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Do Targeted Assassinations Work?: A Multivariate Analysis of Israel's Controversial Tactic During Al-Aqsa Uprising

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume: 29 Issue: 4 Dated: June 2006 Pages: 359-382
Mohammed M. Hafez; Joseph M. Hatfield
Date Published
June 2006
24 pages
This paper assesses the impact of Israel's targeted assassinations policy on rates of Palestinian violence against Israelis from September 2000, the beginning of the Al-Aqsa uprising, through June 2004.
The authors conclude that targeted assassinations have had no significant impact on the rates of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets. Israel's assassinations of individual leaders who motivate, plan, and coordinate attacks on Israelis have not decreased the rate of Palestinian violence, but neither has it increased attacks, whether over the short term or the long term. Although targeted assassinations may have the symbolic value of showing Israel's determination to punish its enemies and provide some sense of justice for an angry Israeli citizenry, they have had no practical effect in reducing the level of violence against Israelis through deterrence, the disruption of a militant network, or the elimination of a key terrorist strategist. Data on violent events between Palestinians and Israelis over the period at issue were obtained from the quarterly chronologies published in The Middle East Journal, which draws from several news sources. In addition, data were collected from the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, which keeps detailed records on violent events in the current Palestinian uprising. Data were also collected from Lexus-Nexus searches. Multiple and logistic regression were used to assess the effect of targeted assassinations on Palestinian violence against Israelis. 7 figures, 5 tables, 8 notes, and 62 references