Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Israel saw a 30 percent decrease in the number of deadly terror attacks perpetrated in 2003 due to Israeli counter-terrorism measures including the building of the controversial security fence between Israel and the West Bank, according to a report from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office.
During the last five months there has been a 'significant increase' in the involvement of Hizballah in terrorist activities of the Tanzim, part of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, the report said.
"In practice, Hizballah has taken control of Tanzim activities in Judea, Samaria [West Bank] and Gaza," said the report, which was issued on Thursday and detailed trends and characteristics of terrorism in 2003.
Israel saw a 30 percent decrease in the number of deadly terror attacks perpetrated in 2003 due to Israeli counter-terrorism measures including the building of the controversial security fence between Israel and the West Bank, the report said.
In 2003, 213 Israelis - 163 civilians and 50 security personnel - were killed in 3,838 terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, down from 451 Israeli civilians and soldiers murdered in 5,301 terror attacks in 2002. That marks a 50 percent drop in the number of casualties.
"However, it must be pointed out that the drop in the number of attacks stems - inter alia - from the intensive counter-terrorist actions of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces - army], Israel Police and ISA [Israel Security Apparatus - secret service], as a result of which many attacks were foiled," said the report issued on Thursday. "Thus, for example, there was an average of 40 warnings per day."
Among the more prominent counter-terrorism actions, the report said, were the uncovering of several terrorist cells and infrastructure planning attacks.
The planned attacks include the assassination of the prime minister and the capture of a number of terrorists on their way to carry out suicide bombings, including one allegedly intended for a high school in northern Israel.
Another factor in stopping attacks was the accelerated construction of the security fence, which has raised an international outcry against Israel.
Palestinians charge that the fence, which juts into the West Bank in several places, is meant to be a political land grab, which will truncate a future Palestinian state. Some countries, including the U.S. have backed Israel's right to build a fence but say that the route should be modified.
According to the report, the construction of the barrier has "made it difficult for the terrorist infrastructures based in Samaria [northern West Bank] to smuggle terrorists into Israel" and has forced them to adjust to the new situation by trying to infiltrate in places not yet covered by the fence.
The roadside bomb attack against a U.S. Embassy convoy in the Gaza Strip on October 15, in which three American security guards were killed, represented an innovation in the kinds of attacks perpetrated.
Although Americans had died in previous terror attacks here during the last three years, they had been caught in random attacks against Israelis and had never been the actual target. It was the first time an American target was attacked here since 1967.
Another "innovation" was the recruiting of foreign nationals to perpetrate attacks, including the Hamas suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv pub, in which three people were murdered and more than 60 wounded.
The suicide bomber was a British citizen. A second British bomber fled the scene apparently when his device failed to explode and was found dead some time later.
The report charged that the Palestinian Authority security services were conspicuously supportive of terrorist activities and were directly involved in several attacks.
The leadership of terrorist groups living abroad continued to direct attacks within Israel by outlining policy guidelines and transferring directives to perpetrate attacks, funds, war material and know-how to local groups, the report said.
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