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Jenin. A city in Israel’s crosshairs

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For many Israelis, Jenin and its surroundings are a factory of terrorism, which has been taking a deadly toll in Israel for years. For Palestinians, the camp, located on the northern edge of the West Bank, is a symbol of resistance that unites a divided Palestinian society. The New York Times writes about the importance of gin.

In Jenin – a city that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natenjahu has called a “terrorist nest” – fierce fighting has been going on since Monday morning. At least 12 people have been killed and dozens injured in clashes since the beginning of the week. There are fears that the death toll will rise in the coming days, as Israeli officials have made it clear that the operation to end Jenin’s role as a “terror asylum city” will continue as long as necessary. The Israeli military attacked about 20 targets in the city and the refugee camp there on Monday.

Read also: Israeli troops entered Jenin. At least ten people were killed in the clashes

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that the operation was coming to an end, but noted that it was not a one-off and would continue if necessary to “eradicate terrorism from Jenin.” According to Palestinian reports, the military operation continued on Tuesday evening. Gunshots and explosions were still heard in the city. There was also an exchange of fire near the hospital, as a result of which three people were injured. Netanyahu announced that the actions of Israeli troops in Jenin led to the elimination of terrorists, the arrest of wanted people, the seizure of a large amount of weapons and the destruction of laboratories producing them. The current escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is assessed by experts as the most violent in years.

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“Suicide Bomber Factory”

“For many Israelis, Jenin and its environs are a hotbed of terrorism, which has been taking a deadly toll in Israel for years. During the Second Palestinian Intifada, the refugee camp there was the main factory of suicide bombers spreading terror on the streets of Israeli cities,” writes The New York Times. .

According to Israeli officials, there have been more than 50 shootings targeting Israelis in the Jenin area this year alone. According to Israeli authorities, more than a dozen people responsible for the attacks that have been taking place in Israel in recent months have also taken refuge in the camp.


A symbol of resistance

For many Palestinians, Jenin, located in the mountainous northern reaches of the West Bank, is a symbol of resistance to Israeli and previous rule, the New York Times writes. This reputation was cemented by the events that took place there in 2002. At the height of the intifada at the time, the camp was the scene of a fierce ten-day battle in which, according to the United Nations, more than 50 Palestinians were involved, about half of whom were civilians. 23 Israeli soldiers were killed in the clashes. Then-Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat dubbed the camp “Geningrad”, referring to the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II.

“Jenin is respected because he has provided the collective Palestinian memory with many examples of resistance, but also of solidarity,” Nour Odeh, a Palestinian columnist and political analyst from Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority, told The New York Times.

Jenin after Israeli shellingPAP/EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

Odeh stressed that Jenin, while not a wealthy or industrial city, is a place that symbolically unites Palestinians, a place where rival armed factions of a deeply divided Palestinian society fight side by side on a daily basis.

As the New York Times reminds, Jenin was one of 19 refugee camps established in the 1940s in the West Bank. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees have settled there, forced to leave their homes as a result of the conflict that engulfed Israel after the declaration of its independence on May 14, 1948. These places are still referred to as “camps”, although over the years they have grown, turning into densely built-up towns and districts.

Violence, unemployment and poverty

As many as 17,000 people live in the Jenin camp, adjacent to the town of the same name, in an area of ​​less than one and a half square kilometers. Less than five kilometers away is the border separating the West Bank from the rest of Israel.

UN claims that Jenin not only faces a wave of violence, but also has one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in the entire West Bank.

Jenin after Israeli shellingPAP/EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

As a result of the escalating violence in the region over the past year, Israeli forces have repeatedly entered Jenin to arrest Palestinians suspected of planning or carrying out attacks against Israelis. Many of these interventions ended tragically as a result of prolonged shootings between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

As the New York Times writes, Jenin has become a stronghold of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two fundamentalist Palestinian military groups. The daily adds that new Palestinian militias have also begun to appear in the camp, unrelated to any of the larger organizations, consisting of young, rebellious radicals acting on their own.

According to Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, years of neglect by official Palestinian Authority officials have turned Jenin into a recruiting base for their Hamas and Islamic Jihad rivals. As he adds, both groups have recently “flooded” the region with weapons and money from their ally – Tehran.

Palestinian fighters in JeninPAP/EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

A turbulent history

Already in the late 1930s, before Israel gained statehood, Jenin became the center of Palestinian revolt during the uprising against British rule and controlled Jewish migration to Palestine. In retaliation for the murder of a British official in his office in Jenin, British forces blew up a quarter of the city, the New York Times reminds.

After the First Arab-Israeli War in 1948-49, the West Bank came under the control of Jordan. Israel regained these lands as a result of the Six-Day War in 1967. Palestinian Authority formally took control of Jenin and the rest of the West Bank in the mid-1990s.

In 2005, the Israeli authorities liquidated four Jewish settlements around Jenin, and in the same year they also withdrew from the Gaza Strip. It was hoped that this would reduce friction between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as signal progress towards resolving the conflict between the feuding nations.

“Jenin and the northern West Bank were then perceived by the Israeli, Palestinian and international authorities as a kind of pilot program for Israeli disengagement from the occupied territories, and by some even as a potential prototype of a future Palestinian state. Over time, however, this vision was shattered” – writes The New York Times.

Israeli settlements in the West BankPAP, DPA, Oh, Peace Now

As the “NYT” points out, Israelis regularly come to Jenin for shopping, to see a mechanic or a dentist. The flow of people, however, does not work so smoothly in the other direction. The Israeli authorities significantly restricted Palestinians living in Jenin from crossing border crossings, preventing many of them from working in Israel. Moreover, a right-wing government Benjamin Netanyahu accelerated the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which is the main flashpoint in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian radicals are constantly shelling Israeli territories from Jenin.

According to Nour Odeh, the proximity of the border has a huge impact on the mood among Palestinians living in Jenin. – There they can literally look out the window and see where their fathers and grandfathers were displaced – said the expert.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

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