2015 had the most terror-related deaths since 2008, Hebron had twice as many terror attacks as Jerusalem, and the number of wounded was four times greater than the year before.
The Shin Bet published on Tuesday data reflecting the deterioration in the overall security situation in 2015, about six months after the murder of Eitam and Naama Henkin, the unofficial start of the ongoing wave of terror in Israel. According to official figures, 28 Israelis were killed as a result of attacks during 2015 compared to 20 in 2014, when Operation Protective Edge occurred.
Twenty-five of those killed in terror attacks last year were civilians, including 22 Israelis, 2 foreigners, and a Palestinian. Three more are members of the security forces. Most of the fatalities were recorded in the last three months of the year (24), with four deaths occurring the first nine months of 2015. According to the Shin Bet, most of the deaths were caused by terror attacks occurred in the Gush Etzion and Hebron area (12) and Jerusalem (10). The other deaths occurred in Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv, and near Itamar in the West Bank.
According to the data, most of the deaths were the result of shootings, even though the vast majority of attacks were in the form of a stabbing or vehicular attack. Sixteen victims were killed in shooting attacks, while five died in attacks that combined shooting and stabbing. In addition, eight were stabbed to death, three were killed by vehicular attack and one Israeli was killed by a thrown rock.
The bloodiest month was in October with 11 deaths, followed by November (10) and December (3). Last year there were 239 wounded in terrorist attacks, compared to 63 in 2014, during which a war was going on in the south.
Last year, 114 people were injured in stabbing attacks, 70 were wounded by vehicular attack and 39 were wounded by gunfire. In addition, there were nine injured by Molotov cocktails, three in bomb attacks, two in physical attacks and an additional two people in stone-throwing attacks. The Shin Bet indicated that “injured” are defined only as those people who were wounded moderately or worse, hence excluding everyone who was lightly wounded.
The data also showed that 2015 had more fatalities from terror since 2008, excluding the 73 who died in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge. In 2008, 32 deaths were recorded, but the beginnings of Operation Cast Lead at the end of the year was a factor.
In terms of number of attacks, there was a decrease in whose that happened specifically in the West Bank compared to 2014 (1,719 attacks compared to1,793 attacks in 2014). However, there has been an increase in severity and the number of fatalities.
The high number of attacks in 2014 was likely related to Operation Protective Edge, when there were disturbances and serious violence in the West Bank.
The fact that the Hebron area became the focus of terrorist attacks is reflected in the data, as 1,368 attacks in 2015 were in the region south of Jerusalem and north of Mount Hebron, compared to 351 attacks in the northern West Bank. In Jerusalem, last year there was a significant increase in the number of attacks, 635 in 2015 compared to 346 in 2014, but without a corresponding increase in the number of fatalities (10 in 2015 and 11 in 2014).
Contrary to what happened in the West Bank, the Gaza region had fewer terror attaks last year. In 2015, 44 attacks originated in the Gaza Strip, compared to 121 in 2014 (excluding the fighting that took place during Operation Protective Edge). The attacks originating in the Gaza Strip included 25 rocket attacks, two mortar attacks, eight small-arms fire attacks, two bombings, an anti-tank rocket attack and six Molotov cocktail attacks at the border fence during rioting.
Gaza – the calm before the storm?
None of the attacks originating in the Gaza Strip caused any fatalities, making 2015 the quietest year since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Shin Bet noted that Hamas maintained in 2015 the policy of keeping the peace with Israel in the Gaza Strip, while most of the rocket attacks were carried out by rogue Salafi groups such as groups associated with ISIS.
The Shin Bet also said that Hamas may have arrested these rogue operatives but released them after a warning. The Shin Bet also pointed out that Hamas is trying to direct and finance terrorist cells in the West Bank in order to encourage and carry out attacks there, with the aid of Hamas headquarters abroad headed by Saleh al-Arouri.
In addition, the Shin Bet suggested that the calm in Gaza is being used by Hamas to build the strength of its organization and prepare for the next conflict with Israel. According to the Shin Bet, Hamas is working on the manufacture of rockets, unmanned aerial vehicles, expansion and consolidation of tunnels into Israel and training special forces that intended to invade Israel’s territory through tunnels.
On the Sinai front, the Shin Bet said that the main effort of the one incident of rocket fire from the Sinai at Israel, resulting in no damage and no casualties.
According to the data, security forces worked harder last year to thwart Palestinian terrorism. More than 3,100 suspected terrorists, one third of them Hamas militants, were arrested in 2015. Most of them, 1,618, were from the Hebron area. Questioning of suspects led to 1,933 indictments. According to the Shin Bet, 239 significant attacks planned for this year were thwarted.
These thwarted attacks included 19 kidnappings, 12 suicide bombings, 120 shootings, 41 IED attacks, 37 stabbings and 10 vehicular attacks.
Meanwhile, 2015 saw the seizure of 143 rifles, 34 pistols, three explosives labs, dozens of explosive devices and dozens of kilograms of explosives.
In one major incident, 25 operatives from the University of Abu Dis directed by the military wing of Hamas to carry out suicide bombings in Israel was apprehended. In addition, last April last year a broad Hamas network operating Nablus was caught.
Higher casualties from Jewish terror
The Shin Bet noted with concern the increase in the involvement of Israeli Arabs in terrorist attacks, but said their involvement in terror is fairly minor.
Regarding the involvement of Arab-Israelis with ISIS, the Shin Bet indicated that it knows of 32 Israeli Arabs fighting in Syria, of which seven were killed in the fighting. In addition, 41 Israeli citizens have been arrested and questioned for supporting ISIS since the beginning of 2015.
Regarding the issue of Jewish terrorism, the Shin Bet indicated there were 16 terrorist attacks by Jews in 2015, the same number as 2014, but that severity of attacks and fatalities had gone up. These attacks included two stabbings, one stone-throwing incident, with the remainder being arson attacks on homes or Muslims and Christians religious buildings, the most prominent among them being the murderous arson at Duma and the burning of Dormition Abbey and Church of the Multiplication.
The Shin Bet emphasized that 90 indictments were filed in 2015 against Jewish terrorists. Four were placed in administrative detention and administrative restraining orders were issued to 45 Jewish terrorists.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Media Line Ltd., it's management, staff, advertisers and sponsors. The Media Line bears no responsibility for opinions and/or information appearing herein.