Shin Bet: We are thwarting a Hamas escalation

ISA official briefs Cabinet, says last October there were 78 major attacks but last month it was down to 20, this month 3 so far.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Police arrest Arab rioter (illustration)
Police arrest Arab rioter (illustration)
Flash 90

At a Cabinet meeting on Sunday a senior Israeli Security Agency (ISA) official spoke about the ongoing Arab terror wave since last September that has already claimed the lives of 34 victims, and echoed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in hailing a decline in the attacks.

The official said that in general there has been a meaningful decline in terror attacks in recent weeks, and this trend is also seen in terms of "significant" attacks - in March there were 20 such major attacks whereas last October there were 78. In the first ten days of April there have been three major attacks.

Attempts at mass casualty attacks have certainly not disappeared; a major attack was averted on Saturday as three terrorists armed with grenades and a sub-machine gun were nabbed. Likewise stabbings have continued and remained widespread, with a mother of three wounded just last week in the coastal region city of Rosh Ha'ayin.

According to the ISA official, the overall decline in attacks has been caused by counter-terror operations and particularly those targeting Hamas, which has been increasing its efforts to launch attacks including abductions and suicide attacks, and to cut down on incitement.

"All of these were in the context of an effort not to disrupt the fabric of life of a majority of the Palestinian population, which is not involved in terrorism, and to continue cooperation with the Palestinian security services," read an official press statement summarizing the briefing.

The official claimed that Israel's counter-terror actions have given the Palestinian public a sense that an escalation of the terror attacks is useless.

Counting from the murder of Rabbi Eitan and Na'ama Henkin last October 1, the official said that in the last six months or so there have been 270 significant terror attacks and attempted attacks including shootings, stabbings and car rammings.

A full 29 Israelis and four foreign nationals were killed in the process, with the total jumping to 34 when the murder of Avraham Levlovitz by rock-throwing terrorists in the capital last September is factored in as well. Around 250 civilians have also been wounded in the terror wave.

The ISA official said most attacks were conducted by isolated youths, claiming that while in some cases they attacked "for nationalistic motives," they "mostly" attacked for "personal reasons" such as "economic or personal hardships."

Aside form the isolated attacks, the official added that terror organizations and primarily Hamas have been trying to conduct major attacks in Judea and Samaria. ISA and the security establishment has thwarted over 290 significant attacks since the start of 2015, including 25 abductions and 15 suicide attacks.

"Jewish terrorism" has also been a target of security forces according to the ISA official, noting the lethal Duma arson case last July in which Jewish suspects are being charged - they argue that the ISA tortured them and extracted false confessions from them, and many questions have been raised in light of repeat local arsons conducted by Arabs targeting members of the same family.

In conclusion the ISA official acknowledged that "considerable tension" remains, and "various elements (mainly Palestinian terrorists and others)...are working incessantly to undermine stability."