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Trends in Palestinian Terrorism:
2009 Terrorism Review

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Prominent Trends in 2009

  • 2009 displays a significant decline in the amount of attacks coming from the Palestinian Territories as opposed to previous years.
  • The 2008 Gaza Operation (hereinafter: the Gaza Operation,27/12/08-18/01/09) is the reason for the decline in Gaza Strip-based attacks. The operation caused a sharp decline in rocket launchings against Israel - 566 launchings (406 of them were launched in January during the operation) as opposed to 2,048 launchings in 2008.   
  • In the West Bank - the continuous CT activity conducted by Israel and the Palestinian security apparatuses is the main reason for the decline in the amount of attacks. It should be mentioned that above 90% of the total number of attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem are in the form of Molotov cocktail throwings. 
  • The decline in the amount of attacks brought about a decrease in the number of casualties and injured people: 15 casualties, 9 of them died during the Gaza Operation (as opposed to 36 in 2008) and 234 injured people, 185 of them were wounded during the Gaza Operation (as opposed to 679 in 2008). 
  • It should be noted that no suicide attacks were executed in 2009.
  • After the Gaza Operation, Gaza Strip-based Hamas has been focusing on rebuilding its military power and improving the network of smuggling tunnels used for smuggling various weapons, including long-range rockets. 
  • At the same time, Israel has managed to thwart dozens of attempts by Gaza Strip-based terrorist organizations to execute attacks in its territory using armed perpetrators through the U-Route (GS-Sinai-Israel route, hereinafter: the U-Route).
  • There is also a substantial propagation in Global Jihad ideology across the Gaza Strip and a sizeable joining of dozens of military activists to different Gaza Strip-based organizations established according to Global Jihad ideology.
  • Hizballah has been constantly attempting to perform the revenge attack following Imad Mughniyah's death, causing a gear up and a high level of readiness.
  • Jacob (Jack) Teitel's arrest exposed a series of severe attacks he committed over the past 12 years.
  • The never-ending war against terror funds - Issam Yousef's resigning from the Union of Good and seven other charity societies in Britain, including Interpal. Yousef was the executive director of these charity institutions.

Data regarding casualties in terror attacks

Throughout 2009, 15 people were killed as opposed to 36 in 2008. 9 people, who comprise most of the casualties, were killed during the Gaza Operation in January. 5 civilians and soldiers were killed by high-trajectory launchings and 4 soldiers were killed by friendly fire. On January 27, 2009, a soldier was killed by an explosive device at the Gaza Strip border line.

In addition, 5 Israelis were killed – 2 security officers were killed in a shooting attack in March at Mesua (Jordan Valley), one citizen was stabbed to death in Bat Ayin in April (WB), one was fatally wounded in an assault attack in Ashdod in May, and one was shot to death near Shavei Shomron (WB) in December.

Throughout 2009, 234 people were injured as opposed to 679 in 2008. 185 of them were Israeli civilians and security officers on-duty who were injured during the Gaza Operation.

Suicide Attacks

No suicide attacks were executed in 2009.

Rocket and mortar shell launchings

Throughout 2009, 566 rockets and 287 mortar shells were launched towards Israel, as opposed to 2,048 rockets and 1,688 mortar shells launched in 2008. It is a sharp decline in the number of high-trajectory launchings in recent years, all as a result of the Gaza Operation.

Hamas - following the Gaza Operation

Since the Gaza Operation, Hamas has been fully engaged in rebuilding its military power and conducting various military preparations for another round of fighting while using the Gaza Strip residents as a human shield. The network of tunnels used for smuggling weapons under Philadelphi Route has been reconstructed and improved.

A great amount of weapons destined to all Gaza Strip-based terror organizations, especially Hamas, were and still are smuggled through these tunnels. Moreover, tubes and fertilizers are also being smuggled; these are used by various R&D networks, with emphasis on Hamas' R&D network, to produce self-made rockets. All of the tunnels under Philadelphi Route and the products smuggles are controlled by Hamas' security apparatuses, providing Hamas a significant source of income.

Despite the drastic decline in the number of rocket launchings towards Israel due to the Gaza Operation, terror organizations are still highly motivated to execute attacks in Israel. Since early 2009, Israel managed to thwart dozens of infiltration attempts by Gaza Strip residents through the U-Route.

Many of the activists trying to infiltrate through the U-Route are affiliated with Global Jihad ideology. For example, Abd Al Rahman Talalka was arrested in June while infiltrating into Israel from Sinai in order to attack deep within Israeli territory and upset the little rest that was achieved after the Gaza Operation.

Establishment of Gaza Strip-based Global Jihad

Throughout 2009, the widespread phenomenon of Global Jihad across the Gaza Strip has become salient. Dozens of military activists joined different organizations that were established within the Gaza Strip according to Global Jihad ideology (Jaljalat, Jund Ansar Allah etc.). These activists have been making repeated attempts to execute attacks in Israel and near the Gaza Strip-Israel border line. For example, activists attacked on January 27, 2009 an IDF patrol in Southern Gaza Strip which resulted in one casualty who was killed by an explosive device; in June, military activists rode horseback towards the border fence in order to kidnap and kill IDF soldiers patrolling the area. This last attempt brought Hamas' attention to a menace against Hamas and its government; thus, evoking a tension between Hamas and Global Jihad-affiliated activists, the latter not accepting Hamas' regime.

In July, the tension between Hamas and Global Jihad activists was at its peak when an armed fighting occurred between both sides at a mosque in Rafah frequented by Global Jihad activists. Many Global Jihad senior activists who comprised the leadership of Gaza Stripe-based Global Jihad organizations were injured and killed during the fight and many of the activists were arrested. Several Hamas activists were also killed, one being a regiment commander. Despite the confrontations, Gaza Strip-based Global Jihad activists continue to be active.

Decline in Terror in the West Bank and Jerusalem

2009 displayed a continuous decline in terror in the West Bank and Jerusalem. 636 attacks were executed in the West Bank and Jerusalem (as of December 24, 2009) as opposed to 893 attacks in 2008, 946 attacks in 2007, and 1.309 attacks in 2006.

There is a prominent decline in shooting and explosive device attacks: 22 shooting attacks in 2009 as opposed to 83 in 2008, and 13 explosive device attacks as opposed to 54 in 2008. However, a significant part of these attacks are local-based. 578 attacks out of the 636 executed which comprise over 90% of attacks are in the form of Molotov cocktail throwings.


The high level of readiness regarding Hizballah's plan to execute a revenge attack due to Imad Mughniyah's death has been maintained during 2009. Hizballah has also been striving to recruit activists to build terror infrastructures in Israel, targeting primarily Israeli politicians and VIPs.

One such example is Rawi Sultani, a resident of Tira (within the Green Line), who was arrested in August for gathering Intelligence on IDF Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi. In his interrogation, Sultani admitted to being directed by his handler to gather Intelligence on other senior Israelis and IDF bases in Israel. Another example is that of Ismail Souleiman, a Bedouin from Hajajre, Galilee who was arrested in February for joining Hizballah. He admitted to having met a Lebanese Hizballah handler in Saudi Arabia who had recruited and directed him to gather Intelligence on the activity of IDF forces located at the vicinity of his home.

The internet is also a preferred recruitment zone for terrorists. Many Israelis reported being offered to join terror activity or deliver classified information in return for payment.

War Against Terror Funds

Several important landmarks have been made in the area of terror funds. On February 27, the Charity Commission in Britain (a commission responsible for the proper conduct of NPOs in Britain) published a report on the investigation of Interpal. The report stated that Interpal was instructed to immediately disengage from the Union of Good (global network of fund raising affiliated with Hamas). Following the report, Issam Yousef, a senior Hamas activist and founder of the Union of Good who served as its executive director and that of seven other charity societies in Britain, decided to resign from the Union of Good.

Palestinian-U.S. citizens who directed HLF's activity (Holy Land Foundation) were heavily sentenced for funding terrorism through their work in HLF. Two of HLF's leaders were sentenced to 65 years of imprisonment, and others were sentenced to 15 and 20 years of imprisonment.

Sources: Israel Security Agency

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