Analysis of Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and Terrorist Attacks on Israel

On October 7, 2023, Hamas militants launched an attack in Israel, unprecedented in its logistics, resulting in the tragic loss of more than 1,400 lives, including civilians, women, and children, and leaving behind unimaginable devastation. Using the GRID database, this paper delves into the patterns and trends of terrorist attacks against Israel, providing an in-depth analysis of the tactics and targets employed by both Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad.

During the period of January 2018 through August 2023, Israel experienced 607 terrorist incidents that resulted in 129 fatalities.

As you will see from Figure 1 below, Israel experienced an increasing trend of terror incidents from 2018 to 2021, with a reduction in 2022. However, during the first eight months of 2023 the trend was back on the rise.

Figure 1. Terrorist Attacks Against Israel From January 2018 Through August 2023

Paradoxically, despite the relatively high number of terrorist incidents from 2018 through August 2023, Israel suffered a relatively low number of fatalities. The fatality rate (from 607 attacks, 129 fatalities) in attacks against Israel was 0.21 per attack. During this time, the overall worldwide fatality rate for terrorist incidents was 3.14 (147,546 fatalities out of 46,935 incidents), which is about 15 times as high as the fatality rate of attacks in Israel.

The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas are the top two perpetrator groups that targeted Israel in the last five years. PIJ has intensified its attacks since 2020.

Figure 2. Hamas Attacks From 2018 Through August 2023

From 2018 through August 2023, Hamas conducted 242 attacks, resulting in 129 fatalities. Sixty-nine percent of these attacks took place in Israel (as seen in Figure 2). Hamas was involved in 41 attacks in Gaza and 35 in the West Bank.

Hamas attacks declined from a high in 2018 through 2022, but they have started to surge in 2023. During the first eight months of 2023, Hamas carried out 32 attacks in Israel, which is annualized to 48 attacks and marking more than a threefold increase from the previous year.

Hamas’s preferred methods of attack were bombings and shootings.

Interestingly, Hamas perpetrators have become the most common “victims” of their own attacks. In 42 instances, Hamas members were killed or wounded as an outcome of their attacks.

Hamas targeted civilians in its 39 attacks and the Israeli military in 18 incidents.

Figure 3. Palestine Islamic Jihad Attacks From 2018 Through August 2023

The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) conducted 143 attacks from 2018 through August 2023, leading to 178 fatalities. Forty-three percent of these attacks (61 attacks) took place in Israel (see Figure 3). PIJ was involved in 23 attacks in Gaza and 59 in the West Bank.

PIJ terrorism incidents declined from 2018 to 2021, but its attacks have surged since 2022. In the first eight months of 2023 alone, PIJ carried out 64 attacks in Israel, resulting in 64 fatalities.

Although PIJ carried out fewer attacks than Hamas, its attacks resulted in more fatalities.

Similar to Hamas, PIJ primarily employed methods such as bombings and shootings. Also similarly—and remarkably—PIJ perpetrators have been the most common “victims” of their own attacks. In 49 instances, PIJ members became the major victims of the attacks, often being killed or wounded during the incidents. Civilians were the second-most common victim group, with 28 attacks, followed by the Israeli military with 13 incidents.


Data Source

Global Terrorism Trends and Analysis Center (GTTAC). (2023). GTTAC Global Record of Incident Database, 2018–23 [data file]. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from