The hard data shows a steep rise in Hezbollah involvement in Palestinian terrorism.
In 2002, the Shin Bet identified seven Palestinian groups operated by the Hezbollah. In 2003, there were 14, and in 2004, there were 51 such groups. Only some of those groups were neutralized.
The lion’s share of last year’s Hezbollah-connected armed cells were Fatah-affiliated – 38, mostly in the West Bank. Six cells were associated with Islamic Jihad, three with Hamas and at least four with the Popular Front, a secular Marxist organization having nothing in common with the fundamentalist Hezbollah.
Hezbollah’s takeover of the armed Fatah cells in the West Bank is nearly absolute, with nearly every Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade unit on its payroll. Last year, 68 attacks were initiated by Hezbollah, some 20 percent of the attacks over the Green Line. Twenty-four Israelis – soldiers and civilians – were killed in these attacks.
Hezbollah is devoting significant resources to the war against Israel. Most of these resources come from Iran. Hezbollah sent an estimated $9 million into the territories in 2004 out of an overall budget of $100 million. Since a terrorist attack costs an average of NIS 5,000, clearly some of that $9 million ended up in the pockets of the cells in the territories. The current bonus paid for a dead or wounded Israeli is NIS 4,000.
The key figures: Imad Fayez Mugniyah, wanted by the U.S., and Kais Obeid, an Israeli Arab from Taibe who was directly involved in kidnapping Elhanan Tannenbaum.