Dichter: More Israelis Killed in Past 4 Years Than in Previous 53

The number of Israeli casualties since the start of the intifada, including both deaths and injuries, exceeds the total number of casualties due to terror attacks during the previous 53 years, Shin Bet security service chief Avi Dichter told the cabinet yesterday.

Over the last four years, Dichter said, Israel has suffered 11,356 casualties, compared to 4,319 terror-related casualties between November 1947, when the United Nations voted to establish Israel, and 2000.

Dichter noted a sharp rise in the use of women and children in terror attacks over the past few years. Some 7.8 percent of the Palestinians involved in attacks this year were women or children, up from 2.7 percent in 2001, he said. The increase indicates that the terrorist organizations are having recruitment problems and are therefore turning to weaker, more easily influenced populations, he said.

He also reported increased involvement in terror by Israeli Arabs and residents of East Jerusalem. In the first seven months of this year, 32 Israeli Arabs or East Jerusalem residents were involved in terrorism, he noted. The previous peak was in 2002, when 51 Israeli Arabs were so involved.

Dichter said that some 70 percent of all suicide attacks have been foiled since January 2003, while 30 percent succeeded. In absolute terms, the security services foiled 84 suicide attacks, but 36 bombers succeeded in blowing themselves up.

He also gave figures on Qassam launches, which revealed that the recent Israel Defense Forces operation in northern Gaza not only failed to help, but worsened the situation. Since the start of the year, Palestinians have fired 168 Qassam rockets at Israel. Of these, Dichter said, 62 launches occurred since June 29, when the IDF entered Beit Hanun.

The Shin Bet chief said that 90 percent of recent Israeli fatalities have resulted from attacks by Fatah-Tanzim cells directed and trained by Hezbollah. Every day, he added, there are about 50 warnings of terror attacks.

Several of the ministers present complained that Dichter's report contained little new information - to which Dichter responded that he cannot give them detailed or classified information, because it will certainly be leaked to the media. The cabinet, he added, receives exactly the same information as the security cabinet and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, because these two bodies are also full of leaks. The only body to which he does give classified information is the Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on the secret services, since members of that committee do not leak his briefings, he added.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon backed Dichter, telling the ministers that there was no reason for them to act surprised, since they know that everything leaks from cabinet sessions.