Year 2010 sees drop in Palestinian attacks: Shin Bet

Israel`s Shin Bet warns Hamas trying to smuggle "quality weapons" into Gaza.

Jerusalem: The year 2010 saw the fewest militant attacks against Israel and the least number of casualties since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising a decade ago, the Shin Bet security agency said on Thursday.

However, Israel`s internal security agency cautioned that the Gaza Strip`s Hamas rulers have intensified efforts to smuggle in advanced weapons as they prepare for a future conflict with Israel.

The Shin Bet said that nine Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinian militants in 2010, down from 15 in 2009 and a high of 452 in 2002.

For the second year in a row there were no suicide bombings, the Shin Bet said in a statement.

And despite a recent spate of rocket and mortar attacks fired from Gaza into Israel, 2010 was significantly quieter with 150 rockets and 215 mortars launched.

This was down from 569 rockets and 289 mortars in 2009, and 2,048 rockets and 1,668 mortars in 2008, the Shin Bet said.

In December 2008, Israel launched its devastating 22-day assault on Gaza in a bid to halt the rocket fire. The conflict killed 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers.

The Shin Bet warned that despite the quiet, Hamas continued to try and smuggle "quality weapons" into Gaza.

"In the last year hundreds of military-grade rockets were smuggled into the Strip (most with a range of 20-40 kilometres, 12-24 miles), about one thousand mortars and tens of anti-tank weapons and tons of raw materials for making explosives," the statement said.

It said most of the weapons came from Iran and were smuggled into Gaza through Sudan and Egypt`s Sinai Peninsula.

Bureau Report