Senior Fatah figures in Judea and Samaria, among them Mahmoud al-'Alul (center), visit the town of Qabatiya and the families of the three terrorists who carried out the shooting and stabbing attack at the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem
The death notice issued by Hamas for the death of "the mujahad shaheed" Ahmed Najeh Abu al-Rab (Facebook page of Paldf, February 3, 2016).
The death notice issued by the Qabatiya municipality and the Fatah movement in Qabatiya. Left to right, "The heroic shaheed, Ahmed Najeh Zakarna, the Heroic shaheed Ahmed Najeh Abu al-Rab, the heroic shaheed Muhammad Ahmed Kamil" (Facebook page of Qabatiya al-A'an, February 7, 2016).
The cartoon posted on Fatah's Twitter account. Left: A picture of Muhammad Kamil with two unidentified friends. Right: The Arabic reads, "From Qabatiya to Jerusalem. Blessings"
Yellow Fatah flags at the funeral held in Qabatiya for the three terrorists
The march attended by senior Fatah figures in solidarity and support of the residents of Qabatiya.
The Terrorist Attack at the Nablus Gate
1. On February 3, 2016, three young Palestinians carried out a combined shooting and stabbing attack at the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. A Border Policewoman was shot and killed, and another was critically wounded. The three Palestinian terrorists, all from the town of Qabatiya in northern Samaria, were killed by Border Police return fire. Their deaths apparently prevented the mass-killing attack the three had planned to carry out in a crowded location in Jerusalem (so far the details are not known).
2. The attack at the Nablus Gate differed in many respects from most of the terrorist attacks of the current Palestinian terrorist campaign. It was carried out by a squad of three locally-organized terrorists and necessitated previous planning and logistic deployment (acquiring weapons, passing through IDF roadblocks and entering Israeli territory). The three planned a relatively complex terrorist attack involvingshooting, stabbing and detonating IEDs. In contrast to most of the attacks, this one was carried out far from the terrorists' hometowns, despite the logistic difficulties.
3. Therefore, the attack continues the trend of escalating complexity and daring in the current terrorist campaign of the past few weeks (alongside the continuation of "ordinary" terrorist attacks). The trend probably indicates the desire to kill a larger number of Israelis and achieve greater public attention and media coverage. It may result from the perception that the stabbing, vehicular and even shooting attacks carried out by lone terrorists are no longer considered exceptional, but rather part of a daily routine that even the Israeli public has become "accustomed to." The terrorists may have also personally learned the lessons of the previous attacks, and also want to improve their chances of surviving.
4. Fatah expressed solidarity with the terrorists: on February 8, 2016, Mahmoud al-'Alul, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, went to Qabatiya to pay a condolence call on the families of the three terrorists (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-'Alul, February 8, 2016). The Fatah Twitter account posted a cartoon in support of the three terrorists. At the funeral held in Qabatiya on February 5, 2016, there were many yellow Fatah flags. Senior Fatah figures in Judea and Samaria participated in a solidarity march held in Qabatiya on February 8, 2016.
5. The Palestinian Authority (PA) did not publicly praise the terrorist attack at the Nablus Gate and the three did not receive a "governmental" funeral. However, the PA continues to systematically provide legitimization for the attacks carried out in the current terrorist campaign: Mahmoud Abbas meets with the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks, the PLO gives them financial support, and the Palestinian media provide them with public backing. Mahmoud Abbas also legitimizes them by calling the attacks "non-violent resistance" and reiterating his support for them, despite the fact that he is referring to a violent, lethal terrorist campaign.
6. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip praised the terrorist attack at the Nablus Gate, representing it as a turning point in the Jerusalem intifada. They encourage an escalation of the terrorist campaign, even though such an escalation can damage the lull in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas has an interest in continuing.
The Modus Operandi of the Terrorist Attack at the Nablus Gate
7. On the afternoon of February 3, 2016, three terrorists came to Jerusalem armed with guns, knives and IEDs. A group of four Border Policemen noticed two of them sitting on a bench near the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. They roused the suspicion of the Border Policemen, who asked them for their ID cards. One of them took out his ID card, and the second took out a gun and shot at the policemen. The other terrorist stabbed one of the policewomen.
8. In response the policemen shot and killed the two terrorists. The third terrorist came from behind and opened fire, wounding another policewoman. She shot back and hit the terrorist. A police officer who arrived on the scene shot and killed the terrorist. Two Border Policewomen were wounded in the attack. One died and the other was critically injured.
9. The three terrorists who carried out the attack were young Palestinians in their early 20s, single, who wanted to avenge the deaths of their friends. As far as is known, they did not belong to one of the terrorist organizations. The three had personal profiles similar to most of the terrorists who have carried out attacks during the current terrorist campaign. However, an analysis of the attack indicates a modus operandi different from most of the other terrorist attacks:
1) Objective of the attack – The attack was planned as a mass-killing attack in a crowded location, which would receive wide public attention and media coverage. Jerusalem was chosen as the scene of the attack because of its symbolic importance, despite its distance from the town where the attackers lived (most of the terrorists in the current terrorist campaign who came from Qabatiya attacked at the nearby Jalameh crossing). Considerations of operational convenience may have also influenced the choice of Jerusalem (the Nablus Gate and city of Jerusalem in general were familiar to at least two of the three terrorists, who had gone there and posted pictures of their visits on their Facebook pages).
2) Planning of the attack – Most of the attacks in the current terrorist campaign have been carried out by lone terrorists who acted spontaneously after having made a personal decision. This time, the attack was carried out by a squad of three terrorists who organized to plan the attack. Such an attack requires advance planning and the support of others. They had to acquire submachine guns and IEDs, and probably also needed logistic support for transporting the weapons to Jerusalem (they had Palestinian ID cards, which do not authorize them to stay in Jerusalem. At least two of them were forbidden to enter Israeli territory).
3) Complexity of the attack – Unlike most of the "ordinary" terrorist attacks, the attack at the Nablus Gate was more complex. It was supposed to include shootings with improvised Carl Gustav submachine guns, stabbings and the detonations of IEDs. Choosing a location far from the terrorists' hometown obliged them to plan their movements to evade the Israeli security forces. So far it is unclear whether they arrived in Jerusalem with the weapons or if they received them from local collaborators when they reached the outskirts of Jerusalem or Jerusalem itself.
The Attack at the Nablus Gate as Part of the Trend of Increased Complexity and Daring of the Attacks
10. Based on the above analysis, in ITIC assessment the attack at the Nablus Gate is part of a recent trend of escalating complexity in the terrorist attacks and daring of those who carry them out. The trend has been manifested in a number of attacks which were different in nature from the familiar routine of the terrorist campaign so far:
1) The desire for mass killing: The shooting-stabbing attack at the Nablus Gate and the shooting attack at the Simta Pub in the heart of Tel Aviv were meant to kill large numbers of Israelis, and were carried out in crowded locations in major cities. They were different from most of the stabbing and vehicular attacks which have characterized the current terrorist campaign so far, which were intended to kill individuals or small numbers of Israelis.
2) The organizing of several terrorists: The October 2015 attack at the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem involved three terrorists operating together and the attack in Beit Horon involved two. The terrorists organized themselves through personal and/or local acquaintance, and were not handled by one of the terrorist organizations (lived in the same place, were students at the same university or were friends). The attacks were different from the "lone wolf" attacks, which have characterized most of attacks in the terrorist campaign so far.
3) Entrance into an Israeli village: In three cases (Tekoa, Otniel and Beit Horon) the terrorists entered an Israeli community in Judea and Samaria, even when there was a security fence, and carried out a stabbing attack. They did not attack at the traditional friction points (roadblocks, bus stops, etc.), where most of the attacks have occurred (and where the IDF is present and takes security measures).
4) Terrorists who do not conform to the usual profile: Two attacks were carried out by one terrorist who could easily mingle with Israelis and another who could easily go to roadblocks where there were IDF soldiers (the shooting attack in Tel Aviv was carried out by an Israeli Arab; the attack at the IDF's Beit El roadblock was carried out by a Palestinian policeman).
Personal Information about the Terrorists
11. The three terrorists were all from the town of Qabatiya in northern Samaria:
1) Ahmed Nasser Zakarna, aka Abu Hamid, 21, studied law at the American University in Jenin. According to his Facebook page, he was the "commander" of a local body called Qabatiya al-Sumoud (an NGO operating in Qabatiya). He was a close friend of Muhammad Alawneh, who was killed on July 21, 2015, in a clash with the Israeli security forces in the village of Burqin. He was also a friend of Ahmed Awad Abu al-Rab, from Qabatiya, who was killed by Israeli security force gunfire when he tried to carry out a stabbing attack at the Jalameh crossing. On his Facebook page he often eulogized them, mourned their deaths and even promised to avenge them.
Left: Ahmed Zakarna holds an M-16 rifle (Facebook page of Qabatiya al-A'an, February 3, 2016).Right: The death notice issued by Hamas for Ahmed Zakarna (Facebook page of the Islamic Movement in Jenin, February 3, 2016).
2) Muhammad Ahmed Hilmi Kamil, 20, a former student at the Shaheed Izzat Abu al-Rab high school in Qabatiya.Was on the local basketball team (Facebook page of Paldf, February 3, 2016; Facebook page of Muhammad Kamil, March 15, 2015). He left a living will which was posted on Palestinian media websites as soon as he died (but it was not found on his personal Facebook page). He said he intended to become a shaheed and sacrifice his blood, and asked his parents not to be angry with him and to forgive him. He asked his mother to ululate [with joy] because her son died as a shaheed. He signed the will, "the shaheed Ahmed Awad Abu al-Rab groups" (Facebook page of Paldf, February 4, 2016). Hamas issued a formal death notice for him.
Left: The death notice issued by Hamas for Muhammad Kamil (Facebook page of Paldf, February 3, 2016). Right: The will of terrorist Muhammad Kamil, posted on the Palestinian media websites after his death (Facebook page of Paldf, February 4, 2016).
3) Ahmed NajehIbrahim Abu al-Rab, 21 (Ma'an, February 4, 2016). He was a former student at the American University in Jenin, and before that at the Shaheed Izzat Abu al-Rab high school in Qabatiya (Facebook page of Ahmed Abu al-Rab, February 7, 2016). Hamas issued a formal death notice for him (Facebook page of Paldf, February 3, 2016).
12. According to various statements, the three were childhood friends and were often together. Relatives of the three interviewed after the attack said the three had been a very good friend of Ahmed Awad Abu al-Rab (17, from Qabatiya). He was killed at the Jalameh crossing on November 2, 2015, when he tried to stab an IDF soldier. According to the relatives, his death had a strong influence on them and changed their lives. Family members also said that the three often went to Ahmed Abu al-Rab's grave. Friends reported that they went there on the day before the attack. After that, they went to pray together at the town mosque, walked around and then returned home (Facebook page of Palinfo, February 4, 2016).
13. After the terrorist attack at the Nablus Gate there were various expressions of solidarity and support:
1) The Qabatiya municipality and the Fatah movement in Qabatiya issued a joint notice mourning the death of the three "heroic shaheeds" (Facebook page of Qabatiya al-A'an, February 7, 2016).
2) Fatah's Twitter account posted a cartoon in support of the three terrorist operatives reading, "From Qabatiya to Jerusalem. Blessings."
3) Mahmoud al-'Alul, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, who is also in charge of Fatah's bureau of enlistment and organization in Judea and Samaria, went to Qabatiya with other senior Fatah figures to pay a condolence call on the families of the three who were killed.
4) At the funeral held for the three terrorists in Qabatiya on February 5, 2016, many yellow Fatah flags were in evidence, as were pictures of Yasser Arafat.
5) In a solidarity march held in Qabatiya on February 8, 2016, two Senior Fatah figures in Judea and Samaria were present, Mahmoud al-'Alul and Jamal Muheisen.Jenin district governor Ibrahim Ramadan (representing the PA), was also present. Marchers waved yellow Fatah flags and large signs mourning, "with pride and esteem," the three Palestinians from Qabatiya who carried out the attack at the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem. In the upper corners of the sign at the left are pictures of Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat (Palestinian TV, February 8, 2016).
14. No mention of Hamas was found on the Facebook pages of the three terrorists, but rather of the PIJ. Nevertheless, Hamas positioned itself at the head of the organizations praising the three terrorists, calling the attack a turning point in the Jerusalem intifada.
15. Hamas posted a notice on its Facebook page glorifying the three terrorists from Qabatiya (Facebook page of Paldf, February 4, 2016). The Islamic Movement in Nablus [i.e., Hamas] also issued a death notice for them (see below).
16. Hamas spokesman Husam Badran praised the terrorist attack and the three who carried it out for reaching Jerusalem despite the IDF roadblocks. He claimed the attack was an important turning point in the Jerusalem intifada (Hamas website, February 3, 2016).
Left: The Fatah death notice for the three terrorists (Facebook page of the Islamic Movement in Nablus, February 3, 2016) Right: The Hamas notice praising the attack (Facebook page of Paldf, February 4, 2016).
Notice drawn by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha glorifying the three "heroes of Qabatiya" who carried out the terrorist attack (Facebook page of Paldf, February 4, 2016).
Home to many of the terrorists in the current and former Palestinian terrorist campaigns.
A recent example in which he described the terrorist campaign as "non-violent" was in the statements he made during a meeting held in Ramallah with representatives of the Arabic media in Israel (Wafa, February 8, 2016). In the current Palestinian terrorist campaign 31 people have been killed, leaving behind 52 orphans, 30 mourning parents, and 12 widows and widowers (Yedioth Ahronoth, date, 2016). Calling the current terrorist campaign "peaceful and non-violent" is absurd.
Two of the three posted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) notices on their Facebook pages, which may indicate identification with the organization. The PIJ was prominent in northern Samaria during the second intifada. However, the ITIC has no proof that the three belonged to the organization. Hamas issued death notices and support for the three, while the PIJ kept a relatively low profile and did not identify itself as connected to the three.
The Carl Gustav is a Swedish submachine gun manufactured after the Second World War. The homemade variety, known by the Palestinians as "Carlo," are manufactured in local workshops in Judea and Samaria and are used by the Palestinian terrorist operatives.