Israel’s incursions into Jenin only fuel Palestinian resistance | Israel-Palestine Conflict News

On May 21, Amr Musara came out to report on Israel’s incursion into the Jenin refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The 25-year-old cameraman was working with three Palestinian colleagues, all visibly identified as journalists.

The Israeli army fired on them.

Musara was shot in the back as his colleagues fell to the ground for cover. When the soldiers stopped shooting, Musara was rushed to the nearest hospital.

“I thought I was going to die,” Musara told Al Jazeera by phone from his home where he is recovering from his injuries.

Musara said Israel routinely shoots journalists throughout the West Bank.

“They attacked us the same way they attacked Shireen,” Musara said.

Israeli forces shot dead Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh while reporting on a raid in Jenin in May 2022. A United Nations investigative body concluded that the killing was deliberate.

“There was no danger (for Israeli soldiers) around us. There were no resistance fighters.

“They just shot at us.”

Patterns of violence

Since launching its war on Gaza on October 7, Israel has killed 516 Palestinians in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

According to research by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and London-based research group Forensic Architecture, Israel typically sends undercover soldiers to West Bank cities to monitor and assess the area before the army or special forces arrive. .

Last week, several undercover Israeli soldiers posing as Palestinians arrived in Jenin and took up positions among houses to inspect the countryside.

The next morning, the army stormed the Jenin refugee camp with tanks, jeeps and bulldozers. Bulldozers were sent to destroy shops, roads and houses, said journalist and camp resident Atef Abdul Rub.

“They started shooting in a school… against students and teachers,” Abdul Rub told Al Jazeera.

Ten civilians were killed during Israel’s latest incursion into the camp, including a teenager and a doctor.

Israel has attacked the Jenin refugee camp again and again for years, ostensibly to eradicate an umbrella organization of armed groups known as the Jenin Brigades, which opposes Israel’s occupation.

A Palestinian takes photographs at the site where Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli soldiers during an Israeli raid in Jenin, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (File: Raneen Sawafta/Reuters)

Israeli forces often destroy entire neighborhoods, claiming they harbor fighters. Civilians are punished in the process: killed, arrested or left homeless, residents and activists told Al Jazeera.

“What I saw in the Jenin camp is like Gaza on a smaller scale,” said Zaid Shuabi, a Palestinian human rights organizer in the West Bank.

“You can’t see the roads because they are destroyed. “The infrastructure… the sewage and electricity system, water pipes and telecommunications networks are damaged.”

Since January 2023, 88 people have died in the Jenin countryside and 104 structures have been destroyed, according to the UN.

Endurance

Since 2021, a new cohort of Palestinian armed groups has emerged across the West Bank. In the Jenin camp, the Jenin Brigades engaged Israeli troops during dozens of attacks.

The group is broadly made up of fighters linked to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Fatah, according to Tahani Mustafa, an Israel-Palestine expert for the International Crisis Group (ICG), a think tank in Belgium.

“These groups (in Jenin) started as a community defense mechanism, so the more violent Israel’s incursions became and the more systemic (they became), the larger these groups grew,” Mustafa told Al Jazeera.

He said young people who join these groups are reacting to Israel’s growing occupation and are disillusioned with the Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers the occupied West Bank and is seen as an Israeli auxiliary by many Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority has cooperated on security matters with Israel as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords, from which it was born.

Some senior Fatah officials in the Palestinian Authority support and finance some Fatah factions in the Jenin Brigades to increase their influence in any future power struggle to control the Palestinian Authority, Mustafa added.

The ICG has long warned of a violent succession fight in the Palestinian Authority when President Mohamad Abbas, 88, steps aside or dies.

Mustafa said other members of the Jenin Brigades are also part of the PA security forces, which give them a monthly salary.

“Originally, when the (PA) security forces were conceived by Americans and Israelis, the idea was to use them as a way… to disarm radical (fighters) and give them jobs in exchange for laying down their arms,” he said. saying.

“Now, obviously in the context of the occupation, that’s not going to work. “A lot of these guys have jobs (a monthly salary) but they still resist.”

‘Die with pride’

Some young people join armed groups to receive a salary. PIJ pays its members between $1,000 and $3,000 a month, Mustafa said.

Financial incentives have attracted young people from outside the countryside.

Palestinians survey the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, Saturday, May 18.
Palestinians check their homes destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in the Jenin refugee camp on May 18, 2024 (Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo)

“What we’ve seen since last July is that a lot of these guys come from other locations… which then creates a conflictual relationship because it’s one thing if you’re (a civilian) dying because of (the actions) of your brother or son.

“It’s another when you don’t know who these guys are,” he told Al Jazeera.

Shuabi said Israel punishes civilians in the countryside in the hope that they will turn against resistance fighters. He explained that, in particular, Israel intentionally destroys neighborhoods, roads and homes as part of a broader strategy to gradually displace Palestinians from the Jenin countryside.

In July, a major Israeli operation against the camp displaced 3,000 people, according to the UN.

Those left in the camp faced a severe lack of services after Israel deliberately destroyed water pumps and electrical networks.

Shuabi believes that Israel’s strategy is counterproductive.

More and more young Palestinians are joining resistance groups to avenge their loved ones or defend their families and communities from Israel’s incursions, he said.

“The families of the martyrs, even if they feel pain, understand why their brothers (or children) or other relatives are getting involved in the resistance,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Even if they are not members of the resistance, they are being attacked. “They think they could also die with pride for being members of the resistance.”

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