Temporary Dip in Palestinian Terror
As of May 27, the number of Israeli casualties from the ongoing Palestinian wave of terror stood at 414, with 34 killed and 380 injured since September 13 of last year. Among the injured, 38 were seriously wounded, nine were moderately to seriously wounded, 64 were moderately wounded, 15 sustained minor to moderate injuries, and 254 sustained minor injuries. There were also 125 people who suffered trauma.
The terrorists welded guns, knifes, and axes; they rammed their victims with cars and lobbed stones and firebombs. A suicide bomber struck a Jerusalem bus.
The number of Palestinians killed by gunfire from Israeli security forces or civilians reached 172 including 33 minors and seven women. About 16,400 have been wounded, with 1,700 from live fire. A total of 3,897 Palestinians have been arrested by the Israeli security forces.
The almost complete cessation of the attacks in the second half of May raises two questions:
1. Has the wave of terror come to an end?
2. Have the Israeli security and intelligence services, acting in concert with their Palestinian counterparts, succeeded in stamping out the wave of terror?
The drop in the violence was already apparent at the beginning of April. The number of attacks has sharply declined from dozens to no more than a few each month.
Attacks within Israel have dropped significantly, and the only city where they are continuing is Jerusalem.
There is also a sharp decline in the deadliness of the attacks. Nobody has been killed since the March 8 attack in Jaffa and Tel Aviv in which an American citizen died. The number of Palestinians participating in rioting and demonstrations in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has plummeted as well.
The Israeli media and public have even started to lose interest in the topic. Millions of Israelis took trips throughout the country, including Jerusalem and the surrounding area, during Passover and Independence Day without one person being injured in a terrorist attack.
But DEBKA Weekly’s counterterrorism experts and Israeli intelligence sources advise against excessive optimism that the wave of terror is over.
Even though it is declining, the violence is expected to continue at varying intensity in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem. One of the main reasons is the fact that although the Palestinian Authority has ordered its intelligence and security services to cooperate with Israel, it is continuing its campaign of rampant incitement via the media, not only against Israel but also against Jews in general.
At the same time, Hamas and other terrorist organizations will continue to try to breathe new life into terror and transform it into a “third Intifada”. Hamas will do this by shooting attacks, kidnapping Israelis for bargaining purposes, tunnels and suicide bombings.
Before concluding that the wave of terror has ended, we need to wait and see what happens during the Muslim month of Ramadan, which starts this year on June 5 and ends on July 5. There are usually many major attacks during the month due to belief that a person who attacks opponents of Islam during Ramadan receives preferential treatment by Allah and the prophet Mohammed.
Palestinians may also decide to resume major terrorist attacks against Israel on June 5, when Israel marks the anniversary of the 1967 liberation and unification of Jerusalem, or during the period of June 11-12, when the Jewish holiday of Shavuot falls this year.