The shocking human rights carnage in the Middle East

Israeli human rights B’Tselem publishes the facts:

Today (Sunday, Nov 22nd), Israeli human rights group B’Tselem commemorates 20 years since its founding with release of data collected by the organization from 1989-2009. This period includes many of the main events of the first Palestinian Intifada, the Oslo period and the Second Intifada, as well as the recent military operation in the Gaza Strip (Cast Lead). B’Tselem’s Executive Director, Jessica Montell, said that “a twenty-year perspective leaves one with a heavy heart, especially due to the ongoing violation of the right to life of Palestinians and Israelis resulting from the conflict. However, we can also note several human rights achievements: for instance, twenty years ago, thousands of Palestinians were systematically and routinely tortured during investigations. Thanks to the efforts of the human rights community, including B’Tselem, this torture has stopped”.


Israeli security forces killed 7,398 Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories in the last 20 years, among them at least 1,537 minors. The year with the highest number of Palestinian casualties was 2009: 1033 persons were killed, of them 315 minors. Most of those were killed in Gaza during operation Cast Lead. 1999 saw the lowest level of Palestinian casualties (8 people killed). B’Tselem’s website provides the breakdown of casualties since September 2000, according to participation in the hostilities and other categories.

During the past twenty years, Palestinians killed 1483 Israelis, of them 139 minors. Of this number, 488 were members of the security forces, and 995 were civilians, killed in Palestinian attacks in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The year with the highest number of Israeli casualties was 2002; 420 persons were killed, of them 269 were civilians, including 47 minors, and 151 members of the security forces. 1999 was also the year with the lowest level of Israeli casualties, which numbered 4.

House demolition

Israel demolished at least 4300 homes in the Occupied Territories in the years 1989-2009, either for being built without a permit, or as punishment. This figure does not include the destruction of property justified for military necessity. This type of demolition include 3540 houses demolished during operation Cast Lead alone, and an estimated 2700 homes demolished during previous military incursions into Gaza.

Administrative detention

In November 1989, 1,794 Palestinians were held by Israel in administrative detention, a detention without trial. Today the number of administrative detainees is 335. The lowest number of administrative detainees, 12, was registered in December 2000. The highest number of those held without trial during the second intifada was 1,007, in January 2003.


The last two decades saw a substantial increase in the number of Israelis living over the Green Line (the 1949 armistice line). In 1989, the settlement population was 69,800 in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), and 118,100 in East Jerusalem. Today, over 300,000 Israelis live in the West Bank, as well as about 190,000 in East Jerusalem.

Casualty figures are from 1.1.1989-31.10.2009. Additional statistics, including the breakdown of Palestinian casualties according to participation in the hostilities, here.