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August 7, 1996

Stab Wounds Associated With Terrorist Activities in Israel

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Trauma Unit, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel (Drs Hanoch, Pikarsky, Feigin, and Rivkind); and Institute of Forensic Medicine, Tel Aviv (Israel) University (Dr Kugel).

JAMA. 1996;276(5):388-390. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540050048022

Objective.  —To describe injuries resulting from terrorist-associated knife stabbings.

Design.  —Retrospective case series.

Setting.  —Israel (population 5.5 million).

Subjects.  —Israeli victims (N=154) of knife stabbings on nationalistic basis (the intifada) between July 1987 and April 1994.

Results.  —A total of 125 men and 29 women sustained stab wounds associated with terrorist activities. The median age was 28 years (range, 12-92 years), and 99 victims were aged 18 to 35 years. Seventy percent (108 patients) of the stabbing events occurred between 7 AM and 11 AM. The 154 victims sustained a total of 327 stab wounds, the median number of injuries was 2 per person (range, 1-28), and 68 individuals (44%) sustained more than 1 stab wound. The chest was the most commonly involved site (146 wounds), with the right posterior chest stabbed in 71 patients. The knife penetrated the heart in 20 patients and penetrated the peritoneal cavity in 29 patients. Overall, 29 patients (19%) had superficial injuries, 86 (56%) had internal organ injuries that mandated operative interventions, and 39 died (overall mortality, 25.3%).

Conclusions.  —Unlike other civilian stabbings, wounds resulting from terrorist-associated stabbings represent severe and highly lethal injuries.