(Communicated by Israeli security sources)
On March 7, 2006, security forces at the Erez crossing arrested Samih Haddad, an Islamic Jihad terrorist who intended to carry out a terror attack inside Israel. Six days earlier, security forces arrested Islamic Jihad terrorist Ihab Tity, who was sent to develop the organization’s terror infrastructure in the West Bank in order to carry out attacks against Israel.
On March 7, 2006, ISA forces arrested Samih Maher Salameh Haddad, 21, a resident of the Gaza Strip. Haddad arrived at the Erez crossing with false medical documents with which he had managed to obtain an entry permit into Israel. During his questioning Haddad admitted to being a member of the Islamic Jihad terror organization. Haddad had undergone training in the organization and had participated in projectile rocket attacks against Israel.
In January of 2006, Haddad was informed by his operators that they intended to smuggle him into Israel through Erez with false medical documents, which stated that Haddad was in need of urgent medical treatment in Israel. Once inside Israel, Haddad would receive an automatic weapon which he would use to carry out a terror attack against Israeli civilians. Haddad had attempted to smuggle into Israel several months earlier by infiltrating the Israeli-Egyptian border, but had not succeeded.
On March 7, 2006, Haddad was given the forged documents by his operators and met with Mahjed Harazin, head of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, who gave him his blessing to carry out the terror attack. Haddad was then taken to the Erez security crossing, and was arrested by Israeli security forces while attempting to pass through.
This thwarted attack is an example of a recent upsurge in Islamic Jihad’s efforts to carry out attacks against Israel. As part of this effort Islamic Jihad has also accelerated the development of terror cells in the West Bank:
On March 1, 2006, security forces arrested Ihab Tity, an Islamic Jihad terrorist and explosives instructor who had been sent to the West Bank on February 2006 in order to establish a terror infrastructure which would carry out attacks against Israel. Tity, 25, a resident of Al Aroub (in the Hebron region), moved to the Gaza Strip in the year 2000 and enrolled in a university there. In 2004 Tity was drafted to the Islamic Jihad, and in 2005 underwent several training sessions aimed to qualify him as an explosives instructor. During this training period Tity was instructed on explosives production and the construction of detonators, explosive devices, explosive belts and methods of use. Tity was also trained in the use of automatic weapons and anti-tank missiles.
Upon completing his training in February 2006, Tity was instructed by his operators to return to the West Bank in order to establish an Islamic Jihad terror infrastructure, consisting of several sub-cells, which would carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets- primarily military targets. These attacks would be funded by the Islamic Jihad terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, and would possibly be conducted in cooperation with other organizations.
Tity was instructed to build an explosives lab and to draft new recruits who would be trained in the production of explosives, bombs and explosive belts. Among the attacks planned by the new infrastructure were suicide bombings, the detonation of roadside bombs against IDF forces, shooting attacks against civilian and military vehicles, and possibly the kidnapping of soldiers or civilians in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel (for this Tity’s operators suggested that he enlist a female collaborator to seduce and kidnap the designated target, or that he alternatively set up a false meeting with an Israeli drug dealer in order to kidnap him). In addition, the infrastructure was to collect information on security measures-specifically security vehicles-used to protect Israeli communities in the West Bank.
Tity arrived in the West Bank near the end of February 2006. By the time of his arrest on March 1, he had already managed to mark a number of targets for terror attacks, among them IDF vehicles near Al Aroub and a bus stop near Gush Etzion, and had also collected information on security measures in a nearby community.
As part of its efforts to increase terror activity against Israel, Islamic Jihad has been implementing three major methods in order to smuggle terrorists into Israel:
1. Exploitation of Israel’s humanitarian policy on medical cases:
This method of operation is exemplified in the case of Samih Haddad which is detailed above. The past few years have shown a major increase in attempts to smuggle terrorists into Israel in the cover of patients in need of medical treatment. Another example of this is the incident of Wafa al-Biss, who was arrested at the Erez crossing in June 2005 while wearing an explosive belt. Biss, carrying legitimate medical documents, was scheduled for a medical examination in an Israeli hospital. Under the pretense of a genuine need, Biss, who had been recruited by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades organization, was planning to execute a suicide bombing at the hospital which had treated her.
2. Infiltration into Israel through Egypt:
Since October 2000, and at a highly increased rate following the IDF’s pullout from the Gaza Strip, there have been many efforts by all terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, among them Islamic Jihad, to smuggle terrorists into Israel by sending them over the Gaza-Egypt border and then over the Israeli-Egyptian border, while exploiting the lack of a contiguous physical obstacle along this border. On the 8th of February, a 17 year old Palestinian terrorist carrying an explosive belt, and an additional collaborator assigned to drive him to the site of the planned attack, both of them Islamic Jihad terrorists, were arrested after trying to infiltrate Israel via Egypt. Their plan was to carry out a suicide bombing in the city of Jerusalem.
As previously mentioned, Samih Haddad had also attempted to enter Israel in this method.
3. Exploitation of Israel’s policy towards residents of the West Bank wishing to leave the Gaza Strip:
This method of operation is exemplified in the case of Ihab Tity. Tity, originally from the West Bank, came to the Gaza Strip for the purpose of studies and rather easily received authorization to return to the West bank thanks to his West Bank ID. Islamic Jihad took advantage of Tity’s special status in order to train him and send him to the West Bank to establish an Islamic Jihad terror infrastructure there.
An additional example is the arrest of Mahmad Bahitzi in March 2005. Bahitzi, a Hamas terrorist and a resident of the Gaza Strip, planned to carry out a suicide bombing after having left the Gaza Strip in the cover of a potential kidney donor. Because of these medical considerations, and in light of being registered as a resident of Kalandiya, Bahitzi received an entry permit.