Syria On Track to Kill More People Than Died in Both Intifadas

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It's estimated that roughly 6,000 people have been killed in the Syrian uprising since it began last March, and the Assad regime is upping the tempo of murder (thanks in part to cover provided by Russia). Hard numbers are difficult to come by these days, because Syria is too dangerous a place for human rights monitors to function safely. The United Nations estimate of 5,400 deaths as of January does not take into account the recent slaughters in the city of Homs.

I was curious to see how long it would take for Bashar al-Assad to kill more people than died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since December, 1987, when the first Intifada erupted, so I went to the website of B'Tselem, Israel's top human rights group, and did some addition. A total of 2,294 Palestinians and Israelis were killed in the first Uprising. This number includes Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by Palestinians, and Palestinians killed by other Palestinians. The second Intifada, which began in December of 2000, took many more lives. The total number of Palestinians and Israelis killed since 2000 is 10,760, according to my math. So, a total of 13,054 Palestinians and Israelis have been killed since 1987. Assad has killed roughly 6,000 people over the past 11 or so months. So, to be conservative about this, let's say that it will take him another 10 months to reach the 13,000 mark. (Although I do expect the pace of state murder to increase, barring some sort of intervention.)

And just to provide you with another benchmark of violence, roughly 3,500 people were killed during the three decades of the Irish Troubles. So, Assad is quite the achiever. Of course, in 1982 his father murdered somewhere between 10,000-25,000 people in one city, Hama, over a couple of days, so the son is still a piker domestically.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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