Terrorist Stabbings—Distinctive Characteristics and How to Prepare for Them

Ofer Merin, Roman Sonkin, Avraham Yitzhak, Hagai Frenkel, Adi Leiba, Alon D. Schwarz, Eli Jaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background The number of terror attack incidents is on the increase worldwide. The knife is one of the weapons most commonly used among terrorists. Appropriate preparation in trauma units for coping with the increasing numbers of terrorist-inflicted stabbings is different from the preparation suitable for civilian stabbings. Therapeutic and logistic guidelines need to be adjusted to accommodate those differences. Objectives: Characterize the unique injuries related to terrorist stabbing, and suggest preparedness actions. Methods Retrospective data on all terrorist-inflicted stabbing incidents between September 2015 and May 2016 were retrieved from the database of the national Israeli emergency medical services and from the Israeli Defense Forces Medical Corps records. Results There were a total of 414 civilian victims (34 fatalities) of terror incidents. Of these, 161 involved stabbings during 106 separate incidents. There was more than 1 stab wound per patient in approximately 60% of cases, and more than 1 victim in approximately 40% of cases. Unlike civilian stabbings, terrorist stabbings were characterized by more commonly occurring to the upper part of the body, being executed by large knives with high force, and involving multiple and more severe injuries. Conclusion There is a clear distinction between the characteristics of wounds resulting from civilian stabbings and those incurred by acts of terror. Terrorists intend to injure as many random victims as possible, and trauma units need to be prepared to cope with the simultaneous admission of multiple patients with penetrating and often life-threatening knife wounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-457
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Magan David Adom
  • stab wounds
  • terror

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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