GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 709, 6 July 2023

Israel: Violence in Jenin
Sandra D Costa

In the news
On 2 July, Al Jazeera reported that the Israeli military conducted airstrikes in Jenin. At least ten Palestinians were killed, and over a hundred were wounded. According to the report, the attack was aimed at the Jenin Brigades, a Palestinian group that emerged from various factions in 2021. 

On 4 July, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, remarked that all military operations must be conducted with full "respect for international humanitarian law." 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Jenin should be "a military operation, to take down buildings, exterminate terrorists – not one or two but tens and hundreds if necessary thousands."

On the other side, a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the operation "a new war crime against our defenceless people."

The US White House National Security Council stated: "We support Israel's security and right to defend its people against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups."

Issues at large
First, a brief note on the Jenin refugee camp. The camp is located in the city of Jenin in the West Bank. It was established in 1953 to host the Palestinian refugees who had fled the 1948 war, also known as the Nakba. Israeli forces controlled the camp during the 2002 second Palestinian intifada. Additionally, it stands as one of the nineteen West Bank refugee camps with the highest unemployment and poverty rates. Israel considers the Jenin refugee camp a militant stronghold; the camp witnessed Israeli army raids for over a year. On 30 June, Israel raided the camp, killing two Palestinians.

Second, increasing violence in the West Bank. Since January, the West Bank has been subjected to increasing violence including raids, shootings and killings, destruction of buildings and infrastructures, and tear gas firings. According to Al Jazeera, more than 140 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops or settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year.

Third, the cycle of violence. The State and Hamas have led a vicious cycle of violence. On the one hand, the demolition of Palestinian structures around settlements by Israel, torching of homes and vehicles, raids and shootings and drone attacks are continuing. On the other hand, there have also been attacks on non-state actors. According to Al Jazeera, 130 Palestinians have lost their lives in the West Bank in just seven months into the year, compared to 170 Palestinians in 2022.

In perspective
Jenin, besides Gaza, is becoming a key battleground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Netanyahu and his party, the standpoint is clear: "The Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel." The bloodshed in Jenin has exacerbated the divisions inside Palestine, prompting Hamas to call on young Palestinians in the West Bank to join the struggle. The divisions within the Palestinian society present a challenge to the Palestinian Authority, which seeks to retain control and stability despite being attacked by different parties.

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