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Cablegate: Israel: 2005 Country Reports On Terrorism

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 TEL AVIV 007003

SIPDIS

STATE FOR S/CT (RHONDA SHORE AND ED SALAZAR)
STATE PASS TO NCTC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC COUNTERTERRORISM GOI INTERNAL GOI EXTERNAL ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL: 2005 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM

REF: STATE 193439

1. In response to reftel, Embassy Tel Aviv submits the
following proposed draft for the Israel section of the 2005
Country Reports on Terrorism. This draft has been cleared
with ConGen Jerusalem, which is producing a report on the
Palestinian Authority (septel).

------------------
GENERAL ASSESSMENT
------------------

2. The terrorism landscape in Israel changed significantly in
2005 for three reasons:

A. THE TAHDIYA -- In February 2005, HAMAS, the Palestinian
Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade agreed
to a "Tahdiya" (calm, or truce) brokered by the Palestinian
Authority (PA) with help from Cairo. The Tahdiya has not
been uniformly accepted by Palestinian militant groups, and
its observance has been intermittent even among those which
have accepted it. But to the extent that HAMAS, the largest
group, has generally upheld the Tahdiya, it has resulted in a
significant reduction in terrorist activity in Israel.

B. DISENGAGEMENT -- From August 15--22. Israel withdrew
approximately 8,000 settlers and the IDF units protecting
them from the Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank
settlements, fulfilling Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement
plan, and turning over responsibility for the Gaza Strip to
the PA. Before and during the withdrawal, IDF and PA
Security Forces (PASF) coordinated some aspects of the
evacuation and PASF deployments. IDF officials favorably
assessed the coordination on the ground, even though
Palestinian militants opened fire on IDF positions and
Israeli communities numerous times with small arms, Qassam
rockets and mortar shells.

C. EGYPT'S DEPLOYMENT ALONG THE GAZA-EGYPT BORDER -- As
follow-up to disengagement, Egypt deployed 750 border guard
forces along the Egypt-Gaza border following the IDF's
withdrawal from that border on September 15. Egypt also
dispatched a force of security advisers to the Gaza Strip to
advise the PASF in carrying out its new security role along
the border. IDF sources report that since the withdrawal
from Gaza, there has been an increase in the number of
explosive devices planted by terrorists along the security
fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel. Incidents of
small arms and rocket fire, mortar and Qassam launches, and
clashes with terrorists planting explosives along the
security fence continued after the Egyptian deployment.

3. ISRAEL'S MAJOR CT EFFORTS, INCLUDING STEPS TAKEN IN
INTERNATIONAL FORA: Israel maintained staunch support for
US-led counterterrorism efforts in 2005. After the November
9 al-Qaida bombings in Amman, Prime Minister Sharon declared
Israel's preparedness to render immediate assistance to
Jordan. At the UN and in other public fora, Prime Minister
Sharon and other GOI officials repeatedly called on the PA to
dismantle terrorist groups as a necessary step in
implementing President Bush's roadmap for a two-state
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

4. THE RESPONSE OF ISRAEL'S JUDICIAL SYSTEM RELATING TO
TERRORISM AFFECTING U.S. CITIZENS OR FACILITIES THAT HAVE A
SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON U.S. CT EFFORTS, INCLUDING RESPONSES TO
EXTRADITION REQUESTS: Israel's judicial system has not taken
any action related to terrorism that notably affects US
citizens or facilities and/or has a significant impact on US
counterterrorism (CT) efforts. No terrorism-related
extradition requests were submitted by the US to Israel in
2005.

5. SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM: Israel
does not support international terrorism.

----------------------------------
SANCTUARY (SAFE HAVENS) ASSESSMENT
----------------------------------

6. THE EXTENT OF KNOWLEDGE BY THE GOI WITH RESPECT TO
TERRORIST ACTIVITIES ON THE TERRITORY OF ISRAEL; AND ISRAEL'S
ACTIONS TO ELIMINATE TERRORISTS, COOPERATE WITH U.S. CT
EFFORTS, AND PREVENT THE PROLIFERATION AND TRAFFICKING OF WMD
THROUGH ISRAEL:

A. In 2005, Israel employed a variety of military operations
in its counterterrorism efforts. IDF and security forces
launched frequent arrest and apprehension raids throughout
the West Bank and Gaza, conducted targeted killings of
suspected Palestinian terrorists, imposed strict and
widespread closures and curfews in Palestinian areas,
conducted airborne rocket attacks on buildings affiliated
with Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) in the Gaza
Strip, and continued construction of an extensive separation
barrier in the West Bank. Israel did not destroy any homes
of suicide bombers or their families in 2005, but is
re-considering the tactic in light of the December 5 suicide
bombing in Netanya. Israeli counterterrorism measures appear
to have reduced the frequency and lethality of attacks.
Continuing attacks and credible threats of attacks, however,
show that the terrorist groups remain committed to attacking
Israeli targets.

B. In response to terrorist attacks perpetrated after
Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the IDF deployed
forces along the perimeter of the Gaza Strip to prevent
rocket and mortar attacks, delayed the expected transfer of
West Bank towns to PA control, postponed planned meetings
with Palestinian negotiators, used aircraft to set off sonic
booms over Gaza, and launched rockets and artillery fire into
Qassam and mortar launch areas in Gaza.

C. Israeli security forces and customs authorities seized
containers at the port of Ashdod that contained thousands of
dollars worth of merchandise suspected of having been
purchased by PIJ for resale. GOI sources report that they
saw an upsurge in PIJ's purchase and resale of goods in 2005,
and that PIJ is using the funds raised to establish its
military and civilian infrastructure in Palestinian areas.
IDF and Civil Administration forces also shut down two
illegal "Daawa" charity organizations in the West Bank to
prevent their possible use as conduits for terror finance.

----------------
TERRORIST GROUPS
----------------

7. ACTIVITIES OF TERRORIST GROUPS IN 2005:

A. Palestinian terrorist groups operating from the West Bank,
and Gaza continue to focus their attention on the
Palestinians' historical conflict with Israel, attacking
Israel and Israeli interests within Israel and the
Palestinian territories, rather than engaging in operations
worldwide. Palestinian terrorist groups conducted a
significant number of attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and
Gaza Strip in 2005. PIJ, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, HAMAS,
and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) were responsible
for most of the attacks, which included suicide bombings,
shootings, and mortar and rocket firings against civilian and
military targets. Within the Gaza Strip, Palestinian
militants engaged in occasional skirmishes with PA police and
security service officials, and periodically shot at polling
stations, electoral offices, and PA security complexes.
Terrorist attacks in 2005 killed almost 50 people, a decrease
from the almost 100 people killed in 2004.

B. According to claims by HAMAS, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade,
and the PRC, a number of terrorist attacks in 2005 were
perpetrated by one or more organizations acting together,
including the January 13 truck bombing of the Qarni cargo
crossing terminal on the Israel-Gaza border, which killed six
Israeli civilians and wounded another five. An al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigade member detained by the IDF in October claimed
Lebanese Hizballah was operating him through a handler in the
Gaza Strip.

C. The PIJ claimed credit for the major terrorist attacks
that occurred in Israel in 2005, including:

-- the February 25 bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub that
killed five Israeli civilians and injured another 55;
-- a July suicide bombing near a mall in Netanya that killed
five civilians;
-- the October 26 suicide bombing in a market in Hadera,
which killed six Israelis and wounded 55; and
-- the December 5 suicide bombing at a shopping mall in
Netanya, which killed five Israelis and wounded over 50.

While the PIJ joined the Tahdiya, it has not upheld it,
publicly justifying these attacks as exceptional responses to
Israeli provocations (e.g., IDF arrests and targeted killings
executed with the aim of preventing terror attacks.) In
2005, PIJ operatives continued to attempt to manufacture and
launch projectile weapons; carried out armed attacks against
Jewish settlers and IDF forces; planned to abduct and murder
Israeli civilians; gathered weapons and explosive materials
for use in bombs; collected intelligence information on
potential targets; and dug tunnels under Israeli-occupied
areas for bomb detonation operations.

D. HAMAS activity dropped significantly in 2005, in part
because of its adherence to the Tahdiya, but also because
much of its leadership in the West Bank has been arrested or
killed. HAMAS claimed credit for the pre-Tahdiya, January 18
suicide bombing in Gaza that killed an Israeli security
officer and injured 8 other soldiers and security agents.
Individuals linked to HAMAS were involved in the September 21
kidnapping and murder in the West Bank of an Israeli resident
of Jerusalem. Like PIJ, HAMAS justified "exceptional"
attacks it perpetrated after agreeing to the Tahdiya as
responses to Israeli "crimes" against Palestinian civilians
and "holy warriors." Although HAMAS has indicated that it
will not renew the Tahdiya when it expires at the end of
2005, it is likely to tacitly observe the cease-fire at least
until after January 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council
elections. HAMAS declared its intent to run candidates in
the elections. In response, GOI officials have publicly
declared that Israel will neither interfere in, nor
facilitate, the elections with the Palestinians. From
September through mid-December, the IDF arrested hundreds of
Palestinian activists, some of whom were members of HAMAS's
political wing.

E. Fatah's militant wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade,
claimed credit for the following terrorist attacks in 2005,
even after agreeing to the Tahdiya:

-- the October 16 drive-by shooting attack at the Gush Etzion
junction south of Jerusalem, in which two Israeli civilians
were killed and three wounded; and a shooting attack on the
same day in the West Bank, in which an Israeli teenager was
wounded; and
-- several Qassam rocket launches from the Gaza Strip into
the western Negev desert that destroyed property and injured
Israeli civilians and soldiers.

F. The PRC carried out a substantial number of terrorist
attacks in late 2005 from the Rafah area on the Gaza-Egypt
border, notably rocket attacks on Israel. The PRC was also
responsible for armed attacks against construction teams and
IDF forces in Gaza during disengagement.

G. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
made no claims to perpetrating any terror attacks in 2005.
It continued to coordinate with other FTOs to carry out
attacks.

H. Lebanese Hizballah continued to provide material support
to Palestinian terrorist groups to augment their capacity and
lethality in conducting attacks against Israel. Hizballah
continued to fund and provide logistical support to PIJ cells
in the West Bank. IDF sources claim Hizballah set up an
advanced post in Gaza to serve as a liaison between Hizballah
handlers in Lebanon and operatives in the Occupied
Territories. and transfer funds and directives for carrying
out terrorist attacks. Hizballah continued to call for the
destruction of Israel and use Lebanese territory as a staging
ground for terrorist operations. On November 21, Hizballah
fighters -- covered by a rocket barrage against border
communities and IDF outposts -- crossed into Israel in an
effort to kidnap Israelis. The IDF stopped the incursion,
killing four Hizballah fighters and hitting Hizballah targets
in Lebanon with combat aircraft and artillery.

I. On August 4, an AWOL Israeli soldier opened fire on a bus
and killed four Israeli-Arabs and injured 10. During the
attack, he was killed by the angry crowd. Prime Minister
Sharon publicly condemned the shooting as an act of terrorism.

------------------------------
FOREIGN GOVERNMENT COOPERATION
------------------------------

7. THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE GOI IS COOPERATING IN
APPREHENDING, CONVICTING, AND PUNISHING INDIVIDUALS
RESPONSIBLE FOR TERRORIST ACTS AGAINST U.S. CITIZENS SINCE
2000: The GOI aggressively pursues through legal and
military action the perpetrators of terrorist attacks which
occur in Israel. With a few notable exceptions, terrorist
attacks in Israel have not been actively directed against
Americans. The GOI has not sanctioned independent FBI
investigations or cooperative U.S.-Israeli investigations of
terrorist attacks inside Israel, but allows the FBI to
monitor Israeli and PA investigations into attacks involving
Americans in accordance with the U.S.-Israeli Mutual Legal
Assistance Treaty. Some terrorist suspects who are subjects
of FBI cases have been convicted and sentenced in Israel.
Several others have died in suicide bombings or as a result
of other incidents subsequent to terrorist attacks that
involved Americans.

8. THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE GOI IS COOPERATING TO PREVENT
FURTHER ACTS OF TERRORISM AGAINST U.S. CITIZENS IN THE
COUNTRY: GOI security and law enforcement services work
closely with the USG to prevent acts of terrorism against
U.S. citizens by sharing possible terrorist threat
information and protecting USG properties in Israel. This is
done while services like the Israeli National Police face
manpower shortages, and have to deal with threats to the
Israeli population from Palestinian terrorist organizations,
Israelis determined to upset the peace process, and organized
crime.
********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
********************************************* ********************
CRETZ

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