Sowing Chaos – This is Why Israel is Invading Jenin, again

Israeli occupation forces invading Jenin. (Photo: via QNN)

By Robert Inlakesh

On the cusp of a major invasion of Rafah in the besieged Gaza Strip, the Israeli military has set its sights on the Jenin refugee camp and its armed resistance groups. 

Following on from a series of violent assaults in the months prior, against the Nur Shams refugee camp and its surroundings, Israel seeks to collectively punish the people of the West Bank for the emergence of armed groups.

Since October 7, Israeli settlers and soldiers have killed at least 510 Palestinian in the West Bank and the lion’s share of those murdered have been in the north of the illegally occupied territory. 

While Israel’s official propaganda narrative is that they are attacking Gaza with the sole purpose of eliminating the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas and retrieving its prisoners who were seized by Palestinian armed groups on October 7, the fact that the death toll in the West Bank has grown exponentially undermines this argument greatly. 

Jenin Brigade

In May of 2021, following what is often called the Palestinian Unity Uprising, a small armed formation began to emerge from the Jenin Refugee Camp and by September of that year declared itself the ‘Jenin Brigades’. 

This was the first time that the West Bank had witnessed the growth of armed resistance movements since the Second Intifada in the early 2000’s, despite their being occasional flare ups during which Palestinians would launch a series of lone armed attacks against their occupiers; the most notable case of this came in late 2015 to early 2016 in the form of the Knife Intifada.

The Jenin Brigades at first seemed to only pose a minor agitating threat to Israeli occupation forces, as they were only a few dozen fighters and had been completely confined to defending Jenin when the Israeli military raided. The resistance at that time was limited to the use of semi-automatic rifles.

In early 2022 the Jenin Brigades began to grow in numbers, after Israeli forces had raided and murdered both civilians and fighters, encouraging more residents from the refugee camp to take part in the armed struggle. 

The group was under the primary banner of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movements armed wing, Saraya al-Quds, despite it being clear that there were many fighters from the Fatah affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). What also occurred in early 2022 was the emergence of other armed groups, operating primarily out of Nablus.

Lions Den

By October of 2022, the Lions Den armed group had emerged in a major way, operating out of the Old City of Nablus and was headed by a group of young Palestinian men in their 20’s from varying political factions. 

The situation then became more complicated when the likes of Balata Refugee Camp also formed its own resistance factions. It wasn’t long before Jenin Refugee Camp then began to look as if it was an area in which the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s forces no longer had full security control.

As tensions continued to escalate inside the West Bank, where Israeli occupation forces created a new environment of violence in which hundreds of Palestinians were being murdered each year, in 2023 the armed resistance had developed to a point that it looked irreversible. 

In Jenin, both the city and refugee camp, the PA’s Security Forces had lost control. This is a situation that they desperately did not want to occur elsewhere and the US Biden administration even attempted to step in by proposing they train a specially designated PA armed force to fight the resistance groups. Luckily this proposal never materialized.

While the resistance had spread to Tubas, Tulkarem, Nablus and the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho, the Israeli occupation forces had proven ineffective at stopping the groups from growing in size through their frequent invasions; during which they would murder many civilians as well as fighters.

The one case in which the Israelis managed to have some success was in the case of the Lions Den, they managed to assassinate almost everyone who was affiliated with the PFLP, Hamas and PIJ, leaving the groups leadership in a compromised state. 

Headed by Oday al-Azizi, who was an active member in the PA’s Security Forces, the Lions Den had the ability to maintain contact with the Palestinian Authority and secured a temporary deal where he was arrested by the PA in order to shield him from arrest or assassination by the Israelis. 

The initial series of assassinations and major Israeli assaults on the Old City of Nablus proved effective at minimizing the effectiveness of the group, which still exists but is less present today than it was a year ago.

Sowing Chaos

In Jenin the strategy has been to arrest and murder everyone serving as a go-between connecting the PA’s Security Forces and the Jenin Brigades, this has involved targeting those affiliated with the resistance group who are also members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the PA’s Security Forces itself. The purpose in doing this is to sow chaos in Jenin.

On November 29, Israel assassinated two founders of the Jenin Brigade, Muhammad Zubeidi and Wissam Hanoun, which triggered reactionary operations in revenge. 

West Bank Escalation – Israeli Airstrike Kills Resistance Leader in Jenin

Then, in December, Israeli occupation forces launched a full-scale invasion of Jenin, claiming it was going after Hamas fighters, during which it murdered over a dozen Palestinians. 

Each time, Israeli forces have raided Jenin and its refugee camp, they have made a point in desecrating mosques, murals, roads, civilian infrastructure, attacking journalists, medical workers and eliminating art work, in addition destroying cultural, local and national symbols. 

Latest Invasion

Israel’s recent invasion of Jenin refugee camp came after a special forces unit, affiliated with the border police, was discovered and fired upon by the Jenin Brigades. 

Israeli forces then called in backup and were supported by the army, they would go on to murder primarily civilians, including Mahmoud Hamadiya, a 14-year-old student, a local teacher named Allam Jaradat and Wissam Bakr, the head of the Jenin Hospital’s surgery department who was murdered in front of the hospital itself. More than a dozen others were also injured.

The Israeli army claims that these invasions, like had previously taken place in Nur Shams refugee camp a few weeks prior, are designed at combating “terrorists” and are part of their alleged fight against Hamas. However, it is clear that the groups are oriented towards defending their camps, not launching unprovoked attacks and have only expanded as a result of the occupation army’s violence against them.

Jenin is Just the Start: Did Palestinians Finally Bury the Ghosts of the Past?

If these raids and invasions were truly about protecting Israelis, they wouldn’t feature attacks on hospitals, medical workers, ambulances, the destruction of civilian roads, looting of banks, desecration of mosques and memorial sites, including graveyards. 

The charge that they are targeting Hamas is also a blatant fallacy, as the armed wing of Hamas only has a very limited role in the West Bank and are rarely ever the target of their attacks. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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