Overview:  Israel remained a committed counterterrorism (CT) partner of the United States and closely coordinated on a wide range of CT initiatives.  During an interagency CT dialogue in December, Israel and the United States shared information on regional threats and discussed ways to apply new sanctions on those that threaten the national security of both countries.

With a series of deadly terror attacks across the country and near-nightly clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank, 2022 saw an increase in violence compared with recent years.  According to Israeli authorities, 32 Israelis and foreigners were killed by terrorist attacks in 2022 (21 Israeli civilians, eight members of Israeli security forces, and three foreigners), the highest level of violence since the 2015-16 “stabbing Intifada,” when 30 Israelis and two U.S. citizens were killed.  After 21 Israelis were killed by terrorist attacks from March to May, the IDF launched a targeted counterterrorism campaign, “Operation Break the Wave,” with almost daily raids in the West Bank through the remainder of the year.

From its north, Israel faced threats from Hizballah and Palestinian militants in Lebanon.  Some Israeli officials estimate Hizballah has as many as 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.  Israeli officials expressed concern that Iran was supplying Hizballah with advanced weapons systems and technologies, including precision-guided missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

To the south, Israel faced threats from terrorist organizations including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).  In August, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) struck PIJ targets in Gaza for three days to preempt what it stated was an imminent terrorist attack, before a ceasefire was reached.  In response, the PIJ launched more than 1,000 rockets toward Israel, though Israel sustained no casualties, as the rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome, fell in open fields, or landed in Gaza.

2022 saw the emergence of new militant groups not directly affiliated with established terrorist organizations.  The Lion’s Den, based in the West Bank city of Nablus, was the most prominent of these new militant groups.  Though Israeli authorities assessed that the Lion’s Den had fewer than 100 members, the group demonstrated social media savvy and claimed responsibility for several shooting attacks, including the killing of a 21-year-old IDF soldier in October.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  The IDF reported 305 shooting attacks in 2022, triple the 91 reported in 2021.  Most of the shootings occurred as Israeli troops entered Palestinian cities to arrest suspects allegedly involved in terror activities, but more than 40 of the shootings targeted Israeli civilians.  The following is a representative list of terrorist attacks provided by Israeli authorities:

  • In March, a 26-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank killed five persons in Bnei Brak, a suburb of Tel Aviv. The attacker, who was killed by police, was not affiliated with a terrorist organization and had previously been imprisoned for planning a terrorist attack.
  • In March, a 35-year-old Arab-Israeli Bedouin man killed four persons and wounded two others in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva by stabbing some of them and running over others with a car before being shot by an armed bus driver. According to Israeli authorities, the attacker was inspired by ISIS and had been imprisoned for five years for attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS forces.
  • In March, two Arab-Israeli attackers shot and killed two Israeli Border Police Officers and injured 10 civilians in the Israeli city of Hadera. The attackers were killed by Israeli police shortly after the attack began.  The two terrorists, from the city of Umm al-Fahm, posted a video before the attack in which they swore allegiance to ISIS.
  • In April, a 28-year-old Palestinian killed three persons who were sitting outside a bar in downtown Tel Aviv. The gunman was a resident of the refugee camp in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.  The attacker fled to a mosque in Jaffa and was later killed by Israeli security forces.  According to Israeli authorities, the attacker was unaffiliated with a terrorist group, had no previous arrests, and was in Israel without an entry permit.
  • In May, two Palestinians killed four persons and wounded two others who were celebrating Israel’s Independence Day in the central Israeli city of El’ad. The attackers, from the West Bank city of Jenin, entered Israel illegally and killed their victims with an axe and a knife.  After hiding in a nearby forest for three days, the attackers were found and arrested by Israeli authorities.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Israel has a robust legal framework to combat terrorism and promote international legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of terrorists.  There were no changes to legislation related to terrorism in 2022.

  • Israeli security forces took law enforcement actions against suspected terrorists and terrorist groups. In April, Israeli security forces arrested a Hamas member who had killed an Israeli in a drive-by shooting in 2015.  According to Israeli authorities, the Hamas member had been imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority but had escaped to the West Bank town of Silwad, where he was apprehended.
  • Israeli authorities successfully disrupted a Hamas financial operation in the West Bank that lured young people to unwittingly transport cash that Hamas operatives later used to purchase weapons. Israeli authorities claimed some of the confiscated weapons had been used in terror attacks inside Israel.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Israel is a member of FATF and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism.  Its FIU, the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority (or IMPA), is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

Countering Violent Extremism:  There have been no changes since 2021.

International and Regional Cooperation:  In 2022, Israel held 10 counterterrorism dialogues with foreign countries and multinational organizations.  Israeli officials discussed the defense of critical infrastructure, threat assessments, targets for sanctions designations, the threat from Iran and its proxies, and the threat from UAVs.

Overview:  Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF) maintained security control of 17.5 percent (called Area A) of the West Bank, as agreed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel in the Oslo Accords.  Israeli security forces (ISF) maintained responsibility for the remaining 82.5 percent of the West Bank, including Area B (22.5 percent), where the Palestinian Authority (PA) had administrative control, and Area C (60.0 percent), where Israel maintained administrative control.  PASF and ISF continued counterterrorism (CT) and law enforcement efforts in the West Bank, where U.S. designated terrorist groups such as Hamas, the PIJ, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operated.  PASF and ISF constrained the ability of those organizations to conduct attacks, including by arresting terrorist members.

PASF continued proactively to arrest individuals planning attacks against Palestinian and Israeli targets or those suspected of supporting terrorist organizations, though not at the pace Israeli authorities have requested, and to arrest Palestinians wanted for weapons smuggling or illegal weapons possession.  PASF turned over to ISF Israelis arrested in the West Bank for smuggling weapons or possessing illegal arms.

The United States, through the multinational office of the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, worked with the PA Ministry of Interior and PASF on reform efforts and training, including CT.  Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, maintained de facto control over Gaza in 2022 and provided safe haven for itself and other terrorist groups, such as PIJ.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reported 154 Palestinians killed in the West Bank, 97 percent by gunfire, and 49 killed in Gaza, all by explosive weapons, in 2022.  UN OCHA reported 850 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, including 620 attacks against Palestinian property, 125 attacks that caused physical injury, and 105 attacks that caused both property damage and injury, the highest level of incidents recorded since the United Nations started reporting settler-related violence in 2005.  These were 71 percent and 137 percent increases, compared with 2021 and 2020, respectively.  PA (and some Israeli) officials described settler violence as terrorism.  ISF reported 305 shooting attacks committed in or emanating from the West Bank in 2022, more than triple the attacks (91) recorded in 2021.  In press reports, Israeli officials described these incidents as terror attacks:

  • From late March to early May, there were several attacks against Israeli civilians.  Four of the perpetrators of these attacks were West Bank residents.  These attacks included two mass shootings in Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv on March 29 and April 7, respectively; and a stabbing attack in El’ad on May 5.
  • In November an 18-year-old Palestinian killed three persons and wounded four in the Israeli settlement of Ariel. The attacker stabbed a security guard and three others at a gas station, stole a car, which he used to run over a bystander, exited, stabbed another civilian, and was then shot and killed by an Israeli soldier.
  • On August 1, ISF arrested senior PIJ member Bassam al-Saadi in Jenin.  In anticipation of retaliatory action, ISF on August 5 launched 147 airstrikes against targets in Gaza.  PIJ responded by firing 1,100 rockets at targets in Israel.  Gazan authorities reported 49 Palestinians killed, including 12 members of the PIJ.  Israel reported 35 Palestinians killed, including 15 by PIJ rockets.  Israel and Gazan authorities reported tens of Israelis and Palestinians were injured.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  There were no changes in laws applicable to the West Bank and Gaza in 2022.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  The PA is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force.  Its FIU, the Palestinian Financial Follow-Up Unit, is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

Countering Violent Extremism:  PA President Abbas maintained a public position against incitement of violence and terrorism and frequently reiterated his commitment to non-violence, a two-state solution, and other PLO commitments.  In April, Abbas condemned late March and early April attacks on Israeli civilians in Israel, committed by Palestinian or Arab Israelis and Palestinians from the West Bank.  Hamas, the de facto authority in Gaza, praised attacks against Israeli civilians in Israel.

The PA and PLO continued payments to Palestinian security prisoners, some of whom were connected to terrorism, and the families of “martyrs” likewise connected to acts of terrorism. The PA’s 2017 cybercrime law prohibited the production or sharing of content that jeopardizes “the public order,” including promoting human trafficking, drugs, and terrorism.  However, PA enforcement has been inconsistent.  Certain official PA traditional and social media, affiliated with the Fatah political party, featured content praising or condoning acts of terrorism.  In March the PA official news agency Wafa’s Facebook page posted a portrait of Dalal al-Moghrabi to mark the 44th anniversary of her death and praised her as “the icon of struggle and resistance.”  Al-Moghrabi in 1978 carried out a terrorist attack that killed 38 Israelis.

Few cases of settler violence in the West Bank against Palestinians have resulted in arrests or convictions; there were no convictions related to settler violence in 2022.  Media also reported incidents where the IDF was present during settler attacks.

International and Regional Cooperation:  PA justice and security leaders, including security force leadership, continued to participate in regional conferences and meetings to combat terrorism.

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