A year-end report by the General Security Services (GSS; Shabak) states that the Gaza region has become the leading source of anti-Israel terrorism in recent years. This includes rocket and mortar attacks by Gaza-based Palestinian Authority (PA) terrorists and the export of terrorist know-how and funds to the PA in Judea and Samaria.
1,200 Rocket and Mortar Attacks
PA terrorists in Gaza launched more than 1,200 rockets at Israeli targets in 2007, the
PA terrorists in Gaza launched more than 1,200 rockets at Israeli targets in 2007.
Shabak reported. Of those, 800 struck inside pre-1967 Israel. Two people were killed and 300 injured in the PA attacks. Most of the lightly injured victims suffered from shock.
According to the report, enemy rocket cells regularly launch their attacks on Jewish targets from within crowded urban areas in Gaza. In many cases, the terrorists launch rockets near, or even from the roofs of local homes, as well as from PA schoolyards.
The Spread of PA Terrorist Know-How
The Shabak report reveals that the PA terrorist organizations in Gaza are transferring know-how and funding to PA terrorists operating in Judea and Samaria. Gaza terror-masters are teaching Arabs in Judea and Samaria how to improve production of rockets and mortars. In addition, the Gaza-based terrorists offer guidance for continued anti-Israel attacks and cash for funding such activities.
"During the past year, the Gaza Strip has become the main terrorism 'producers' [sic] according to all parameters," the Shabak report says.
On the other hand, the report explains that, despite the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, there has been a drop this year in the number of suicide bombings attempted by PA terrorists. This represents a continuation of a multi-year trend of progressively fewer suicide bombings. There was not a single suicide bombing that had its source in the PA in Judea or Samaria, for example; however, at least three suicide bombings originating with terror organizations in Judea and Samaria were foiled in 2007, according to Shabak statistics. In 2006, in contrast, PA terrorists in Judea and Samaria carried out three successful suicide bombings against Israeli targets.
The single successful suicide bombing attack in 2007 came from Gaza. The attacker, who killed three people in Eilat in January, was sent by Islamic Jihad and the Fatah organization's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
A different type of attack by PA Arabs saw a revival in 2007, according to the Shabak report, with increased rock-throwing and firebombing targeting Israeli vehicles on the roads of Judea and Samaria. Furthermore, the Shabak notes, such rock attacks spread into pre-1967 Israel as well. Hostile elements among Israeli Arabs targeted cars on Route 443, connecting Jerusalem and Modiin, with rocks and firebombs, and rock-throwing assaults were also registered in the north and south of the country.
There has been a drop this year in the number of suicide bombings attempted by PA terrorists.
Coordinated Counter-Terrorism Efforts
The drop in major attacks targeting Israelis in 2007 was due to the joint counter-terrorism activities of the Shabak, the IDF and the police, according to the Shabak report. "In the Judea and Samaria region, despite the fact that there was no drop in motivation, there was a drop in the volume of terrorism, primarily as a result of Israeli preventative actions," the report says, adding that it was the "policy of intensive ongoing preventative actions by the GSS, the IDF and the police that brought about a consistent and continuous decrease in the number of terrorist attacks...."
One preventative measure left unmentioned in the Shabak report is the separation barrier cutting through Judea and Samaria. While touted as a counter-terrorism tool, the report does not even mention the barrier as a contributing factor in the steady drop in terrorist attacks in pre-1967 Israel.
While it cites the security services success in lowering the threat of terrorism overall, the Shabak report makes it clear that PA terrorists continued to make great efforts to attack Jews and Israelis in 2007. By October, nearly 4,000 Arab terrorists from Judea and Samaria were captured by Israeli forces, 117 of them potential suicide bombers. In comparison, in 2006, 5,000 terrorists were arrested, of whom 279 were determined to be potential suicide bombers.
Hizbullah, Bin-Laden and Syria in the Terror Matrix
Aside from homegrown PA terrorism, the Shabak report also notes the influence of the Lebanese terror group Hizbullah in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Since 2004, Hizbullah has invested 10 million dollars every year in encouraging anti-Israel terror activities in the PA. Based on information obtained from captured terrorists, Hizbullah promotes quantity over quality in attacks on Israel, with monetary reward being the main driver for the groups it supports.
In a related development, Al-Qaeda's chief terrorist and leader Osama Bin-Laden recently issued a direct threat against Israel. A new audio cassette, the fifth one issued by the Al-Qaeda international terrorist organization this year, tells the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza that they need not be concerned. "I have not forgotten your struggle," Bin-Laden is heard saying, "and we plan to expand our jihad [holy war] to Palestine as well. We intend to liberate all of Palestine, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea."
Another Al-Qaeda affiliate organization, Fatah Al-Islam, is reported to have established a beachhead in Gaza. The group recently claimed responsibility for firing a rocket at nearby Sderot. Established by the Syrian intelligence agency and based primarily in refugee camps in Lebanon, Fatah al-Islam waged a bloody battle against the Lebanese army in northern Lebanon earlier this year, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
Finally, adding its internal terror to the mix, a new Muslim fundamentalist group calling itself Supporters of Islamic Law (SIL) has sprung up in Gaza. The group has threatened any resident of Gaza who might attempt to celebrate the secular New Year on Monday night. SIL warned residents of Gaza to stay in their homes, saying it would choose a time and place to punish "those who are destroying Islamic society" by celebrating secular holidays.
The group is not the first to threaten activities seen as un-Islamic in Gaza. Earlier in the year, a similar group bombed dozens of Internet cafes, and an extremist group attacked a United Nations elementary school due to rumors that Muslim boys and girls were participating in a joint sporting event.