Shin Bet: Number of Terror Victims in 2015 Highest in Seven Years

Though there were fewer attacks in West Bank than in 2014, attacks were more severe, Shin Bet says; Israeli Arab's involvement in terror on the rise, but still minor.

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Scene from Jerusalem bus attack at Armon HaNatziv. October 13, 2015.
Scene from Jerusalem bus attack at Armon HaNatziv. October 13, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The number of terror attack victims in 2015 was the highest since 2008, according to Shin Bet data published on Tuesday.

According to the Shin Bet, 28 people were killed last year in terror attacks, most of them civilians – two were foreigners, one was Palestinian, three were members of the security services, and the rest were Israeli civilians. 

The Shin Bet noted that in 2015 there was a slight decline in the number of terror attacks in the West Bank compared to the previous year, but the attacks that happened were more severe. In Jerusalem, the Shin Bet noted, the number of attacks rose: 92 percent of the attacks were firebomb throwing incidents, and only a small fraction of the attacks involved firearms. 

The Shin Bet said that the assailants in the ongoing terror wave are mostly youngsters, with no group affiliation. However, the Shin Bet said that Hamas poses the central threat in the West Bank due to its efforts to rebuild its militant command posts. There's been a marked rise in attempts by Hamas headquarters in Gaza and abroad to carry out attacks in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said. 

While Israeli Arabs' involvement in terror attacks has been rising, the Shin Bet said it is still minor in scope. 

The Shin Bet also noted that Jews were responsible for 16 terror attack the past year, a total similar to the previous year. The severity of the attacks rose, however, namely the Duma arson attack that killed a Palestinian couple and their baby.

Concerning the Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet said there was a decrease in the number of attacks in 2015 from the previous year, excluding the 2014 Gaza war. 26 rockets and three mortar shells were fired into Israel during the past year - the lowest total in the past decade, according to Shin Bet data. The Shin Bet said that keeping the calm in Gaza serves Hamas as it rebuilds its military capabilities, including attempts to obtain and produce their own weapons - namely rockets, mortar shells and unmanned aerial vehicles.

This activity occurs alongside the "expansion and solidifying" of tunnels into Israel, as well as the training of special forces dedicated to carrying out attacks through the tunnels.

The Shin Bet added that seven Israeli citizens were killed in Syria after leaving the country to fight in the Syrian war. According to the Shin Bet, young Israelis are prepared to leave for Syria to fight alongside ISIS. The Shin Bet estimates that 32 Israeli citizens are currently living in Syria, and that around 70 citizens have travelled to Syria to participate in the country's war.

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