Judea and Samaria
The terror organizations in Judea and Samaria continued intensive activity, focused on carrying out suicide attacks against Israeli targets, in addition to efforts focused on force buildup of the various cells.
During 2006 about 5000 terror activists were arrested in the Judea and Samaria area, amongst these, 279 were potential suicide bombers, in comparison to 154 potential suicide bombers arrested in 2005 - an 80% increase. Most of the potential bombers arrested in 2006 were members of the "Tanzim" organization originating from "Fatah" (126 detainees) and of the Islamic Jihad (96 detainees). 30 potential suicide bombers were members of Hamas, 23 of them from the Judea area.
The significant increase in the number of potential suicide bombers arrested is an indication of the terror cells’ growing motivation to carry out terrorist attacks, especially in Samaria. Nevertheless, despite the numerous attempts of terror organizations to carry out attacks against Israeli targets, there has been a decrease in the number of attacks in comparison to the previous year. In 2006 the terror infrastructure managed to carry out 3 suicide attacks in the Judea and Samaria area, 2 of them within Israel in comparison to 6 attacks in 2005, 5 of them within Israel.
The Buffer Zone
In addition to the counterterror operations on the part of the security forces, the buffer zone makes it difficult for terror organizations to carry out suicide attacks within Israel.
In 2006 the terror infrastructure in Samaria managed to carry out 2 massive suicide attacks in Israel (attacks in Tel-Aviv in January and April) killing 11 Israelis and injuring 90, in comparison to 4 attacks within Israel in 2005, killing 21 Israelis and injuring 234.
In the 42 months since the completion of the first segment of the buffer zone in August 2003 until the end of 2006, the terror infrastructure in Samaria carried out 12 massive suicide attacks killing 64 Israelis and injuring 445, in comparison to 73 massive suicide attacks carried out by these organizations in the 34 months since the beginning of the confrontation on September 29, 2000 until the establishment of the buffer zone, killing 293 Israelis and injuring 1950.
Despite the significant decline in the number of attacks which the terror infrastructure in Samaria have succeeded in carrying out in Israel, terror organizations continue to exploit the fact that the buffer zone is not complete, and they carry out attacks from areas where the fence has not yet been built. Therefore, the area of Judea, particularly Jerusalem, serves as a platform for infiltrating terrorists into Israel, simultaneously strengthening the cooperation between cells in Samaria and cells in these areas, especially in the Ramallah area.
The Illegal Alien Population as a Means to Bypass the Buffer Zone
Another means for the terror organizations to overcome the obstacle of the buffer zone is through the population of illegal aliens, whose extensive knowledge of access routes into Israel and locations within Israel enable the terror organizations to infiltrate terrorists into Israel.
The illegal aliens (IAs) specialize in locating infiltration routes into Israel while bypassing the roadblocks on the way. In addition, they are acquainted with smugglers, and with transporters of IAs, who regularly smuggle IAs into Israel, usually due to financial motives. Their high level of familiarity with Israel allows them to collect information on possible locations suitable for terror attacks.
In the year 2006 security forces arrested some 50 illegal aliens who were involved, either as attackers or as aides, in the activity of terror organizations to carry out severe terror attacks within Israel.
The success of the phenomenon of the IAs is based on three factors: the transporters, who exploit their Israeli citizenship in order to smuggle Palestinians into Israel through IDF road blocks for money, while ignoring the high security risk involved; The employers, who provide work to the illegal aliens out of financial motives, and thus also contribute to the security risk presented by this population and finally the hosts, who provide the illegal aliens with accommodation inside Israel.
Terrorist organizations have carried out many attacks in Israel using the illegal aliens as a platform. Even if the attacker himself was not an illegal alien, he was aided by transporters of illegal aliens, and the routes with which they are familiar, in order to infiltrate into Israel. It is safe to say that in the vast majority of suicide attacks in Israel, transporters of illegal aliens were involved.
In the most recent attack that was carried out in Israel, during which a suicide attacker exploded in Tel Aviv on April 17, 2006, an illegal alien transporter was involved as well.
When investigating the event it was discovered that the suicide attacker was driven into Tel Aviv by Muhammad Amoudi, an Islamic Jihad activist from Burkin, who said in his investigation by the ISA that prior to the attack he was driven to Tel Aviv a number of times by illegal alien transporters, in order to collect information on suitable locations for the attack as well as to check the routes of access to Tel Aviv.
On the day of the attack, in order to bypass the buffer zone, Amoudi drove the suicide attacker from Jenin to Ramallah and from there to Anata, where they boarded the vehicle of Fawwaz Rajbi, a Jerusalem resident with a blue Israeli ID, who had been regularly transporting illegal aliens for a few months prior to his arrest. Rajbi drove the two to Tel Aviv, but during his investigation in the ISA he claimed that even though he was aware of the possibility of transporting a terrorist into Israel in the framework of his transportation of illegal aliens, he did not realize that he was driving an attacker on the day of the attack. In the suicide bombing, 11 Israelis were killed and 64 injured.
The Gaza Strip: Central Headquarters for Terror Organizations in Judea and Samaria
During the past year there has been an increasing trend of factors in the Gaza Strip being responsible for activating and directing terror cells in Judea and even more so, in Samaria. In the framework of this activity, headquarters in the Gaza Strip provided knowledge in upgrading weapon manufacturing abilities, including high trajectory weapons, along with masterminding terror activity and transferring money to fund terror activities.
The involvement of cells from the Gaza Strip in the terrorist activity in Judea and Samaria has been especially prominent in the Hamas movement. For the past few years, and especially within the past two years, the movement has been actively promoting the improvement of the operational capabilities of the infrastructures in Judea and Samaria, by sending activists as well as transmitting directions and operational knowledge to activists in Judea and Samaria in various areas including launching rockets, assembling explosive devices, and doctrine, in order to expand the fighting arena to Judea and Samaria.
A prominent example of Gaza Strip involvement in activities in Judea and Samaria was the October 2006 exposure of a military Hamas cell from the Judea area, which planned to carry out a kidnapping in the Jerusalem area, under the direction of senior Hamas activists from the Gaza Strip. Fares Qawasmeh, a Hamas activist from the Hebron area, who had spent time in jail with a Hamas military activist from the Gaza Strip, recruited the members of the cell after being contacted by activists from the Gaza Strip and directed to recruit a cell to carry out attacks. The cell members were arrested in the advanced stages of planning the attack, after having received funding from the Gaza Strip and having purchased weapons, and they planned to recruit additional members, including a Jerusalem resident to serve as driver for carrying out the kidnapping.
Hezbollah Masterminding Terrorist Attacks in Judea and Samaria
The Hezbollah organization, which operates as a front-line operational wing for Iran, also assists the activities of terror organizations in Judea and Samaria.
During the first half of the year 2006 there has been an increase of 150% in the number of terror cells directed by Hezbollah. On the eve of the second Lebanon war there were 80 cells directed by Hezbollah in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 50 in Judea and Samaria, most of them identified with the Tanzim and Islamic Jihad.
The increasing trend of Hezbollah activities in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip is demonstrated in noticeable recruitment of new terror cells, alongside the strengthening of existing cells, larger transfers of funds, coordination of the transfer of weapons, the transmission of instructions for terror attacks and the coordination of meetings with Hezbollah operators in Arab countries.
A prominent example of an attack that was directed by Hezbollah in Judea and Samaria is the suicide attack carried out in Kedumim in March 2006, during which a suicide bomber boarded a vehicle in the Kedumim area as a hitchhiker, and blew himself up during the journey, killing the other 4 passengers.
Another prominent example is the attack that was carried out in July 2006, in which an explosive device was detonated against IDF forces during an operation in Nablus. As a result of the attack one soldier was killed and a number of others were wounded. Both attacks were carried out by Tanzim activists from Nablus, who were in contact with Hezbollah activists in Lebanon, who transferred funds to them as well as instructions for terror activity.
In parallel with the increase of terror activities on the part of cells, there has been an increase in counterterrorism directed against these cells. In the first half of 2006, 35 activists from Judea and Samaria who had received instructions from Hezbollah were arrested.
The warfare in southern Lebanon in July 2006 brought a decrease in Hezbollah activity with cells in Judea and Samaria, which was primarily expressed in a decrease of fund transfer to the cells. During this time, Hezbollah attempted to encourage the various organizations to carry out attacks against Israeli targets so as to open a new front against Israel, but did not succeed in carrying out these attempts in practice, in part due to counterterror operations against cells in Judea and Samaria.
Since the end of the warfare in Lebanon, Hezbollah has been making efforts to focus its operational activity in the Palestinian arena by upgrading its support and involvement in the various organizations, and implementing methods of operation that had been used during the war in Lebanon.
Hezbollah has also focused on improving the high trajectory weapon abilities of various terror cells in the West Bank, and attempting to carry out terror attacks with such weapons. In practice, these attempts have not been successful.
Hezbollah Activity in the Gaza Strip
As a result of the opening of the Rafah border crossing to free movement and the rise of the Hamas government, there has been an increase in Hezbollah involvement with cells in the Gaza Strip, as well. Today some thirty cells directed by the Hezbollah can be found in the Strip.
These organizations have upgraded their activities with Hizbollah's assistance, in training explosives experts, carrying out meetings with senior activists in Lebanon, Syria and other countries, receiving information that has improved high trajectory weaponry, the transfer of large sums of money and the coordination of weapons transfer.
Attempts to Replicate the Hamas Operational Force Model in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria
On March 17, 2006 Sa’id Siam, the Minister of the Interior in the Hamas government, announced the founding of a Hamas operational force in the Gaza Strip. The founding of this force served Hamas's interest in maintaining a visible, trained, and armed force which would enable the preservation of the interests of the Hamas movement and the Hamas government in the Palestinian street and in the regional arena.
As a result of the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas in the past months, the Hamas government has acceded to the request of Hamas officials in Judea and Samaria to found an operational force in the West Bank as well. And indeed since the beginning of October 2006, they have been recruiting, purchasing weapons, training and preparing logistically to replicate a model of the operational force in Judea and Samaria as well.
Jamal Abdallah, head of the operational force in the Gaza Strip, explained in an interview to the Hamas website that operations against Israel are one of the force’s objectives, and presented as proof the fact that many members of the force have been killed as a result of confrontations with the IDF. Interrogation of force members in Judea and Samaria revealed that an additional primary objective of the force is a Hamas takeover of Palestinian security forces. Countering activities against the members of the force in Judea and Samaria resulted in the arrest of 149 members in Judea and 30 members in Samaria.
There was a decrease in the number of suicide attacks successfully carried out by the Islamic Jihad in Judea and Samaria in 2006. The organization carried out 2 suicide attacks in comparison to 5 suicide attacks in 2005.
Concentrated efforts at causing damage to the organization's infrastructure in Judea and Samaria resulted in the arrest of over 1000 Islamic Jihad activists in Judea and Samaria, amongst them 96 potential suicide bombers.
A number of prominent leaders of these cells, mainly from the north of Samaria, were killed. One example is Elias Ashqar, one of the senior Islamic Jihad leaders in the north of Samaria, who was involved in the series of serious attacks carried out by the organization in 2005 and 2006, was killed during an operation to arrest him in Qabatya in May 2006. Likewise, in January 2006 Nidal Abu-Sa’ada was killed during the activity of security forces. Abu Sa’ada was one of the leaders of the Islamic Jihad infrastructure in Samaria, serving as the supervisor of the infrastructure's efforts to send suicide bombers into Israel, and he was personally and directly involved in the suicide attacks carried out in 2005.
Despite the operations of the Israeli security forces, the Islamic Jihad cells in Judea and Samaria have recovered from their losses quickly, and continue to present a threat, mainly in the north of Samaria.
The Gaza Strip
Following the withdrawal of IDF and the rise of the Hamas government, in the year 2006 the Gaza Strip has maintained its position as the principal producer of terror (53% of terror attacks in 2006 were carried out by terrorists from the Gaza Strip). It remains the center of direction and carrying out of attacks against Israel. The terror organizations work continuously to upgrade the weapons in their possession via massive smuggling operations, independent development and manufacturing of weapons, as well as developing military doctrine and training activists.
During the year 2006 the Gaza Strip served as the base for a number of major terror attacks against Israeli targets. This is part of the efforts of terrorist organizations to carry out massive terrorist attacks and abductions within Israel and on the border with the Gaza Strip, especially given the overt return of Hamas to perpetrating terror attacks.
Since the beginning of the year, 7 Israelis were killed and 203 injured as a result of attacks from the Gaza Strip. The most prominent amongst them was the attack carried out by Hamas, with the cooperation of the National Resistance Committees, against the Kerem Shalom post on June 25, 2006. The terrorists infiltrated Kerem Shalom through a tunnel and fired antitank missiles toward the soldiers. In this attack 2 IDF soldiers were killed and 4 were injured; the soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted and is being held to this day by Hamas elements in the Strip.
Furthermore, most of the attacks that occurred in the Gaza Strip were high trajectory weapons attacks: in the past year the number of rockets shot at Israel from the Gaza Strip increased by hundreds of percent. Despite a decrease in the number of fatalities, there was a 300% increase in the total number of people injured. In 2006 over 1700 rockets were fired toward Israeli targets, killing 2 Israeli civilians and injuring 163, in comparison to 400 rockets fired in 2005 killing 5 Israelis and injuring 51.
The widescale process of force buildup which is occurring in the Gaza Strip and the constant upgrade of the weapons used by members of terrorist groups, have led to an increase in the "quality" of the attacks – rocket ranges have improved and in March 2006 a rocket was fired towards Ashkelon for the first time and further rockets have been fired since. In addition, in June 2006 an improved rocket was fired for the first time by Hamas, which reached a range of ten kilometers. This rocket is probably a first-stage development by the organization which is intended to reproduce the abilities of the Grad Rockets, which were smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Throughout 2006, over 100 members of terrorist groups were arrested for interrogation in the Gaza Strip, mainly in Rafah and Beit-Hanun. The information obtained from their interrogations assisted greatly in the war against terror infrastructure, including exact indications of tunnel locations.
Exploitation of the "Philadelphi” Patrol Road (Egypt-Gaza Border) for Terrorist Activity
Following the IDF withdrawal in September 2005, the "Philadelphi" patrol route has become a relatively safe and quick route for smuggling weapons and bombers, due to the incompetence of the Palestinian and Egyptian security forces. In addition, the lack of control of the Rafah border crossing allows free movement of terrorists between the Gaza Strip and neighbouring countries. Terrorist organizations exploit the breach of the Philadelphi patrol road for three main purposes:
- Force buildup in the Gaza Strip: In 2006 there was a massive increase in the quantity of weapons smuggled into the Gaza Strip, allowing terror organizations to significantly improve their operations. For example during 2006 28 tons of standard explosives were smuggled in comparison to 6 tons in 2005. The consequence of such large quantities of explosives is an improvement in the strength of the explosive devices and belts; the ability to carry out terror attacks such as explosions in tunnels; increase in the range of rockets and prolongation of their shelf life; and more. In addition to standard explosives about 14,000 guns were smuggled in 2006 in comparison to 9,300 in 2005, and roughly 5 million gun ammunition parts in comparison to 2 million in 2005. Likewise, also smuggled in were 40 rockets, 150 RPG bombs, 65 launchers, 20 improved anti-tank missiles and 10 anti-aircraft missiles. Most of the weapons are smuggled to the Gaza Strip from Egypt via tunnels. Since the beginning of 2006, in the efforts of Israeli security forces to eliminate weapon smuggling, about 20 tunnel openings were destroyed and 8 others were demolished in air force bombings. This was done following warnings issued to the tenants of the house into which the tunnel opened, as well as to the tenants of nearby houses.
- The smuggling of terrorists and master terrorists via a route from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, and from there, into Israel: The lack of control over the "Philadelphi" patrol road was exploited by terror organizations to smuggle master terrorists from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria and infiltrate attackers into Israel using the technique of crossing into Egypt from the Gaza Strip and from there into Israel, in light of the relative ease of this route. Some of the terrorists infiltrate into Egypt via tunnels; others enter legally via Rafah. Between January 2006 and December 2006, 43 terrorists from the Gaza Strip were arrested attempting to enter Israel via this border-crossing technique, for the purpose of terror activities such as suicide attacks and abductions. In certain cases the infiltrators had weapons in their possession. Thus, for example, in February 2006 a suicide bomber was arrested wearing an explosive belt, and in April 2006, two Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip were caught attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Egypt carrying two grenades and two pistols.
- Transfer of knowledge and funds to terror organizations: Terror organizations, primarily Hamas, are exploiting the ability to move freely through the Rafah border crossing in order to send terror activists from the Gaza Strip to other countries to undergo training in sabotage and to bring experts and master terrorists from abroad into the Gaza Strip, for the purpose of upgrading the activists and training them to fight in a more effective and organized manner. In this way, the terrorist organizations receive funding as well, which ensures their ability to continue their activities (acquiring weapons, paying activists etc.).
The Rise of Hamas and the Anarchy in the Palestinian Authority
The rise of the Hamas government in January 2006 led to changes in the characteristics of Palestinian conduct in the Gaza Strip, in that alongside the position of Abu Mazen as the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas stands at the head of the Palestinian parliament and government.
With Hamas’s rise to power, it founded an operational force numbering some 6000 fighters distributed throughout the Gaza strip, whose aim is to fight opposition from within as well as to be a fighting force against Israel. The operational force is subordinate to Hamas officials in the government (the Ministry of Interior) and enables the safeguarding of the organization's central concerns:
- Enforcing the principles of the Islamic Brothers on the Palestinian government and on the Palestinian public.
- Continuation of Hamas’s basic positions, which negate Israel’s right to exist and require the continuation of the “resistance” against Israel (that is, terror)
- Establishing an effective military force to serve as a deterrent against objectors from within and against Israel.
The power struggles between Hamas and Fatah over control of the region and security forces, and the lack of effective central control, led to the development of anarchy, in which violent confrontations between Fatah and Hamas activists occurred. Furthermore, the difficult economic situation in the Gaza Strip also contributed to the anarchy in the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas’s connections with Iran
The victory of Hamas in the elections led to a strengthening of its ties to Iran. This change in the political map in the Palestinian Authority provides a basis for Iran to expand its political and operational influence in the Palestinian arena.
With Hamas’s victory in the elections and the West’s economic siege of the government established by the organization, Iran has become the major supporter of the Hamas government, by transferring large sums during visits of senior officials from the Palestinian government to Teheran. These officials return to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing, carrying suitcases filled with money.
Thus, for example, in late November 2006 it was reported that Mahmud al-Zahar brought 15 million euros originating from Iran through the Rafah border crossing, and that in December 2006 the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, attempted to smuggle tens of millions of dollars through the Rafah border crossing. The money was given to him during a visit to Iran where he declared that “Iran provides strategic depth for the Palestinians”.
Iran has also supplied financial support to Palestinian families, whose sons were killed during terror attacks and Hamas activists even travel to Iran for training and for sabotage training, as part of the organization’s policy of force buildup.
Hamas force buildup
Influenced by the Lebanon war, Hamas has been striving in recent months, like other organizations, to upgrade its activities by adopting the modus operandi of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In accordance, in recent months Hamas has been focusing on strengthening the armed operational force and upgrading it from an ad hoc group of terror activists to an organized operational force with geographically distributed headquarters.
This activity is carried out with the help of, inter alia, Hamas elements in Syria and Iran. As has been mentioned, the activists in the Gaza Strip exploit the free movement between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, following the transfer of control over the Rafah border crossing to the Palestinians, to bring experts in military affairs into the Gaza Strip for the purpose of training and upgrading the professional level of the activists in the field.
Likewise, the activists are continuing their intensive activities of smuggling upgraded weaponry into the Gaza Strip, especially antitank weapons, in addition to constructing an elaborate underground apparatus for the purpose of offense and defense.
Hamas’s overt return to terrorist attacks
In its initial months as ruling party, Hamas carried out terror largely behind the scenes, as it attempted to present itself as a legitimate ruling party and to strengthen its power. Other organizations, such as the National Resistance Committees, served as the front-line operational forces for Hamas in order to carry out terror attacks. Hamas did not take responsibility for the attacks but supplied the terror activists with funds and the instructions necessary to carry out the attacks.
At the same time, terror activists in the operational levels of the organization continued the planning of “back burner terror attacks” which could be carried out with little advance notice, and they acted to improve the operational capabilities of the infrastructures in Judea and Samaria.
Hamas returned to overt terror attacks with the abduction of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on June 25, 2006 in an attack carried out against the Kerem Shalom post in cooperation with the National Resistance Committees. Since then the organization was responsible for the firing of hundreds of rockets toward Israeli settlements, as well as for leading most of the resistance to IDF activities in Operation “Autumn Clouds,” which began in October 2006 in Beit-Hanun, using gunfire, mortar fire, anti-tank missiles, and setting explosive devices. During the operation, the organization’s activists fired tens of rockets toward the Israeli settlements, including the city of Ashkelon. Another notorious attack was a suicide attack carried out by a 64 year old female terrorist against an IDF force in Jabalya in November 2006, which led to the injury of three IDF soldiers.
The decision of the Palestinian factions to accept a cease-fire on November 26, 2006 led to another change in Hamas activity, in which the organization returned to its focus on a build up of forces, and took advantage of the relative calm to continue equipping itself with weapons for carrying out attacks. One prominent example of this activity was a “work accident” involving two members of the Hamas military wing, who served as engineers manufacturing weapons for the organization. They were killed on December 29, 2006 as a result of a powerful explosion in a residential building in the heart of the Zeitun neighborhood in Gaza. As a result of the explosion other civilians were injured and the building was severely damaged.
Exploitation of humanitarian policies to carry out terror attacks at border crossings and to smuggle terrorists into Israel
The Erez and Karni border crossings continued to be high-profile targets for attack by the terror organizations throughout the year 2006, despite the damage such attacks cause to the welfare of the population of the Gaza Strip, for whom the border crossings serve as a primary life artery: The Karni border crossing serves for the transfer of agricultural products, medications and various types of merchandise. The Erez border crossing serves for the movement of individuals from the Gaza Strip to Israel mainly for humanitarian reasons such as medical treatments.
As a result of numerous alerts regarding the intentions of the terror organization intentions to carry out attacks against the border crossings, or to exploit them in order to smuggle terrorists into Israel, both crossings were closed for long periods of time throughout the last year, in order to thwart such plans.
The modus operandi of terror organizations is divided into two main parts:
- Carrying out attacks against the border crossings in varying ways such as booby-trapped tunnels that explode underneath the border crossing and infiltrating suicide bombers through the tunnels as well as smuggling weapons into Israel. A large terror attack that would have caused many casualties was thwarted as a result of the exposure of a tunnel near the Karni border crossing in August 2006 following the arrest of Majed Alkambaz, a National Resistance Committee activist. He admitted in his ISA interrogation that his organization intended to dig the tunnel under the IDF administration building responsible for the management of the border crossing place and to then detonate powerful explosive devices inside the tunnel. One further example was the October 2006 capture of six kilograms of TNT explosives which had been concealed in an iron cage used for transferring merchandise from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
- Infiltrating terrorists into Israel by exploiting permissive humanitarian policies, primarily the use of authorizations for medical treatments, in order to receive permits for entry into Israel. One such example was the arrest of Jaber Darabieh, a Gaza resident and National Resistance Committee activist, in September 2006 at the Erez border crossing. He received an entry permit into Israel based on humanitarian considerations due to his medical problems, and he intended to exploit this permit to establish National Resistance Committee terror cells in the West Bank in order to carry out terror attacks against Israel.
General trends in 2006
The funding that fuels terror
The large sums of money transferred to the terror organizations continued to serve as a major resource impelling terror in the year 2006. These funds allow the organizations to maintain and expand their infrastructure, as well as to train and pay activists, to purchase and manufacture weapons and to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.
The various organizations work vigorously to develop varied methods for smuggling terror funds from abroad to organizations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. An example was the assistance provided to Hamas and Islamic Jihad by the “Fa’ez Abu ‘Iker” company in the Gaza Strip. In January 2006, a press release was issued which stated that the Minister of Defense had declared this company an illegal association, following the discovery that over the past few years, the company had transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to terror organizations, by camouflaging these transfers as commercial activity.
During the efforts focused on foiling the transfer of funds to terror organizations a number of activists involved in finance were arrested, funds were confiscated, and associations and foundations which assisted in providing funding for terror activists were outlawed.
- 86 terror activists involved in finances were arrested by security forces. One such example is the arrest of Ayman Sayed, a Nablus resident and money changer, who admitted to transferring large sums originating from Hezbollah in Lebanon to senior military wanted Tanzim activists in Nablus.
- 7 associations and foundations which were assisting in funding terror activists were declared illegal associations.
- The offices of 24 associations belonging to the economic infrastructure of terror organizations in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria were closed. Among these organizations was the September 2006 closing of the “Friends of Prisoners” association, as well as Hamas charity institutions in the territories.
- In a wide-ranging operation carried out in September 2006, 5 million shekels and about 170 thousand dinars were confiscated in the search of the homes and offices of 13 moneychangers in Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm and Ramallah. These moneychangers had transferred funds from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah headquarters located in Syria and Lebanon to the various terror organizations.
The increased efforts of terror organizations to carry out kidnappings in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria
During the year 2006 there was an increase in the number of alerts regarding plans by terror organizations to carry out kidnappings, which led to directed efforts by security forces to thwart these plans.
During 2006, terror organizations succeeded in perpetrating a number of kidnappings, amongst them the abduction of Gilad Shalit on June 25, 2006 by Hamas activists and the National Resistance Committee in the attack on the Kerem Shalom post. On that same day a second abduction was carried out during which the late Eliyahu Asheri was abducted and murdered while making his way from the area of Beitar Illit to his school in Neve Tzuf. The kidnapping was carried out by Tanzim cell members from Ramallah and was directed by members of the National Resistance Committees from the Gaza Strip. The cell members were arrested by security forces a few days after the attack.
In addition to these successful kidnappings, other attempts at kidnappings were foiled by security forces.
A selection of successful countering operations:
- July 21, 2006 – the countering of an attempted kidnapping directed by the Tanzim infrastructure in Balata refugee camp in Nablus, with the arrest of a Palestinian woman in Tel Aviv, as she was on her way to meet the designated kidnapping victim, who would have been brought to Nablus and murdered there.
- July 20, 2006 - the countering of an attempted kidnapping directed by the National Resistance Committees with the arrest of a Gaza Strip resident who was attempting to infiltrate into Israel via Sinai in order to abduct one of two Israeli taxi drivers with whom he had a connection, so as to carry out negotiations for the release of prisoners.
- June 15, 2006 - the countering of an attempted kidnapping to be carried out by members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from Jenin, who had rented a special car for the purpose of kidnapping Israelis, and set out to carry out the kidnapping while in possession of a loaded pistol, duct tape to cover the victim’s mouth and plastic handcuffs. The three activists planned to murder and bury the victim, and then to negotiate for the release of Muntasar Abu Ghalyun, a senior terror activist in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was imprisoned due to his activities as well as being the brother of one of those involved in the attempted kidnapping. When they reached the area of Rehelim, they attempted to capture two girls standing at a bus stop. They managed to capture one girl and drive away with her but their plan was thwarted when their vehicle was stopped at an IDF road block after an army officer passing by had realized what was occurring.
Throughout the year 2006, the ideological influence of Global Jihad grew amongst terror activists from various organizations, in Judea, Samaria, and especially the Gaza Strip.
The presence of Global Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula contributes to the growth of the phenomenon, since the lack of control over the Rafah border crossing makes access to the peninsula nearly obstacle-free.
The internet is also a means in the infiltration of Global Jihad concepts into the Gaza Strip. The activists in the Gaza Strip have access to internet sites operated by Global Jihad organizations, which allows activists to receive a variety of information, from Global Jihad concepts, to instructions in manufacturing weapons and explosives, and the planning of complex terror attacks.
A tangible example of the influence of Global Jihad on activists in the Gaza Strip is that of Mumtaz Du’mush, a National Resistance Committee activist, who left the organization in early 2006 along with his followers following a dispute with the organization’s leaders in the Gaza Strip.
Du’mush founded an organization which he called the “Army of Islam” and today he is well known as a terror activist who carries out attacks in cooperation or under the direction of the military wing of Hamas and is associated with Global Jihad elements, most probably Al-Qaeda.
The “Army of Islam” led by Du’mush was identified as the body responsible for the abduction of two Fox News reporters.
Signs of the infiltration of Global Jihad concepts into Judea and Samaria are also evident. In March 2006 a cell of eight activists from Judea and Samaria was countered, after it was revealed that they were recruited or that there was an attempt to recruit them by a cell in Jordan identified with Global Jihad and which had presented itself as Al-Qaeda.
One of the cells recruited by the Jordanian organization included activists in Nablus who were preparing a double terror attack in the area of the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem. The cell in Jordan provided the funds for this attack.
The activists were trained in various subjects including clandestine activities, in addition to religious aspects of Islam. In their interrogations they attested to their identification with the ideological goals of Global Jihad organizations.
Women and terror
The trend of female involvement in terror continued throughout 2006: two of the five suicide attacks carried out during the year were carried out by female suicide bombers.
On November 6, 2006 a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives near IDF forces in Beit Hanoun, resulting in the light wounding of one soldier. On November 23, 2006 a 64 year old female suicide attacker identified with Hamas, blew herself up near IDF forces in Jabalya, resulting in the light wounding of three soldiers.
In addition to these two bombers, in the year 2006 the ISA arrested 19 Palestinian women involved in terror against Israel, mainly from the Islamic Jihad organization (9 women) and from Tanzim (7 women).
The increase of women involved with terror in the Islamic Jihad is part of a phenomenon identified in the past few years, in which women assume key roles in the movement, especially administrative positions, as well as aiding in organizational logistics in the West Bank and running charity organizations as a camouflage for the activities of the Islamic Jihad.
In light of such senior positions in the organization held by women, as well as the existing interface in the organization between administrative activity and terror, it has been revealed that a number of the senior female activists in Islamic Jihad were involved in terror and participated in its funding.
One notable example of such activity was the exposé in August and September 2006 of a network of female activists in the Islamic Jihad, which served as part of the organization’s infrastructure in Judea. Among the detainees was Wadha Fuqaha’, 34 years old and a resident of Jalazoun, an Islamic Jihad activist who headed the Islamic Jihad office in Ramallah.
Wadha said in her interrogation that she received funds from the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Syria, part of which funded the activities of a terror cell which carried out a number of attacks including shooting attacks and the placement of explosive devices in the Ramallah area. The money was transferred to the cell through female Islamic Jihad activists who served as couriers. These activists were also arrested.
Further examples for female involvement in terror:
- October 2006 – the arrest of Wurud Qassem, a Tira resident born to parents who had been beneficiaries of the policy of family unification (According to this policy, Palestinians may receive permits to stay in Israel and a blue Israeli ID card as a result of marriage to an Israeli Arab). She was arrested after it was revealed that she had been involved in the planning of a terrorist attack by activists in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade from Tulkarm. The attack was to be carried out in a restaurant in Ra’anana, by making use of Qassem and her cousin, a Nablus resident residing in Israel as an illegal alien who had worked at the restaurant previously, to smuggle in an explosives device.
- July 2006 – the Tel Aviv arrest of Futna Abu Ayish, a resident of Nablus, while on her way to carry out an abduction masterminded by the Tanzim infrastructure in Nablus.
Israeli Arabs and terror
Israel Arabs involvement with terror continued in 2006, with the exposure of 21 organizations, which involved 24 Israeli Arabs, in comparison to 17 organizations which involved 22 Israeli Arabs in 2005. The recruitment of Israeli Arabs is carried out largely on the basis of previous acquaintance with terror activists – family, commerce contacts, etc.
Most of the cells were masterminded by various terror organizations in the West Bank, particularly Samaria, which find it difficult to carry out attacks in Israel due to the buffer zone and thus seek the aid of Israeli Arabs in order to smuggle the high-quality weapons used to carry out attacks into the West Bank. Thus, for example, a network of weapon dealers was exposed in November 2006, which smuggled weapons and ammunition in large quantities between Israel and the West Bank. The network consisted of ten Israeli Arabs, largely from Umm Al-Fahm and three West Bank residents from the Jenin area.
Israeli Arab involvement with smuggling weapons is also notable in the Negev area, where Israeli Arabs assist terror organizations from the Gaza Strip in smuggling through the Israel-Gaza-Egypt border. Of the 21 cells exposed in 2006, 6 cells consisted of Israeli Arabs smuggling weapons on behalf of the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria (30% of the total of cells exposed).
In addition to these cells, cells were exposed whose activities were directed by Hezbollah. One such example is the arrest of Riad Mazarib, a resident of Beit Zarzir, in July 2006. He admitted in his ISA interrogation that during the fighting in Lebanon he transferred information regarding IDF troop movements, military plans for operations in Lebanon and exact locations of rocket hits, to a Lebanese drug dealer acting for the Hezbollah.
About 40% of all Israeli Arabs involved in terror activity are beneficiaries of the policy of family unification (UFs). These individuals are prime targets for recruitment into terror activities, given the easy access they have to locations in Israel with their blue Israeli ID. Furthermore, their personal bonds with the West Bank ease their recruitment by terror organizations. Another phenomenon is the use of UFs who have returned to live in the West Bank to transfer materials used in the preparation of explosive devices from Israel to the territories.
During the past year 10 UFs were arrested and admitted to involvement in terror. Their activities included attempts to smuggle explosive devices into Israel as well as the transfer of weapons. Despite this, it must be noted that in the year 2006, there was no involvement of Israeli Arabs in attacks that led to casualties amongst Israeli citizens.
Hezbollah activities at espionage and information collection
In parallel with Hizbollah’s involvement in terror within Israel, the organization has been continuously operating – especially in the past two years –to gather information about Israel about a variety of issues, including:
- Israel’s security apparatus
- Civilian infrastructures (electricity, energy, chemicals)
- Politics and the general atmosphere in Israeli society
- The location and movements of IDF forces on the northern border
- Alerts about Israeli intentions to attack Lebanon
During the fighting in south Lebanon, the organization operated to collect information about locations and results of rocket firing, IDF activity in Lebanon and IDF preparation of the forces and the home front for the continuation of the fighting.
Hezbollah collects the information from agents and contacts working on behalf of the organization as well as through unclassified sources such as the Israeli media.
Hezbollah aims to recruit agents with access to the military and civil information which is valuable for its purposes: people who act from personal motives as well as those who have exploitable weaknesses, and who can travel abroad for meetings. These individuals include drug dealers or those involved in other criminal acts, those who hold or have formerly held positions in the military and the police, journalists and businessmen.
In addition, Hezbollah recruits agents from the Israeli Arab population as well as those holding foreign passports, who can be exploited to gather information during tourist visits to Israel or visits to family in Israel. It is also known that Hezbollah attempts to use its agents to recruit Jews as well.
As part of its information gathering activity, Hezbollah has established a wide network of connections to Israeli drug dealers and individuals involved in criminal acts throughout the country. This is based on the drug smuggling on the northern border which is controlled by Lebanese drug barons in service to Hezbollah and led by Ka’id Biro, a resident of Kufr Kila, who was also involved in the abduction of Elhanan Tannenbaum. As in the past, the Hezbollah condition for carrying out these drug deals is the receipt of information from the Israeli side, in addition to payment for the drugs.
The information gathered by the various agents is used for planning terror attacks along the northern border. The abduction that occurred at the outset of the fighting in Lebanon is a recent and painful example of the motivation for Hizbollah’s information gathering. In addition, Hezbollah uses this information to establish an information bank for rocket ranges, which was put to use during the war.
Given that Hezbollah is a front-line operational wing of Iran, which supports its activities through funding, the transfer of knowledge and the direction of activity, it can be assumed that all information gathered about Israel by Hezbollah is also requested by Iran and is transferred by Hezbollah to the relevant elements in Iran.
Sources: Israel Security Agency