TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Israeli troops killed 660 Palestinians in 2006, many "Did not take part in the hostilities at the time they were killed, said an Israeli human rights group.
The group, B'Tselem, said those deaths bring to 4005 the number of Palestinians killed since the intifada began in September 2000.
Palestinians killed 23 Israelis this year. Seventeen of them were civilians. The number of casualties dropped because the security barrier Israel built in and around the West Bank and an effective intelligence system foiled planned suicide bombings.
B'Tselem did not say how many Israelis were killed since the intifada began but the army's website put the figure at 1,118.
At least 322 of the Palestinians killed in 2006 were not engaged in hostilities at the time they were hit, B'Tselem said. Twenty-two people were hit in targeted killings. In such attacks Israeli aircraft usually struck vehicles said to have been carrying militants.
The High Court of Justice on December 14 approved such attacks but demanded the security authorities adhere to international law when launching them.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Thursday said at a passing out parade of new air force pilots, near Beersheba, that such attacks a have been "one of the most effective and accurate methods in fighting terror."
Israel calls the targeted killings "pinpointed thwarting (attacks)." Olmert told the graduates, some of whom might be called to launch them that, "The State of Israel is not carrying out, and will not carry out any thwarting operation that is not needed to save lives."
According to B'Tselem almost two thirds of the Palestinian deaths occurred since June when militants kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit to Gaza.
As of November, 9,075 Palestinians were in custody. They included 738 people held without trial as "administrative detainees," B'Tselem said.