Wave of Hebron Terrorism Ordered and Financed from Damascus
(Communicated by Israeli Security Sources)
Over the past three months, a number of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives who were directly involved in a wide range of terrorist activities in the area of Hebron were arrested by Israel security forces. In the investigation following their arrest, it was revealed that their terrorist operations were directed by the PIJ branch in Hebron, which received its operational orders and financing from PIJ Headquarters in Syria.
On Nov 15, 2002, terrorists opened fire and hurled grenades at a Border Guard patrol moving among a crowd of Jewish worshippers along ‘Worshippers Way’ in Hebron. Subsequently, the terrorists directed their gunfire at Israeli security forces and civilian volunteer guards arriving at the scene. During the gun battle, 9 soldiers and 3 civilian volunteers were killed.
Subsequently, on Dec 27, 2002, two terrorists infiltrated the compound of the Jewish Seminary High School in the community of Othniel and opened fire on the students in the institution’s dining hall. Two civilians and two soldiers were killed in the attack.
The PIJ claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Following the attacks, Israeli security forces arrested a number of PIJ operatives from Hebron and the surrounding villages. During the subsequent investigation, the suspects admitted to having taken part in terrorist operations on behalf of the armed wing of the PIJ in Hebron. Their actions included the planning and execution of terrorist operations, while maintaining ongoing contacts with PIJ headquarters in Syria.
Among those arrested are the following:
During the course of their investigation, information was revealed regarding the recruitment methods employed by the armed wing of the PIJ, the purchasing of weapons used for terrorist operations (including chemical compounds for the production of explosives), and the organization and deployment of bomb making laboratories. It was also learned that the PIJ operatives underwent training in the use of weapons and in the recruitment of suicide bombers. The investigation also revealed the involvement of several of the operatives in a series of terrorist shooting attacks which took place in the area of Hebron during the course of the last year and a half.
In recent months, the operatives had been busy planning shooting and bombing operations in the area of Hebron and the surrounding villages, during the course of which they collected intelligence, followed road movements, observed Israeli positions, and built an infrastructure for the smuggling, deployment and firing of mortars.
During the investigation of the operatives it was revealed that the headquarters of the PIJ in Syria was deeply involved in the ongoing operations of the Hebron PIJ infrastructure, including the transfer of large sums of money to finance the wide range of armed attacks carried out by the Hebron branch. The funds were used to purchase various weapons and raw materials for the manufacture of explosives, as well to provide ongoing support of the families of suicide terrorists and arrested PIJ cadre. Most significant was the revelation that the PIJ headquarters in Damascus was also providing detailed operational directives to the Hebron PIJ members, ordering them to intensify their armed operations and to supplement them with suicide bombings.
Some of the operatives arrested by Israel were cadre of the armed wing of the Hebron PIJ, who planned and dispatched the two suicide terrorists who attacked the high school in Othniel. Their activities included the training of the terrorists in the use of firearms, filming their final testament prior to their suicide mission and transporting them to their point of departure for the attack. After the attack, these operatives distributed pamphlets and hung signs idolizing the suicide terrorists, arranged public memorial services to praise their action, and disseminated the terrorists’ final photographs and videos to the various media outlets.
The arrest of these operatives prevented the Hebron PIJ from carrying out a number of planned attacks against Israeli targets.
Noteworthy is the fact that a number of these operative had been previously arrested by the Palestinian Authority, yet were released soon thereafter, promptly returning to their terrorist operations.