Israeli troops withdrew from Jenin on July 4, 2023 after two days of heavy aerial bombardment and floor invasion. In line with stories, 12 Palestinians have been killed and over 100 wounded in what the Israeli army described as a “counter-terrorism operation”. One Israeli soldier was additionally reportedly killed.
The location of the newest confrontation in not new. The Jenin refugee camp, on the western fringe of the city of Jenin within the north of the occupied West Financial institution, has usually skilled violence between Israeli troopers and Palestinian militants.
On July 3, the Israeli authorities mentioned it wanted to enter Jenin to arrest militants it accuses of terrorism, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that the operation wouldn’t be a “one-time motion.”
As a scholar of Palestinian historical past, I see this current episode as the newest chapter in a for much longer historical past of Palestinian displacement and defiance of Israeli occupation. Understanding this historical past helps clarify why the Jenin camp particularly has change into a middle of Palestinian militant resistance.
Jenin, an agricultural city that dates again to historical instances has lengthy been a middle of Palestinian resistance. In the course of the 1948 Arab-Israeli Struggle, Arab fighters efficiently pushed again Israeli makes an attempt to seize the city.
On the finish of that battle, the city turned a refuge for a few of a whole bunch of hundreds of Palestinian refugees who fled or have been expelled from lands that turned a part of Israel. Jenin, together with the hilly inside of Palestine generally known as the West Financial institution, was annexed by Jordan.
The UN Reduction and Works Company established the Jenin camp in 1953, simply west of the town. Since then, the company has offered fundamental providers to the camp’s residents, together with meals, housing and schooling.
Camp situations have at all times been tough. Within the early years of the camp, refugees needed to stand in lengthy strains to obtain meals rations, and for many years their cramped properties lacked electrical energy or working water.
The Jenin camp quickly turned the poorest and most densely populated of the West Financial institution’s 19 refugee camps. And given its location close to the “Inexperienced Line” – the armistice line that serves as Israel’s de facto border – camp residents who have been expelled from northern Palestine might truly see the properties and villages from which they have been expelled. However they have been prevented from returning to them.
The rise of militancy
Since 1967, Jenin, together with the remainder of the West Financial institution, has been occupied by the Israeli army.
The Israeli occupation of Jenin compounded the difficulties of those refugees. As stateless Palestinians, they couldn’t return house, However underneath Israeli occupation they couldn’t reside freely in Jenin both – human rights teams have lengthy documented what has been described as “systematic oppression” that features discriminatory land seizures, compelled evictions and journey restrictions.
Seeing no different path ahead, lots of the camp’s younger refugees turned to armed resistance.
Within the Eighties, teams such because the Black Panthers, which was affiliated with the Palestinian nationalist Fatah group, launched assaults on Israeli targets in an effort to finish the occupation and liberate what they noticed as their lands. All through the first intifada – a Palestinian rebellion lasting from 1987 to 1993 – the Israeli military raided the Jenin camp many instances, in search of to arrest members of militant teams. Within the course of, Israeli forces additionally typically demolished members of the family’ properties and arrested relations. Such acts of obvious collective punishment strengthened the concept for a lot of Palestinians that the Israeli occupation might solely be ended by drive.
The Oslo peace course of of the Nineties – which consisted of a collection of conferences between Israeli authorities and Palestinian representatives – led some former militants to hope that the occupation may very well be ended by negotiations as an alternative. However Jenin’s camp residents remained marginalized within the West Financial institution and sealed off from Israel, seeing little enchancment of their lives, even after the switch of administrative powers from Israel to the Palestinian Authority in 1995.
Impartial tasks just like the The Freedom Theater offered some aid to the camp’s refugee youngsters, but it surely was not sufficient to beat the grinding poverty and violence they confronted. By the point the second intifada broke out in 2000, lots of the camp’s youngsters joined militant teams. That included Freedom Theater co-founder Zakaria Zubeidi, who joined the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade. Just like the youth of the Eighties, they, too, concluded that solely armed resistance would carry an finish to the occupation.
A cycle of violence?
In April 2002 the Israeli military invaded the Jenin camp, hoping to place an finish to such armed teams. There have been fierce clashes between Israeli troopers and younger Palestinian males within the camp, solidifying Jenin’s repute amongst Palestinians as “the capital of the resistance.”
The shortage of progress on peace talks since then, Israel’s unlawful settlement constructing on occupied land, and the inclusion of hardline Israeli politicians within the authorities have exacerbated resentment within the camp. Polls present Palestinians more and more assist armed resistance.
Seemingly alarmed by the enhance in militancy and the stockpiling of weapons within the camp, Israel dramatically stepped up its raids into the camp in 2022. It was throughout such a raid that Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by an Israeli soldier.
The most recent raid, as many journalists have famous, would be the greatest operation within the camp in 20 years. But it surely was constructed on a long time of resistance and militant defiance that can, I imagine, solely enhance with the newest deaths and destruction.