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Palestinian Death Toll Down, Says Israeli Human Rights Group

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Palestinian fatalities in the administered territories dropped by more than half during the first three months of this year, an Israeli human rights organization reported Monday.

According to figures released by B’tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 30 Palestinians were shot to death by Israeli security forces in the first quarter of 1990, compared to 64 in the previous three months.

The casualties are related to the intifada, the Palestinian uprising now in its third year.

An Israel Defense Force spokesman said the figures were more or less accurate, depending on the exact time period in question.

He refused to explain what might have caused the decline. The IDF is known, however, to have tightened discipline over the use of firearms by soldiers in the territories.

But a sharp discrepancy remains between official IDF casualty figures and those of the human rights group.

B’tselem says 637 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF since the intifada began in December 1987. The IDF puts the number at 589.

The difference may be accounted for by the fact that the IDF takes its figures only from military sources and hospitals, while B’tselem records casualty reports from Arab sources, too.

Ten IDF soldiers and nine Israeli civilians also lost their lives in the territories as a result of the intifada.

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