September 22, 2023

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) ended their two-day offensive on a Palestinian refugee camp in the city of Jenin on Tuesday.

The campaign, which IDF justified saying it was taking action against a “terrorist stronghold,” has left at least 12 Palestinians dead, reports Reuters.

Jenin is home to a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank that became a safe haven for Palestinians fleeing the violence of Israel’s 1948 campaign to carve out statehood.

Though it’s referred to as a refugee camp, “it’s not tents and lean-tos, it’s a city neighborhood,” points out the Economist’s Jason Palmer.

The West Bank city of Jenin. Photo courtesy of The Catholic Church of England and Wales

The offensive, described by The Economist as the largest Israeli military operation in 20 years, began with a drone strike and was quickly followed by the deployment of over 1000 Israeli troops. The IDF claim they exclusively targeted military infrastructure and that “no non-combatants were killed.”

Human rights groups, however, have accused Israel of restricting the access of healthcare workers, and even firing tear gas inside Jenin’s hospital, according to Doctors Without Borders. U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib accused Israel of blocking ambulances from reaching wounded Palestinians which the IDF denied on Twitter.

Regardless of the he said/she said, there is clear video available from Al Jazeera that shows armed bulldozers tearing up the streets in Jenin, seemingly flying in the face of the IDF’s assurances their destruction was limited to military infrastructure.

The IDF have already completed multiple raids in Jenin this year including one in January and another in June.

HAMAS, in response, have claimed an attack in Tel Aviv in which 8 Israelis were rammed by a vehicle. They also fired missiles into Israel from positions in the Gaza Strip.

New York Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres disseminated Israel’s position on Twitter, explaining how Jenin became a “power vacuum” filled with terrorists. He says “in the past six months those terrorists made Jenin a launching pad for more than 50 shooting attacks against Israelis.” Endorsing the offensive, Torres said “There’s a word for this: self-defense, which is the right of every sovereign country, including Israel.”

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