Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures during a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
The recent increase in terrorism in the West Bank can be attributed to a combination of new resourcefulness by Hamas and a weaker commitment to security cooperation by the Palestinian Authority, says an intelligence center report.
According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, “Hamas’s successful establishing and handling a terrorist squad (or squads), especially in the region around Ramallah” is one of the key factors behind the latest wave.
Although the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) by its own count has stopped around 480 terror attacks in 2018, questions have been raised about why more attacks are now getting through.
While the Meir Amit Center report says Hamas has broadly in recent years failed to boost the volume of attacks from the West Bank, it also said “the possible involvement of an established squad (or squads)” by Hamas “may increase the quantity and quality of the attacks and the daring of the terrorist operatives.”
Implied in the report is that Hamas’s establishment of a new operational cell, after many past failed attempts, showed it was being more resourceful and had outwitted or managed to keep its attack plans off the radar screen of Israeli intelligence.
Next, the intelligence center report said another key reason for the wave was “the persistent weakening of the PA and the decrease in the level of security coordination with Israel.”
According to the report, the PA has been weakened by internal battles over who will succeed aging leader Mahmoud Abbas and by growing social protests which make it hard to control the Palestinian street
It said, “the PA’s ability and motivation to continue security coordination with Israel is on the decline.”
“In recent events the Palestinian public has turned its anger against the PA and its security services, calling them traitors and collaborators,” accusing them of failing to prevent “Israeli security forces from entering cities in Judea and Samaria, among them Ramallah, or from killing operatives, and of having violently restrained the riots against Israel’s activities,” said the report.
All of these factors imply that the PA may not always be passing on all information to Israel about potential terror attacks that it has passed on in the past.
Finally, the center discusses the factor of “imitation.”
The idea is that when one terrorist succeeds it inspires a series of copycat attacks.
In particular, the report noted “the lethal shooting attack in the Barkan industrial zone, where the attacker managed to elude the Israeli security forces for nine weeks,” as a potential catalyst since “his success in killing Israelis and eluding the search for him led to a wave of sympathy and admiration.”
As signs of overall deterioration in the West Bank that could lead to increased terror, the report noted “calls have been heard to escalate clashes with the Israeli security forces.
Activists on the social networks began a campaign calling for business owners in Judea and Samaria to turn off their surveillance cameras to protect the lives of the “resistance” operatives.”
Moreover, it said that, “On the ground there has been an increase in the number of riots in support of terrorist attacks during which rioters have clashed with the Israeli security forces.”
Despite the rise in significant attacks since September 2018, the report noted that there has been an annual decline in significant attacks since the peak of in September 2015.
In 2015, there were 171 attacks (134 in the final months of the year), 142 attacks in 2016, 82 in 2017 and 54 in 2018, even with the recent spate of attacks.
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