Suicide Terror: Its use and rationalization
Communicated by IDF Spokesperson

July 23, 2002

The current widespread and constant use of suicide bombers constitutes a marked and sinister change in the practice of terror. In the past two years alone, almost 100 suicide bombers have taken the lives of over 250 victims in Israel – children, women and men – and hundreds of others have been wounded. Suicide bombing (or homicide bombing, as it is also known) is a brutal crime that must be condemned by the entire international community.

Using suicide bombers is a strategic form of terror, defined clearly in a recent review by Amnesty International as "a crime against humanity." This kind of terrorism is indiscriminate and knows no bounds, as the world witnessed on September 11, 2001.

The Palestinian Authority, since its establishment, has incited the Palestinian population against Israel and against Jews. Its educational system, from kindergarten through university, teaches hatred of Israel, and not only legitimizes but encourages admiration of suicide bombers.

The Mufti of the Palestinian Authority, Achrama Sabri, and other spiritual leaders in the Muslim world have conferred religious license on the suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, calling them the supreme expression of jihad (holy war) against the infidels. They, together with Hamas (an international terrorist organization, according to both the United States and the European Community), led by Ahmed Yassin and Salah Shehade, have justified the indiscriminate murder of Jews by declaring the general population of Israel to be "legitimate targets of the jihad."

The first suicide bombing in Israel occurred on April 16, 1993 (before that, there had been suicide attacks directed against IDF soldiers in Lebanon). In the years 1995-1996, a murderous wave of suicide attacks erupted in Israel.

Throughout the period dubbed "Ebb and Flow" (starting in September 2000), there has been a progression in the number and type of terror attacks carried out against Israel:

In the year 2000, suicide attacks were carried out by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad primarily in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In the year 2001, suicide attacks were carried out by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the PFLP also within Israel.

In the year 2002, an unprecedented wave of suicide attacks has been unleashed by all the terrorist organizations.

Some statistics:

  • Between September 2000 and July 23, 2002, there were 85 suicide attacks involving 93 suicide attackers.

  • About 30 additional suicide attacks in various stages of planning and execution were thwarted.

  • Dozens of suicide shootings occurred in the same time period.

  • In the suicide attacks carried out during this period, 307 Israelis were murdered and an additional 2,235 wounded and maimed (out of a total of 576 murdered and 9,279 wounded).

  • These 85 suicide attacks represent only 0.5% of the total terrorist incidents recorded for this period (estimated total: 13,000). However, the number of people murdered in these attacks is 56% of the total number of people killed since the start of "Ebb and Flow" and 53% of the number wounded.

  • March was the bloodiest month of this period, with 13 suicide attacks in which 79 people lost their lives and another 433 were wounded.