The scene of the stabbing attack in the village of Beit Horon where one Israeli woman was killed and another seriously wounded (Picture courtesy of the Israel Police Force media unit, January 24, 2016).
The Stabbing Attack in Beit Horon
1. On January 25, 2016, a stabbing attack was carried out in the Israeli village of Beit Horon (near Route 443, a major traffic artery leading to Jerusalem). Two Palestinian students, who apparently knew each other from Bir Zeit University, entered the village by climbing over its security fence. They went to a local grocery store where they stabbed a young woman standing outside. When they entered the grocery they were pushed out by customers, and fled. Afterwards they stabbed another woman. A security guard shot and killed them. Near the grocery three undetonated improvised pipe bombs were found, thrown away by the terrorists. One of the women, Shlomit Krigman, 23, was mortally wounded and later died.
2. The Palestinian media reported that the two terrorists were Hussein Muhammad Abu Ghosh, 17, from the Qalandia refugee camp, and Ibrahim Osama Yusuf Allan, 23, from the village of Bayt Ur al-Tahta, west of Ramallah (Facebook page of Paldf, January 25, 2016). Both were students at Bir Zeit University, where they apparently met (Facebook page of Hussein Abu Ghosh, January 26, 2016).
3. The stabbing attack in Beit Horon differed in a number of respects from most of the stabbing attacks carried out in the current terrorist campaign: two terrorists carried it out, showing a high level of daring (entering a village in broad daylight by climbing over the fence); and the planning involved was more complex than routine stabbing attacks (it was meant to combine a stabbing attack with detonating three pipe bombs). The attack was premeditated and coordinated by two terrorists, as opposed to previous attacks, which were spontaneous and carried out by lone terrorists.
4. The Facebook page of one of the terrorists illustrates the important role of the social networks. They are a source of materials that inspire Palestinian terrorists, serve as a platform for their thoughts and in this particular case, also as a channel of communication (see Appendix). Hussein Abu Ghosh (the younger of the two) had his own active Facebook page where he posted pictures of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, and whom he considered role models. A number of days before the attack he wrote to his co-conspirator Ibrahim Allan and updated him on his plan to "hunt porcupines on Monday," apparently their code for carrying out a terrorist attack and killing Israelis (Facebook page of Hussein Abu Ghosh, January 21, 2016).
5. The stabbing attack in the village of Beit Horon indicates a trend of increased complexity, daring and lethality in the terrorist attacks, although there has been a decrease in their scope. The trend is manifested by entrances into Israeli villages (recently two Israelis were killed) and an increase in the number of shooting attacks (one in the heart of Tel Aviv, three Israelis killed). It can be assumed that Hamas and other terrorist organizations will try to escalate the current terrorist campaign by increasing its military dimension at the expense of its popular nature.
The Attack and the Terrorists
Description of the Attack
1. Several aspects of the attack in Beit Horon were different from most of the terrorist attackscarried out in the current terrorist campaign. The terrorists fit the profile of most of the operatives as young and operating on their own initiative, but the modus operandi of this attack was different:
1) Planning– So far, most of the attacks have been carried out by lone operatives who acted spontaneously, the result of personal decisions. Several times the decision to carry out an attack was made without the knowledge of the family. However, four days before the attack Hussein Abu Ghosh used his Facebook page to update Ibrahim Allan of his intention to "hunt porcupines on Monday." He wrote, "I will taste…the taste of the porcupine [myself]…logical [and] smart…Monday we will hunt porcupines" (Facebook page of Hussein Abu Ghosh, January 21, 2016). That was apparently the code they had agreed on for the implementation of the terrorist attack. That indicates premeditation and lack of spontaneity. Acquiring the three pipe bombs and integrating them into the attack also shows premeditation and planning.
The Facebook correspondence between the two Palestinian terrorists where they coordinate the terrorist attack. The picture is of Hadil al-Hashlamoun, who on September 22, 2015, tried to stab an IDF soldier in Hebron. Hussein Abu Ghosh writes to Ibrahim Allan that "I will taste…the taste of the porcupine [myself]…logical [and] smart…Monday we will hunt porcupines" (Facebook page Hussein Abu Ghosh, January 21, 2016).
2) High level of daring– The attack was carried out in the heart of a fenced, gated village during the day. It was the third time in recent weeks an attack was carried out inside a village, but this time there were two terrorist operatives. They climbed over the fence, entered the village and proceeded to a grocery store located at its center. Initial reports of the attack show the two were determined to achieve their goal of killing Jews, and stabbed the second woman as they fled (despite the great personal danger involved).
3) Complexity of the attack– In ITIC assessment, this stabbing attack was more complex than those that preceded it. It included planning, coordination between the two terrorists and the use of different kinds of weapons. Three undetonated improvised pipe bombs were found, which the terrorists apparently intended to explode after stabbing customers in the grocery. So far most of the stabbing attacks carried out in the current terrorist campaign have been relatively simple, involving knives or other sharp instruments.
Initial Information about the Two Terrorists
6. The Palestinian media reported that the two terrorists were Hussein Muhammad Abu Ghosh, 17 from the Qalandia refugee camp, and Ibrahim Osama Yusuf Alan, 23, from the village of Bayt Ur al-Tahta, west of Ramallah (Facebook page of Paldf, January 25, 2016). Both terrorists were students at Bir Zeit University (Facebook page of Hussein Abu Ghosh, January 26, 2016). That was apparently how they were acquainted with one another.
7. The Facebook pages of the Qalandia refugee camp posted pictures of Hussein Abu Ghosh and called him a "heroic shaheed." He apparently had a history of clashing with the Israeli security forces. One picture showed him masked, apparently taken during a riot, and another showed him holding a rifle (Facebook page of the Qalandia refugee camp, January 26, 2016).
8. Fatahissued a death notice for Ibrahim Osama Allan, as a movement operative (Facebook page of QudsN, January 25, 2016). As previous instances have shown, a Fatah death notice does not necessarily indicate affiliation with the movement.
Left: Hussein Abu Ghosh during a clash with IDF soldiers (Official Facebook page of the Qalandia refugee camp, January 26, 2016). Right: Hussein Abu Ghosh holding a rifle (Facebook page of the Kalandia Camp Soldiers, January 26, 2016).
The Fatah death notice for its "heroic shaheed" Ibrahim Osama Allan (Facebook page of QudsN, January 25, 2016).