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Do Targeted Assassinations Work? A Multivariate Analysis of Israel's Controversial Tactic during Al-Aqsa Uprising 1

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We assess the impact of Israel's targeted assassinations policy on rates of Palestinian violence from September 2000, the beginning of Al-Aqsa uprising, through June 2004. Literature concerning the relationship between repression and rebellion suggests four plausible effects of targeted assassinations on insurgents: deterrence, backlash, disruption, and incapacitation. Using differenced and lagged time-series analysis, this article utilizes multiple and logistic regression to evaluate the effect of targeted assassinations on Palestinian violence. It is concluded that targeted assassinations have no significant impact on rates of Palestinian attacks. Targeted assassinations do not decrease rates of Palestinian violence, nor do they increase them, whether in the short or long run. Targeted assassinations may be useful as a political tool to signal a state's determination to punish terrorists and placate an angry public, but there is little evidence that they actually impact the course of an insurgency.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, University of Missouri—Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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