JERUSALEM ø Israel has reported a major decline in the terror threat posed by
Palestinian insurgents in the northern West Bank.
An Israeli government report said the capability of Palestinian
insurgents in the northern West Bank dropped by 90 percent over the last
The report cited the construction of the security fence and barrier,
which was completed in 2003 along the northern and central areas of the West
Bank, Middle East Newsline reported.
"A comparison of the number of attacks within Israel carried out by
Samaria-based terrorists after the anti-terrorist fence was built, and the
number of attacks carried out by the same terrorist groups before the
building of the fence, reveals a drop of some 90 percent in the ability of
these terrorist groups to perpetrate attacks within Israel," the Israel
Foreign Ministry said in a report.
The report said that between August 2003 and July 2004, Palestinian
insurgents based in the northern West Bank succeeded in carrying out three
major attacks within Israel. All of the attacks took place in the first half
of 2003, in which 26 Israelis were killed and 76 were injured.
In two of the three insurgency attacks, the report said Palestinian
operatives infiltrated Israel from areas where the security fence had not
been completed. In a third case, a female insurgent used a Jordanian
passport to move through the military checkpoint at Barta to enter Israel.
The report said that from September 2000 until July 2003, Palestinian
insurgents based in the northern West Bank carried out 73 attacks, many of
them suicide bombings within Israel in which 293 Israelis were killed and
1,950 were injured. In July 2003, much of the security fence and barrier was
completed along the northern West Bank.
In all, the report said, the number of Israeli casualties from
Palestinian attacks that stemmed in the northern West Bank dropped by 70
percent since July 2003.
"A comparison of the above data shows a decrease of slightly more than
90 percent in the number of attacks: from an average of 26 attacks a year
before the fence, to three attacks after erection of the anti-terrorist
fence," the report said. "While the number of attacks dropped sharply, the
number of attempted attacks that were foiled in various stages of
preparation since the erection of the anti-terrorist fence in August 2003
[On Wednesday, Hamas gunners fired two Kassam-class short-range missiles
from the northern Gaza Strip, which landed around the Israeli city of
Sderot. Nobody was injured. Hours later, a car exploded in Gaza City and
three Hamas operatives were injured.]
The report said that over the last year Israeli military and police
prevented dozens of attacks by insurgents in the northern West Bank. These
attacks were in the final stages of preparation and 24 explosive belts and
bombs were captured.
As a result of the security fence, the report said, Palestinian
insurgents have moved their launching point for operations to the southern
West Bank, including Jerusalem and Ramallah. The report said many of these
attempts were also foiled. Israel's High Court has ordered parts of the wall
erected in the Ramallah area to be demolished.
On Tuesday, an Israeli military operation resulted in the death of four
Palestinians in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. An AH-64A Apache
fired three missiles that killed the Palestinians, two of whom were
identified as bystanders and holding U.S. citizenship.
Israeli officials acknowledged the mistake and said an apology and
explanation was relayed to the United States. They said two of the
Palestinian casualties were identified as senior insurgents in the Nablus
"The rule is that we try not to use attack helicopters in built-up
areas," Brig. Gen. Gadi Eisenkott said. "This was an exception because of
the circumstances of the operation."