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West Bank Bombing Opens Post-Elections Conflict Phase

A terrorist’s bomb killed four Israelis in the north central West Bank outside the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Kedumim, about ten miles west of Nablus. The Palestinian terrorist, identified by the new Fatah terror group Kateb al-Shahid Chamuda as a 24 year old male from Hebron, was reportedly dressed as an Orthodox Jew and hitched a ride from the drivers of the car. No report as of yet has identified how this is known. An elderly couple and a young female occupant were killed instantly in the blast. The fourth death is reported by some sources to be an Israeli teen that was in the vicinity.

Attack Image However, an early AP report cited Israeli television reporting that the bomb detonated outside the vehicle as well as Israeli Army Radio announcing that the bomb was detonated by remote control. It is more likely that the fourth body is not that of an Israeli teen, rather it is that of the bomber. If the bomber was indeed a hitchhiker and was inside the car, he surely would have wanted to detonate it from within. If he exited the vehicle, perhaps his handlers detonated his payload for him, which would explain both the fourth body away from the car and the quick Army determination that it was remote detonated.

Interestingly, two groups have claimed responsibility: al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and a new Fatah offshoot, Kateb al-Shahid Chamuda from the Balata refugee camp recently sieged by the IDF and home of two Palestinian al-Qaeda cell members arrested by Israel. According to Aaron Klein of World Net Daily, who has regular contact with Abu Aziz (aka Abu Nassar), the Nablus al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander called him immediately after the blast boasting that it was his operation and that many more are in the works for inside Israel.

Perhaps this attack was meant to deliver the hitchhiker to Israel as well, and when the driver neared his West Bank Israeli settlement destination, things changed. The bomber may well have decide to get out and try another attempt at hitching a ride to Israel. If so, his trailers likely decided to cancel that plan.

This terrorist attack is indicative of the role reversal discussed before, with Hamas in governance and Fatah factions assuming the role of primary terror organ. But it is important to note that Hamas and Fatah are in simultaneous competition with both Israel and each other.

The action of the past two days could be a sign of a concerted effort to pick up the operational tempo against Israel as the IDF nabbed a would-be suicide bomber at a roadblock in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank. The 18-year old Palestinian was caught wearing a 20-pound suicide belt that was disarmed. His confessed plans were to meet an operative inside Israel and be driven to his attack location, which was not disclosed.

On Tuesday, an Iranian-made Katyusha rocket was fired from northern Gaza in the direction of Ashkelon. As often happens with Palestinian-launched ballistic ordnance, it fell harmlessly in the desert well short of its general target. But the significance, as well noted by Vital Perspective, is that this is not a homemade Qassam, the latest Qassam III with a range of still only 10km. The Iranian-made Katyusha has a range of double that at 20km. It is believed to be the first Katyusha launch from Gaza. After Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, they warned the PA, Egypt and the rest of the world that Gaza could become a magnet for an influx of international arms. The writers at Vital Perspective note, “Unfortunately, this danger has been realized as the Palestinians continue to expand and enhance their terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, and deploy weapons which extend the reach of terrorism ever deeper into Israeli territory.”

Remember that one of the senior West Bank commanders of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Abu Nasser, has said that the Third Intifada is coming, and will be bloodier than either of the previous intifadas. This increase in operational tempo does not rise to the level of a Third Intifada yet. It is worth noting that the previous intifadas, led by the PLO and Arafat, involved a mass uprising with street-level violence as well. While there have been isolated street-level attacks recently, it has not risen to such a level.

What we are witnessing may transform into a Third Intifada, as Abu Aziz (aka Abu Nasser) warned, or it may simply become a first ‘something else’, with terrorist attacks and para-military attacks without the street-level violence of an intifada. But it certainly looks to be the beginning of a change from the relative quiet since the informal cease-fire took effect one year ago.