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News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC)
News of Terrorism and Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
December 2, 2008
The scene of the Terrorist attack at the Chabad center in Mumbai
(Ilan Gur-Ari for ZAKA; picture courtesy of ZAKA, November 29).
This past week events centered around the mass-casualty terrorist attacks at many different points in Mumbai , India . At least 195 were killed and more than 300 wounded. Among those killed were five Israelis and one Jewish woman, all of whom were at Nariman House, the Chabad center, one of the attackers' targets. The terrorist attacks were carried out by a radical Islamic terrorist organization called Lashkar-e-Taiba (“The Army of the Pure”). It is affiliated with Al-Qaeda and in recent years has carried out a series of showcase attacks in India (including against the Indian parliament, movie houses, trains, markets and other crowded locations, mainly in New Delhi and Mumbai).
Rocket and mortar shell fire from the Gaza Strip attacking Israel are carried out continuously. In one of the attacks a 120mm mortar shell (apparently manufactured in Iran ) hit an IDF base in the Nahal Oz area. Eight soldiers were wounded, one of the critically. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations have not yet publicly ended the lull arrangement, although on the ground it has been seriously eroded by the increase in terrorist attacks.
The Gaza Strip
Following the death of a terrorist squad operative during an IDF preventive activity, the terrorist organizations stepped up mortar shell attacks
During the past week eight rockets landed in Israeli territory and 23 mortar shells were fired at western Negev population centers and IDF forces operating near the border security fence. Since November 4, 126 rockets and 71 mortar shells have been fired into Israel .
During the afternoon hours of Friday, November 28, an IDF force on a routine patrol identified suspicious figures apparently laying an IDF near the fence in the Abasan area, near Khan Yunis. A firefight developed which resulted in the death of a Popular Resistance Committees operative and the wounding of four others.
In response, at 1500 hours on November 28 the terrorist organizations attacked the Nahal Oz area with massive barrage of mortar shell fire, firing a total of 17 shells. One rocket was also fired, falling in an open area. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the attacks (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, November 29). The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and other terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for the attack (Jerusalem Battalions Website, November 29).
One of the mortar shells hit an IDF base in the Nahal Oz area, wounding eight soldiers, one of them critically . The shell was a standard 120mm, apparently manufactured in Iran and smuggled into the Gaza Strip. Such mortar shells were used by Hamas to attack Israel during the first half of 2008. 1
The mortar shell attack on the IDF base at Nahal Oz is another in the series which began on November 4 with the prevention of an abduction through a tunnel under the Gaza Strip border security fence. Since then, the following dynamic has been created: the Palestinian terrorist organizations try to carry out attacks (IEDs, rocket and mortar shell fire), the IDF acts to prevent the attacks (Israeli Air Force attacks, firing at terrorist squads near the fence), the terrorist organizations respond and then continue with daily sporadic rocket and mortar shell fire, Israel responds by closing the crossings. 2
Monthly Distribution of Rocket Fire
Monthly Distribution of Mortar Shell Fire
The Lull Arrangement – Update
The Gaza Strip Crossings
On November 26 Israel allowed the passage of more than 40 trucks into the Gaza Strip carrying food and drugs through the Kerem Shalom crossing. In addition, on the same day fuel and gas were delivered through the Nahal Oz and Karni crossings (IDF Spokesman, November 26).
November 26 (IDF Spokesman, November 26).
In view of the continued rocket and mortar shell attacks, the crossings remained closed for the rest of the week, with the exception of civilians with humanitarian issues who used the Erez crossing.
Hamas's Propaganda Campaign Continues
This past week as well Hamas continued its propaganda campaign in the Gaza Strip and throughout the Arab and Muslim world, accusing Israel of imposing a “siege” and causing suffering for the Gazans. The Lebanese Hezbollah Al-Manar channel initiated broadcasts identifying with the suffering of the Gaza Strip residents, playing songs with anti-Israeli lyrics (Al-Manar TV, November 25). In Egypt , the Muslim Brotherhood held demonstrations to identify with “the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.” During a protest held on November 26, demonstrators tried to enter the Israeli embassy in Cairo but were prevented by the Egyptian security forces (Reuters, November 26).
The Israeli Navy Prevents a Libyan Ship from Bringing Supplies to the Gaza Strip
Thwarting Hamas's efforts to establish a sea route to the Gaza Strip after two boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists successfully docked in the Gazan port, the Israeli Navy prevented the Libyan cargo ship Al-Marwa from reaching the Gazan shore. The ship carried 3,000 tons of supplies and humanitarian equipment, and had a crew of 18. Before it could dock, the ship was stopped by Israeli Navy boats and requested to provide an inventory of its cargo. It was also made clear to the crew that the sea lanes to the Gaza Strip were blocked. In view of the situation, the crew decided to return to port and the ship sailed to El-Arish.
The Libyan ship before it set sail ( Libya al-Youm website, November 26).
In response to Israel 's refusal to let the ship dock, Jamal al-Hudeiri , chairman of the so-called “Popular Committee to Lift the Siege,” said that he was trying to use his international connections to pressure Israel into allowing the ship to reach the Gaza Strip. At the same time, he said, they were weighing the possibility of unloading the cargo at the port of El-Arish and transferring it to trucks which would bring it through Egypt to the Rafah crossing and from there into the Gaza Strip. He added that it was not the last supply ship on its way and that boats would continue sailing to the Gaza Strip, among them one from Qatar , expected to set sail from Cyprus on December 5 (Al-Jazeera TV, December 1).
Statements regarding the Lull Arrangement
Musa Abu Marzuq , deputy chief of Hamas's political bureau, said that as long as Israel did not adhere to the lull arrangement, the Palestinian factions would not adhere to it. He said the lull arrangement was not expected to continue after the final date determined by the Palestinians (Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian newspaper Al-Sabil, November 26).
Pictures from the graduation ceremony of an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades course in the Al-Saja'iya refugee camp (Al-Aqsa TV, November 27).
Statements regarding the Abducted Israeli Soldier, Gilad Shalit
Abu Ubeida , spokesman for Hamas's military-terrorist wing the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, again said that Hamas would not lower its demands for the [number of] prisoners it wanted in exchange for the abducted Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. He said that “the equation was simple and did not need an explanation, since either Hamas's conditions will be fully met or [the Israelis] can forget about Gilad Shalit” (Al-Qassam website, December 1). Following reports in the Arab media that Hamas and Israel were renewing contacts regarding the prisoner exchange deal, senior Hamas figure Ayman Taha said that the issue was still frozen because of Israeli intransigence, but that Hamas would not object to Egypt 's renewing the contacts ( Okaz , Saudi Arabia , November 28).
The Annapolis Process
Israel Releases 250 Palestinian Prisoners
As a goodwill gesture to Mahmoud Abbas for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the Israeli government has authorized the release of 250 Palestinian Fatah prisoners (Israeli Prime Minister's website, November 30). Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Mahmoud Abbas about their release at a meeting held in Jerusalem on November 17.
The Internal Palestinian Arena
Tension over the Issue of Muslim Pilgrims from the Gaza Strip to Mecca
This week the bitter disagreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over the issue of pilgrimages to Mecca spilled over into a media war between Hamas on one side and Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the other. Because of the disagreement, Hamas has not yet allowed pilgrims to leave the Gaza Strip.
The following is a general description of the events: On November 27 the PA's ministry of religious endowments announced that three groups of pilgrims would leave the Gaza Strip on December 28 and 29. According to the announcement, the total number of pilgrims was 3,100 (Wafa News Agency, November 27). Contrarily, Ihab al-Ghussin , a spokesman for Hamas's interior ministry, announced that the organization had not received authorization for the passage of pilgrims either from Egypt or the PA (Hamas administration interior ministry website, November 27). The PA claimed that Hamas militias prevented pilgrims from reaching the crossing (Wafa News Agency, November 27). The minister of endowments for the Hamas administration stated that Hamas would not allow PA pilgrims to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing as long as their exits had not been coordinated with his office (Al-Jazeera TV, November 29). As of December 2, it is not clear if and when the pilgrims will be allowed to leave. Hamas hopes to be able to resolve the crisis it the coming days.
As part of its propaganda campaign, Hamas held a demonstration at the Rafah crossing, claiming that Egypt and Saudi Arabia were preventing the pilgrims from leaving (Al-Aqsa TV, November 28). In view of the tension which had been generated, the Hamas forum held a survey which revealed that 71% of the respondents were in favor of using force to break through the Rafah crossing (Hamas's PALDF Forum, November 39).
As usual, Hamas tried to conceal its difficulties with an unrestrained media attack, this time aimed at Egypt and Saudi Arabia , both of which it accused of preventing the pilgrims from leaving the Gaza Strip. Hamas called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “leader of the traitors,” and accused King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia of not meeting his responsibility (PalPress website, November 30). ‘Atef Adwan , a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that preventing the pilgrims from leaving would have negative ramifications for the Saudi regime and the entire region (Filastin al-‘An website, November 29).
Hamas protest demonstration in Rafah against Saudi Arabia and Egypt,
both of which, it claims, prevent pilgrims from leaving the Gaza Strip for Mecca (Al-Aqsa TV, November 25).
Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia responded to the Hamas media attack . A source within the Saudi foreign ministry criticized Adwan's remarks, saying that the exit visas had been transferred to the PA, and that Saudi Arabia had increased the number for Palestinians out of consideration for the humanitarian situation (Saudi News Agency, November 30). The Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram counter-attacked with an editorial which noted that “with regard to Hamas, it would seem that the calls…to rise above narrow interests…fell on deaf ears.” It accused the Hamas police force of preventing pilgrims from reaching the crossing. According to the editorial, political goals motivate Hamas to exploit the Rafah crossing, and that it is not important to Hamas whether pilgrims leave the Gaza Strip or food and fuel enter it, but that rather “the only thing that interests [Hamas] is establishing its control over the Gaza Strip and exploiting the Gazans, using them as hostages to make political capital, even over their dead bodies” (Al-Ahram, November 30). A December 1 article in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri Al-Youm accused Hamas of having turned into “nothing more than a bargaining chip [sic] in the hands of Iran .” It also accused Hamas of demanding that the Arabs recognize “ the emirate of Gaza ,” while at the same time it refused to cooperate with the PA.
The Terrorist Attacks in MumbaiOverview
On November 26-28, 2008 , simultaneous mass-casualty terrorist attacks were carried out in the Indian city of Mumbai , which serves as the country's financial and commercial center. Its main objective was the indiscriminate carnage of as many civilians as possible. The targets included hotels frequented by foreign tourists and the Chabad center at Nariman House, where Jews and Israelis often stay, increasing the attacks' international impact . The attacks rocked India to its foundations, where is has been called “ India 's 9/11.” There was serious criticism of the way the Indian government coped with the attacks (leading to the resignation of the Indian interior minister) and the delicate fabric of Indian-Pakistani relations was threatened.
According to Indian media reports based on a preliminary interrogation of the only terrorist captured (in the fighting near the Taj Mahal hotel), a radical Islamic terrorist organization called Lashkar-e-Taiba (“The Army of the Pure”) was behind the attacks, although it has not yet publicly claimed responsibility. The Army of the Pure was founded at the end of the 1980s with the objective of establishing an Islamic state which would include Pakistan , India and Kashmir . Initially it operated in Afghanistan and Pakistan , but since the early 1990s it has focused on Kashmir and India . In the past, at least, it enjoyed the sponsorship and support of Pakistani intelligence. It collaborates with Al-Qaeda and global jihad organizations, and has an operational network around the globe.
The Army of the Pure has carried out many mass-casualty attacks in India in recent years: one on the Indian parliament in New Delhi (December 11, 2001), one each on a train and bus in Mumbai (2003), on movie houses in New Delhi (2005), and has been responsible for explosions on trains in Mumbai (2006). In our assessment, including hotels and the Jewish Chabad center originated not only from the organization's radical Islamic ideology but its desire to increase the attacks' international impact.
Initial Assessment of the Attacks in Mumbai 3
The attack included 11 targets. According to the New York Times (November 26, 2008) they were the Chowpatty Beach, the Gokuldas Tejpan Hospital, the Cama and Albless Hospital, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, the State Bank of India, the Metro Cinema, the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the Oberoi Hotel, the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Leopold Café and Nariman House, the Chabad center in Mumbai. Most of the fighting occurred at the two hotels and the Chabad center, where the terrorists entered, immediately began arbitrary shooting and then took hostages. It took the Indian security forces three days to finally overcome all the terrorists. Most of the casualties occurred during the first stages of the attacks, when the terrorist squads sought to kill as many civilians as possible. So far, there have been 195 recorded deaths, and more than 300 people were wounded , although that might not be the final count. Most of the victims were Indians (civilians and members of the Indian security forces), with a few dozen who held Western passports.
The preliminary Indian investigation revealed that the terrorists arrived by sea in small boat , and once they had landed on the shore of Mumbai they split up into a number of squads, each of which went to its assigned target. The attacks were sequential and not simultaneous. In our assessment, the plan was that at the main targets, the two hotels and the Chabad center, as soon as the first stage had been completed, that is, killing as many civilians as possible, the attackers would demand to negotiate for the release of terrorists imprisoned in India and perhaps even their own escape. The Indian and foreign media reported that there were no more than ten terrorists, but in view of the scope of the fighting and the many focal points of the attack, in our assessment the figures are liable to be larger . It is possible that the attackers had local supporters already in Mumbai and provided them with logistic and possibly even operational support.
According to media reports, the attackers were trained in Kashmir . The evidence collected so far shows that the attacks were planned far in advance (according to media reports, about a year). At a press conference with all the Indian media, the commander of the Indian Naval Commando admitted that one of the main reasons for their slow action at the various sites was the terrorists' familiarity with the targets (indicating that their intelligence was good). According to the commander, the terrorists had not been sent on a suicide mission and were expected to return, as evidenced by the fact that their navigational equipment had been programmed for a round trip.
The Attack at the Chabad center
The scene of the terrorist attack at the Chabad center in Mumbai
(Ilan Gur-Ari for ZAKA; picture courtesy of ZAKA, November 29).
In our assessment, the attack on the Jewish Chabad center was not random but had been planned in advance , both because of the basic hostility to Israel and Jews in the radical Islamic ideology of Al-Qaeda and the global jihad, and because attacking it would increase the attacks' international impact.
An initial reconstruction of the events at the Chabad center (Nariman House):
• November 26 – During the evening hours one of the squads attacked the center, which is located in a poor district. The occupants were the director, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka, a number of Israelis and several Indian employees. The Holtzberg son's nanny, Sandra, managed to flee with the child as the terrorists broke into the building. During the night the Indian security forces surrounded the building, and shots were heard from within.
• November 27 – During the day the building remained surrounded by Indian security forces. In the evening they tried to enter through the front door, but stopped when the terrorists fired at them from the upper stories.
According to Indian and foreign media reports, the attack was carried out by only two terrorists . However, the nature of the fighting and the amount of time it took suggest that there was a much larger number of terrorists (although the bodies of other terrorists have not yet been identified). So far the bodies of five Israelis and one Mexican Jewish woman (who was on her way to immigrate to Israel to join two of her three children) have been identified:
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka – directors of the Chabad center
Ben-Zion Kroman – a Jewish religious inspector 4 for the Chabad center
Arieh Leibush Teitelbaum – a Jewish religious inspector in Mumbai
Yocheved Orpaz – on a visit to her children and grandchildren who were touring India
Norma Schwarzblatt Rabinowitz – a Jewish woman from Mexico , who planned to immigrate to Israel
1 Note : This was not the first standard 120mm mortar shell attack against Israel . On February 24, 2008 , such shells fell near Kibbutz Sa'ad in the western Negev , fired by Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. An examination of the remains showed that a shell manufactured by Iran (copy of mortar shells produced by the Israeli military industry in the 1970s and supplied to Iran ). The rockets are equipped with auxiliary motors to increase their range from six to ten kilometers (less than four to more than six miles). On June 5, 2008 , a 120mm mortar shell hit a factory in Kibbutz Nir Oz, killing Amnon Rosenberg , 51, from Kibbutz Nirim, and wounding four others, two of them seriously. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
2 For further information see our November 30, 2008 Bulletin entitled “The erosion of the lull arrangement continues” .
3 This analysis is based on initial Indian and foreign media reports
4 In charge of making sure that food is prepared in accordance with religious Jewish law.
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”
Last edited by Paparock; 12-04-2008 at 01:39 AM..