2004 was the fourth year of the current round of the conflict with the Palestinians. It was characterized by several trends, the most prominent of which was a 45% drop in the number of those killed: 117 as opposed to 214 in 2003. There was a similar 41% drop in the number of those wounded: 589 as opposed to 1004 in 2003.
This decline in the number of those wounded stems from the foiling and/or disruption, mainly of suicide attacks. Thus, there were 15 suicide attacks in 2004, 0.4% of the total number of terrorist attacks, which caused 55 deaths, 48% of the total number of those killed. This is in contrast to 26 suicide attacks in 2003, which caused 144 deaths. However, the number of rocket and mortar attacks increased, with the number of deadly attacks among them declining.
It must be pointed out that the decline in the number of suicide attacks does not indicate any difference whatsoever in the motivation of the terrorist organizations to attack Israeli targets. Regarding the number of warnings throughout 2004, there was no significant change in the number of warnings from month to month (average ~46 warnings a month).
The security fence continues to prove its effectiveness in Samaria-based terrorist infrastructures from preventing large-scale deadly terrorist attacks. In 2003, these infrastructures succeeded in perpetrating 12 large-scale deadly terrorist attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 74 people and the wounding of 374. In 2004, these infrastructures succeeded in perpetrating two large-scale deadly terrorist attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 14 people and the wounding of 106.
The terrorist infrastructures are trying to overcome the obstacle of the security fence in several ways. Thus, for example, terrorist elements are trying to bypass the fence via areas in which there is still no fence, via the agricultural gates along the fence, via going under/over the fence, etc. Most prominent is the trend of moving the departure points for terrorists to Judea, where there is no fence, by using terrorist infrastructures there as a forward platform for dispatching terrorists to Israel.
An example of this are the two of the more recent suicide attacks in Israel – the 1 November 2004 attack at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv and the 22 September 2004 attack at French Hill in Jerusalem – and in a series of planned attacks that have been thwarted in recent months after the perpetrators had already gone from Samaria to Judea.
Today, the main routes for dispatching terrorists are: From Samaria via Ramallah to Jerusalem, or from Samaria via Jerusalem’s northern neighborhoods to into the city. In this context, it should be pointed out that 1 November 2004 Tel Aviv suicide attack was perpetrated by a terrorist who, accompanied by another terrorist, had gone from Nablus to Tapuah junction to Kalandia to the Abu Dis area (where he joined up with an eastern Jerusalem taxi driver) to Highway #1 to Tel Aviv. Three Israeli citizens were murdered in the attack. The Tel Aviv bombing is a clear indicator of the trends which strengthened among the terrorist organizations regarding the perpetrating of attacks: using weaker populations (the Tel Aviv attack was perpetrated by a 16-year-old minor), and exploiting the population of eastern Jerusalem, to perpetrate terrorist attacks.
Using minors and women to perpetrate terror attacks
With the construction of the security fence, which makes it difficult for the terrorist organizations to perpetrate attacks, the terrorist organizations have increasingly used minors and women to perpetrate suicide attacks by exploiting their innocent appearance, in an attempt to fool security force personnel at the various checkpoints.
2004 saw a 64% increase in the number of minors involved in terrorism, as opposed to 2003. The innocent appearance of children and young people arouses less suspicion and enables them to more easily blend in crowded places. Moreover, children and teenagers are seen by the terrorist organizations as more easily influenced and constitute an easier recruitment base for suicide attacks.
Women are also seen as arousing less suspicion than men. In each instance in which women were involved, the terrorists were aware of their need for a disguise that would allow them to blend in on the Israeli street. The terrorists tried to give themselves an overall Western appearance, including by wearing non-traditional clothing such as short clothes, pregnancy outfits and modern hairstyles. In most of the aforementioned incidents, the women were from the margins of Palestinian society and did not usually fit the “accepted” profile of “the average Palestinian woman”, with the main motive for the involvement of women in terrorism being personal (alongside the basic nationalistic motive). Thus, for example, there is the romantic motive (i.e. romantic links with the militants involved in recruiting them) and the personal distress motive (i.e. suicidal tendencies in the context of despair over life and parental opposition to the daughter’s marriage).
The integration of women in terrorism is divided among various levels with the uppermost being the involvement of women as suicide bombers or intended suicide bombers whose intentions were foiled before they could be realized. Moreover, women have served as assistants for terrorist activity regarding both planning and perpetration.
Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in Palestinian terror
Another noticeable trend in 2004 was increased involvement in Palestinian terrorism by Iran and Hezbollah, as Iran’s forward military arm against Israel. Hezbollah has activated dozens of terror cells in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria; in 2004, these cells perpetrated 68 terrorist attacks in which 24 Israelis were murdered and 52 wounded. This represents 21% of the total number of fatalities.
Hezbollah has organized itself in a similar way to Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Specifically noticeable are instructions to perpetrate large-scale deadly attacks within Israeli territory, negotiating between terrorists active in a variety of different types of terror activity, and a concentrated effort to upgrade its terrorist capabilities, which is seen in three main channels: information-sharing on explosives, weapons smuggling, recruiting new terrorists. In addition Hezbollah transfers large amounts of money to various terrorist infrastructures.
In 2004, the Tanzim perpetrated 97 terrorist attacks, as opposed to 117 in 2003. The data shows that the Tanzim began the year with rocket attacks as part of the terrorist organizations’ general effort to launch rockets at Israeli targets even though no rocket attacks were attributed to it in 2003. Similarly, it is possible to discern a massive decline in the number of Tanzim-perpetrated shooting attacks.
In 2004, Hamas perpetrated 555 terrorist attacks, as opposed to 218 in 2003. In 2004 we witnessed a massive increase in the number of attacks perpetrated by Hamas, along with a change in the character of the attacks. The increase was seen in the number of Kassam rockets and mortar shells launched, while there was a marked decrease in the number of suicide attacks. In 2004 there was a 500% increase in mortar fire and a 40% increase in Kassam rocket fire in comparison with 2003. There was a 77% decrease in the number of suicide attacks in comparison with 2003.
In 2004, Islamic Jihad perpetrated 106 terror attacks as opposed to 71 in 2003. Islamic Jihad did not realize one suicide attack in 2004, as opposed to the six attacks it perpetrated in 2003. Islamic Jihad did increase its activities in high-trajectory weapon fire from two terrorist attacks in 2003 to 17 in 2004 – an increase of 750%.
Sources: Israel Security Agency