'Rise in terror plots against Israelis, Jews'

Shin Bet head addresses FADC, accusing Iran of contributing to terror worldwide and in Gaza.

Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Terrorists funded by Iran have increased attempts to attack Jewish targets around the world in the past year, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday.
Pointing to Iran as the main channel for attacks, Cohen explained that only a fraction of attempts on Jewish lives internationally have been publicized.
The Shin Bet, Mossad and IDF intelligence worked together, “connecting bits of information until we were able to act and block the organization [of attacks],” Cohen said.
Cohen also cited Iranian agents training operatives in Gaza, which he called “a giant arms warehouse.”
Hamas has about 8,000 rockets in Gaza with a range of 4 to 40 km., as well as 15,000 operatives, he said. Islamic Jihad has 5,000 fighters, some trained by Iranians entering Gaza, while others travel abroad to learn terror attack strategies.
“Libya is the new gate to hell,” Cohen added, referring to large amounts of shoulder missiles and rockets smuggled from Libya into Gaza. So many weapons are brought into Gaza that they have caused a “flood,” he explained, to the point that they lowered the price of arms.
According to Cohen, Hamas does not intend to use its extensive weaponry in Gaza to conquer Israel, rather to increase its deterrence so the defense establishment will weigh its steps before acting.
The Shin Bet head also described a burgeoning Gazan weapons industry, developing rockets with a longer range. A large lathe, used to manufacture rockets, was recently brought into Gaza.
At the same time, Cohen said, “the Shin Bet has hundreds of quality targets in Gaza, based on high-quality intelligence. The day we receive the command, we can attack them from air or land.”
“If we do not take out terrorism in Gaza, then in the future we will meet the same capabilities, but in larger numbers,” he explained. “The question is not whether to act against terrorism in Gaza, but what will be the other side’s reaction. There is a fear that many citizens will be sent to shelters.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas realizes that his power is limited in Gaza because of Hamas, Cohen stated, adding that the possibility of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas “looks further than ever.”
Cohen pointed to a rise in terrorism coming from Judea and Samaria, mostly using rocks, knives and similar weapons. Hamas is the dominant terrorist organization in the region.
In the past year, 28 kidnapping attempts were thwarted, with at least 18 coming from Hamas operatives.
The PA opposes violence and works against terrorism by “calming and warning,” but not arresting attackers or putting them on trial, he explained. If they receive a concrete warning from Israeli intelligence, they attempt to stop the attack.
Egypt has a major governability problem in Sinai, Cohen added, and has an interest in working with Israel to get rid of terrorism in the area.
“Terrorist organizations are not interested in facing us directly, so they send rockets from Sinai to Eilat,” Cohen stated. “If the Egyptians do not take care of terrorism, we will have a very complex problem.”
The Shin Bet chief briefly mentioned the issue of Africans illegally entering Israel, saying that no terrorist activity by migrants has been detected.