- One of the more important factors shaping political life in Israel has been the ever-present threat of terrorism. The prestate Yishuv was confronted with extended periods of violence perpetrated by elements of the local Arab community in Palestine. Initially, the Zionist response was a policy of "restraint" (havlagah), premised on passive defense of Jewish settlements and cooperation with the British mandatory authorities. However, the response became progressively more forceful especially during the Arab revolt of 1939 and following the Arabs' rejection of the November 1947 United Nations Palestine Partition Plan.Following statehood, the primary terrorism threat was posed by Palestinian fedayeen raids out of the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip and from the Jordanian-held West Bank. In reaction, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) undertook a policy of vigorous retaliation, the goal of which was twofold: first, to punish the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, and second, to deter neighboring Arab countries from offering the terrorists support and safe haven. In the early 1970s, much of the terrorist threat originated in southern Lebanon, where the base of operations of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) shifted following its eviction from Jordan following Black September. Escalating levels of terrorism across its northern border combined with sensational attacks on Israeli targets internationally prompted major IDF offensives on PLO bases in Lebanon in 1978 (Operation Litani) and 1982 (Operation Peace for Galilee; see WAR IN LEBANON ).The PLO evacuation from Lebanon in September 1982 shifted the focus on terrorism to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where, beginning with the outbreak of the intifada in December 1987, the IDF was confronted with widespread Palestinian violent demonstrations. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, there was a significant upswing in the number and severity of terrorist attacks on Israelis, committed in the main by Islamic extremist groups and PLO rejectionist factions opposed to reconciliation with Israel. In addition, beginning in the mid-1980s, the IDF fought a war of attrition against Iranian-backed Hezbollah and other extremist groups in southern Lebanon; although the IDF withdrawal in May 2000 resulted in an overall drop in the number of terrorist attacks from Lebanon, the continued threat posed by Hezbollah (in pursuit of its own goals as well as those of its state sponsors, Syria and Iran) remains deeply destabilizing.Over the decades, and especially during the Al-Aksa intifada, large numbers of Palestinian groups, sometimes assisted by regional states, have joined in anti-Israel terrorist activities designed to pursue the goal of restoring Palestine to the Palestinians. From Israel's perspective, there is a clear correlation between the prospects for achieving permanent peace and a substantial reduction in the threat to the physical security of Israelis posed by terrorism.See also Arab-Israeli Conflict; Intelligence Services; Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ; Harakat Al-Jihad Al-Islami Al-Filastini); Shin Bet (Shabak); Suicide Bombings; Targeted Assassinations.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..