Jenin: Grave outcomes after Israeli incursion

Mohamed Abu Shaar , Wednesday 21 Jun 2023

The Israeli army killed at least five Palestinians in a raid on the Jenin Refugee Camp in the north of the West Bank this week.

Jenin: Grave outcomes after Israeli incursion
An explosive device left by Palestinians detonates during an Israeli army raid in Jenin (photo: AFP)


The latest round of Israeli escalation in the West Bank ended on Monday after an attack by the Israeli army on the Jenin Refugee Camp in the northern West Bank.

The Israeli forces killed several Palestinians, including one child. In response, the Israeli military was met with a fierce counterattack by Palestinian forces in the camp.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that at least five Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli forces and a further 100 others injured. This raises the number of victims of Israeli military operations in the Palestinian territories to 163 so far this year, according to Health Ministry figures.

The escalation began when Israeli special forces were seen entering the camp at dawn on Monday as they attempted to snatch a wanted figure. Palestinian forces in the camp responded by opening fire and injuring seven Israeli soldiers.

After further intervention by the Israeli army to rescue their troops, Israeli military equipment was firebombed using bombs hidden underneath vehicles. The firebombing damaged seven military vehicles, including an armoured personnel carrier and military jeeps, according to an Israeli army statement.

The Palestinian group Saray Al-Quds-Jenin chapter, which is affiliated with Islamic Jihad, said this was the first time it had used explosive devices weighing more than 40 kg against Israeli forces. It said that its fighters had engaged in firefights for more than eight hours with the invading forces.

The Israeli army said its troops were attacked with explosive devices and it had used military helicopters to bomb targets in Jenin in order to create a circle of fire preventing Palestinian forces from reaching the Israeli soldiers in the refugee camp.

The army said that one of its helicopters had been hit by bullets.

This is the first time that the Israeli army has used helicopters to bomb targets in Jenin since 2002, when it carried out a massive invasion of the West Bank known as Defensive Shield.

Israel’s onslaught also targeted the Ibn Sina Hospital, one of the main hospitals in Jenin, where most of the injured were taken. The hospital came under heavy gunfire, and Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances were also shot at.

In the Jenin Refugee Camp itself, dozens of Palestinians streamed video clips on social media showing them in front of the remains of an Israeli military vehicle that had been targeted. Palestinian rage at the continued killings carried out by the Israeli army in the West Bank caused Palestinian forces to clash with Israeli soldiers at the Al-Jalameh military checkpoint.

Hundreds of Palestinians also clashed with the Israeli army in Ramallah, Al-Bireh, and Nablus in the West Bank. Similar clashes also took place at the border fence east of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli escalation was met with strong Arab and international condemnation. The Palestinian presidency described it as part of a “comprehensive war” against the Palestinian people, urging the “international community, and especially the US administration, to immediately intervene to end this Israeli insanity,” according to a statement by Presidential Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

“The status quo cannot continue,” Abu Rudeineh said. “Israel is responsible for thwarting all recent Arab and international efforts to prevent further escalation and tensions.”

He was referencing a recent Chinese vision for peace announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Beijing last week, along with Washington’s attempts to push for progress on the Peace Process between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

However, Tel Aviv continues its aggression against the Palestinians despite US, European, and Arab criticism of the construction of 4,000 settlement units in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

It is also proceeding with plans for returning settlers to outposts it previously vacated under the 2005 Disengagement Plan, under which Israel withdrew from settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is also continuing its military operations in the West Bank.

The Israeli escalation in Jenin and the growing presence of armed Palestinian factions in the West Bank, especially in the north at Jenin and Nablus, have revived the option of a broad military operation against the Jenin Camp for Israeli officials.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that “it is now time to launch a broad attack on the northern West Bank that includes air and armoured forces.” He added that he would be demanding an emergency meeting of Israeli’s security services.

Members of Israel’s right-wing governing coalition supported his demand, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that the army would continue operations in the West Bank without referring to the possibility of launching a large-scale military operation.

The calls came after Israeli security reports revealed that the army is very close to launching a large-scale military operation that would primarily focus on Palestinian refugee camps in Nablus, Jenin, and Tulkarm, as well as on arresting wanted Palestinians.

Israeli concerns about the growing military capabilities of armed Palestinian groups in the West Bank were compounded by the latest military assault on Jenin, which demonstrated the capabilities of these military formations. The Israeli army is also monitoring repeated attempts to manufacture rockets in the West Bank.

Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) Chief Ronen Bar stated that “there are attempts to manufacture rockets in the northern West Bank by Palestinian groups. However, the Israeli army has been working to stop these since they started.”

Such signs are pushing the political and security leadership in Israel to accelerate the option of carrying out a large-scale military operation in the West Bank, or intensifying the repeated incursions that the Israeli army routinely carries out.

Israel believes that the Palestinian factions, headed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are trying to create new security conditions in the West Bank that would allow them to attack the Israeli army in areas outside the Gaza Strip, which over recent years has been subjected to successive Israeli attacks that have resulted in massive losses.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 22 June, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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