Israel targets Palestinian refugee camps

Monjed Jadou, Wednesday 29 May 2024

Palestinians in refugee camps in the Occupied West Bank are facing dire humanitarian conditions owing to repeated Israeli attacks, reports Monjed Jadou in Jenin.

Israel targets Palestinian refugee camps

 

Israel is waging a systematic campaign against Palestinian refugee camps, aiming to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through military means after years of unsuccessful negotiations.

These camps, considered symbols of the Palestinian struggle, are being targeted as part of an ongoing strategy that has failed to deliver even the minimum national rights for Palestinians, as stipulated by international laws and conventions.

In the West Bank, particularly in the northern regions, refugee camps are facing continuous targeted attacks similar to the war crimes occurring in Gaza. Almost daily, Israeli military units raid these camps, causing fatalities and significant destruction to infrastructure, thereby exacerbating the hardships for Palestinians living in them.

Palestinians say that Israel’s attacks on the camps aim to dismantle the centres of Palestinian resistance. The camps, seen as bastions of revolutionary and resistance movements, are targeted to undermine the Palestinians’ fight for their rights, which is intrinsically linked to the refugee issue.

According to statistics from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, since 7 October, 514 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, including 127 in the Jenin Refugee Camp. The highest number of casualties has been recorded in the Balata Camp in Nablus and the Nur Shams Camp in Tulkarem due to continuous Israeli assaults.

Mohamed Al-Sabbagh, head of the Popular Services Committee in the Jenin Camp, highlighted the increasing Israeli aggression during a visit by several new Palestinian government ministers. He detailed the extensive damage caused by Israeli attacks in recent days, which have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries and severe damage to roads, infrastructure, public facilities, shops, and utilities.

Al-Sabbagh said the Israeli assaults had led to the deaths of 12 Palestinians, raising the death toll in the Jenin Camp to 127 over recent months and marking an ongoing massacre targeting all aspects of Palestinian life.

Israel’s repeated invasions of the camps aim to cause severe damage to roads, infrastructure, and utilities, deliberately aggravating the living conditions of Palestinians in them.

He also pointed to the efforts being made to repair roads and restore water and electricity services to residents. These efforts, carried out by the Jenin Municipality in cooperation with neighbouring municipalities, the Ministry of Public Works, the Civil Defence, the Electricity Company, and other partners, are frequently thwarted by Israeli actions, which destroy whatever has been rebuilt.

Al-Sabbagh said that the deliberate and systematic destruction in the Jenin Camp and other Palestinian areas is part of the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza.

Ahmed Abu Holi, head of the Department of Refugee Affairs of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said that the refugee camps are facing dire conditions due to repeated Israeli attacks. He said that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is mandated to work with refugees and provide healthcare, education, and general services, according to UN General Assembly Resolution 302.

The Palestinian government led by Prime Minister Mohamed Mustafa has sent ministers to the West Bank camps on fact-finding missions and to support these areas. However, there are limited solutions available due to the escalating Israeli attacks and the destruction of reconstruction efforts in the camps.

Mustafa, who recently visited Arab and European capitals and met with donors in Brussels, called on the international community to urgently address the financial crisis in Palestine, pressure Israel to halt its policy of withholding taxes and release the withheld funds, and provide emergency financial support for the Palestinian budget and social protection for poorer families and workers who have lost their jobs due to the Israeli aggression, as well as addressing private sector arrears.

In a speech at the ministerial meeting of Palestine’s international partners in Brussels, Mustafa said that “the [Israeli] financial blockade is a blatant violation of international laws and agreements. The significant decline in our public revenues, caused by the general economic downturn since the start of the war and the ongoing illegal Israeli deductions from our tax revenues, has further depleted our financial resources and hindered the government’s ability to meet the needs of our people.”

He stressed the need for financial allocations to be made to over half a million unemployed people in the West Bank and Gaza after the beginning of the Israeli war on Gaza and warned of the severe consequences of Israeli actions against Palestinian financial institutions, which threaten financial and economic collapse, according to a recent World Bank report.

Palestinian political analyst Najib Faraj told the Al-Ahram Weekly that Israel has stripped the Palestinian government of its political and economic role, making it difficult to provide services to refugees in the West Bank camps, especially in the north. Israel’s continuous targeting and deliberate destruction of what has been rebuilt also sends a message to Palestinians that it controls the ground, worsening the situation.

Faraj explained that unless there is decisive action to compel Israel to stop its racist policies, the situation on the ground will only deteriorate according to the plans of the Israeli prime minister and his far right partners, who aim to incite violence in the West Bank through their crimes in the northern camps.

 

* A version of this article appears in print in the 30 May, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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