In a brutal attack July 3-4 , Israeli forces killed at least 12 Palestinians and injured hundreds in a refugee camp in Jenin, West Bank. The Israeli military launched what is labeled as “its most intense military operation in the occupied West Bank” in nearly 20 years against a “militant stronghold.” Israel’s formidable military force, criminally supported and armed by the U.S. government, rained down firepower on a minuscule refugee camp, slightly smaller than the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
According to the UN, the Jenin refugee camp is among the most impoverished of Palestinian camps, and suffers the highest rates of unemployment. The camp, located in the northern West Bank, was established in 1953 and suffered mass casualties due to Israeli terror during the Second Intifada in 2002. Jenin has long been known for its militancy and recently for its armed resistance.
The latest assault was meant to terrorize the 17,000 Palestinian refugees in the camp with offensive tactics including drones, Apache attack helicopters and ground forces, including 1,000 Israeli troops and army bulldozers, which ripped up roads and destroyed houses. The Israeli Defense Forces claimed these raids were to stamp out militants after it was met with unexpectedly fierce resistance when it attacked Jenin two weeks ago and killed five Palestinians. In the last year, Israel has conducted near-daily military raids in the West Bank.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, fighting forced thousands of Palestinians to flee their Jenin homes. Palestinian Health Minister May al-Kaila said Israel also “targeted [multiple] hospitals, medical staff and ambulance units [and] … raided the Jenin Public Hospital and opened fire …” Israel also decimated barebones infrastructure and the main roads in the camp to widely punish “the stronghold of popular resistance in Jenin, and project a [false] image of invisibility of Israeli society …”
After reports of troop withdrawal from Jenin, Israel’s far-right leader Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel will continue to target and attack Palestinian cities. But none of this is possible without the United States’ consistent financial and military support to Israel, which has received over $158 billion in U.S. military aid over the years.
Since the election of Netanyahu’s most recent coalition government — Israel’s most extreme right-wing and religiously conservative parliament so far — Israel has accelerated thousands of new illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is the largest systematic Zionist encroachment into Palestinian territory since 2012.
Even with the rise of extremist right-wing forces in the Israeli government, the U.S. government remains committed to supporting Israel. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said last year that the “U.S.-Israel partnership … has always been underwritten by the [United States’] ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.” The Biden administration’s lack of any meaningful action to curb Israeli violence only emboldens Israel’s right-wing forces to continue its settler-colonial project despite being widely recognized as universally condemned as an apartheid state.
Palestinians continue to struggle for their freedom in spite of Israel’s ongoing occupation and terrorist antics. Shops and office across the West Bank were closed in a general strike to protest the Israeli assault on Jenin, with many people taking to the streets in multiple protests to denounce the attack and to support Jenin militants.
The Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reports that, despite Israel’s overwhelming fire power, its troops were not able to enter the center of the Jenin camp, which was defended by the militants. And just hours after the Israeli army withdrew, thousands of angry Jenin residents took to the streets to attend a funeral for nine of those killed.
Samidoun quotes Randa Musa, the widow of Khader Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner and hero who died in May after a 86-day of hunger strike, on the significance of Jenin’s struggle to the Palestinian people: “Jenin camp has always been a flame of anger and uprising in the face of the occupation. This is why the occupier seeks to destroy this revolutionary arena. … We are all proud of Jenin and its Brigade, which is an honorable model for all resistance fighters and confronts the enemy with full vigor and strength. Palestine is ours from the river to the sea despite the bloody invasion.”
The overwhelming deadly force deployed by Israel against the thousands of Palestinian refugees in the Jenin camp shows there can be no more credible claims of “self-defense” from one the most well-equipped military forces in the world. Israel is a terrorist apartheid state supported by the war criminals in the U.S. government. Now is the time for all people who believe in justice to join in solidarity with the heroic and long-suffering Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination and liberation, and to demand that the U.S end all funding to Israel.
Featured photo: Israeli troops in Jenin. Wikimedia photo: Magav-facebook.