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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Submitted to the Daily Camera

Patrick Clark (Feb. 7) asks if his attention to casualty counts means he is a “terrorist-loving anti-Semite.” Absolutely not, but there are problems with his argument nonetheless.

In the Arab war on Israel, one in eight Palestinian dead were killed by other Palestinians. “Numbers of Palestinian dead” include suicide bombers, alleged collaborators with Israel, and bomb-makers who had occupational accidents.

A study by the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism provides an in-depth look at both sides’ fatalities – by age, gender and combatant status. In light of their information, the “four-to-one slaughter of children” cited by Mr. Clark is a dangerous lie. From 9/27/00 to 1/13/04, fatalities of children under the age of 12 numbered 74 among Palestinians, and 36 among Israelis.

Of all Palestinians killed by Israel, 2.8% of them were children under 12. On the other hand, children constitute 4.1% of those Israelis killed by Palestinians. Proportionally, then, Palestinians have killed more children. They have also killed more non-combatants, more women and girls, and nine times as many elderly.

On the Palestinian side, the fatalities have been consistently and overwhelmingly male (95%), mostly between the ages of 12-29. These were people who had to have been aware they were placing themselves in harm’s way. Not so with Israelis riding public buses or sleeping in their beds.

Another mitigating factor is differential medical care. Given superior medical technology in Israel, they are able to save more lives. Palestinians would have less fatalities if Arafat would allow their injured to be transported out of the territories, where Israeli hospitals stand willing to treat them.

Numbers of dead do not reflect numbers attacked. They do not tell us if the deaths were accidental, or from bombs intentionally laced with nails and razor blades to increase the damage. They do not tell us who tried to protect their children or who sent them to fight. They do not tell us who started the war, or which side has the stronger claim to the disputed territories.

This is not a game. Numbers of dead do not tell us who is winning or who is right.

T. Lieberman
Boulder, CO
UPDATE, FEB. 10: Reuters: Militants Kill Alleged Collaborator in West Bank
RAMALLAH, West Bank - A Palestinian militant group said Tuesday it had killed a man it accused of collaborating with Israeli security forces during a three-year-old Palestinian uprising.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed faction of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, named the dead man as Tahseen Abu Arkub, 50, of Ramallah in the West Bank. His body was delivered to a city hospital Tuesday.

"We shot him dead with four bullets to the head and chest in Ramallah because he was a collaborator who has helped Israel kill and detain many Palestinians," an al-Aqsa representative told Reuters.

Palestinians have killed dozens of Palestinians accused of helping Israeli forces track and sometimes kill militants waging an uprising for independence that erupted in September 2000.