This document summarizes the data and major trends that characterized Palestinian terror in 2007, broken down by areas, Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and general trends that were prominent this year, such as the activities of the Palestinian security apparatus, the growing strength of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and exploitation of humanitarian allowances. This past year brought significant changes that affect the entire region. The most conspicuous was Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip, which altered the reality in the Palestinian arena by creating de facto two separate Palestinian entities in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
Despite the changes in the Palestinian arena and Hamas's takeover, we were witness in 2007 to a continuation of the substantial reduction in the number of suicide attacks, and as a result, in the number of persons killed. This reduction resulted primarily from the combined efforts of the Israeli Security Agency, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Israel Police.
In 2007, there was one suicide attack (in Eilat, on 29 January), in which three Israeli civilians were killed. The suicide terrorist came from the Gaza Strip via the "Hai Route" (Gaza > Sinai/Egypt > Israel), and was dispatched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In 2006, by comparison, there were six suicide attacks.
The terrorist groups in Judea and Samaria failed to carry out a suicide attack this year (in 2006, they carried out four such attacks). Also, there was a drop in attempts to carry out terrorist attacks that were actively interdicted. In 2007, 29 terrorist attacks were interdicted, compared to 37 in 2006. It is important to note that, of the attacks that were actively interdicted in 2007, six were suicide attacks planned to take place inside Israel.
During the past year, the Gaza Strip became the primary "manufacturer" of terror, based on all relevant parameters: number of attacks, the vast majority being high-trajectory gunfire from the Gaza Strip (although of a lesser magnitude than in 2006), number of persons killed in the attacks (the only suicide attack in 2007 originated in the Strip), and also number of alerts.
In Judea and Samaria, on the other hand, though no decline in motivation was discerned, the volume of terror fell, primarily a result of Israeli preventive action. This year, too, the terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria sought to obtain operational capabilities with respect to rockets – primarily under guidance from Gaza. Also prominent this past year was the "awakening" of the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, with many of its actions being uncovered and interdicted.
In the past year, the internal struggle being waged by Hamas and Fatah worsened, and led to Hamas's attempt to stop the internal clashes in the Gaza Strip by shifting the fire in Israel's direction, primarily by means of rocket fire. Ultimately, Hamas gained control of the Gaza Strip. This takeover altered the situation in the Palestinian arena: it ended Fatah rule in Gaza and thus created two separate Palestinian entities, one in Judea and Samaria and the other in the Gaza Strip.
In November 2007, the IDF and ISA carried out a number of arrest operations in the Gaza Strip in an effort to stop terrorists there from carrying out attacks. These operations led to the arrest and questioning of 220 terrorists who were engaged in the planning and carrying out of terrorist attacks. Security forces also carried out actions to locate tunnels; their efforts resulted in the discovery of 12 tunnels, four of which were dug in the direction of Israeli territory.
The terrorist organizations continued their attempts to carry out attacks against Israelis, which led to an increase in the number of alerts of Palestinian intentions to carry out terrorist attacks, an increase in the number of planned attacks that were actively interdicted in the Gaza Strip (17), and an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle terrorists into Israel via the "Hai Route." However, the vast majority of terrorist attacks were by high-trajectory fire. As mentioned above, the only suicide attack carried out in 2007 was by a Palestinian who had come from the Gaza Strip.
The year 2007 also saw a many-fold increase in the number of mortar bombs launched in comparison with 2006. The mortar fire was primarily aimed at IDF forces and Israeli communities near the Israeli-Gaza border.
Military Buildup of Hamas in the Gaza Strip
In 2007, the military buildup of Hamas faced two significant challenges: extensive fighting against Israel (in May) and its internal battle against Fatah (in June). The magnitude and significance of Hamas' military activity in these two arenas reflect Hamas's growing strength over the past two years.
The organization is now building an extensive underground apparatus, which also includes the digging of many tunnels in various areas, from which to attack IDF troops and to provide defense as well as enable large-scale movement underground. Prominent examples of actions against the IDF are the blowing up of a booby-trapped house (1 August) during IDF activity in Beit Lahiya, and the IDF's discovery of a tunnel that had been dug in the direction of Israel, in the Beit Lahiya sector (mid-August), which illustrates the organization's underground activity.
Hamas's rocket activity
Even before it took control of the Gaza Strip, Hamas began, on 15 May 2007, massive Kassam rocket fire at Israel in an attempt to divert attention from the internal struggle (in which dozens of Palestinians were killed) and to unite the Palestinian ranks against Israel.
In 2007, the militant organizations fired a combined total of more than 1,200 rockets at Israel, and more than 800 landed in Israeli territory. The rocket fire killed two Israeli civilians, and lightly injured more than 300 persons, most of whom suffered shock.
The rockets were fired from within crowded, built-up areas, near residential dwellings, in some cases from the roofs of houses, and from schoolyards.
Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip significantly affects the military strength of the movement, which can now grow (in acquisitions, production, and the like) without interference, and creates conditions that enable Hamas to accelerate the buildup and prepare it for a future confrontation with Israel.
Sending Activists Abroad for Training
Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip brought with it a "leap forward" in its operations as an organized military apparatus. The training given to scores of Hamas activists in Iran plays an important role in this context: these operatives sneak across the Egyptian border, make their way to Iran for training, return with improved capabilities and transmit their knowledge to the operatives in the field.
Terrorist Organizations in the Gaza Strip
Alongside Hamas's involvement in carrying out terrorist attacks, primarily by high-trajectory fire, against Israel, other terrorist organizations continued to attempt to carry out attacks against Israel. The organizations that were prominent in carrying out terrorist acts and rocket fire at Israel were the Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Resistance Committees. In 2007, these organizations fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. In addition, there was a significant increase, in comparison with 2006, in the number of terrorists who sneaked through, or attempted to sneak through, the crossings by using humanitarian or other cover, and via the Hai Route (through Sinai) into Israeli territory.
Over the past year, these organizations made many attempts to carry out attacks:
In 2007, there was one suicide attack (in Eilat, on 29 January), in which three Israelis were killed. The perpetrator arrived from the Gaza Strip via the Hai Route (Gaza Strip > Sinai/Egypt > Israel) and was dispatched by the PIJ and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Another attempt by the Islamic Jihad to carry out a suicide attack was interdicted in 2007, with the arrest at Erez Crossing of two Palestinian Gazan women, who admitted under questioning that they had planned to carry out a double-suicide attack, in Tel Aviv and Netanya, under the direction of Islamic Jihad.
It should be noted that most of the alerts and terrorist attacks were carried out over the past year by Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Resistance Committees, which are the major "producers" of terror in the Gaza Strip and organizers of terrorist activity in Judea and Samaria.
During the course of 2007, action was taken to interdict terrorist organizations planning to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel, the emphasis being on rocket fire. In December, for example, substantial action was taken against senior members of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. This action was aimed at three levels of operatives:
- The organization's high command echelon – the decision-makers and planners.
- The field echelon – the commanders of the cells doing the firing.
- The makers of the munitions – the organization's members who are expert at developing rocket weaponry and supplying it to the cells in the field.
Smuggling across the Egyptian Border
Terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, in particular Hamas, have been engaged in recent years, especially since implementation of the "Disengagement" in August 2005, in a rapid military buildup. This buildup is apparent from its amassing of arms, both by self-production and by smuggling munitions of different kinds into the Gaza Strip. In addition, Hamas managed to upgrade its strength due to its control of the Palestinian side of the Philadelphi Corridor, and also as a result of its takeover in the Gaza Strip and by gaining control of the arms in the hands of the Palestinian security apparatus.
The smuggling of arms across the Egyptian border is a vital "oxygen pipeline," through which large quantities of arms, in particular explosives, flow. Since Hamas took over rule in the Gaza Strip, in June 2007, at least 80 tons of explosives have been smuggled in – more than half of the amount of explosives (some 130 tons) that have been smuggled into Gaza since "disengagement."
The main smuggling route used by terrorist groups is through tunnels running from Rafah to the Sinai, in the Philadelphi Corridor sector. The extent of tunnel activity in this sector is apparent from the results of actions taken by the IDF and the ISA in the Kerem Shalom sector, in which it located and destroyed eight tunnels openings (as of 30 October).
Also prominent this past year was use of the smuggling-arms infrastructure for sneaking terrorists from the Gaza Strip into Israel via the Hai route. For example, on 3 July, a suicide attack planned to take place in Beersheba was interdicted with the arrest of a terrorist armed with an explosive belt. Under questioning, he admitted that he infiltrated from the Gaza Strip to Sinai and from there into Israel. He added that he had been ordered to locate a place crowded with people at which to carry out the suicide attack
In addition, terrorist organizations in Gaza make extensive use of the tunnels to smuggle large quantities of money, sometimes tens of millions of dollars at a time. The money, which generally arrives as aid from Arab countries, Iran in particular, enables the organizations to maintain and expand their organizational infrastructure, by paying and training operatives. Hamas in particular uses the tunnels to smuggle in money. For example, the military arm of Hamas received a substantial portion of its budget, estimated at tens of millions of dollars, through these tunnels. The money aids Hamas in its military buildup and in increasing its number of operatives.
Exploitation of Humanitarian Allowance
As a result of the security and political situation in the Gaza Strip, influenced inter alia by Hamas's takeover there, it was decided to tighten the control on Palestinians entering Israel from the Gaza Strip. To do this, Israeli authorities established various criteria governing the entry of Palestinians into Israel. In this context, Palestinians are allowed to enter Israel in special humanitarian circumstances, such as to receive life-saving medical treatment, where circumstances permit taking the security risk inherent in the person's entry.
Alongside the permits Israel issues for entry of ill Palestinians into Israel on humanitarian grounds, there was a significant increase in the exploitation of this possibility by Palestinians wanting to leave the Gaza Strip, primarily as a result of Hamas's takeover and the security situation that came in its wake.
Exploitation of the humanitarian "loophole" is done in a number of ways. The primary one is by obtaining a fictitious referral to a hospital in Israel, in the West Bank or abroad from a physician or other authorized person, in exchange for money. The security forces are aware of a number of physicians and hospital administrative personnel in the Gaza Strip who can be bribed to issue certificates and documents. Medical documents are forged using authentic stamps of hospitals in Gaza, in exchange for money.
The possibility of forging medical documents increases the threat posed by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, which are aided by the medical system in their attempt to gain permits to enter Israel so they can carry out attacks there.
An example of the above happened in May, when two Palestinian women were stopped at Erez Crossing on their way to carry out suicide attacks in Tel Aviv and Netanya. They had received permits to enter Israel based on false medical documents. Fatma Zaq, 39, a pregnant mother of eight, and her niece Ruda Habib, 30, a mother of four, both residents of Gaza, admitted under questioning that the attacks were to take place in a restaurant, events hall, or place where many soldiers were gathered. To enter Israel, a member of Islamic Jihad obtained entry permits for them that were based on false medical documents, indicating Habib needed to undergo a medical examination at a hospital in Ramallah, and Zaq was said to be escorting her. The operative also ordered the two women to go to the hospital to undergo the examination so as to realize the ostensible purpose for their entry.
Judea and Samaria
In 2007, there were no suicide attacks by terrorist groups from Judea and Samaria, but there were three cases in which terrorists managed to infiltrate from Judea and Samaria into Israel and were stopped at the last moment: in February, a terrorist belonging to Islamic Jihad intended to carry out a suicide attack in Tel Aviv. He was caught in Bat Yam and the explosives belt was seized in Rishon Letzion. In the other two cases, the terrorists belonged to Hamas in Samaria: in March a car laden with explosives was sneaked into Israel, an action carried out by the Hamas infrastructure in Qalqiliya. And in September, an explosives belt was discovered in an apartment in Tel Aviv, intended for an attack planned by the Hamas infrastructure in Nablus. These terrorists were caught before carrying out the planned suicide attacks. In 2006, on the other hand, terrorist groups from Judea and Samaria succeeded in carrying out three suicide attacks, two inside Israel. The sharp drop in terrorist attacks can be attributed to the policy of intensive, ongoing preventive activity by the ISA, the IDF, and the Israel Police.
However, in 2007, the terrorist organizations in Judea and Samaria continued their intensive efforts to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. As of October 2007, close to 4,000 terrorist operatives were arrested in Judea and Samaria, 117 of them potential suicide attackers. In 2006, by comparison, 5,000 terrorist operatives were arrested, 279 of them potential suicides, reflecting a decline in potential suicide bombers of some 60 percent.
The number of arrests of potential suicide bombers is the result of intensive efforts by the security forces to interdict the terrorist infrastructure that orchestrates suicide attacks and to locate potential suicide bombers.
Of all the detainees suspected of terrorist activity, the ISA questioned 1357 Palestinians suspected of planning or carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis, a drop from 2006, when the ISA questioned 2007 terrorist operatives. Most of those questioned in 2007 belonged to Hamas, broken down as follows: 188 from Samaria and 299 from Judea. A large number of those questioned, 458, were members of Tanzim. It should be noted that the number of Tanzim interrogees dropped in comparison to 2006, a decline that can be attributed to the agreement concerning persons on Israel's wanted list.
The Gaza Strip as Headquarters for Terrorist Activity in Judea and Samaria
The Gaza Strip has in recent years become the central base for directing the terrorist infrastructure throughout Judea and Samaria. The terrorist operatives in the Gaza Strip provide the know-how to operatives in the West Bank to upgrade their capabilities in the production of arms, including high-trajectory weaponry, in addition to directing terrorist activity and transferring money to finance this activity.
This applies in particular to Hamas, whose strength in the Gaza Strip increased following its takeover in June, but it applies as well to other terrorist organizations, such as the Popular Front and the Islamic Jihad.
The Security Apparatus of the Palestinian Authority
The Wanted Persons Agreement
In August 2007, an attempt was made to encourage moderates in the Palestinian Authority who were interested in stability in the area and opposed Hamas. As part of this attempt, and with the desire to strengthen security by reducing the number of persons involved in terrorism, the defense establishment decided to freeze its active preventive actions against some 170 wanted members of Fatah, if they promised to forego terrorism, hand over their weapons, and meet a list of restrictions placed on them for a trial period. The defense establishment encouraged the Palestinian Authority, given that all these wanted persons were members of Fatah, to demonstrate leadership, collect the weapons from the wanted persons, and take action against those who refused to cease their terrorist activity.
Some of the wanted persons who handed in their weapons and met all their obligations continued, three months later, to Stage 2 of the arrangement, with each wanted person's case being considered individually, based on the severity of his past actions. Others in the group, although abandoning terrorism, did not meet all the requirements, and continued the trial period. A small number of others, who continued to engage in terrorism, once again became immediate targets of Israeli security forces, and some of them were detained already during the trial period.
Wanted Persons Use of Palestinian Authority Buildings for Refuge
In recent years, wanted Tanzim members from Ramallah and nearby villages used PA buildings throughout the city, including the Mukata compound [Palestinian Authority headquarters] and military intelligence headquarters in other places, as a place to hide from Israeli security forces and as a base from which to carry out terrorist attacks.
Over the past year, a number of messages have been delivered to the heads of the Palestinian Authority regarding the presence of wanted persons at these locations, but to no avail. For example, an extensive operation was carried out in March 2007 to arrest wanted persons, including many Tanzim operatives, who had been hiding for a long time in Palestinian military intelligence headquarters in the 'Ein Umm a-Sarayit neighborhood in Ramallah. In the operation, Israel's security forces arrested 20 wanted persons, among them Yunis Gamal Yunis Kafri, 24, who had fired at IDF troops in Ramallah and at separation fence guards and had been involved in an attempt to abduct a Jewish civilian and in the abduction and interrogation of suspected collaborators.
Security Apparatus's Pretend Arrests and Interdictions
Palestinian security forces on several occasions made false representations of extensive, significant operations to interdict attacks. For example, on 25-26 September, the Palestinians announced to the media that, at a house in Bethlehem, it had seized two Kassam missiles aimed at Jerusalem and a number of explosive charges and a suspicious suitcase. In fact, a professional examination by a sapper revealed that the "missiles" were empty pipes without any propellant material or flying capability, and certainly not capable of causing any damage.
An example of false representation of arrests by the Palestinian security apparatuses occurred with respect to the arrest, on 4 December 2007, of Hassan Dabak, 26, from Jericho, a member of the Palestinian National Security Force. Dabak was arrested for belonging to the Fatah-Tanzim cell that planned terrorist attacks at the Jericho bypass route, and for supplying arms to the group. Israel had requested the Palestinian security forces to arrest Dabak, who posed a danger to the security of the region and was engaged in planning attacks. The Palestinians replied that he had been detained but, upon investigation, it was found that he was moving about freely in Jericho. He was then arrested by the IDF and handed over for questioning by the ISA.
Hamas's policy of carrying out attacks and supporting attacks against Israelis in Israel and in the West Bank continued in 2007. It even openly declared in the media that it intends to move the hostilities from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria and that it seeks to obtain control of all the territory comprising the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Hamas's infrastructure in Samaria, with emphasis on the Nablus sector, is dangerous. Hamas is working energetically to rebuild its ranks, which have been impaired since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. But these forces still constitute a serious threat, given the ability of its senior members (former prisoners, who have much knowledge and experience). Over the course of the past year, Israeli security forces have taken preventive actions against Hamas operatives in the Nablus sector, a prominent example being the major operation carried out in September.
The following is a small sampling of the preventive actions taken during the course of the September operation:
- Following a warning of the intention to carry out a suicide attack inside Israel, security forces detained Nahad Shkirat, one of the heads of the Hamas military infrastructure in Nablus, and Mahdi Ashur. Shkirat, who had planned many terrorist attacks, admitted under questioning that he had given Ashur an explosive belt. Ashur brought the belt into Israel and it was hidden in a building in Tel Aviv, where he was staying illegally. On Yom Kippur, Ashur led security forces to where he hid the belt. They took the belt and sappers detonated it.
- Security forces arrested Asad Abu Ghosh, a Hamas munitions expert in the Nablus sector. His arrest led to the discovery of two laboratories used by Hamas to make quality explosive charges for attacks against IDF forces, and an explosive belt to be used in a suicide attack in Israel. The IDF destroyed the laboratories.
The Hamas infrastructure in Judea is also a target of intensive preventive activity. By way of example, in April, security forces uncovered a cell of Hamas operatives from the Hebron area that was responsible for planting explosives alongside the Trans-Judea Highway (between Kiryat Arba and Kiryat Gat) in an attempt to kill IDF forces. During the arrest of the cell's members, dozens of kilograms of substances intended for making explosives were seized.
Hamas Command Abroad vis-a-vis Hamas Infrastructure in Judea and Samaria
In the past year, the Hamas command abroad has conducted intensive activity with respect to the West Bank. The Hamas officials abroad dispatched operatives on military missions to rebuild and rejuvenate Hamas activity in the West Bank and to carry out attacks in Israel. In addition, in recent months, a number of local Hamas groups were established in Samaria that are directed by the Hamas command abroad. The local groups sent operatives abroad for training to improve their military-technological know-how and to obtain funding. One of the aims of the increased activity in the West Bank is to develop high-trajectory firing capabilities and thus duplicate in the West Bank Hamas's activity in the Gaza Strip.
The Islamic Jihad infrastructure in Samaria, particularly in the northern part, is responsible for the killing of dozens of Israelis since the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000. The organization operates under instructions from headquarters in Syria and with the support of Islamic Jihad leaders in the Gaza Strip, and is constantly trying to carry out attacks against Israelis.
Over the past year, the organization's operatives in Samaria have tried to carry out large-scale attacks inside Israel. One example of an interdicted attempt involved the arrest of Fadi Zurba, in November. Zurba belonged to a cell that intended to sneak a suicide bomber into Israel. The terrorist was to disguise himself as a student, carrying a book bag containing explosives on his back. The attempt was interdicted with the arrest of members of the cell, among them the potential suicide bomber.
Another noteworthy case involved the infiltration into Israel of the suicide bomber Omar Abu Rub, an Islamic Jihad operative from Jilabun, who was to carry out a suicide attack in Tel Aviv. The attack was interdicted when he was arrested and the explosive charge, which he had thrown into a trash can on a street in Rishon Letzion, was seized. Under questioning, he stated that Islamic Jihad operatives from the Jenin refugee camp had recruited him to carry out the attack.
In 2007, concentrated efforts were made to bring down the organization and its leaders. Security forces arrested almost 300 Islamic Jihad operatives who were suspected of planning or carrying out terrorist acts against Israelis. For instance, in June, security forces killed Ziad Malaisha, a wanted member of Islamic Jihad, who headed the Islamic Jihad infrastructure in Jenin and was involved in a number of attempts to carry out suicide attacks inside Israel. In February, security forces killed Mahmud Abu Jahim. He had served as an engineer and producer of bombs for Islamic Jihad in Jenin and recruited potential suicide bombers. He was responsible, among other things, for dispatching the aforesaid Omer Abu Rub.
In July, security forces arrested Adham Yunis, who transported the suicide bomber to the mall in Netanya, in December 2005. In that attack, six Israelis were killed and dozens wounded. He was also involved in dozens of shooting and bombing attacks and in rebuilding the organization's operations in Tulkarm.
General Trends in 2007
Dual-use substances are materials that are routinely used in food products, agriculture, medicine, veterinarian medicine, pharmaceuticals and the like, but, by simple technical processes can be turned into dangerous substances. Examples are explosives, or raw materials used to prepare explosives. Terrorist organizations exploit this capability in both the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
In practice, most of the raw materials used to make rockets and explosives to attack Israelis originated in Israel. Knowing that without these substances terrorist organizations will have difficulty producing weapons and ammunition, orders by the military commander in both the Central and Southern Commands were issued restricting the entry of these substances into the Palestinian Authority, except by special permit. These orders are updated regularly, whenever new dangerous substances are discovered. The aim of the restrictions is to interdict attempts by terror organizations to produce Kassam rockets and other weapons and explosives composed of raw materials coming from Israel.
Over the past year, security forces operated to prevent the entry into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of substances used as raw material for the production of explosives for large-scale attacks on Israelis. In raids on five factories in the West Bank, security forces seized dangerous dual-use substances whose entry into the West Bank was forbidden by order of the military commander. In a screw factory in Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem, security forces found an exceptionally large amount of dangerous substances that had been brought in from Israeli factories without the requisite approval of the Civil Administration.
Another example occurred on 5 December, when security forces raided a factory in Nablus and seized dangerous substances that had been purchased from Israel and from abroad, and brought into the area without a permit from the staff officer for environmental affairs in the Civil Administration. The use and possession of these substances were forbidden by order of OC Central Command.
Examination revealed that many dangerous substances arrived from abroad and crossed into the West Bank via Allenby Crossing without any supervision, or via Ashdod Port disguised as substances intended for factories in Israel. To avoid inspection of the goods, labels on the containers stated that the intended factory was located in Israel and in some cases even in Tel Aviv. However, it should be noted that most of the substances seized came from Israel.
Similar activity takes place at crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip. For example, in December, a truck seized at one of the crossings in Judea and Samaria contained 6.5 tons of potassium nitrate camouflaged as sacks of sugar. According to the markings, the sacks of sugar were aid from the European Union.
Another example took place on Passover eve, 2 April, when Israeli authorities prevented the entry into the Gaza Strip of three shipments of pipes and iron, worth some NIS 250,000, which could be used to produce mortar bombs and rockets.
These examples show how the terrorist organizations use raw material intended for civilian and humanitarian use to produce weapons and ammunition for use in attacks against Israeli targets.
International (Global) Jihad and the Army of Islam
In 2007, activity in the Gaza Strip on behalf of global jihad grew. In Judea and Samaria, no significant activity of persons identified with global jihad was registered. However, the ideas underlying global jihad found expression in the form of independent activity, unrelated to the leadership of global jihad abroad. This activity focused on ideology, but at times was manifested in intentions to carry out terrorist attacks.
Operational ties of Palestinian entities in the Gaza Strip with "global jihad" entities abroad
The connection, ideological and operational, between Palestinian terrorism and global jihad is clearly demonstrated by the presence of the Army of Islam in the Gaza Strip, headed by Momtaz Doghmush, which is, in effect, an operational branch of al-Qaida in Gaza.
Since the official declaration of its founding, in June 2006, about the time of the attack at Kerem Shalom, in which two soldiers were killed and Cpl. Gilad Schalit was abducted, the Army of Islam (which took part in the attack) has adopted patterns of action and ideology identified with global jihad. This identification has grown with its development as an independent organization, and became particularly evident during March — April 2007 with its abduction of the British journalist, Alan Johnston.
Independent activity of groups identified with global jihad
The ideological penetration of global jihad is very evident in independent activity unconnected to global jihad organizations around the world. This activity focuses on ideology, but from time to time these entities have shown an interest in expanding their activity and carrying out attacks. This development is concentrated primarily in the Gaza Strip. The infiltration of global jihad ideology is achieved primarily through the Internet websites operated by global jihad organizations.
Terrorist Attacks Directed by Hizbullah
From 2004 to the present time, Hizbullah has invested more than 10 million dollars a year to encourage terrorist activity against Israel. From questioning of operatives who were arrested, it was learned that Hizbullah encourages quantity, and not necessarily quality, of attacks, with money, not ideology, being the primary motive for terrorist organizations' activities under Hizbullah's direction.
In 2007, there was a drop in the number of terrorist cells affiliated with Hizbullah. On the eve of the Second Lebanon War, the number of such terrorist cells was 80 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some 50 of them in Judea and Samaria, most of them belonging to Tanzim and Islamic Jihad. After the war, the number dropped to 65. One of the reasons for the decline was the wanted-persons agreement that was made in August 2007, following which some of the activists loyal to the Palestinian Authority cut off their ties with Hizbullah.
However, Hizbullah continues to view the various terrorist infrastructures in the Palestinian Authority areas as a primary arena for the organization's activity against Israel. Hizbullah stresses building the strength of the infrastructure. To achieve this, it seeks to improve its functioning, whether by training of operatives or by transmission of know-how or by inculcating methods of operation that the organization used against IDF soldiers in the Second Lebanon War. There has been an expansion and upgrading of the infrastructure in all aspects (financing, munitions, training, command directives). The organization has been focusing its efforts, among other things, on improvement of the high-trajectory weapons capability of the different terrorist groups in the West Bank and attempts to carry out attacks using these weapons. So far, these attempts have failed.
One case in point is that of Amar Joad Shaker Damra, 26, a Tanzim member from Refidiyah, in Nablus, who was arrested by security forces. Damra was constantly attempting to carry out Hizbullah-orchestrated suicide attacks on Israel's home front. He replaced Muhammad Amin Muhammad Ramaheh, a Tanzim operative who, like Damra, was affiliated with Hizbullah, and was killed a few days earlier in an arrest operation by security forces.
Abductions Intended for Negotiation Purposes
The terrorist organizations make many attempts to abduct Israelis for negotiation purposes. This phenomenon, which has increased in recent years, is considered legitimate by terrorist groups also in time of calm. These attempts continued in 2007. In some instances, the terrorist organizations identify areas in which Israelis are likely to be alone, such as at isolated bus stops in Judea and Samaria, and try to intercept vehicles leaving Jerusalem and other areas.
For example, on 4 February 2007, IDF and Border Police forces arrested three Hamas operatives from the Ramallah area, who admitted under ISA questioning that they had planned an abduction at the Eley intersection. The plan was interdicted when an alert Israeli at the hitch-hiking stop reported the attempted abduction. The IDF and Border Police quickly set up roadblocks and succeeded in arresting the terrorists shortly afterwards.
Following the repeated attempts of terrorist organizations to abduct Israeli soldiers and civilians, security forces increased their efforts to interdict these intentions. The alertness of civilians is helpful in interdicting attempted abductions, as occurred at the Eley intersection mentioned above.
Stone-throwing and Molotov Cocktails
A prominent phenomenon that has appeared over the years, and was renewed in 2007, is the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles. In 2007, there were dozens of cases of stone-throwing inside Israel, with the major focal points being Route 443 and on roads in northern Israel and in the southern part of the country (the Beersheba area). Toward the end of the year, Molotov cocktails were also hurled at cars traveling Route 443.
In 2007, security forces carried out a number of actions in which they arrested and questioned dozens of Arabs who threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles, civilians, and IDF troops, on a daily basis, endangering the lives of the passengers in the vehicles.
Funding of Terrorism
In 2007, there was an increase in the amount of money that reached the terrorist organizations and was intended for hostile terrorist activity. This money enables the organizations to maintain and expand their organizational infrastructure, by paying and training the terrorists, and purchasing and producing arms and ammunition. The need for money, which serves as "the fuel that propels terrorist activity," impels the terrorist groups to actively seek ways to transfer funds from abroad to the terrorist groups in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
For example, a Hamas command infrastructure was uncovered in Jerusalem this year, leading to the discovery of a number of routes by which money was transferred from abroad, and to evidence of intensive Hamas activity in the city, funded by Hamas entities abroad. In the third quarter of 2007 alone, a total of almost 12 million shekels was transferred to the various organizations. Most of the money, some eight million shekels, reached Hamas groups in Judea and Samaria.
The following is an example of the methods that terrorist organizations have developed to smuggle in money to finance their activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On 25 February 2007, the ISA, Israel Police, and Tax Authority agents raided the offices of the Israeli companies Shinterco and Maayan, which were suspected of funding terrorist activity and aiding an illegal association.
The involvement of Shinterco, a company in Ramat Gan that imports and markets basic food products, was discovered when an investigation showed that it knowingly maintains, for monetary gain, extensive commercial ties with the Palestinian Abu Akar Company, which also imports and markets food products. In December 2005, the Minister of Defense declared the Abu Akar Company to be illegal, after it was found that it routinely funds Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in areas under Palestinian Authority control. Hamas and Islamic Jihad headquarters abroad bought merchandise from suppliers abroad, who, for payment, transferred to Abu Akar the monetary value of the merchandise, less a commission for Islamic Jihad or Hamas in PA territory. In that way, the company aided terrorists in evading the regulations and supervision intended to prevent the entry of money for illicit purposes.
In light of the closer supervision of the ways of transferring money to terrorist groups, the latter have begun to use businessmen and merchants to transfer money in roundabout ways, taking advantage of business operations to launder the money. This method is illustrated by the case involving Hamid Majed Muhammad Darajmeh, 25, a resident of Tubas. NIS 80,000 were deposited into the bank account of Darajmeh, who collaborated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Jenin area. This money was to be handed over to the terrorist group. Under questioning, Darajmeh confirmed that the NIS 80,000 had been deposited into his account.
The PIJ in northern Samaria, to which the money was to be transferred, was responsible for carrying out the gravest attacks carried out recently inside Israel.
Arms Ties between Terrorists in the Territories and Criminal Elements in Israel
Over the past year, many cases were uncovered regarding ties involving arms between criminal elements in Israel and terrorist operatives in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip. Security forces are engaged in a constant war on the trade and smuggling of arms, including from IDF bases, and their sale to terrorist operatives in the Territories. These ties between terrorists and criminals holding Israeli identity cards facilitate the acquisition of arms and ammunition which ultimately are used in attacks against Israel. The danger inherent in these ties is seen in the case of Hamas operatives and arms dealers from Jabel Mukaber, in East Jerusalem, who were ultimately arrested. They were found to have had ties with two Hamas operatives who carried out the shooting attack at the Sheikh Sa'ed checkpoint, in the separation fence around Jerusalem, in May 2007. One of the persons arrested provided the terrorists with a weapon a few hours before the attack, in which two security forces were injured, one of them seriously. The terrorists, who hold Israeli identity cards and live in Jabel Mukaber, were killed in an exchange of gunfire during the incident. Under questioning, the detainees admitted that they were involved in extensive trade in arms with criminal elements, Arab Israelis from the north, and also Hamas operatives from Hebron and Bido, a village in the Ramallah District. The questioning also revealed that one of the terrorists acquired the pistol used in the attack a few hours before the attack, and that he had received it from Anan Muhammad Halaila, 21, an arms dealer, and also a resident of Jabel Mukaber. His name came up with those of other detainees as persons who had been involved in attempts to steal weapons from IDF soldiers with the intent of selling them.
Another example occurred in March, when security forces uncovered a network of arms dealers from the Nazareth area, who sold munitions that had been stolen from the IDF to Palestinians in the West Bank. Among those arrested was Arkan Bashir, an IDF soldier in the standing army, who admitted under questioning that he stole munitions from the IDF and sold them to arms dealers, who then sold them to Ahmad Boz, a Fatah operative from Nablus, who was also arrested.
Sources: Israel Security Agency