The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chaired by MK Avi Dichter (Likud), was briefed Tuesday by the Shin Bet (General Security Service) director Nadav Argaman on various security-related issues.
Shin Bet chief Argaman told the committee that “the situation in the Palestinian arena has been very unstable in the past year,” adding that “In the Gaza Strip we stand between a possible military campaign on the one hand, and an attempt to stabilize the humanitarian situation of the residents of Gaza on the other.”
“The reality in Judea and Samaria is very complex. We can discern a relative calm, but this quiet is deceptive. Underneath the surface, the area is bubbling. Hamas is trying with all its might to carry out terrorist attacks from Judea and Samaria with guidance from the Gaza Strip, Turkey and Lebanon,” he said.
“Over the past year, we were able to thwart 480 terror attacks, including 219 Hamas cells and 590 lone attackers. This is a very large number that is indicative of the terrorism bubbling under the surface.”
“In addition, we were able in the last year to thwart cyber-attacks, both terrorism and espionage, against the State of Israel,” he added.
“In general, these successes… are the result of very strenuous activity by the entire Israeli security system—Shin Bet, IDF, Israel Police—which allows this reality and allows Israeli citizens to live their daily lives,” the Shin Bet director noted.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 49 significant terror attacks carried out in Judea and Samaria (compared to 64 in 2017, 119 in 2016 and 192 in 2015). Ten Israelis were killed in these acts of terror and 56 were injured (as opposed to 9 casualties and 66 injured in 2017).
There were no terror attacks launched from the Jerusalem area, as compared to five [attacks] in 2017
Regarding the Shin Bet’s activity to thwart terror, it thwarted 480 significant terror attacks, of which 280 were shooting attacks, 76 explosive charge attacks, 7 terrorist kidnappings, 6 suicide attacks and 101 self-sacrifice attacks (including vehicle-ramming attacks and knifings).
This year 219 local Hamas cells were thwarted in Judea and Samaria (compared to 148 cells thwarted in 2017, and 114 cells thwarted in 2016). This demonstrates the high threat level observed in local terror activity on the ground and explains why the quiet in Judea and Samaria is virtual quiet, according to Argaman.
At the same time, the Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip and abroad continue to focus efforts on promoting terror attacks from Judea and Samaria. It is evident that the Hamas considers Judea and Samaria to be a key zone for promoting terror, both as supportive efforts for the “March of Return Campaign” in the Gaza Strip and as a means for advancing more expansive interests in the Palestinian establishment. However, Hamas is encountering difficulty in actually getting activity of this kind off the ground, mainly due to Israeli thwarting operations.
A decrease in the number of lone-wolf terrorists in Judea and Samaria in 2018 – 25 terror attacks as opposed to 54 in 2017 and 108 in 2016. The end-result is that despite the decrease in their numbers, most of the damage caused by lone-wolf terrorists continues to be in the form of the number of casualties (9 out of 10 Israelis killed in Judea and Samaria). In 2018, the Shin Bet spotted and thwarted about 590 lone-wolf terrorists in time.
In terms of cyber security, the Shin Bet has invested tremendous efforts in gaining technological power, and in developing tools and new capacities in cyber security. Over the course of the year, rivals’ activities in cyberspace were spotted and thwarted, and diverse activities were implemented – resulting in high quality intelligence that helped thwart terror attacks and save human lives.