The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on June 6 that through the first five months of 2013, the number of attempts by Palestinian terrorists to abduct Israeli soldiers was equal to the entire total in 2012. According to the IDF, thus far this year 27 abduction attempts have been thwarted.
The announcement came a day after three female Israeli soldiers alleged that Palestinian men had attempted to abduct them. According to Haaretz, the increase in abduction attempts over the past few months “has prompted the army to strictly enforce safety measures and remind soldiers of directives intended to prevent such incidents.”
While the IDF did not say how many plots were tied to specific Palestinian terror groups, Hamas is believed to be behind the majority of them. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which had its own kidnapping plots thwarted this year, recently released a video that depicted an Israeli soldier dreaming about being abducted. The video, uploaded to one of Islamic Jihad’s websites, concluded with a warning in Hebrew that the group was ready to turn the soldier’s nightmare into a reality.
Although the IDF noted an increase in abduction attempts thus far in 2013, the numbers provided appear to be lower than those of the Shin Bet, which were reported in April. On April 12, Israeli media reported that through the first four months of 2013, the Shin Bet had tallied 33 thwarted kidnapping attempts.
The same reports said the Shin Bet counted 24 thwarted abduction attempts in 2012, which is three lower than the IDF’s total released on June 6. According to the Shin Bet’s 2012 annual report, one-third of the approximately 100 “significant attacks” it thwarted from Gaza, the West Bank, and within Israel in 2012 were kidnapping attempts.
The reason for the discrepancy between the IDF’s data and that of the Shin Bet is not immediately clear. Israeli agencies are known to maintain different criteria for some security data, however. For example, with regard to rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip, some agencies include all rockets and mortars fired toward Israel, including those that land in Gaza, while others count only those that land within Israeli territory.
In this instance, the IDF’s data may be focused solely on attempts to abduct soldiers, while the Shin Bet may be including attempts to abduct soldiers or civilians.
Nonetheless, as one IDF officer recently conceded, while Israeli authorities “have been able to thwart the kidnapping attempts … the scope is extraordinary, and it is clear we will not be able to foil these attempts forever.”
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