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Trends in Palestinian Terrorism: 2010 Terrorism Review

Prominent Trends in 2010

  • 2010 displayed a drop in the scope of terrorism, much like in previous years. 2010 concludes with 798 terror attacks as opposed to 1,354 attacks in 2009 (378 of them were executed during Operation Cast Lead).
  • This drop in the scale of terrorism is also manifested through a lower number of casualties and fatalities: nine fatalities (as opposed to 15 in 2009; nine fatalities were caused during Operation Cast Lead). This drop is more salient with regard to the number of casualties: 28 casualties as opposed to 234 (185 casualties were caused during Operation Cast Lead) in 2009. 

  • Just like in 2009, no suicide attacks occurred in 2010.

  • 2010 has also displayed a decline in the number of rocket launches from the Gaza Strip towards Israel: 150 launches as opposed to 569 in 2009 (407 launches were executed during Operation Cast Lead). Moreover, there has also been a drop in the number of mortar shell attacks: 215 launches in 2010 as opposed to 289 launches in 2009 (137 launches were executed during Operation Cast Lead).

  • Gaza-based Hamas continues to strengthen its military power, especially by smuggling high quality weaponry from the Sinai Peninsula through the tunnels in Rafah. 

  • The Sinai zone is becoming Gaza's "backyard" when it comes to the amount of weaponry destined for smuggling to the Gaza Strip. Two rocket launching attacks from Sinai to Eilat occurred under Gaza-based Hamas directives. 

  • 2010 has displayed a decline in the number of shooting attacks in the West Bank (16 attacks as opposed to 20 in 2009), especially in the Judea area, but resulted in five fatalities, perhaps due to the restoration of Hamas infrastructures in the Hebron / Yatir areas.  

  • With regard to the Jerusalem area, there has been an increase in the number of terror attacks (two shooting attacks), riots, and throwing of stones and firebombs.

  • In 2010, a grouping composed of Arab-Israelis from Nazareth was exposed; the grouping was influenced by global jihad ideology and murdered an Israeli citizen. Moreover, two espionage cases were exposed in 2010; the activity was carried out by Golan Heights residents and the spies were operated by Syrian intelligence elements. The recruitment activity of Arab-Israelis by Hezbollah and Hamas elements, including elements from Syria, has carried on throughout 2010. In this aspect, another salient issue was the arrest of Ameer Makhoul – Makhoul is suspected for maintaining connections with Hezbollah elements and providing them information. 

  • Israel continues to conduct preventive activity with regard to Hamas', Hizballah's, and Iran's will to avenge the deaths of Imad Mughniyeh and Mahmoud al Mabhouh which were ascribed to Israel.
  • In 2010, radical right-wing activists conducted arson attacks against buildings located within Palestinian villages and Palestinian vehicles, as well as mosques. Moreover, there have been several violent clashes between law enforcement and security forces and radical Israeli hill settlers. 

Data regarding fatalities as a result of terror attacks

Throughout 2010, nine people were killed as opposed to 15 in 2009 (in 2009, nine were killed during Operation Cast Lead). One of the grave attacks which was carried out in August near Kiryat Arba resulted in four Israeli fatalities driving in a vehicle.

Rocket and mortar shell launchings

Throughout 2010, 150 rockets were launched towards Israel as opposed to 569 rockets in 2009 (407 of them were launched during Operation Cast Lead). 215 mortar shells were launched in 2010 towards Israel as opposed to 289 in 2009 (137 of them were launched during Operation Cast Lead).
This appears to be a decline, especially with regard to the low number of rocket launchings due to Operation Cast Lead. 

The scale of terrorism in the Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem

On the one hand, 2010 has manifested a continuous decline in the scale of terrorism in the Judea and Samaria area, yet an increase was noted in the severity of these attacks. On the other hand, there has been an increase in terrorism in the Jerusalem area: two shooting attacks, riots, and throwing of stones and firebombs.
In 2010, 455 attacks were executed in the area of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, as opposed to 636 attacks in 2009, 893 attacks in 2008, 946 attacks in 2007, and 1,309 attacks in 2006.  

With regard to firearms attacks, 2010 has manifested a decline in the number of shooting attacks (16 attacks, as opposed to 20 in 2009). Yet, there has been a rise in the number of IED attacks (16 attacks as opposed to 13 in 2009). 

Hamas and Iran

Gaza-based Hamas arms race is still in progress. It is expressed through boosting funds smuggling to the Gaza Strip, however, it is mostly conducted through smuggling large quantities of high quality weaponry.

Throughout 2010, much weaponry has been smuggled  into the Gaza Strip, to include many hundreds of standard rockets (the majority of these rockets extend to 20km and 40km), about a thousand mortar shells, dozens of AT missiles, tons of standard explosives, and tons of raw material for explosives production.  

The smuggling route starting in Iran and passing through Sudan and Sinai continues to be a key element for Palestinian terror organizations. Iran plays a key role in assisting the Palestinian terror organizations and Hezbollah to strengthen their military capabilities – it provides high quality weaponry; it funds training for military activists; and it directs terror activity through various Arab countries, especially Syria and Lebanon. 

Besides Hamas' ongoing attempts to advance its military capabilities, it has also been engaged over the past year (with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood) in diverse international activity and attempts to delegitimize Israel. Most of its activity has focused on organizing various Gaza flotillas to end the "blockade" on Gaza whilst taking advantage of left-wing institutions and humanitarian organizations worldwide to disseminate its interests. It has also committed aggressive acts against Israel, to include filing suits against Israeli dignitaries in international institutions.   

In the Judea and Samaria - Hamas focused on restoring its infrastructures especially in the Hebron / Yatir area. Two prominent attack were executed by its infrastructures: the attack on an Israeli vehicle near Kiryat Arba (August 31) which resulted in four fatalities, and near Otniel  which resulted in a dead Israeli policeman (June 14).  
In light of Hamas' restoring activity, the Palestinian security apparatuses and Israeli security forces have been conducting significant thwarting operations against Judea and Samaria -based Hamas.

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Sources: Israel Security Agency