Middle EastAnalysis

Jenin residents remain defiant as they pick up the pieces of lives shattered by Israel’s latest invasion

At least 12 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, including five aged under 18, and 143 were injured, of whom 20 are in a critical condition

Israel’s 48-hour military operation in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp did not eliminate its armed defenders or turn Palestinian civilians against the resistance to Israel’s occupation. During Tuesday’s mass funerals of the Palestinians killed in the operation dozens of armed fighters reappeared as the dead, deemed “martyrs”, were buried.

Jenin residents, who had been pinned down in their homes or forced to flee during the assault, remained defiant as they began to pick up the pieces of lives shattered once again by Israel’s latest invasion.

While Israel arrested 30 suspected “terrorists” and seized large quantities of weapons, explosives and cash, Palestinian combatants boasted of their stand against their far more powerful enemy. Palestinian analysts, meanwhile, predict the Israeli military will return.

At least 12 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, including five aged under 18, and 143 were injured, of whom 20 were in a critical condition, the Palestinian health ministry reported.


Jenin’s deputy governor Kamal Abu Rub said: “Almost 80 per cent of homes in the Jenin refugee camp were either destroyed, damaged or burned.”

Water, electricity and sewerage networks, and mosques, hospitals and shops were damaged.

Independent human rights experts consulted by the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees stated: “Israeli forces’ operations in the Occupied West Bank, killing and seriously injuring the occupied population, destroying their homes and infrastructure and arbitrarily displacing thousands, amount to egregious violations of international law and standards on the use of force and may constitute a war crime.”

In a phone interview with The Irish Times, UN Palestinian refugee agency (Unrwa) West Bank director Adam Bouloukos said agency teams initially found difficulty in accessing the camp due to unexploded ordinance and the destruction of roads. Among the 3,000 refugees who fled the fighting and have been hosted by the community in Jenin city, many have returned to check if their homes are “liveable, repairable”.

Unrwa co-operates with local municipalities and the Palestinian Authority’s refugee affairs department in the reconstruction effort. The Jenin municipality “provides food and non-food aid and water for the camp and assets” for repairing damaged infrastructure. The most urgent task during these days of 34-degree heat, restoring water pipes, could take days.

Bouloukos said the attack would affect Unrwa’s financial situation “after three years of austerity and a zero-growth budget”.

“Unrwa facilities in Jenin were already in poor shape. Our West Bank emergency appeal for $37-38 million had zero in its account before this attack. We have to call on donors for finance. We have not seen this [kind of operation] in the West Bank for two decades. The situation affects mental health, creates high rates of stress, and requires social support” requiring funds. He summed up the situation by saying “in 2022 there were 10,000 military incursions”.

In addition to facing Israeli military pressure West Bankers “have a quasi-government [the PA] which runs services and cannot circulate freely due to Israeli checkpoints. This has created the current vacuum. If something happens in Jenin, it reverberates in all the West Bank”.

“Jenin provides a possibility for the PA to shine if it deals well with the aftermath of the attack,” he said.

However, Jamal Hweil, an ex-fighter who took part in the 2002 ”battle of Jenin” when more than 50 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed in over a week of fighting, drew a distinction between then and now. Quoted by the London-based New Arab website, he stated: “In 2002 President [Yasser] Arafat provided political cover for the resistance, and national unity among all factions was reflected on the battlefield as members of the Palestinian security forces participated in defending Jenin.” This did not happen during this week’s battle as PA security services have, under President Mahmoud Abbas, collaborated with Israeli intelligence and did not intervene.