June 2007

IZA DP No. 2890: The Shape of Things to Come? Assessing the Effectiveness of Suicide Attacks and Targeted Killings

published in: Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2009, 4(4), 315–342

In this paper we assess the effectiveness of suicide attacks and targeted killings in the Second Intifada. We find evidence that the targeted killings of Palestinian leaders by Israel reduce realized Palestinian violence. We find, however, that intended Palestinian violence is increasing at low levels of targeted killings, but decreasing at higher levels. There is little evidence to suggest that suicide bombings against Israelis reduce the number of subsequent Palestinian fatalities. Rather, we find that suicide attacks that kill at least one Israeli lead to subsequent increased incidence and levels of Palestinian fatalities. Our results do not support the notion that suicide attacks and targeted killings follow the “tit-for-tat” pattern that is commonly postulated in the literature.