Country Reports on Terrorism 2014 - Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Jerusalem

Overview: Israel was a committed counterterrorism partner in 2014. Israel again faced terrorist threats from Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and other violent extremists, particularly from Gaza but also from the West Bank; from Hizballah in Lebanon and Syria; and from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist organizations continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli territory, and multiple terrorist attacks were launched along Israel's security barrier with Gaza. Israel was hit by a record volume of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza and the Sinai in 2014, according to the Israeli government, with more than 4,660 projectiles launched, most during the July-August conflict, at Israeli territory compared to 74 launchings in 2013 and 2,557 in 2012. Militants from Gaza also infiltrated Israeli territory using tunnels in six separate attacks and, for the first time, by a sea-borne operation. The Government of Israel reported that it responded to these threats with operations directed at terrorist leaders; infrastructure (including tunnels, weapons production and storage facilities; command and control centers; terrorist training sites; and safe havens), and activities such as rocket and mortar launching; most notably in Operation Protective Edge (OPE) during the July 7 to August 26 Gaza conflict. The Government of Israel reported that during OPE it conducted over 5,240 airstrikes in Gaza and carried out a 20-day military ground operation within Gaza. According to publicly available data, the conflict led to the deaths of 2,205 Palestinians and 74 persons in Israel, among them 67 soldiers, six Israeli civilians, and one Thai civilian. The Israeli government estimated that half of those killed in Gaza were civilians and half were combatants, while the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) recorded 1,483 civilian Palestinian deaths – more than two-thirds of those killed – including 521 children and 283 women.

Militants continued efforts to smuggle arms and dual-use materials through the Sinai into Gaza via tunnels. Israeli officials welcomed significant efforts by the Government of Egypt to prevent such smuggling from occurring. In March, the Israeli government interdicted a weapons shipment containing 40 M-302 rockets, 181 mortars, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition from Iran believed to be destined for militants in Gaza. Israeli officials continued to be concerned about efforts to smuggle weapons from Libya, Iran, and via Sudan into Gaza.

Israeli counterterrorism officials said Gaza militants continued to make significant quantitative and qualitative advances in capabilities, as demonstrated during the 51-day conflict in the summer, with rockets reaching as far north as 74.56 miles from Gaza, frequently targeting the Tel Aviv area, and reaching as far east as the Jerusalem mountains. However, following the conflict, Israel estimated that the Hamas and PIJ weapons arsenal decreased by 60-70% due to Israeli strikes and militant use during the operation. These groups also continued to improve their tunnel construction capabilities, reaching depths of approximately 80 feet and extending more than a mile. Israeli forces destroyed more than 30 tunnels during OPE, including 14 that crossed into Israeli territory. Hamas has also announced its interest in acquiring new capabilities, such as UAVs to launch attacks. The Government of Israel continued to hold Hamas, as the dominant organization in effective control of Gaza, responsible for attacks emanating from Gaza, and Israeli officials pointed to these attacks as proof that Hamas has not abandoned terrorism.

Since the conclusion of OPE, Iranian governmental officials have publicly stated a willingness to resume Iran's military support of Hamas, including arming Hamas in the West Bank with the same weapons as in Gaza, but it remains unclear whether efforts have resumed.

Israeli security officials and politicians remained concerned about the terrorist threat posed to Israel from Hizballah and its Iranian patron, highlighting that Iran, primarily through the efforts of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), continued to transfer arms to Hizballah. Israeli experts believe that Iran is trying to arm Hizballah with advanced weapons systems such as anti-air and anti-ship cruise missile systems, as well as continuing to transfer long-range rockets into Lebanon. Also, Israeli officials were concerned about the proliferation of conventional and non-conventional weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. According to the Government of Israel, Hizballah has stockpiled approximately 100,000 missiles in Lebanon since the 2006 Lebanon War, some of which are capable of striking anywhere in Israel, including population centers.

Iran has admitted publicly that it armed Hizballah (in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1701 and 1747) with advanced long-range Iranian manufactured "Fateh" missiles. In late November, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC Aerospace Division admitted that "The IRGC and Hizballah are a single apparatus jointed together" (Fars news agency, 29 November).

While Israel is not involved in Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) efforts, it shares information to help track and stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters through information exchanges on counterterrorism issues with numerous governments. In support of UNSCRs 2170 and 2178, Israel regularly updates the list of foreign terrorist organizations and individuals involved in terrorism in order to better align with UNSC sanctions lists. Additionally, in November the Israeli government approved the work of an interagency team that will examine the need and methods of requiring and collecting advance passenger information and passenger name record data from airlines operating in its territory, to achieve better safety measures and as part of Israel's implementation of UNSCR 2178.

Attacks by violent extremists – both Israelis against a joint Arab-Israeli school and Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship, and Palestinians against Israelis – in Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank continued.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke out against extremist violence and "price tag" attacks (property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement) on multiple occasions, as did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

2014 Terrorist Incidents: Notable terrorist attacks included:

  • On January 31, Sinai-based terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis took credit for launching two rockets on the southern resort city of Eilat. There were no reported injuries or property damage from the attack.

  • On multiple occasions in March and again in October, Hizballah allegedly planted IEDs along the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria borders. Hizballah claimed responsibility for the October attack. A total of six soldiers were injured in IED explosions along these borders while on patrol.

  • On June 22, a teenager was killed and three others were wounded when hit by an anti-tank rocket along the separation fence with Syria.

  • From July 11 to August 26, a total of 18 rockets were launched from southern Lebanon towards Israel, with nine rockets hitting Israel on six occasions and injuring two civilians.

  • In July and August, Gaza-based terrorist organizations and militants engaged in a 51-day conflict with Israel. Gaza-based groups fired 4,435 rockets at Israel; Israel conducted over 5,240 airstrikes in Gaza and carried out a 20-day military ground operation within Gaza. Additionally, Sinai-based terrorist organizations launched a total of 30 rockets from the Sinai during OPE resulting in minor injuries and property damage. During the military operation, many international airlines suspended air service to Ben Gurion Airport for 36 hours due to safety concerns after a rocket landed in close proximity to the airport.

  • On November 10, a Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier and wounded another at the Hagana train station in Tel Aviv. The suspect was later apprehended by the INP.

  • On multiple occasions, violent extremists undertook "price tag" attacks. (In March, the tires of 19 vehicles were slashed and acid poured on in the Arab-Israeli town of Jaljulia. Homes in the town were sprayed with graffiti stating "Every Arab is a Criminal." Additional cases of "price tag" attacks took place in Acre in May and in Haifa against an Arab-Israeli school in June. An Eilat sports complex was also vandalized with "Death to Arabs" and "Lehava" (the name of an extremist anti-assimilation group) in December.

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.

In September, Israel declared al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization on the basis of the U.S. designation of this organization. This was executed according to Israel's Prohibition of Terror Financing Law (2005), which allows the Israeli Security Cabinet to declare a foreign association to be an FTO on the basis of the relevant determination by a foreign country or by the UNSC. It is the first time that Israel has adopted a designation on the basis of a determination made by another country. Israeli officials have stated they will similarly pursue other designations.

Over the course of 2014, the Minister of Defense approved the designation of several terror organizations as "unlawful associations." These designations include: Islamic Relief World Wide, Imarat Al-Aqsa wal-Muqadasat, the Abdallah Azzam Brigades (Lebanon), the Islamic State / ISIS (Iraq, Syria, and others), al-Nusrah Front (Syria), the Salafiya-Jihadiya (Network of networks), Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Egypt), and Muassasat Alquds Litanmiya.

On the law enforcement front, the ISA and INP continued to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies on cases involving U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks, as well as other counterterrorism initiatives of mutual interest.

The Israeli Ministry of Interior maintains a voluntary biometric passport control system at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, which is available for Israeli passport holders over the age of 18. The system facilitates both entry into and exit from Israel via an automatic kiosk for Israeli citizens who successfully pass a background check and provide a scan of the back of their hand. Israel maintained a border fence along the length of its border with the Sinai Peninsula to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into Israel, augmented by cameras and sensors to similarly reduce the threat of terrorism. Israel does not collect advance passenger name records on commercial flights.

In November, the Israeli government approved the work of an interagency team that will examine the need and methods of requiring and collecting API and PNR data from airlines operating in its territory, to achieve better safety measures and as part of Israel's implementation of UNSCR 2178.

Additionally, legal cases against violent extremists responsible for "price tag" attacks began making their way through the Israeli judicial system, although investigations by the Israeli authorities in the majority of such attacks did not result in prosecutions. Three illustrative cases are as follows:

  • In February, in the first indictment for a "price tag" attack that was not a response to a settlement evacuation, three settlers were indicted for torching two vehicles and vandalizing buildings in the village of Farata. Two of the three were sentenced to 30 months imprisonment, an additional 12-month suspended sentence if they commit a similar offense within three years of release, and 15,000 NIS (approximately US $4,000) each in compensatory damages.

  • In May, two teenagers from a settlement were arrested for the June 2013 "price tag" attack in the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Gosh, vandalizing 28 vehicles and buildings with graffiti. Both suspects remained in police custody since their arrest and were indicted in August. They will be charged as minors for incitement, damage to property, and intent to cause damage to property.

  • In December, three settlers connected to the Jewish extremist group "Lehava" were arrested and indicted for the November arson and vandalization of the bilingual Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem. The three were charged with arson, breaking and entering, and destroying property.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Israel is a member of the Council of Europe's Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures (Moneyval), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The FATF decided in June 2014 to expand its membership and identified Israel as a potential candidate for FATF membership. In September, Israel's Ministers of Justice and Finance endorsed the FATF recommendations and processes and have committed to undergo a mutual evaluation. The second step of the process is an evaluation of the country's commitment and compliance with the FATF standards. Timing had not been set at year's end.

The Israeli financial intelligence unit, known as the Israeli Money Laundering and Terror Finance Prohibition Authority, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Israel's counterterrorist finance regime continued to be enhanced through enforcement operations and the inclusion of new groups under national terrorist finance laws. The well-regulated Israeli banking industry worked to address suspected terrorist activity. Israeli experts and officials raised concerns about the issue of state-sponsored funding of Hamas. Israelis claim there are indications that money transferred from countries to Hamas is being used by the organization for terrorist activity and military buildup. Financing of Hamas through charitable organizations remained a concern for Israeli authorities, as did the funding of Hizballah through charities and criminal organizations.

Israel regularly updates the list of foreign terrorist organizations and individuals involved in terrorism, in order to align with the UNSC sanctions lists. The UN lists of designated terrorists or terrorist entities are registered in the formal government registry. Every designation is published in three languages (Hebrew, Arabic, English), and in three different newspapers, as required by law. Designations are also published on the website of the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, and are also distributed by email to a mailing list of the IMPA, which includes banks, lawyers, and finance professionals.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Israel continued its counterterrorism cooperation with a range of regional and international institutions, including the UN, the OAS, and the OSCE. On November 10-12, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted an international conference on Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism with delegates from 28 countries and international organizations. The conference was hosted in partnership with the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the OSCE, and in consultation with the UNSC Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. It is the first time that such a conference was hosted by Israel. The conference examined critical issues and challenges faced by many governments when dealing with legal frameworks in the fight against terrorism, such as maintaining the balance between human rights and security while trying to prevent acts of terrorism. In this context, the representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Justice presented the outlines of the new Israeli national counterterrorism legislation which aims to maintain such a balance. Other issues included in the discussions were methods of handling classified intelligence derived evidence in the court systems when dealing with cases of terrorism in a way which will not jeopardize its source; the use of universal instruments against terrorist financing; and how to insure judicial independence and the integrity of the legal process while handling terrorism cases of high public interest.

Israel continued to cooperate with numerous countries regarding efforts to thwart terrorist attacks and plots against Israelis or Israeli interests abroad. In April, Thai police arrested two Lebanese citizens under suspicion of planning a terrorist attack against tourist targets known as a center for Israeli tourists. In May, a French foreign terrorist fighter who had returned from fighting with ISIL opened fire at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium, killing four individuals including two Israeli citizens. In October, a Hizballah operative was arrested in a suburb of Lima, Peru, for planning attacks on Israeli targets in Lima.

In June, Israel and the United States held an interagency counterterrorism dialogue to discuss the broad range of threats in the region and to determine areas of collaboration to address these challenges. Additionally, during 2014 Israel conducted talks on counterterrorism issues with several countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the EU; and engaged with Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Thailand.

West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem

The Palestinian Authority (PA) continued its counterterrorism efforts in the West Bank where Hamas, PIJ, and the PFLP remained present. The PASF constrained those organizations' ability to conduct attacks. The PA exercised varying degrees of authority over the West Bank due to the continuing Israeli military presence in the majority of the West Bank. The IDF and ISA ("Shin Bet") arrested suspected members of terrorist organizations operating in the West Bank, including a purported Hamas cell that was planning to carry out attacks against Jerusalem's Light Rail and soccer stadium. During searches for three Israeli teenagers abducted in the West Bank in June and subsequent military raids and searches throughout the West Bank, Israeli security forces also announced that they uncovered Hamas networks in Jerusalem, and in the West Bank, uncovered efforts to build up military infrastructure and capacity.

Extremist Palestinians and Israeli settlers continued to conduct acts of violence in the West Bank. For the first time since 2008, Palestinians kidnapped and killed Israeli citizens in the West Bank. The UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs reported 330 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage. In Jerusalem, there was an uptick in violence relative to 2013, including two vehicular attacks against crowds of civilians. Extremist Israeli settlers abducted and murdered a Palestinian teenager in June. A Palestinian stabbed and injured an Israeli in the back in November. In May, in an apparent "price tag" attack, Israeli extremists vandalized the Vatican-owned Notre Dame Center, where they daubed "Death to Arabs and Christians and all those who hate Israel."

Despite Fatah and Hamas signing a reconciliation agreement in April, and the PA forming an interim government of technocratic ministers in June, the PA has exercised little control over Gaza, and Hamas continued to maintain control of security forces there. Hamas, PIJ, and other Gaza-based terrorist and militant groups continued to launch attacks against Israel from Gaza. In the wake of two militant attacks in North Sinai, which the Government of Egypt alleged were carried out in part by Palestinian factions, the Egyptian government closed the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza and cleared a buffer zone on the Egyptian side of the border to eliminate smuggling tunnels into and out of Gaza. The Government of Egypt's actions and the Israeli military's bombings of tunnels during Operation Protective Edge hampered Hamas's and other armed groups' ability to smuggle weapons, cash, and other contraband into Gaza.

Gaza remained a base of operations for several Salafist splinter groups, such as the Mujahideen Shura Council; and clan-based terrorist groups that engaged in or facilitated terrorist attacks. In November, Palestinian violent extremists detonated explosives in front of seven homes belonging to Fatah officials and in front of a stage set-up for a Fatah rally in Gaza. There were no reports of injuries. Despite claims of responsibility from individuals purporting affiliation with ISIL, there is no definitive link confirming this.

Additional 2014 incidents in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem included:

  • In January, violent extremist Israeli settlers spray painted "revenge by blood" on and set fire to a mosque in the West Bank.

  • In January, ISA arrested a group of al-Qa'ida (AQ) sympathizers in East Jerusalem which was allegedly planning several attacks.

  • In May, St. George Romanian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem was defaced with the expressions "Jesus is Garbage" and "King David for the Jews." On another street in Jerusalem, authorities found graffiti stating "Death to Arabs."

  • In June, two Palestinians kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. During an attempt to apprehend the suspected perpetrators, the IDF shot and killed them. An Israeli court indicted a third individual suspected of planning the attack.

  • In July, three Israelis kidnapped and killed a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem. An Israeli court indicted three individuals who confessed to carrying out the attack.

  • In July, an Israeli settler drove by and fired a gun into a protest near Nablus, killing one Palestinian.

  • In October, a Palestinian crashed his vehicle into a crowd of people and into a Jerusalem Light Rail train as it was passing a light rail stop, killing an American-citizen infant, a foreign national, and injuring approximately nine others, according to media. The driver, who Israeli authorities suspected of being Hamas-affiliated, died from wounds sustained during Israeli National Police's (INP) attempt to apprehend him.

  • In October, a Palestinian critically injured an Israeli-American in Jerusalem while attempting to assassinate him. The INP shot and killed the suspected shooter, a known PIJ associate, during a raid to apprehend him.

  • In October and December, violent extremists bombed the French Cultural Center in Gaza. There were no reports of injuries in October and there was one injury in December.

  • In October and November, Israeli security forces arrested five residents of Tulkarem for planning to execute a suicide bombing in the Tel Aviv area as well as several other terror attacks, such as shootings, detonating a bomb in a bus crowded with soldiers, and abducting a soldier.

  • In November, two Palestinians reportedly affiliated with the PFLP entered a synagogue and attacked Israelis with guns, knives, and axes, killing five people, including three American citizens, and injuring over a dozen. INP shot and killed the perpetrators while the attack was ongoing.

  • In November, Israeli extremists vandalized and set fire to the Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand School, a bilingual center for Jewish-Arab education. ISA arrested three suspects, who were indicted by Israeli courts in December.

  • In November, a Palestinian stabbed and killed an Israeli and injured two others near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut.

  • Israeli security agencies reportedly thwarted several additional planned terrorist attacks in the West Bank, including a Hamas plan to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs' vehicle. Security services also prevented Hamas plans to attack Israeli towns and settlements, and to launch an attack on a stadium in Jerusalem.

  • In December, a Palestinian threw acid at an Israeli family and another Israeli, injuring six, near a checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The IDF arrested the attacker.

The United States continued to assist the PA's counterterrorism efforts through programs that further strengthened the capacity of the PASF, primarily through training, equipping, and the provision of infrastructure to PA personnel in the West Bank. U.S.-funded training of PASF primarily took place at the Jordan International Police Training Center, and the PA's Central Training Institute in Jericho. Concurrently, the United States continued to assist the larger PA criminal justice system to conduct more thorough investigations and prosecutions of terrorist related activity, among other criminal acts, and to ensure safe incarceration of those held for trial or after conviction of such crimes.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas consistently reiterated his commitment to nonviolence and recognition of the State of Israel. He condemned acts of violence, including the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June, and the attacks on civilians at a West Jerusalem synagogue in November in which five people died, including three American citizens. Abbas continued to support a security program involving disarmament of fugitive militants, arresting members of terrorist organizations, and gradually dismantling armed groups in the West Bank. The PASF arrested members of Hamas, PIJ, and PFLP when it suspected them of involvement in terrorist or criminal acts. For example, the PASF arrested approximately 30 suspects in November who were planning terrorist attacks primarily against Israeli settlers, per media. The PASF spokesperson publicly announced in October that the PA trained special units and officers to monitor and track internet activity affiliated with Salafist jihadist movements and AQ. Also in October, PA security personnel arrested 10 individuals for promoting the ideology of ISIL.

Israeli authorities, among others, continued to note improvements in the capacity and performance of PASF as a leading contributor to the improved security environment in the West Bank. Most notable was the relative lack of organized or large-scale disturbances in the West Bank following the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager and during hostilities in Gaza during the summer.

The PA continued to lack legislation specifically tailored to counterterrorism, although existing Palestinian laws criminalize actions that constitute terrorist acts. Presidential Decree No. 3 of 1998, titled "Enhancement of National Unity and Prohibition of Incitement," prohibits incitement to violence, illegal associations, and acts against Palestine Liberation Organization agreements with other states (an indirect reference to the Oslo Accords with Israel). PA officials frequently enforce Presidential Decree No. 17 of 2007, which criminalizes armed militias and any assistance to such militias, as well as carrying unlicensed weapons and explosives. Presidential Decision No. 257 of 2007 bans "all Hamas militias" and states that any affiliation therewith will be punished in accordance with the laws and regulations in effect. The PA's parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council, has not met since 2007, due to the Hamas-Fatah rift, and was therefore unable to pass new legislation.

The PA continued to detain terrorists in the West Bank, and the PASF and public prosecutors received training to enable better investigations of terrorism-related crimes. Despite on-again, off-again factional reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah, PASF personnel continued to conduct operations against and detain Hamas elements, which Hamas officials protested. The PA continued to develop its civilian justice institutions (e.g. judiciary, police, prosecutors) to improve both investigative and prosecutorial functions. The United States and other donors provided material and developmental assistance to enable the PA to reduce case backlogs, improve warrant executions, and upgrade forensic services.

After 2007, the Palestinian military (security) court system processed many terrorism and security-related cases. Following numerous objections by civil society groups, the PA decided in 2011 to prosecute all cases involving civilian suspects in the civilian court system. In 2013, a PA committee drafted legislation to govern the military court system which, in part, confirms that its jurisdiction is limited to members of the security services. The committee completed a revision of the draft in December 2014, which awaits submission to the Council of Ministers for consideration.

The key PA institution by mandate and law that works to prevent internal terrorist events and investigates security-related criminal conduct is the Preventive Security Organization (PSO). During 2014, the United States expanded assistance to the PSO as well as the Security Justice Commission to help the PA move the prosecution of all civilian cases, including those involving terrorism and security-related offenses, to the exclusive jurisdiction of the civilian courts, and enhance cooperation between security service investigators and civilian prosecutors. PA security forces have a mixed although steadily improving record of accountability and respect for human rights. International donors, primarily the United States and the EU, continued to provide assistance to the PA to improve its capacity in this field.

Per the Oslo-era Accords, Israel controls border security in the West Bank.

The primary limitation on PA counterterrorism efforts in Gaza remained Hamas's control of the area and the resulting inability of PASF to operate there. Limitations on PA counterterrorism efforts in the West Bank included restrictions on the movement and activities of PASF in and through areas of the West Bank for which the Israeli government retained responsibility for security under the terms of Oslo-era agreements.

While the PA continued to lack modern forensic capability, the multi-year assistance efforts that the Canadian International Development Agency started through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in late 2012 continued. The forensic science laboratory is nearly fully equipped and training in firearm and tool mark evidence, document examination, and drug analysis continued. The PA already has a basic ability to examine and compare unknown prints to known prints.

PA justice and security leaders continued to participate in regional conferences and meetings to combat terrorism. PASF personnel attended a variety of international training courses related to counterterrorism at training facilities in Jordan, Europe, and the United States.

The PA is an observer to the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. In part due to the patchwork of legal frameworks that the PA is subject to, terrorist financing is not specifically addressed in current law as required by international standards. However, the PA Ministry of Justice was working on modifying the anti-money laundering (AML) law to incorporate articles that address terrorist finance. The Palestinian Financial Follow-Up Unit (FFU), the PA's financial intelligence unit, has 12 employees and a computer system linked with all 17 banks licensed to operate in the West Bank. Although the FFU has adequate staffing, authority, and equipment, it has been unable to realize its full operational effectiveness due, in part, to restrictions in the law. Article 31 of AML Law No. 7 of 2007 restricts information sharing between the FFU and any law enforcement agency, with the exception of the Attorney General's Office (AGO). Prosecutors within the AGO are the chief investigators in the PA, with all the powers of an investigative judge.

The PA has taken significant steps to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank that fall under its control do not create content that leads to incitement to violence. According to the Palestinian Broadcasting Company's code of conduct, no programming is allowed that encourages "violence against any person or institution on the basis of race, religion, political beliefs, or sex." In practice, this code of conduct is not always observed, with some instances of inciting taking place via official media. In July, Fatah included on one of its official Facebook pages: "Sons of Zion, this is an oath to the Lord of the Heavens: Prepare all the bags you can for your body parts." The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, included on its site in October Fatah's call to its "fighters" and Palestinian people to "aid the Al-Aqsa Mosque and occupied Jerusalem." In November, political cartoons glorifying vehicular terrorist attacks were posted on one of the official Fatah Facebook pages.

The PA maintains control over the content of Friday sermons delivered in over 1800 West Bank mosques to ensure that they do not endorse incitement to violence. Weekly, the PA Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs distributes approved themes; the guidance is that no sermon can discuss politics or lead to incitement to violence. The PA's ability to enforce these guidelines varies depending upon location, and it has limited authority to control the context of sermons in Israeli-controlled Area C.

As part of a policy codified in 2003, the PA provided significant financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners released from Israeli prisons in 2014 in an effort to reintegrate them into society.


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