A high-ranking IDF official cited a major increase in terror in 2006 on Sunday. Palestinian terror groups, he said, have used the last year to build up militarily in preparation for another round of violence against Israel. The officer said that the 'Tahadiyeh' or truce that went into effect following the disengagement in 2005 was used by the Palestinians to upscale the smuggling of weapons. In 2006 there were a total of 593 shooting attacks, he said. There were 400 roadside bombs in 2006, in comparison to 149 in 2005.
IDF thwarts terror attack in Nablus
The officer took responsibility for the outcome of last week's operation in Ramallah during which six Palestinians were killed. He said that investigations on several different levels including a probe led by Defense Minister Amir Peretz were to follow over the next few days.
Earlier Sunday, an IDF investigation into the raid revealed that the army had acted appropriately and that there had been no flaws in the performance of either the commanders or the soldiers in the field, Israel Radio reported Sunday.
According to the probe the six Palestinians killed by IDF fire had been armed, and the troops had fired only rubber bullets at Palestinians who threw stones.
OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Ya'ir Naveh came under criticism for not informing Peretz of the raid, which took place while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Diplomatic officials said Naveh should not have carried out the operation while the prime minister was holding important diplomatic talks. They blamed the raid for the poor results of the meeting, at which Mubarak denounced the attack as disrupting peace negotiations.
In addition to the six deaths, some 30 Palestinians were wounded in the botched attempt to arrest a wanted Palestinian terrorist.
The senior officer said during a briefing to reporters that in light of the major increase in terror activity in the West Bank, it was important to maintain the operational independence and ability to operate freely within Palestinian towns and cities.
Despite an increase in the number of attacks, the officer said, 2006 was a successful year for the IDF in thwarting terror attacks and preventing terror infiltration into Israel. 187 suicide attacks were thwarted over the past year including one on Sunday morning.
In total, the officer said, Palestinians were successful in carrying out two attacks in Israel that had originated in the West Bank. The attacks killed 11 civilians, in contrast to 2005, when 21 people were killed in five different attacks, and 2004, when 42 people were killed in seven different attacks.
In 2003, 137 people died in 18 attacks, while in 2002, 234 people were killed in 62 attacks.
"We succeeded in lowering the level of terror inside Palestinian population
centers," the officer said. "This was made possible by our continued presence in the territory and the nonstop operations that we carry out inside the cities, such as the one last Thursday in Ramallah."
In 2006, the officer said, 4,110 terror suspects were arrested by the IDF, in comparison to 3,062 in 2005 and 3,737 in 2004.
The officer slammed the official Palestinian security branches operating in the West Bank, saying that all of them were "infected" with terrorists.
The officer further revealed that the IDF had information concerning the presence of RPGs and anti-tank missiles inside Nablus, Ramallah and Kalkilya.
Regarding attempts to manufacture and fire Kassam rockets from the West Bank, the officer said there were several attempts in the Jenin and Tulkarm areas, but that they were all thwarted.