In 1996, Israel killed Yehi Ayash of Hamas, the engineer that built the bomb-vests of the Palestinian suicide martyrs. They gave him a telephone with a bomb in its battery, killing only him and no one else in his home knew what happened. This “sterile” operation is not very common in this type of attack. Journalist and military correspondent of the Israeli journal Haaretz, Amos Harel, reviewed the proportion of civilian deaths and deaths due to selective assassination throughout the years. Between 2002 and 2003, the proportion was 1:1, which means that for every terrorist killed, there was also a civilian killed.
Harel called this period the “black days” because of the high proportion of civilian losses compared to other periods. At the end of 2005, the proportion of civilian victims had decreased considera-bly to 1:28, meaning that one civilian had been killed for 28 terrorists killed. The proportion increased to 1:10 in 2006 due to a “series of errors of the airforce”. In 2007 and 2008, however, the proportion fell again to an unprecedented 1:30. Harvard University Professor Alan Dershowitz stated that the number 1:30 in 2008 is the lowest index of civilian casualties in the history of anti-terrorism. He also affirmed that this number could be tricky, as not all of those presented as civilians were innocent spectators. According to the statistics of the Israeli NGO Betselem, between 2000 and 2008, the proportion was 1:1.52 (based on Palestinian testimonials, mainly). Investigators such as Jonathan Dahoah stated that the organization usually classified armed activists and terrorist operators as civilians that were not participating in combat.