Intifada's 5Th Year Saw Lowest Death Toll

The fifth year of the fighting that began on September 29, 2000, was the least violent yet, with fewer incidents and fewer casualties on both sides, according to statistics gathered by Haaretz.

The reasons for the relative calm include the progress of the separation fence, implementation of the disengagement plan and the "lull" in the violence declared by most of the Palestinian terror organizations.

Monthly breakdown of fatalities during the second intifada

According to Haaretz's statistics, which are based on its own reporting as well as information from the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service, the Foreign Ministry, the B'Tselem organization and the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, the five years of violence have in total claimed the lives of 1,330 people on the Israeli side, including foreigners who were working or visiting here, and 3,333 on the Palestinian side, including 10 foreign citizens.

Over the past year, however, there have been only 56 fatalities on the Israeli side, an average of under five per month. That compares with averages of 11 per month in the intifada's fourth year and 36 per month in the second year, which was the worst year for Israel in terms of casualties.

On the Palestinian side, there were 425 fatalities over the past year, of which 411 were due to IDF gunfire in the territories and eight to attacks by settlers, while six Palestinians were killed by Israeli security personnel inside Israel. This comes to an average of about 35 fatalities per month, far lower than in previous years. During the intifada's second year, for instance, Palestinian fatalities averaged 88 per month.

The lion's share of this year's Palestinian fatalities - 324 - took place in Gaza. In contrast, only 95 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank. This illustrates the fierceness of the fighting in Gaza that preceded Israel's withdrawal from the Strip.

Since the start of the intifada, 144 suicide bombings have been carried out against Israeli targets in Israel and the territories. These attacks killed 515 people - including Israeli civilians and soldiers, foreigners and Palestinians - and wounded more than 3,300. Over the past year, however, there have been only six suicide bombings, of which four took place were inside Israel, and these bombings killed only 14 Israelis. In other words, only 25 percent of this year's Israeli fatalities were due to suicide bombings.

Moreover, according to IDF statistics, the total number of Palestinian attacks this year - was the lowest since the start of the conflict, at slightly over 2,800 as of mid-September. More than 70 percent of these incidents took place in Gaza, similar to the previous two years. The number of attacks inside the Green Line, however, was virtually unchanged, at 197 (as of September 10), compared to 215 the previous year.

It is difficult to come up with definitive casualty figures, since every organization that tracks intifada casualties uses slightly different criteria to determine who should be included on the list, and therefore comes up with slightly different numbers.

With regard to Israeli fatalities, Haaretz's total includes people killed by Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and foreigners. It also includes a few murder victims whom police believe were killed due to nationalist motives, but whose murders have not been definitely solved, as well as the Jewish terrorist Eden Natan Zada, who perpetrated the attack on Shfaram and was then killed by an angry mob.

However, it does not include 23 Israelis killed in terror attacks overseas, such as those killed in the bombings in Sinai; Israelis killed in incidents on the Lebanese border; soldiers killed by friendly fire or in operational accidents; or Palestinians accidentally killed in Palestinian attacks aimed at Israelis, such as in East Jerusalem.

With regard to Palestinian fatalities, Haaretz's total does not include 161 suicide bombers; Palestinians killed by other Palestinians, regardless of whom the intended target was; or Palestinians killed in "work accidents," i.e. while preparing bombs.

The figure published by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, 3,861, is higher than Haaretz's. This is because the PBS figure includes suicide bombers, people killed in "accidents," and Israeli Arabs.

Counting Israeli Arabs, too

One notable characteristic of the intifada has been the number of Israeli Arabs killed by Israeli security personnel, both in Israel and in the territories.

The circumstances of these deaths vary from case to case, and in some instances it is not actually clear that the incidents were connected to the conflict. Examples of the latter include the four Shfaram residents killed by Eden Natan Zada last month, and one of the 13 people killed in the October 2000 Arab riots, who was apparently stabbed rather than shot by the police.

In some cases, Israeli Arabs were killed in clear combat situations, as when suspected terrorist Mahmad Khatib was killed by the police in April 2004. In others, there was clearly no justification for their deaths, as in the case of Nasser Abu al-Ki'an, who was killed at the Shoket Junction in July 2003. The border policeman who killed him has since been indicted for manslaughter.

Still others were innocent bystanders caught in cross fire, such as Manhal Yusuf Darajma, who was killed near Baka al-Garbiyeh in January 2002. According to the Israel Defense Forces, he was accidentally shot during an exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen, and he was subsequently recognized as a victim of terror.