Israeli-Palestinian violence -- How many of the dead are civilians?

According to the Associated Press, the death toll after 29 months of violence is: “2,160 people dead on the Palestinian side and 743 on the Israeli side.” My question is: What percentage of that number were civilians?

I realize that I will get many different answers to this question, depending on the responder’s sympathies and their definition of what a civilian is. When I say “civilian,” I mean that when this person was killed, he or she was not connected to an army or militant group and was not involved in combat in any way. He or she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place at the wrong time) and was caught in a crossfire or hit by shrapnel or killed by a horrible mistake or was the victim of a terrorist act.

I won’t say which side I’m on, except that neither government is totally innocent.

Luckily for you MrJones this is an area that I have researched extensively, unluckily for you however percentage of non-combatant deaths on the Palestinian side is very difficult to detrmine.

Firstly in terms of counting deaths in this conflict, there can only really be one source B’Tselem as this is one of their main areas of work and they are an independant organisation.

Also note civilian is an incorrect term to use as almost all the Palestinian deaths have been civilians, but many were associated with terrorist groups.

Israeli deaths are pretty simple to break down:

Israeli civlian deaths in the OT: 173 (a few of these may not meet your criteria for civilians, but I doubt that would of had a significant effect on the total number)

IDF deaths in the OT: 152

IDF deaths in Israel: 65

Israeli civilian deaths in Israel: 287

total Israeli civilian deaths: 677

total IDF deaths: 217

total Israeli deaths: 460

(figure 29th September 2000- 1st March 2003)

Palestinians killed by IDF in OT: 1833

Palestinians killed by Israeli citizens in OT: 28

Palestinian killed by IDF in Israel: 44

total Palestinian deaths: 1905

(same dates as above)

now I have established a basic breakdown of deaths I will go onto the issue of the status of the Palestinian dead in my next post.

sorry, 460 is the number of Israeli civilian deaths and 677 is the total number of Israeli dead.

Firstly I’ll state from meory what the two sides say about the percentage of Palestinians who are non-combatants, I believe one Palestinian human rights organisation put this figure at 80% while a member of the Israeli government stated no more than 55% were non-combatants.
My own research, which was only done by taking random samples puts this at about 60-65%.

Of course the question of what makes a person a non-combatant is difficult to answer. For example would you classify a stone thrower in a Palestinian protest as a non-combatant? I certainly did not unless they represented a clear threat to the life of the soldier firing. Also the Israeli army treated the Palestinian civilian police as legitmate targets, even if they were performing mundane law enforcement tasks, so do you treat them as civilians or not given they are members of the Palestinian security forces? I treated them as combatants in my samples.

In terms of who was associated with militant organisations and who wasn’t, it is impossible to tell as both sides offer contradicting and untrustworthy accounts.