Hamas death notice issued for Ahmed Riyadh Shehadeh, the Palestinian terrorist who carried out a vehicular attack near the village of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah (wounding three IDF soldiers, one of them critically). The inscription on the tire reads, "We brought you a vehicular [attack], the intifada continues."
1. On September 13, 2015, the Palestinians began a wave of popular terrorism(called a "popular awakening" by the Palestinian Authority [PA]). It began with riots on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem during the Jewish High Holidays (second half of September 2015). It continued with a campaign of terrorist attacks which peaked in October 2015 (with 59 attacks). Since October the wave of terrorism has gradually waned, as shown by the following graph:
Monthly distribution of significant terrorist attacksin Judea, Samaria and Israel since the beginning of the wave of terrorism (September 14, 2015 – May 24, 2016)
*Note: Graph updated to May 22, 2016.
2. This study was written a little more than eight months after the beginning of the current wave of Palestinian terrorism. It continues the interim study carried out by the ITIC issued on April 14, 2016, which examined the first seven months of the wave of terrorism. The objective of the current study is to examine whether or not the wave of terrorism has come to an end. If it has in fact ended, that raises the question of how to characterize the current terrorist attacks and in what context to view them.
3. The two main conclusions that can be drawn from a comparison of the current wave of terrorism and the popular terrorism of the three years that preceded it are the following:
a. The current wave of Palestinian terrorism in its present format ended around April 2016. That conclusion is based on the significant decrease in the scope of the attacks (from scores to a few attacks every month); the change in the location of the attacks (a significant decrease in the number of attacks inside Israeli territory, although attacks in greater Jerusalem continue); and the decrease in the lethality of the attacks (since March 8, 2016, when an American national died in a killing spree in Jaffa, no one has been killed). In addition, there has been a decrease in the number of Palestinians participating in riots in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip (including during times prone to violent events such as Nakba Day, or the Passover holiday when many Israelis visited Jerusalem). All of the above resulted in a decrease in public and media interest in Palestinian terrorist activity, although interest rises when there are significant localized attacks.
b. The wave of Palestinian terrorism has reached an end, but popular terrorism (the so-called "popular resistance") continues and is approaching the levels of recent years (following the Sixth Fatah Conference held in August 2009). Therefore, popular terrorism is far from over, especially since the concept of "popular resistance" is an important factor in PA policy, which exploits it to promote its political, propaganda and legal campaigns against Israel. Popular terrorism is violent by nature, and Mahmoud Abbas' claim that the "popular resistance" is "peaceful" and "unarmed" is baseless. The incitement that accompanied the Palestinian terrorist campaign continues, provoking and increasing frustration, rage and Palestinian nationalist motivation, especially among the younger generation of Palestinians (who led the recent wave of terrorism).
4. What will happen next?In ITIC assessment, although the current wave of terrorism has ended, popular terrorism originating from Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem will continue. In all probability it will continue to fluctuate, creating a pattern of waves of popular terrorism. The PA can be assumed to continue to support popular terrorism and sidestep condemning it, while at the same time continuing its efforts to contain it and keep it under control. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations will continue their efforts to breathe new life into popular terrorism and turn it into a third intifada. From Hamas' perspective, that means encouraging military-type attacks (including shooting attacks, abductions and suicide bombing attacks) alongside popular terrorism. Attempts may be made to carry out both popular terrorism and military-type attacks during the upcoming Muslim religious month of Ramadan.
5. To facilitate an understanding of the current wave of terrorism and its political-operational context, a comparison was made between the current wave and the popular resistance of the three preceding it (2013, 2014 and January 1, 2015 – September 13, 2015). During those years continuous, systematic terrorist activity was part of the "popular resistance" policy adopted by the PA and Fatah, although it was far more limited in extent and different in nature from the terrorist attacks of the current wave of terrorism. The comparison between the terrorist campaign and the years preceding it is intended to show the unique characteristics of the current campaign (both quantitatively and qualitatively), and to examine if and when such characteristics disappeared, or if and when they significantly decreased.
6. The data regarding the terrorist attacks is based on a wide variety of open source information, primarily Israeli defense sources and institutions, as well as information appearing in the Israeli, Palestinian and Arab media. That information was used in preparing the interim report on the current Palestinian terrorist campaign with the addition of information since added. To examine terrorist attacks in previous years, use was made of the ITIC's weekly "News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" bulletins and of dozens of other publications issued by the ITIC about various aspects of Palestinian terrorism. The ITIC's data and conclusions do not necessarily and fully correspond to those of other institutions, both security and civilian, dealing with terrorism, in Israel and abroad. The differences may be the result of different data bases, methodologies and points of view.
7. This document has four appendices:
a. Appendix A– The quantitative aspect: the extent of the current wave of Palestinian terrorism compared with popular terrorism during the three years preceding it.
b. Appendix B– The qualitative aspect: the types of attacks in the current wave of Palestinian terrorism compared with popular terrorism during the three years preceding it.
c. Appendix C– Locations of the attacks in the current wave of Palestinian terrorism compared with those carried out during popular terrorism attacks during the three years preceding it.
d. Appendix D– The number of people killed attacks in the current wave of Palestinian terrorism compared with those killed by popular terrorism during the three years preceding it.
* Follow-up of the April 14, 2016 bulletin, "Seven Months of Popular Palestinian Terrorism, The Current Situation."