The year 2009 saw a significant decline in the number of attacks both in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank compared with previous years, according to data released Wednesday by Israel's Shin Bet to mark the end of the year.
At the same time, many attempts by terror groups from the Gaza Strip to plant booby traps inside Israel were thwarted by removing the devices from the Strip into the Sinai, and from there to Israel.
For the first time this decade, no suicide attacks were carried out this year. The number of those wounded in attacks also dropped, with 15 killed compared to 36 in 2008. The main trends of the year reveal a relatively encouraging picture, but the strengthening of terror organizations is liable to change the situation in 2010 and later years.
According to the Shin Bet, the decline in terror attacks is the result of Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, just 566 rockets from Gaza were fired into Israel, mostly in January during the IDF operation, compared to 2,048 launched in 2008.
In the West Bank, the reduction in terror is linked to the activities of Israel's security services. However, the Shin Bet also noted the contribution of Palestinian security services in fighting terror. In 2009, 633 attacks were reported in the West Bank, compared with 893 last year and 947 in 2007.
Also notable was the fall in the numbers of attacks using live ammunition (shooting and explosive devices): 22 shooting attacks were reported in 2009 and 13 attacks using explosive devices, compared to 83 and 54 respectively in 2008. However, the Shin Bet noted that most of the incidents in the West Bank and in Jerusalem were simple attacks, thus more than 90% of all attacks (578) were Molotov cocktails.
The year's summary revealed that the southern sector has become a focus for terror. As well as the thwarted booby trap attacks, dozens of attempts to enter Israel from the Sinai were also prevented. These attempts were marked by increasing involvement of those who identify with the Global Jihad movement.
As well as relative quiet, the Shin Bet report also notes that Hamas is strengthening and preparing itself for another round of fighting while concealing itself behind the civilian population.
The system of tunnels for smuggling weapons under the Philadelphi Route has been rebuilt and improved. The tunnels are also used for bringing materials into the Strip that can be used for manufacturing rockets.
Another worrying development is the success of Global Jihad to establish itself in the Gaza Strip. Dozens have joined organizations that come under this heading. The attack by such terrorists on the security fence using horses was particularly noteworthy.
The Shin Bet also noted that during 2009 Hezbollah continued its attempts to revenge the killing of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh. Members of the terror group led by Hassan Nasrallah have even stepped up their efforts to collect information on Israeli targets, including through the internet.