January 10, 2010:
In the last year, Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel have sharply declined. That's no accident. Israel began 2009, four days into a major military operation in Gaza. The 22 day operation was meant to force Hamas, and other terror groups, to halt rocket attacks on Israel. That worked. While there were 2,048 rockets launched from Gaza, into Israel, in 2008, there were only 556 last year, and 73 percent were during the 18 days of Israeli operation in Gaza, which ended when Hamas promised to behave, sort of. Actually, they have, with only 150 rockets fired into Israel since Israeli troops left Gaza on January 18th.
Overall Israeli casualties from terrorist attacks also fell more than 50 percent last year, compared to 2008. Best of all, there were no suicide bomb attacks in Israel last year, a first (since the current Palestinian terror campaign began in 2000). Such deaths hit their peak (452) in 2002, but new tactics brought about a sharp decline, to 13 in 2007 (then back up to 36 in 2008, as Hamas tried to revive faltering Palestinian morale with more attacks). But the decline was resumed last year, with only 15 Israeli terror deaths. The number of terror attacks in the West Bank (and Jerusalem) has also been declining as well, from 1,309 in 2006, to 946 in 2007, 893 in 2008 and 636 last year.
Hamas, and Hezbollah have not given up on suicide bomb attacks, but have recognized that the new Israeli counter-terror tactics (go after the leaders and specialists, build walls) are unbeatable. So both groups are stockpiling thousands of long range rockets, with the intention of launching a massive, joint, attack. Hezbollah did this in 2006, but was chased out of southern Lebanon and suffered major damage. Despite this, Hezbollah declared a victory, believed their own propaganda and are ready to go again. Hamas believes that when Israel responds to a large scale rocket attack, the UN and some European nations might be persuaded to prosecute Israel for war crimes. This is more likely than any kind of battlefield victory.