09/29/2004, 00.00
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At least 4351 Israelis and Palestinians have died in four years of intifada

Palestinian political life has been one important casualty.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – As the intifada entered its fifth year on September 28, figures from human rights groups and governments put the official tally of those killed at 4351: 3334 Palestinians and 1017 Israelis. Since the confrontation is still far from lessening the tally is still rising on a daily basis.

Palestine Monitor, a Palestinian NGO, has come up with an accurate overview of the number of Palestinians killed in the four year period. According to its figures, 3334 people were killed by Israeli soldiers, police or settlers, 82 per cent civilians. Israeli troops killed 621 children under the age of 17 –411 with rubber bullets and 200 with life ammunition– with another 10,000 wounded.

Figures for Israeli casualties come from B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group. Of the more than 1,000 Israelis killed, 635 were civilians (63.5%) including 110 children who died in attacks that targeted civilians. The total number of casualties caused by the second intifada substantially exceeds that of the 1967 war when Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai.

However, whilst the data show that the number of Palestinians killed in the fourth year of the intifada is the same as in the first year, greater controls and the building of the wall have drastically reduced the number of Israelis killed in suicide bombings and other acts of violence.

The Palestinian revolt began when Ariel Sharon visited the Haram ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), a place where Solomon's Temple once stood. Leading a Likud party delegation, Sharon wanted to reassert the Jews' right to enter an area that was once part of the Jewish temple.

Even without Sharon's provocation some analysts believe that some kind of revolt would have broken out anyway because of the failure of the Camp David negotiations in the summer of 2000.

Among the studies and analyses about the four years of intifada the report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) stands out for blaming the chaos now gripping Palestinian society on both Israeli occupation and Palestinian political paralysis.

"Although the occupation and the confrontation with Israel that is entering its fifth year provide the context," the reports states, "today's Palestinian predicament is decidedly domestic. Recent power struggles, armed clashes and demonstrations do not pit Palestinians against Israelis so much as Palestinians against each other [. . .]. The political system is close to the breaking point, paralysed and unable to make basic decisions."

The report goes on to say that since the beginning of the revolt in September 2000, "the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been in virtually continuous crisis [. . .] As fragmentation has intensified, a growing number of primarily local actors have stepped into the breach: mayors and governors, kinship networks, political groups and armed militias. [. . .] They are also vehicles for narrower interests, which has repeatedly brought them into competition and conflict with one another. The result is growing chaos throughout the West Bank."

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