman, but the Post said that version of events is still being investigated.
ICT researchers found that "while overall Palestinian deaths outnumber Israeli deaths by almost three to one, Israeli 'mature noncombatant' deaths are almost double the equivalent Palestinian fatalities."
Also, researchers say the evidence argues against accusations that the Israeli military is intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians.
"The fact that Palestinian deaths caused by Israeli actions do not, as a rule, follow the same pattern would seem to undermine claims that Israel deliberately targets Palestinian civilians," the study said.


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