Israel’s incursion into the occupied West Bank, particularly targeting the Jenin refugee camp, has sparked growing concerns about the escalating violence and the potential for another devastating war. This military operation, which involved ground and air attacks, is the largest in the occupied territory since the Second Intifada, a mass Palestinian uprising against Israel’s long-standing occupation, which occurred between 2000 and 2005.
Tragically, the ongoing incursion has resulted in the loss of civilian lives, including two children. Nidal Obeidi, the mayor of Jenin, described the attack as a “real massacre” and an attempt to destroy all aspects of life in the city and the camp. The situation has become dire, with water and electricity services being cut off from the refugee camp and thousands of people being evacuated. The Israeli military has targeted not only individuals associated with the resistance but also infrastructure, demolishing homes and roads.
This is not the first time that Jenin has experienced Israeli incursions. The city has been a hotbed of resistance against the Israeli occupation, making it a recurrent target. The current Israeli government’s hard-line approach toward Palestinians in the West Bank suggests that this pattern of aggression is likely to continue. Israel appears determined to crush any form of resistance, as young Palestinians increasingly take up arms in response to the occupation.
According to Palestinian lawyer and analyst Diana Buttu, Israel has made it clear that Palestinians have three options: leave, remain as residents without citizenship, or face crushing repression if they resist. This oppressive strategy aims to quash the hopes of Palestinians for self-determination and recognition as a people. Palestinian political science professor Hassan Ayyoub emphasizes that Israel wants to eliminate what he refers to as the “Jenin phenomenon,” any form of Palestinian resistance. However, for Palestinians, the occupation is a matter of principle, and their ultimate goal is to end it.
The Israeli aggression in Jenin has also raised concerns about an escalation with armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Gaza-based political factions have called on Palestinians to unite in support of those targeted in Jenin, leading to fears of further violence.
The international community has strongly condemned the Israeli raid and called for an immediate halt to the violence. Turkey, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Jordan, Egypt, and Qatar have all expressed their concerns and called for urgent action to protect the Palestinian people. The United Nations Middle East envoy has described the situation as very dangerous and emphasized the need to protect civilians. The United States, while stating support for Israel’s security and right to defend against terrorist groups, also emphasized the need to protect non-combatants.
Jenin, along with Nablus, has witnessed the emergence of a new generation of Palestinian fighters resisting the occupation. These groups have arisen in response to the popular outburst of Palestinian resistance in May 2021, which started in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, and culminated in Israel’s 11-day assault on Gaza.
In summary, the ongoing Israeli incursion in the West Bank, particularly in Jenin, has led to the loss of civilian lives and infrastructure destruction. The Israeli government’s heavy-handed approach and the recurring attacks on Jenin indicate a continued effort to suppress Palestinian resistance. The international community has condemned the violence and called for the protection of civilians, but the situation remains dangerous and volatile, raising fears of further escalation and a potential devastating war.