The geography of suicide terrorism in Israel

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Palestinian suicide terrorism has been a key feature in the latest phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the past decade, and particularly since September 2000, there has been a substantial increase in the use of this type of warfare. Recent studies suggest that, contrary to common belief, suicide terrorism is highly rational and driven by strategic considerations. This article explores the rationality of Palestinian suicide terrorism from a geographical perspective. It is argued that suicide terrorism works along two parallel paths: rationality and randomness. It complies with geographical fundamentals, and target selection is highly rational, subject to spatial considerations such as distance, agglomeration, and accessibility. As the permeability to Israel became more difficult, suicide bombers and their organizers had to adopt more flexible practices which emphasized other spatial considerations. Timing is of importance both for strategic and tactical reasoning. Obstructing negotiations and peace talks has been a salient objective, but the exact timing of suicide bombings has been influenced by tactical considerations, which aim at maximizing casualties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-373
Number of pages21
JournalGeo Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Randomness of terrorism
  • Suicide terrorism
  • Terror and rationality
  • Timing of terror attacks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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