The late IDF soldier Private Eden Atias, 19, of Nazareth Illit, who was stabbed to death at the Afula central bus station (IDF Spokesman, November 13, 2013).
The bus where the attack at the Afula central bus station took place (the Israel Police Facebook page, November 13, 2013)
Three knives found at a checkpoint near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in the bag of a young Palestinian woman who was on her way to carry out a stabbing (Israel Police, July 1, 2013).
Knife used by the Palestinian terrorist who carried out the stabbing near a Tel Aviv night club (photograph: Amir Meiri, NRG, August 29, 2011).
Knife found in the possession of a young Palestinian at the entrance to the Cave of the Patriarchs, who aroused the suspicions of the Border Police force stationed there.
1. On November 13, 2013, an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death in Afula by a Palestinian teenager from Jenin who was illegally staying in Israel. In most (but not all) cases, stabbing attacks are carried out in a non-organized fashion by individual terrorists, (although there have been cases of couples) who do not belong to terrorist organizations. The attacks are usually carried out with knives but sometimes with axes and other sharp objects. These attacks occur in sites where Israelis congregate and at Israeli-Palestinian points of friction (such as the Jerusalem area, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Tapuach Junction in Samaria). The terrorists’ motivation may be revenge, a desire to “contribute” to the struggle against Israel or to be perceived as heroes, or a combination of these and other motives.
2. Stabbing attacks are part of the “popular resistance” strategy of the struggle against Israel supported by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah. This strategy is not a peaceful protest (as it is presented by the Palestinian Authority). On the contrary, it makes massive use of violence that sometimes leads to casualties. The most common modus operandi is throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, but occasionally stabbing attacks or vehicular attacks are also carried out. In general, these attacks have not been initiated by terrorist organizations, although Hamas and the PIJ’s incitement to step up terrorism in Judea and Samaria is also fueling the “popular resistance” attacks.
The stabbing at the Afula central bus station
3. On November 13, 2013, an IDF soldier, the late Private Eden Atias, 19, from the city of Nazareth Illit, was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old Palestinian terrorist. The soldier was stabbed at the Afula central bus station while en route by bus from Nazareth to the base where he served. He was fatally wounded and was rushed to Emek Medical Center in Afula, where he died of his wounds.
4. The Palestinian terrorist who carried out the attack is Sharif Hussein Ghawadra, 16, from the village of Bir Al-Basha, south of Jenin. According to preliminary reports, he infiltrated into Israel, was staying in the country illegally and had planned the attack in advance. During his interrogation, the terrorist admitted that he had carried out the attack to protest the fact that his relatives are serving prison terms in Israeli prisons (the Israel Police Facebook page, November 13, 2013). Two of the terrorist’s cousins are incarcerated in Israel. One of them is Shadi Ghawadra and the other cousin is Muhammed Ghawadra (Palestine 24, Raya, November 13, 2013). The Palestinian media reported that after the attack, IDF forces arrested a number of the terrorist’s friends and relatives (Nablus TV, November 13, 2013).
Palestinian reactions to the stabbing attack
The Palestinian Authority
5. The official Palestinian Authority websites ignored the attack in Afula and refrained from commenting on the incident.
6. Most senior Fatah officials chose to ignore the attack. Some key websites mentioned the attack as a purely informative report based on Israeli media reports. The official Facebook page of the Fatah Organization and Recruiting Office, which routinely lavishes praise on “popular resistance” attacks, published words of support and encouragement for the terrorist.
Comments of support and encouragement for the terrorist on the official Facebook page of the Fatah Organization and Recruiting office. The comments included the following: “Well done,” “Next,” “ May your hands be blessed, hero,” “Raise your head, hero,” “May God protect you” (the official Facebook page of the Fatah Organization and Recruiting Office, November 13 and 14, 2013)
Hamas and the PIJ
7. The Hamas movement praised the stabbing attackin Afula, noting that it is “a natural response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation against our People and our holy sites and proof of the failure of the negotiations.” An official pamphlet issued by Hamas noted that “this heroic attack emphasizes that all Zionist terrorism and methods of oppression will not dissuade our people from proceeding along the path of jihad and resistance” (Shehab, November 13, 2013). Abu Obeida, spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, claimed that the attack in Afula was to mark the anniversary of Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip and stressed the unity of the “Palestinian resistance” against the “Zionist enemy” (Abu Obeida’s Twitter account, November 13, 2013).
8. Ahmed al-Mudallal, a senior PIJ figure in the Gaza Strip, said that the “Palestinian resistance” is still continuing. He said the attack in Afula is a “natural and legitimate response” of the Palestinians against Israeli actions (Al-Resalah.net, November 13, 2013).
Stabbing attacks and their role in the “popular resistance”
9. “Popular resistance” is a central strategy of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, which is implemented on the ground, and combined with the political, economic, informational and legal struggle waged by the Palestinian Authority against Israel. From the perspective of the Palestinian Authority, acts of “popular resistance” create constant and controlled tension in the Palestinians’ relations with Israel, enabling the Palestinians to exert pressure on Israel. The scope of these acts is directly related to the developments in the peace talks and to the extent which may be considered legitimate by the international community. At the same time, in the domestic Palestinian arena, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah present “popular resistance” to the Palestinian public as an acceptable alternative to the armed resistance of Hamas. In the eyes of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, such armed resistance is not expedient at the current stage of the Palestinian struggle against Israel.
10. “Popular resistance” is not a peaceful and non-violent protest as it is presented by the Palestinian Authority, as it includes massive use of violence. The most common modus operandi is throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, but occasionally stabbing attacks or vehicular attacks are also carried out. These types of acts are characterized by being carried out with cold weapons and by individual terrorists rather than established terrorist organizations (although incitement by Hamas and the PIJ to increase terrorism in Judea and Samaria is fueling these attacks). In addition to “popular resistance” attacks, a small number of military attacks (shooting, abduction and murder, setting IEDs) are also carried out, but they are a marginal part of the overall number of attacks (see graph).
The place of stabbing attacks compared to other types of terrorist attacks in October 2013 compared to September 2013 (ISA website, November 14, 2013). The total number of terrorist attacks in October in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem was 131 (compared to 129 in September). The types of attacks (right to left): vehicular attacks, stabbing attacks, abduction and murder, shooting, IEDs, and Molotov cocktail attacks.
11. Following are some characteristics of stabbing attacks:
a) Modus operandi: Stabbing attacks are usually carried out by individual terrorists although there have been cases of couples who carried out stabbing attacks. In most cases, the perpetrators are not organized and do not belong to established terrorist organizations.
b) Prevalence:In recent years, stabbing attacks have been carried out every few months (during the second Intifada they were carried out every few weeks). There were four stabbing attacks in 2011, 11 in 2012, and in 2013 (as at November) there have been six (for details of the stabbing attacks in 2012 and 2013, see Appendix). In addition, there were also attempts or intentions of carrying out stabbing attacks that were foiled by the Israeli security forces and are not included in the statistics above.
c) Means of attack: In most cases, the stabbing attacks were carried out using knives of various types and sizes (see photographs). In exceptional cases, these attacks were carried out with axes or other sharp objects.
d) Scene of attack: Stabbing attacks are usually carried out in places where Israelis congregate, usually at points of friction between Israelis and Palestinians, which are easily accessible to the perpetrators. Therefore, the Jerusalem area is a preferred location for carrying out this type of attack. However, stabbing attacks have also taken place in other points of friction in Judea and Samaria (for example, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Tapuach Junction). In several instances, stabbing attacks were carried out in population centers in Israel, such as the cities of Afula, Kfar Sava and Beersheba.
e) Operational ease:Stabbing attacks are a modus operandi that can be carried out relatively easily, even by inexperienced youngsters (as in the case of the attack in Afula). This is due to the easy access to the murder weapon, the great ease with which it can be conveyed to the scene, and the lack of need for careful preparations (logistics, intelligence, operational).
f) Victim’s identity: In most cases, the intention of perpetrators of stabbing attacks is to kill an Israeli Jew, without targeting a specific victim in advance. In most cases, the attack is spontaneous and the victim is random, i.e., a settler, a soldier, an Orthodox Jew or any other Israeli civilian who happened to be at the scene of the attack. In a few cases, the attack is premeditated.
g) Motivation: The motives of the perpetrators may be revenge, a desire to “contribute” to the struggle against Israel, a desire to achieve the glory of a hero, or a combination of various motives. Moreover, the education that young people receive, incitement by Hamas and the PIJ, support of the “popular resistance” by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah and the prevailing anti-Israel atmosphere in the Palestinian street – all support stabbing attacks as well as other types of attacks carried out in Judea and Samaria.
 For an analysis of the popular resistance and its characteristics, see our May 20, 2013 Information Bulletin:“The Palestinian “Popular Resistance” and Its Built-In Violence.”
 For information about vehicular attacks, see our October 22, 2013 Information Bulletin: “Vehicular Attacks: Modus Operandi Considered by the Palestinians as Part of the Popular Resistance in Judea and Samaria”
 In 2003, Shadi Ghawadra shot and murdered an Israeli telecommunications company technician in Baka al-Gharbia.During a trial against the Palestinian Authority, he testified that he was sent by the military wing of Fatah (Channel 2, July 12, 2009).He was sentenced to several life sentences.