The latest wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis continued into mid-December. The IDF reports that since September 14th, terrorists have committed 91 stabbings, 34 shootings, and 16 car rammings. Palestinian agitators confronted Israeli security forces, throwing rocks and firebombs, leading to the deaths of at least three rioters over the past week. IDF officials said they would deploy four battalions to join additional troops already surged into the West Bank, in an attempt to instill calm.
The Israeli Navy plans to deploy Iron Dome missile defense batteries to ships in the Mediterranean Sea to defend offshore gas rigs from terrorist rocket attacks. Officials plan on testing the system’s ability to react to multiple projectiles at sea over the coming months and have also used satellite imagery to detect possible threats.
Gas rigs in the Tamar field, off the coast of Israel, in June 2014. (Photo: Moshe Shai)
The Israeli Air Force bombed Hamas infrastructure on December 6th following a series of gun shots fired at IDF patrols near the Gaza security barrier. On December 13th, the IAF commenced more airstrikes on Hamas targets in the enclave after a rocket was launched at Israel. The projectile prompted air raid sirens to sound, but it landed without incident in Shaar HaNegev regional council.
Amid reports that Hamas is rebuilding its tunnel network under the Israel-Gaza border, the IDF adjusted its infantry positions to promote territorial defense, not just border patrols. Military commanders stationed low-profile rapid reaction units behind the front lines aimed at countering attacks on nearby Israeli communities. Underground tunnel detectors, additional cameras, and a network of radar stations feed information to control rooms, where personnel can remotely operate unmanned machine gun posts.
The IDF conducted a surprise drill on December 2nd in the western Negev, near the border with Gaza. A spokesman for Southern Command said troops were practicing their readiness skills in dealing with rocket and mortar launchings, but explained that the exercise was not in response to any imminent threat.
Hamas dismissed criticism that it should release control of the Rafah crossing to the PA in order to appease the Egyptian government into opening the checkpoint. So far this year, the terminal connecting Gaza to Sinai has only been open 21 times, including two consecutive days earlier this month.
Approximately 30% of electricity provided to Gaza is being used by Hamas, mainly to dig its underground tunnel network, according sources cited by al-Arabiya.
Senior Palestinian sources said that the prisoners released under the 2011 deal to free Gilad Shalit are plotting, with the help of Turkish-based Hamas operatives, to launch attacks against Israeli interests in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Intelligence suggests senior Hamas leader Salah al-Aruri, who was freed in the exchange, is behind the plans to set up suicide bombers.
PA security forces arrested six Islamic Jihad operatives on December 1st after they attempted to transport explosives, including grenades and firearms, to the northern West Bank town of Tubas. Officials say the group planned on using the weapons for attacks on IDF troops.
During a routine operation north of Hebron, IDF soldiers uncovered an underground hideout with dozens of pipe bombs and other explosives on December 5th.
The IDF arrested 11 Palestinian terrorist suspects during overnight raids on December 14th. One of the suspects detained was Bassam Amin Muhammad Sayyah, suspected of shooting and killing two Israeli parents in front of their children on October 1st.
Palestinian security officials released a communique instructing communications companies in the West Bank to cease working with al-Aqsa TV, a Hamas broadcast station based in Gaza.
A PA prosecutor in the West Bank issued an arrest warrant for Baha Yassin, a Palestinian cartoonist living in Gaza. The PA contends that Yassin’s cartoons insulted the Palestinian flag and women, questioning the loyalty of Palestinian leaders.
Egyptian soldiers in military vehicles near el-Arish in May 2013. (Photo: Reuters)
One police conscript was killed when a vehicle passing near a police station in el-Arish exploded on December 6th, according to the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Islamic State in Sinai took responsibility for the attack, which also injured four other officers. Two days later, another bombing killed four army soldiers in the town of Rafah.
A powerful roadside IED injured 10 police officers traveling in armored vehicles on December 12th as they drove on the main highway connecting el-Arish to Cairo.
Ynet reported that Hamas leaders believe that Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate may have intercepted an illicit weapons convoy heading for Gaza. Egyptian authorities had launched an operation to disrupt the smuggling but IS reportedly acquired the arms missed by the government strikes.
The Egyptian army announced it had destroyed 20 smuggling tunnels leading from Gaza into Sinai in November.
A former Armored Corps soldier with the IDF was sentenced to 34 months in prison for passing classified information to a Druze man working for Syria. Corporal Halal Halabi gave photographs and written reports of army positions to Sidqi al-Maqt, who is accused of spying for Damascus.