Despite six months of relative quiet near the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, the overall number of terrorist attacks inside Israel rose last year, according to data from the Shin Bet Security Services annual summary. In addition, the number of people who died in attacks has risen significantly.
The data shows that 36 Israelis were killed by terrorist attacks in 2008, including the firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza, compared to 13 killed in 2007. More than a third of terrorist related casualties last year took place in Jerusalem. Eight of those were from the shooting at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva on March 6.
Both last year and the year before that saw one suicide bombing each. On February 4, 2008, one Israeli was killed and 28 were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Dimona. On January 29, 2007, a terrorist detonated an explosives filled bag in an Eilat bakery, killing three.
Most attacks were defined by the Shin Bet as "popular acts," perpetrated by lone assailants, who hurled Molotov cocktails, stabbed or assaulted people out of nationalistic motives. Most perpetrators of such acts were unaffiliated with terrorist groups, according to the Shin Bet.
East Jerusalemite terrorists increased their impact in 2008 compared to previous years. Arabs from East Jerusalem were responsible for three vehicular attacks - two of with a tractor - and a number of shooting attacks.
In a number of cases in which Arabs from East Jerusalem committed acts of terror, Shin Bet found that the perpetrators had formed independent and local rings, acting without outside guidance from large groups.
The Shin Bet explained that East Jerusalem terrorist are exploiting their familiarity with the city, as well as their legal status and ability to move across it, to mount attacks against Israelis.
The number of rockets and mortar shells that Palestinians launched into towns around Gaza reached 1,800. During the month of August, Israel saw at least 182 mortar rounds fired on its towns from Gaza.
Additionally, the Shin Bet noticed a significant improvement in the ability of Islamist activists to introduce their ideology into the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This, according to the service, is reflected in the number of indictments filed against people described by the Shin Bet as Al-Qaida operatives or global Jihad activists.
Some, according to the data, were in the final stages of carrying out an attack before they were stopped. The Shin Bet named an alleged plan by East Jerusalem residents to shoot down a helicopter carrying U.S. President George W. Bush during his visits to Israel last year as an example.
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