Number of Israelis killed in terror attacks drops to 6 during 2013

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-2-11 9:27:10

The Israel Security Agency's 2013 survey on terrorism and politically motivated violence shows that the number of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks during that year fell to six people.

The Israel Security Agency, sometime referred to as Shin-Bet or Shabak, noted that five of the people were killed in attacks that originated from the West Bank and the other from the Gaza Strip. Half of those killed were listed as security personnel and the other were civilians.

Boaz Ganor, a leader of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism with the Interdisciplinary-Center in Herzliya, told Xinhua on Monday that there are a number of related reasons behind the decline.

"The Israeli intelligence capabilities which compared to a decade ago and even a few years ago, is better than it used to be. This gives them the ability to know about the intentions of the terrorist prior to the terror attacks," Ganor said.

He added that "there is much better cooperation between the intelligence and the operational branches of the Israeli Defense Forces (therefore)... accurate intelligence can be used in order to prevent a ticking bomb situation."

The low number of deaths is a far cry from ten years ago when Israel was in the midst of the second Palestinian intifada, where suicide bombers blew themselves up on buses and in shopping malls in cities across Israel. However, none of the victims killed in 2013 died due to a suicide bombing according to the report.

In the decade since the second intifada ended Israel has undertaken a number of measures to shield itself from outsiders, including building a fence-barrier in the West Bank, a fence along the border with Gaza and initiated the construction of a fence along the border with Egypt.

These barriers, together with coordination between Israel security forces and the Palestinian National Authority, are some of the main reasons behind the continued decline of Israeli deaths.

However, analysts that spoke to Xinhua said that if peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides breakdown, it could spark violence in the West Bank, although it will most likely not be a repeat of the second intifada.

Ganor said that the fence or barrier Israel constructed has prevented attacks by making it much more difficult for terrorists to enter Israel.

However, he noted that the fence bordering the West Bank isn't impervious. The security agency reports note that two of the Israelis that died in 2013 were killed by Palestinians who had illegally crossed into Israel.

Yoram Schweitzer, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said that in addition to the increased Israeli capabilities, the situation along the border with Gaza is stable due to "the fact that in the south Hamas was curtailing attacks following Operation Pillar of Defense, (where) one of the consequences was to persuade Hamas to prevent (other militant groups) from shooting across the Israeli border."

Operation Pillar of Defense was a retributive offensive launched by Israel in 2012 with the aim of quelling rocket fire from Gaza that targeted southern Israeli cities and farming communities.

However, since the end of the second intifada, Israeli and Palestinian security forces slowly began to cooperate and over time Israel handed back control of some of the largest cites on the West Bank to a newly formed and US trained Palestinian security structure.

"(Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas), although he isn't an Israeli Zionist, might be the first Palestinian leader who understands that from the Palestinian national interest point of view, terrorist attacks against Israel are very counterproductive, " Ganor said.

"So he is genuine in his efforts to prevent those attacks, unlike his predecessor," he added.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is currently in the final stage of preparing a framework agreement that would be the basis for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

However, Kerry has recently encountered various obstacles, leading to concern that if the peace talks fail or end without extending negotiations, then frustration with the status quo may result in more violence.

Posted in: Mid-East

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