Terrorist attacks nearly doubled in frequency in 2013, according to new data released by the IDF. There were 62 terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) in 2013, compared to 35 the year before.
The IDF website quoted senior sources as saying that the violence is still nowhere near “Intifada” levels.
“There is a significant difference between [this and] the number of attacks during the Second Intifada. Then, the Central Command was dealing with several hundred attacks per year,” one explained.
A senior IDF officer in Judea and Samaria agreed. There has been a certain “heating up” in the region, he said, but “an Intifada means a popular uprising with a broad spectrum of high-impact incidents.”
“There have been disturbances and tension [in 2013], but if we look at what happened in the Second Intifada, it’s not even similar,” he continued, adding, “We don’t believe further escalation is expected in the near future.”
Previous data has shown a link between the frequency of attacks and the renewed Israel-PA negotiations.
More 'lone wolf' attacks, unplanned killing
Analysis of the 2013 attacks showed an increase in “lone wolf” attacks – those carried out by attackers with no formal connection to an organized terrorist group. Many such attackers were apparently influenced by personal crises.
There was also an increase in the number of attacks that began as non-violent crimes, and turned into murder or attempted murder of innocent civilians, simply because they were Israeli Jews. Among such attacks were the stabbing of a nine-year-old girl in Psagot and the murder of retired IDF officer Shraya Ofer.
IDF sources noted that nearly all attackers have been arrested. “The recent string of solved cases proves that we are bringing those who try to attack us to justice,” one officer said. “We’ve arrested nearly everyone involved in the recent attacks, and we will bring the rest to justice as well.”
More armed battles in 'camps'
The IDF data noted that in addition to the rise in terrorism, there has been an increase in the number of incidents in which soldiers faced violent opposition as they attempted to arrest wanted terrorists. Some incidents included gun battles in which attackers were killed and soldiers injured.
IDF officers noted that most such incidents took place inside “refugee camp” neighborhoods – areas populated by the descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel in 1948. “In areas without employment or education, there’s more violence,” they explained.
Violence is most pronounced in areas where Palestinian Authority security forces are not fully in control, they said. “There are some refugee camps with a very high potential for violence, but the security forces’ grip prevents outbursts,” an officer said.
He added, “In order to carry out an arrest, soldiers have to arrive when the suspect is at home, but also to avoid hurting the civilian population. The IDF’s freedom of activity in every place, at every time allows us to prevent an increase in terrorism.”
Israeli leaders are currently negotiating with the Palestinian Authority for a peace deal that would include the creation of a PA-led Arab state in much of Judea and Samaria. If such a state were established, the PA would take charge of security within its borders, while the IDF would withdraw.