Israel notes 'significant decline’ in Palestinian violence
JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted on Sunday a "significant decline" in Palestinian attacks on Israelis, after six months of near-daily violence that has cost more than 200 lives.
Speaking at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said ministers would be presented with data from the Shin Bet domestic security agency that show a "significant decline in the scope of terrorist attacks."
An unnamed senior Shin Bet official was cited attributing the trend to "extensive Israeli preventive measures" against militants, including Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, which in recent months "increased its efforts to carry out attacks, including abductions and suicide attacks".
The official noted "effective deterrence measures" and "determined actions against Palestinian incitement."
The Israeli measures have brought the Palestinian public to feel that "escalation was pointless," the official said.
According to the official, exposing and apprehending the "Jewish terrorists" behind the deadly attack on Palestinians in a West Bank village last year, as well as arson targeting churches, has also helped calm.
The official noted that the situation still remained tense and there were "relentless destabilisation attempts of Palestinian and other terror elements."
Shin Bet published in recent days its statistics on Palestinian attacks for March, counting 123 against Israeli civilians and security forces in Israel, east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Most of those attacks were firebombings, but the data also covered stabbings, car-ramming attacks, gunfire, improvised bombs and grenades as well as projectile fire from the Gaza Strip.
February saw 155 attacks, compared with 169 in January, and in December the Shin Bet counted 246 attacks, twice the number for March.
The number of fatalities in the attacks has dropped accordingly, with one non-assailant being killed in March, American tourist Taylor Force.
Violence since October has left 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis dead.
Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.
The last Palestinian killed in the violence was Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, shot in the head on March 24 while wounded and posing no apparent threat after stabbing and wounding another soldier.
The case is still being investigated, with the soldier facing possible manslaughter charges.