Reduction in the volume of terrorist attacks
In 2006, with the exception of rocket fire, the number of various Palestinian terrorist organization attacks continued to decline. The decrease in the number of terrorist attacks has progressively declined since the 2001 peak. A total of 2,135 attacks were carried out in 2006, compared with 2,365 in 2005.
With regard to regional distribution, approximately 50% of the attacks originated in the Gaza Strip, 45% in Judea and Samaria and 5% were carried out inside Israel by terrorists who had infiltrated from Judea and Samaria. The number of attacks from the Gaza Strip, including rocket fire (the most conspicuous type of attack), spiked in July and November although they were the months of extensive IDF activity in the Gaza Strip (Operations Summer Rains and Autumn Clouds).
Of all the attacks carried out, the most “prominent” were the following: in an attack near Kerem Shalom close to the Gaza Strip on June 25, two IDF soldiers were killed and one, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was abducted to the Gaza Strip. Attacks originating in Samaria included two suicide bombing attacks at the same fast food restaurant in Tel Aviv, both carried out by terrorists from Palestinian Islamic Jihad cells in Jenin and Nablus.
The decrease in the number of attacks, especially from Judea and Samaria, was primarily a function of the effective counterterrorist measures taken by the Israeli security forces. One of the outcomes was the sharp increase in the number of detentions on suspicion of terrorist activities: 6,968 suspects were detained, compared with 4,532 in 2005 (an increase of approximately 35%). Thirty-nine percent of the detainees belonged to Hamas, among them senior members holding offices in the government and the Palestinian Legislative Council. For the most part, the rest belonged to Fatah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Among the detainees were 279 potential suicide bombers.
The security fence and the buffer zone
According to data provided by the Security Fence Project Management in the Israeli Defense Ministry, so far 406 of the 790 kilometers (252 of the 491 miles) of the security fence have been completed. In 2006, 110 kilometers (68 miles) were added: around East Jerusalem, Ofer-Elkana, the area of Karnei Shomron and Shomria-Metsudot Yehuda.
The security fence, the buffer zone, and even the sections of the fence which have not been completed, limit the ability of terrorist organizations to enter Israel and present operational obstacles, especially for those organizations active in northern Samaria, making it difficult for them to carry out suicide bombing attacks within Israel. In 2006 terrorists did not cross the fence (as opposed to illegal workers and smugglers). Most of the terrorists who infiltrated to carry out suicide bombing attacks did so in the Jerusalem area.
According to statistics provided by the Israel Security Agency, since the August 2003 completion of the first section of the security fence and buffer zone, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of mass-murder attacks carried out in Israel:
A. Between August 2003 and the end of 2006 the terrorist organizations operating from Samaria carried out 12 such attacks, killing 64 Israelis and wounding 445.
B. Between the beginning of the current confrontation in September 2000 and the erection of the security fence and buffer zone in August 2003, they carried out 73 such attacks, killing 293 Israelis and wounding 1,950.
In general, the organizations operating in Samaria exploit the areas where the fence and buffer zone have not been completed to dispatch terrorists to Israel. Collaborating with organizations in Judea, especially around Ramallah, they infiltrate their operatives in through the areas around East Jerusalem and Judea.
Terrorist organization activity in the Gaza Strip
After Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the rise of Hamas to the government, the Strip continued as the focus for terrorist activity directed against Israel. Half of the attacks carried out in 2006 originated in the Gaza Strip, and killed 8 Israelis and wounded 203.
The terrorist organizations focused on launching rockets at Israeli population centers in the western Negev, more in 2006 than since the beginning of the confrontation. Most notable of the terrorist operations was the June attack on IDF forces near Kerem Shalom, during which two soldiers were killed and Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted to the Gaza Strip. Terrorist organization defensive activities (including small arms fire, anti-tank missiles and side charges) focused on the IDF’s major operations. They were for the most part ineffectual and led to lessons the terrorists learned and applied to the organizations’ buildup project.
The terrorist organization headquarters in the Gaza Strip continued as a focal point for the direction and support of the terrorist infrastructures in Judea and Samaria. They dispatched terrorist operatives and transmitted know-how for the establishment of cells in Judea and Samaria and for carrying out terrorist attacks in the heart of Israel. The terrorists used tunnels to leave the Gaza Strip for Sinai or passed through the Rafah crossing and then infiltrated through the wide-open border between Egypt and Israel. Local Bedouin helped them to infiltrate into Israel using smuggling routes.
According to ISA data, 43 terrorist operatives from the Gaza Strip were detained. They tried to enter Israel through the Israeli-Egyptian border for terrorist activities, including suicide bombing attacks and abductions. In a number of instances weapons were found in their possession.
During the second half of 2006 the terrorist organizations used human shields more often than previously, and employed the tactic to prevent or
hamper IDF operational activities. Palestinian civilians, including women and children, were encouraged to flock to locations under IDF attack to serve as human shields.
The Karni and Erez crossings continued as preferred targets for Palestinian terrorist activities, despite the fact that both are life-lines for the Gaza Strip population. Agricultural produce, medicine and merchandise pass through the Karni crossing, while people pass through Erez, including individuals seeking medical treatment. Attempts to carry out terrorist attacks and the many warnings of impending attacks led to the crossings’ being closed for long periods during the year.
In 2006, 32 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks and 332 were wounded. Of those killed 25 were civilians and seven members of the security forces. Of the wounded 228 were civilians and 94 belonged to the security forces. That too was a continuation of the decrease in the number of killed and wounded since 2002 (without taking the second Lebanon war into consideration).
Despite the small number of suicide bombing attacks within the total, in 2006 they were also particularly deadly. Almost half of the victims (15 civilians) and of the civilian wounded (104) were the victims of four suicide bombing attacks. There were also five who were killed in shooting attacks and four by rockets and mortars. The others were killed by anti-tank missiles, stabbed, killed during the attack on IDF forces at Kerem Shalom and during counterterrorist activities.
Types of terrorist attacks
Rocket and mortar fire
Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continued throughout 2006 as the preferred modus operandi of the terrorist organizations. That was so despite the harsh criticism voiced by the Palestinian population, who suffered as a result. Most of the rockets were locally manufactured and had an approximate maximum range of 9 kilometers (6 miles), although some had a range of 12.5 kilometers (7 ¾ miles). In addition, also launched were a number of standard 122 mm rockets with a range of 20.4 kilometers (12 2/3 miles) which had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Since the disengagement there has been a sharp increase in the number of rockets launched at the western Negev. (Until the disengagement, massive rocket fire was aimed at the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.) The preferred targets during 2006 were the city of Sderot and civilians living in settlements in the western Negev, although attempts we made to launch rockets as far away as Ashqelon.
In 2006, 861 rockets were fired at population centers in the western Negev, as compared with 222 in 2005 and 268 in 2004 (not including rockets fired at Israeli settlements inside the Gaza Strip). Mortar shell fire (which had previously targeted settlements in the Gush Katif and Gaza districts) declined significantly after the disengagement. In 2006 57 mortar shells were fired, compared with 284 in 2005 and 1,213 in 2004.
The Palestinian terrorist organizations and Hizbullah abduct civilians and soldiers as bargaining chips in negotiations to release prisoners in Israeli jails. In 2006 both organizations captured Israeli soldiers, one is held by Hamas and the other two by Hezbollah. None of the three is being granted basic human rights, such as visits from Red Cross representatives, and no signs of life have been received.
Suicide bombing attacks
In 2006 the decline in the number of suicide bombing attacks continued, following the trend begun in 2002. During the year, four suicide bombing attacks were carried out, compared with seven in 2005 and 14 in 2004. Three were carried out by the PIJ and one by Fatah. Hamas did not carry out attacks in 2006.
As opposed to the terrorist organizations’ ability of to carry out suicide bombing attacks, there was an the increase in their motivation to do so. A clear indication was the detention of 279 potential suicide bombers in Judea and Samaria, an increase of 80% over the previous year.
In 2006 as well as in 2005, the PIJ carried out most of the suicide bombing attacks in Israeli cities, although the number was smaller (three suicide bombing attacks in 2006, five in 2005). Until the autumn of 2004, Hamas carried out the greatest number of attacks, after which the PIJ became the dominant organization.
In 2006 two lethal suicide bombing attacks were carried out by the PIJ, both of them at the same fast food restaurant at the old Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. A third against a civilian target was carried out at Kedumim by Fatah. One suicide bombing attack were directed against IDF forces in the Gaza Strip by the PIJ. Most of the suicide bombers infiltrated, or intended to infiltrate, through the area around Jerusalem, exploiting the weak spot in the security fence.
In addition, since 2002 the number of casualties resulting from suicide bombing attacks constantly declined. In 2006, 15 individuals were killed in suicide bombing attacks and 104 wounded. There were 22 civilians killed in 2005 and 55 in 2004. Nevertheless, suicide bombing attacks remain the most lethal form of attack, and almost half of the 32 killed in terrorist attacks in 2006 were the victims of suicide bombing attacks.
In 2006 there was a sharp increase in the motivation of the terrorist organizations to carry out suicide bombing attacks. According to Israel Security Agency data, 279 potential suicide bombers were detained in Judea and Samaria, a rise of 80% compared with 2005 (154 potential suicide bombers detained). Most of the potential suicide bombers detained in 2006 were Fatah (126) and the PIJ (96) operatives, most often belonging to infrastructures in Samaria (Nablus and Jenin). Thirty were Hamas operatives, 23 of them from Judea.
The Israeli security forces prevented 71 attempted suicide bombing attacks in 2006, most of them originating in Judea and Samaria, some in the Gaza Strip. In 45 instances, the explosive devices were already strapped onto the terrorists’ bodies and were ready to be detonated when they were detained. Most of the attempts were carried out by PIJ and Fatah operatives from the areas of Jenin and Nablus in northern Samaria.
In 2006 there was also a sharp drop in the number of shooting attacks in Judea and Samaria. During the year there were 608 attacks on civilians and
Israeli security forces, compared with 1,170 in 2005. The attacks resulted in the deaths of two civilians and four members of the security forces, and wounded 17 civilians and 50 security forces members. In 2005 17 civilians and five members of the security forces were killed, and 31 and 48 wounded, respectively.
Smuggling funds to the terrorist organizations
In 2006 external terrorist headquarters and other directors continued pouring money into the PA-administered territories. The funds enabled the
terrorist organizations to preserve and expand their terrorist-operative infrastructures, to pay terrorist operatives and activists, train operatives, purchase and manufacture weapons and carry out attacks against Israel. In our estimation, approximately $10 million were transferred to Judea and Samaria and almost $30 million to the Gaza Strip.
Many methods are used to smuggle funds into the PA-administered territories, including bank transfers, through “charity” funds and foundations, money changers, merchants and couriers. One go-between used by both Hamas and the PIJ is the Faiz Abu ‘Akr company in the Gaza Strip, owned by a Khan Younis businessman. It was outlawed by the Israeli Defense Ministry in January after it became clear that during the past few years it had transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to terrorist-operatives in transactions camouflaged as business deals.
In addition to funds which go directly to terrorist-operatives, Hamas received tens of millions of dollars from funds and foundations operating in the Persian Gulf and Europe to finance its organizational and civilian infrastructures (the da’wah). Its civilian organizations are one of its main sources of power among the Palestinian population and also support the organization’s terrorist-operative network. The funds in question are earmarked only for direct operational and organizational purposes and not for the civilian infrastructure (the da’wah). Transferring funds to support terrorism is in direct opposition to the new UN convention regarding the prohibition of funding terrorism and to Security Council Resolution 1267, passed on October 15, 1999.