'Hamas constantly trying to destabilize Jerusalem'

In report to Knesset Committee, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman surveys number of attacks from recent terror as well as state of Fatah, Hamas.

Shai Landesman ,

Head of Shin Bet Nadav Argaman
Head of Shin Bet Nadav Argaman
Photo: Flash 90

Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman appeared at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee headed by MK Avi Dichter (Likud) today (Tuesday), and delivered a report about the wave of Palestinian terror that started last October.

Here are the main findings Argaman presented in the report:

Since the beginning of the current escalation on the 10th of October, 2015, over 300 significant terror attacks have been carried out or attempted (this excludes stone or Molotov cocktail throwing). Of these 180 were stabbing attacks, 90 were shooting attacks, and 30 involved running over with cars, (all rounded figures). Though October 2015 saw a dramatic increase in the scale of these attacks, this can be seen as a continuation of a more slow increase of attacks in Judea and Samaria starting in 2012.

The majority of the attacks were "lone wolf" attacks, with only a few perpetrated by the established terror organizations.

Security forces and the Shin Bet have thwarted some 240 attacks since October, and in the first five months of 2016 alone they've prevented 11 suicide attack attempts, 10 kidnapping attempts, and over 60 shooting attempts, most planned by Hamas, who are constantly acting to destabilize Judea and Samaria.

There is a decrease in attacks over the past few months versus October of 2015, when some 600 attacks were perpetrated, of which 81 were significant. In June of this year 103 were perpetrated, of which 9 were significant.

The decrease is attributed to the large number of thwarted attacks, improvements in intelligence, and deterrence focused in the immediate surroundings of the terrorists. All of these measures have produced a widespread feeling among the Palestinian population of Judea and Samaria that there is little to be gained by continuing to escalate hostilities, a feeling reflected in opinion polls conducted by Palestinian institutions.

Though the actual number of attacks is decreasing, the situation remains highly volatile, with the threat still very real (as evidenced by the number of thwarted attacks). Thus any significant event may cause a renewed breakout of hostilities.

It is also important to note that there is a general feeling in PA and Fatah circles that the Mahmoud Abbas-era is nearing its end (as he has announced his intentions to retire several times). There is therefore much jostling for position among Fatah leaders, as is usual in transition periods, and many of them are using belligerent language to bolster their status as strong leaders.

The report also dealt with the Gaza Strip; the quiet reigning there is deceptive, it said. The economic situation is worsening, ISIS is gaining power, and Hamas are rebuilding their strength.

Approximately 80 terror attacks were perpetrated from the Gaza Strip since operation Protective Edge, making this the most quiet period in a decade. Fringe Salafist groups are behind most of the attacks. The quiet is mainly due to Hamas' feeling of lack of readiness for war, and the stability of Israeli policy in dealing with the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is in strategic crisis due to diplomatic isolation as a result of its feuds with the Sunni states led by Egypt, difficulties in its relationship with the Iranian led Shi'ite camp, and internal divisions between the military wing in Gaza and the political leadership outside. In practice this has led to greater control by the military wing.

Hamas is rebuilding its arsenal and operational capabilities in preparation for the next round of fighting, from which it plans to extract strategic gains such as the removal of the IDF blockade of the Gaza coast.

As to public opinion in Gaza, the Shin Bet has found that there is rising resentment toward Hamas for its inability to improve the economic situation. Yet it is unlikely that any overthrow will be attempted, due to widespread fear of Hamas reprisals, economic dependency, and general distaste for the alternative, namely ISIS.