By YAAKOV KATZ
Dozens of attempts by terror groups to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks via the porous Egyptian border were thwarted throughout 2009, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Wednesday in its annual report.
The attempts were made by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. The terrorists crossed into Sinai and then tried to enter Israel usually armed with explosives or weaponry. Last month, IDF troops thwarted an infiltration by a suspected terrorist across the Egyptian border. Searches along the border later uncovered a bag containing a sophisticated, 15-kilogram bomb.
In general, the Shin Bet noted a sharp drop in terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and from the Gaza Strip. In 2009, 566 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel in comparison to 2,048 in 2008. Out of the 566, 406 were fired into Israel during Operation Cast Lead in January, meaning that 160 have been fired in the past 11 months.
The most common type of attack in the West Bank, the report noted, was the throwing of Molotov cocktails, which made up 90 percent of attacks in the territories in 2009.
While there were no suicide attacks in 2009, 15 Israelis were killed throughout the year, most of them during Cast Lead. There were 36 casualties in 2008. Last Thursday, Meir Chai was gunned down in a drive-by shooting on Road 57 near the settlement of Shavei Shomron.
Hamas, the security agency said, was currently focused on rebuilding its military infrastructure that was damaged during Cast Lead and was working to obtain long-range rockets. The group recently tested an Iranian missile with a range of 60 kilometers.
The Shin Bet said that a majority of the infiltration attempts across the Egyptian border were made by Palestinian terrorists affiliated with groups in Gaza aligned with al-Qaida and Global Jihad. One case was in June when Rahman was caught crossing the border. He said that his plan was to carry out an attack deep inside Israel to undermine the quiet that was achieved following Cast Lead.
In general, the agency warned of Global Jihad's growing presence in the Gaza Strip, as demonstrated by the recent recruitment of dozens of operatives to the al-Qaida-linked groups.
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