Israel Wanted to Eliminate Palestinian Resistance in Jenin. It Failed.

Israel Wanted to Eliminate Palestinian Resistance in Jenin. It Failed.

Israel Wanted to Eliminate Palestinian Resistance in Jenin. It Failed.

Today, we mourn the tragic loss of our loved ones who were killed by this aggression. But we know that the Palestinian spirit cannot be dimmed.

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Gaza City—At around 2 am on Monday, July 3, a relatively peaceful night in Palestine swiftly descended into chaos thanks to the Israeli military’s invasion of the occupied West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp. As notifications flooded our phones with reports of brutal killing and destruction, a dark cloud of sorrow descended.

Two days later, Israel said it had withdrawn its troops from Jenin while warning that the assault was “not a one-off.” It left at least 12 Palestinians dead, dozens more injured, and hundreds of families evacuated from their homes in the densely populated camp. (One Israeli soldier was also killed.)

At the start of the siege, the Israeli army claimed to be targeting “terrorist infrastructure” in the area. But as a mosque, a hospital, residential compounds, and sources of water and electricity all fell to the attack, it became clear that Israel was once again using terrorism as a pretext to justify yet another attack on the Palestinian people. (The deliberate targeting of civilian properties and essential infrastructure constitutes a grave violation of international law—one that could amount to a war crime.) There were also horrible scenes of Israeli forces targeting the media team of Al-Araby TV as it covered the escalation—evidence of Israel’s determination to snuff out any counter-narrative to the one it wanted to tell.

In addition to its military campaign, the Israeli army waged relentless psychological warfare aimed directly at the Palestinian consciousness. It addressed the civilian population of the camp through SMS messages and megaphones, warning that it was eliminating fighter groups.

Palestinians in Jenin have become all too familiar with the prolonged grip of terror and death. But the magnitude of the air and ground forces deployed by Israel had not been seen since the notorious Battle of Jenin, when Israel sent a range of heavy weaponry, including tanks and helicopters, into the camp, killing dozens of people.

In the two decades since then, Jenin has been a symbol of Palestinian resistance and a beacon in the Palestinian struggle. Lately, the camp has become a haven for anti-occupation fighters and a refuge for thousands seeking escape from the injustices of the occupation. This, clearly, could not stand. So, over 20 years onward, the helicopter gunships were back, as was Israel’s underlying strategy: to strike at the heart of the struggle for Palestinian liberation and the resistance against illegal occupation.

As it does so often, Israel relied on the collective punishment of the entire population of Jenin. The deadly warning was clear: You are all targets, and if we can’t capture you on the ground, we will wipe you out from the air. The same chilling attitude toward Palestinian life was also on display within Israel itself; one analyst compared bombing the refugee camp to “maintenance,” as if the killing of human beings living as refugees under military occupation and apartheid is the same as repairing a car.

As a Palestinian citizen from Gaza who survived four destructive wars within 20 years and whose early childhood years were formed during 15 years of a military blockade, it breaks my heart to witness the displacement of Jenin residents from their homes. What we are seeing isn’t only part of a military operation. It is part of Israel’s campaign of forced displacement—one that began in 1948, escalated again in 1967, and has currently left at least 7 million Palestinians living in refugee camps.

But if Israel’s drive to impose bloody oppression is as strong as ever, so is the Palestinian drive to fight back. Israel is hoping that the Jenin assault will send people into hiding, instill fear in the people, and silence any voices raised against injustice. But they appear to have forgotten that their violence only breeds a more resilient generation, ready to seek revenge and sacrifice for its land and people. Several previous Israeli operations in Jenin have fallen short of their intended objectives, and this one will too. Palestinians have responded to Israel’s collective punishment with their own form of collective support for each other. On Tuesday, as I followed the tragedy unfolding from my home in Gaza, I noticed a surprising and inspiring gesture of solidarity sweeping across Palestinian social media: Neighboring refugee camps and villages were offering a haven to those fleeing death and destruction.

Today, we mourn the tragic loss of our loved ones who were killed by this aggression. Each one represents a life cut short, a painful reminder of the human cost inflicted upon innocent lives. But we know that the Palestinian spirit cannot be dimmed—so tomorrow, the struggle continues.

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