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Terrorism against Israelis

The neutrality of this article is disputed.

Acts that were inflicted and declared terrorist committed by nations and individuals against Israelis.

Partial chronology of terrorism during the al-Aqsa Intifada against Israelis:

Prior acts of Palestinian terrorism omitted.

See also: Palestinian terrorism, Israeli terrorism.

Table of contents
1 Early history
2 History between 1948 and 1967
3 After 1967
4 The First Intifada
5 The Palestinian Authority
6 The al-Aqsa Intifada
7 Discussion of terrorism against Israel during the al-Aqsa Intifada
8 External links

Early history

Roots of the Palestinian terrorism go back to Turkish times, when the Jewish community of Palestine was under the thumb of a few wealthy "effendi" landlord families. These families, most promenently the Husseinis and the Nashashibis, employed criminals to attack Jews who threatened rent prices by living outside the city walls.

Later, after the establisment of the British mandatory regime, the inflow of Jews increased dramatically, a result primarily of persecution of Jews in Europe. While there had been a steady inflow of Jews to Palestine since the 1880s, it was not until now that Arab Palestinians began to feel in earnest that they could become a minority. Palestinians hoped that a wave of violent resistance would compel the British administration to limit further Jewish immigration.

Worth mentioning is Sheikh Izz Ad-Din El-Kasam, after whom the military wing of Hamas is named, and who created the first ever terrorist network in the history of the British Mandate of Palestine. The network, called the Black Hand, was responsible for the deaths of at least 10 Jews. After it killed a Jewish police officer, El-Kasam was hunted down and killed by British police.

In 1929 Arab mobs massacred over 100 Jews, 60 of them in Hebron alone, in a community where Jews lived among Arabs peacefully for centuries. Many of the corpses were mutilated.

Although the first bombing in the history of the British Mandate of Palestine was carried out by a Jewish extremist group, the Irgun, the Arabs were quick to adopt the technique, which was later used methodically and extensively by both the Irgun and Palestinians. During the Arab Great Rebellion of 1936-1939, bombings, riots, and murders, all of them carried out on a systematic basis, have left hundreds of Jews dead.

The same techniques were used by Arabs in the first stage of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. However, efficient conduct by the Haganah managed to constrain the attacks. Eventually, the war turned into a wide conflict with Arab nations invading from abroad, in which Israel obtained independence, and Jordan and Egypt took over parts of Mandatory Palestine.

History between 1948 and 1967

The years between Israel's independence and the Six-Day War were characterized by incessant terrorist activity, carried out by Palestinians and often sponsored by Arab nations.

Up until 1956, Israel was subject to a massive wave of infiltration by Palestinian refugees from Jordan and Egypt. The broader issue is discussed at Palestinian infiltration; this page's focus will be on the infiltrations' influence on Israel.

The infiltrators' intentions varried: some only came to reclaim their property; others intended to steal property from the Jews who settled near the border; others wanted to kill Jews in revenge for their military failure of 1948. Although a minority among the infiltrators, the latter have led to the deaths of more than 200 Israelis; theft caused a considerable economic damage, and the general feeling of insecurity was created by the raids.

Both Egypt and Jordan at least initially tried to limit this phenomenon, but neither were particularly successful. By 1954, Egypt has reversed its stance completely, formally creating a battalion of infiltrators (named fedayeen) as a part of the Egyptian army forces stationed in Gaza. In Jordan the fedayeen did not have a formal status; evidence seems to indicate the Jordanian authorities were opposed to it; however the lower-ranking officials and military commanders were reluctant to block infiltrations, and the authorities either were not able or did not want to force them to.

In spite of powerful retaliatory attacks made by Israel (which included, up until 1953, the deliberate targeting of civilians; see Qibya operation, better named a deliberate massacre of Palestinian civilians, led by Ariel Sharon), the infiltrations never stopped - although they were often interrupted for brief periods of time. Although better than a totally passive strategy on behalf of Israel, the "infiltration - retaliation" scheme led to a state of border warfare, in particular with Egypt. This situation was unstable for the long term, and needed a more comprehensive solution.

By 1956, the need for a change was obvious. This, coupled with the Egyptian decision to nationalize the Suez Canal (which would block Israeli shipping from passing between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean), led to Israel's accepting the offers made by the British and French, and joining the attack against Egypt. Israel succeeded in taking over the Sinai Peninsula. American pressure lead to an Israeli withdrawal without a full peace treaty, but a promise by Egypt to disband the fedayeen and stop their raids. In addition, the U.N. placed peacekeeping forces in Gaza Strip.

After several years of quiet, Syria decided to carry out a program of subverting Israel's water supply. In order to intensify the hostilities, Syria decided to resort to Palestinian terrorism. It managed the transformation of the PLO, previously a moderately successful group with political aspirations led by Ahmad Shukairy, into a full-fledged terrorist network enjoying Arab and Palestinian popular support, with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement at its steering wheel. The PLO as we know it today was formed in late 1964. Its first attacks in February 1965 were aimed at - unsurprisingly - Israel's water installations in the north; however, they never caused much damage and the PLO remained only a minor power.

After 1967

In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories on which more than a million Palestinians lived, many of them refugees of the war of 1948. Some of the residents of the occupied territories belonged to various militant movements. The PLO's earlier influence in these lands was limited by Egypt and Jordan (who saw it as a Syrian proxy); however, in 1967 it began to rapidly take over the existing infrastructure. Many Palestinians fled to Jordan and de-stabilized its political system. Within months, Israel was again the target of a wave of attacks (at that time mainly consisting of, but not limited to bombings), that originated either in the Palestinian population within the occupied territories, or in Jordan, which was no longer able to contain them.

Israel's army and security services retaliated forcefully and eventually devised tactics that made it possible to stop the attacks. By 1970, members of most major Palestinian terror networks in West Bank and Gaza were identified and arrested, while the PLO's attempts to take over Jordan only led to armed response by King Hussein, and the formers' exile. Yasser Arafat and the PLO moved to South Lebanon.

The PLO has launched numerous terrorist raids on Israeli targets from Lebanon that caused hundreds of Israeli casualties. In addition, in the 1970s and early 1980s, various arms of the PLO have carried out a wave of terrorist bombings, massacres in synagogues and in public airports and airplane hijackings across Europe, the most famous being the Munich Olympic Massacre of 1972, allegedly by a group called "Black September."

Black September was later discovered to have been nothing more than a campgaign designation used by Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in order to expel the PLO from there. Although it succeeded in making Arafat flee to Tunis, Israel became entangled with the local population. By 1985 Israel withdrew from all of South Lebanon but for a strip of about 10 miles wide (intended at preventing mortar and rocket fire at Israel's northern cities). However, Israel's prolonged stay and Arab and Iranian support had led to the strengthening of the Shi'ite-Muslim group Hizballah that began to execute attacks against Israeli and Western targets, military and non-military alike.

The First Intifada

In December 1987 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza rose up in a popular civil revolt (named Intifada, Arabic for "shaking off"), opposing the continued Israeli occupation. While the Intifada began spontaneously, by January 1988 it was already under the direction from the PLO headquarters in Tunis. However, the Intifada also signified the rise of Islamic opposition groups to the secular PLO leadership, namely Hamas (led by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. See Intifada for more details about the causes and effects of the Intifada.

The Intifada's terrorist effects on the Israeli population concentrated in two main areas. First, provocateurs paid by PLO caused the daily creation of large mobs, stoning Israeli cars and attacking Israeli civilians. Secondly, on the general background of the unrest, there were numerous deliberate attacks made sometimes in remote areas against Israeli civilians. The terrorist attacks were varied in type and style, but many of them could be described as "local initiatives", that did not require a central planning apparatus. An example of such an attack would be the 405 Bus slaughter of July 6, 1988, in which 14 bus passengers were killed as an Arab assaulted the bus driver as the bus was driving by the edge of a cliff.

The Palestinian Authority

In 1993, Israel completed a series of negotiations with the PLO, resulting in mutual recognition, the agreement on the cessation of violence, and the forming of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA or PA). One of PA's goals, as stated in the Oslo Accords, was the prevention of Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

Initially, as both Israel and the United States agree, the PA carried out its obligations. In accordance with the agreement, it transformed the Intifada infrastructure into a government-like apparatus. However, several times in the years since 1993, there were several waves of Palestinian attacks. The Palestinian Authority quickly acted against those who carried them out, but it did not arrest the leadership of the terror movements. This led to some members of the Israeli public suspect that the regularity of the attacks - many waves came when the Israeli public reaction could be beneficial to some Palestinian aim during negotiations - meant that PA complicity could be taking place.

See also:

The al-Aqsa Intifada

In Autumn 2000 began the Second Intifada. While the Palestinians blame Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli opposition leader for starting it, while Israel claims, the PA started it intentionally to improve the Palestinian positions at the negotiating table.

Over 100 suicide bombings have taken place in Israeli targets, killing more than three hundred civilians. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah are said to have at their disposal enormous quantities of weapons and explosives, which all sides agree are not made by the individual bombers themselves but at informal factories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel names the towns of Hebron, Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah as centers of this activity.

Israel claims that the PA's position regarding terrorism was shady in the first place. While condemning most terrorist attacks, the PA has never arrested figures of importance to the terrorist networks, confiscated their weaponry or even publicly denounced future violence against Israelis. Operatives from the Fatah movement of Yasser Arafat, the head of the PA, are known to have participated in a large number of attacks themselves.

Since Israel's recent military incursion into the West Bank (including the town of Jenin) the Israeli government has obtained and published thousands of pages of internal Palestinian Authority documents which demonstrate that the PA has been covertly funding and directing, many of the suicide bombings. The head of the United States' CIA, as well as many other US politicians and analysts, have gone on record as saying that these documents are without a doubt real, and prove that Arafat personally orders terrorism through his Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. The Palestinian Authority initially responded by saying that these documents were taken out of context. However, the PA's current position is that the documents never existed, that they are fabrications -- and that they are the property of the Palestine Authority and must be returned. The change in position is interpreted by many in the US and Israel as tacit admissions that the documents were authentic.

As an international consensus on the proper definition of terrorism (against Israel or any other country) has not been achieved yet. Notwithstanding the continued European general condemnation of any violence towards civilians, Israelis included, the State of Israel continues to complain that acts taken against European citizens are always labeled as terrorist, but that similar actions against Israel are seldom labeled as such.

Discussion of terrorism against Israel during the al-Aqsa Intifada

Palestinian Terrorism has an extended history that predates the founding of the state of Israel by several decades. Examples include the 1929 Massacre in Hebron and other cities. The discussion below focuses on the issue of the Palestinian Authority in curbing or inciting violence. In the Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority undertook to end all incitment against Israel, Israelis and Jews.

Many Israelis and Americans blame suicide bombings on the indoctrination of Palestinian children, from kindergarten to college age, with pro-suicide propaganda, citing official Palestinian Authority television shows for 5 and 6 year olds teaching them songs about murdering Jews. Jordanian and Egyptian books used in the schools belonging to Islamic movements are sources of incitement on their own right. Given such a climate of hatred over so many years, they say, it is not surprising that some Palestinian children are eventually convinced to become terrorists. See [1].

Some advocates also feel that this does not hold true for the educational institutions of Palestinian authority itself, saying that a new generation of Palestinian textbooks released in the year 2000 is more tolerant (see [1]). In particular, a study of Palestinian textbooks by Professor Nathan Brown of George Washington University in Washington, DC, while not dismissing the allegations entirely, claims the book to be "largely innocent of these charges." ([1])

However, critics claim that these books, while not inciting directly for violence, still present an excessively jingoistic, nationalistic and fallacious image that in effect denies Israel's right to exist.

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, refers to a survey of 1700 Israeli children's books [1] which states, that Israeli children literature is also seen as not entirely free from bias. Cohen notes that "520 of the (children's) books contained humiliating, negative descriptions of Palestinians. [...] Sixty six percent of the 520 books refer to Arabs as violent; 52 percent as evil; 37 percent as liars; 31 percent as greedy; 28 percent as two-faced; 27 percent as traitors, etc."

Israelis point out that the books in questions are irrelevant, because they are not textbooks, and have never represented any concerted attempt at indoctrination. Further, these books are mostly obsolete, and have been out of use for more than a decade. In contrast, the Palestinian books are school-books created by and used by the Palestinian Authority; those are still in wide use. An Israeli contributor to this article has studied in the Israeli school system during the 1990s; he didn't once witness a derogatory attitude to Arabs in any schoolbook from which he had studied, and the general attitude towards Israeli-Arabs was one of appreciation to their culture and legacy, and their integration as equal members of the Israeli society.

A survey conducted by Gaza Community Mental Health Programme on children living close to major checkpoints in Khan Younis and Rafah in Southern Gaza states that 54.6% of the children show symptoms of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). More than 50% had seen dead or injured people ? in 23% of the cases the person was a family member.

Many Palestinian spokespeople claim that the suicide bombings are  understandable effects of the unsatisfactory situation in which Palestinians live; mass-murdering Israeli civilians is seen by many Palestinians as the only way to achieve their desired results.  They refer to the UN-Resolutions condemning Israeli actions against Palestinians, which were ignored by the Israelis. 

It is questionable how much of the current increase of Palestinian terrorism can be attributed to Israeli politics during the occupation of West Bank and Gaza to suppress the moderate voices of Palestinians who call for a peaceful solution. Participants of peaceful demonstrations were imprisoned or held in detention. A Palestinian painter was sentenced to six month in prison for using the colors of the Palestinian flag in a painting.

Palestinian lawyer Shahadeh has stated: "Due to all the failed peace initiatives, the people think: we are desperated. We get exploited and tortured, our houses destroyed without any changes. There is no political solution, no help from abroad and if we don't take actions, there will nobody care for us."

Several prominent leaders of Palestinian Islamist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also stated that no matter what Israel does or whatever agreement it signs they will never stop, never rest, until Israel is totally destroyed and its population exiled or exterminated. This leaves Israel in a problematic situation, with only 3 choices: 1) Fight against the Palestinians and suffer terror and condemnation. 2) Attempt to reach a midway agreement that will end the conflict while Israel remains (This was attempted in Oslo but failed when in 2000 the Palestinians resorted to war in order to improve their standings in the negotiations) 3) Accept destruction at the hands of groups known for their violence and with the stated goal, as well as a history of, mass murder of Israeli civilians.

External links