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Shin Bet warns of Hamas attack despite quiet 2010

Dec. 31, 2010 11:05 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 1, 2011 7:05 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- 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 Thursday.

Despite the announcement, the report added a caution, saying the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers had intensified efforts to smuggle in advanced weapons as they prepare for a future conflict with Israel. Palestinian officials have accused Israel of stepping up its war rhetoric in recent weeks.

"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.

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.

Despite recent Israeli military reports of an increase in projectile launches toward Israeli targets from Gaza, the report said that over the course of the year 150 rockets and 215 mortars were launched, well down from 569 rockets and 289 mortars in 2009, and 2,048 rockets and 1,668 mortars in 2008, the Shin Bet said.

Over the same period, UN records from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs show 62 Palestinians were killed in Gaza by Israeli forces. Israeli officials claimed just over 20 of those killed were militants. Four of those killed were children.

The same UN records show a total of 252 injured by Israeli military action in Gaza during 2010.

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.

Ma'an staff writers contributed to this report
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