Beyond Images Challenging myths and presenting facts about Israel 
BEYOND COMPREHENSION:The extremes of Palestinian violence
London - published on 6 May 2003
Beyond Images Ref: 18

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Living with extreme violence

Israel has experienced over 15,000 acts of Palestinian violence since September 2000. While most attention is given to suicide bombings, the methods used have varied - machine-gun attacks, drive-by shootings, stabbings, rocket and mortar attacks, gunmen running amok, gunmen infiltrating homes. The results of this extreme violence are etched into the consciousness of the Israeli people. This Briefing, which has been compiled from information on Israel’s Foreign Ministry website and from Israeli and English newspaper reports, summarises some of these events.

Notorious acts of cruelty

Even amidst the relentless wave of violence, several crimes have had a particularly strong impact upon the Israeli people:-

  • In October 2000 two Israeli reserve officers were beaten to death by a mob after mistakenly driving into the Palestinian town of Ramallah

  • In March 2001 10 month old baby Shalhevet Pass was shot dead in the arms of her father by a Palestinian sniper in Hebron

  • In May 2001 two 14 year old Israeli boys were seized by a Palestinian mob while hiking, and stoned to death, their badly disfigured bodies abandoned in a cave in the Judean hills

  • In February 2002 a disabled 11 year old girl was shot dead at point blank range while in her wheelchair by a Palestinian who infiltrated her home in a Jordan valley village

  • In the same month a 25 year old Israeli woman was stabbed to death by a gang of Palestinian teenagers while strolling on Jerusalem’s peace promenade

  • In October 2002 a gunman infiltrated Kibbutz Metzer and shot dead a mother and her four and five year old sons as she finished reading them a bedtime story (see Beyond Images Briefing 22: Kibbutz Metzer)

Non-Israeli and non-Jewish victims

Palestinian terrorism has claimed the lives of many non-Israelis and non-Jews:-

  • Three American Jewish students were killed in the Hebrew University cafeteria bombing of July 2002, and a Scottish Jewish student was killed by a nail-packed bus bomb in Tel-Aviv three months later

  • In June 2001 a Greek Orthodox Monk from a monastery in the Judean desert was shot dead by Palestinian gunmen. In March 2003, a Haifa bus bomb killed a 14 year old Christian Baptist girl from the USA whose family had made its life in Israel

  • Several Beduin have been killed on Israeli border patrols, and suicide bombers (Haifa, Wadi Ara) have killed several Israeli Arabs

  • Foreign workers from China, Bulgaria, Russia, Ghana, Rumania, and the Philippines have been killed in bus and pedestrian mall bombings (Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv)

  • In March 2002 Palestinians shot dead a Turkish officer and Swiss woman officer who were serving in the UN’s observer force in Hebron in a drive-by shooting

  • Several Kenyan citizens were killed in the al-Qaeda suicide bomb attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, in November 2002

Suicide bombing targets

Palestinian groups have carried out over 160 suicide bombings, including the following (the numbers of victims below do not include the suicide bombers):-

Shopping centres (Netanya, Efrat – total 8 dead)

Open-air markets and pedestrian precincts (Tel-Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Jerusalem, Hadera, Netanya – total 33 dead)

Bus stops and bus stations (Afula, Tel-Aviv, Kfar Sava, Binyamina, French Hill in Jerusalem – total 41 dead)

Railway stations (Nahariya, Kfar Sava – total 4 dead)

Pizzerias (Sbarro in Jerusalem, Karnei Shomron – total 22 dead)

A snooker hall (Rishon Lezion – 15 dead)

A discotheque (Dolphinarium, Tel-Aviv – 19 dead)

An ice cream parlour (Petah Tikva – 2 dead)

Crowded passenger buses (including several carrying mainly schoolchildren and students) (Gilo, Haifa, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Hadera, Wadi Ara, Megiddo – total 74 dead)

Restaurants and bars (Tel-Aviv, Herzliya, Haifa – total 22 dead)

Coffee Houses (Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Haifa – total 17 dead)

The entrance to a synagogue (Jerusalem – 12 dead)

A hotel Passover feast (Netanya – 29 dead)

Bombs have routinely been filled with nails, pieces of metal or screws to maximise the suffering of the victims. Many of the injured have been appallingly maimed and traumatised. Many hundreds of Israelis are in long-term rehabilitation.

Attacking rescuers and bomb victims

The survivors of Palestinian attacks, and those attempting to save the lives of those injured, have themselves been attacked:-

  • 12 Israeli teenagers were killed by a massive car bomb in Jerusalem’s popular Ben Yehuda nightspot in December 2001, and a second car bomb was detonated a street away twenty minutes later as Israeli ambulances were ferrying victims from the scene

  • In July 2002 a passenger bus arriving in the West Bank town of Emmanuel was ambushed and bombed by a Palestinian squad armed with grenades. Surviving bus passengers were shot by the Palestinian ambushers as they staggered from the burnt-out bus (The 13 Israeli victims included a new born baby who died on the day it was born to a 9-month-pregnant woman injured in the attack)

  • In November 2002 security guards guarding Jewish worshippers in the city of Hebron were ambushed on the Sabbath evening. Their Israeli rescuers were themselves shot when they tried to reach the wounded to evacuate them. 12 Israelis were killed.

And see other Beyond Images Briefings:

Briefing 8: No Sanctuaries - Attacks on the Jewish Religious Heritage;
Briefing 3: Mega-Terror: the Escalating Threat
Briefing 12: Israeli Families Devastated
Briefing 48: Total number of Israeli casualties


In view of this tragic record, it is understandable for Israel to expect the Palestinian leadership to do more than say it is ready to end the violence.
Israelis of left and right, religious and secular, are looking for a change to the Palestinian culture of hatred and incitement which has bred such acts of incomprehensible and extreme cruelty.