Will Israel’s Offensive Against Jenin End Palestinian Resistance?

Israeli occupation forces and border police carried out a broad offensive on Monday morning against the occupied West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp. The Israeli troops killed at least five Palestinians and wounded, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 91 others, 23 of whom are in a critical condition.

According to the Israeli military, the occupation forces detained two wanted Palestinians, but they were caught in an ambush on their way out of the refugee camp. Apparently eight soldiers and border police were wounded in roadside blasts and gunfire.

The evacuation of the wounded Israelis and damaged armoured vehicles took several hours. For the first time since the early 2000s, the Israeli occupation army used an Apache attack helicopter to fire missiles at Palestinians during such a military incursion.

Difficult Occupation

The situation was clearly very difficult for the occupation forces. Israeli Army Radio described the eight-hour evacuation of the damaged vehicles as a “complex operation.” Israeli broadcaster Kan suggested that, “Eight hours for the evacuation of five armoured vehicles is almost similar to carrying out an operation outside the borders.”

Despite the high number of fatalities and casualties among the Palestinians, they were still able to fire at the Apache helicopter and, according to the Times of Israel, damage its tail rotor. The Palestinian fighters trapped between the anvil of the Israeli occupation and the hammer of the Palestinian Authority appeared in several videos demonstrating their pride in the outcome of their battle to defend the city and refugee camp of Jenin.

Israeli officials within the right-wing coalition government and others are angry. “The time has come to replace the pinpoint activity with a broad operation to eradicate the nests of terrorism [sic] in the northern West Bank and to restore deterrence and security in the region,” raged extreme far-right Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich. The killing of five Palestinians, including a child, and wounding 91 others was, in his twisted Zionist worldview, a “success.”

This is the minister, remember, who called for the government to wipe out the Palestinian village of Huwara in March. He wants the occupation forces in the West Bank to be reinforced: “The time has come to bring in air forces and armour and protect the lives of our warriors [sic]. I will demand an urgent meeting of the cabinet on the matter.”

Meanwhile, Likud MK Danny Danon said that, “The northern West Bank is turning into something similar to southern Lebanon in the breadth and quality of the attacks against settlers and security forces. This is the time to give the green light to IDF soldiers to act and to clean out the nests of terrorism [sic].”

It should be noted of course, that according to international law, the Israeli Jewish settlers are in the West Bank illegally, while what Danon and others call “terrorism” is entirely legitimate resistance to Israel’s brutal military occupation of Palestine.

The head of Yisrael Beiteinu party, Moldovan immigrant Avigdor Lieberman, insisted that the Israeli government “must launch an extensive, large-scale military operation [in the northern West Bank] in order to clean out the gangs [Palestinian resistance] and get the weapons.”

Haaretz has reported that there has been mounting pressure for the government to launch a large-scale offensive, but the Israeli military establishment has been resisting this. On Monday, the newspaper reported that the Shin Bet security agency had changed its position and also supports an offensive given the growing use of sophisticated roadside bombs by the Palestinian resistance groups.

Will such a reported broad military offensive end Palestinian resistance, though? I doubt it. The Israeli occupation army is already using its ultra-modern firepower in its fight against the Palestinian resistance, and has faced growing quantitative and qualitative resistance in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

Pushing the Zionist narrative that legitimate resistance to Israel’s brutal military occupation is “terrorism” – what better way is there to justify sympathy and support from compliant pro-Israel Western governments? – Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that there can be “no compromises in the fight against terrorism,” and that Israel “will continue to take an offensive and proactive approach… in Jenin, Nablus or Gaza.”

National Unity party head and former army chief of staff, predictably, confirmed his support for ”Any responsible security action.” The ex-defence minister also criticized Israelis who “make the erroneous claim that our operations in Jenin, Nablus and everywhere in the West Bank are not extensive enough.” Gantz once boasted about returning Gaza to the Stone Age. He knows that the Israeli army can do nothing more than what is being done.

The Israeli occupation forces have bitter memories of the Palestinian resistance in Jenin. The late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused the city of being a “hotbed of terrorism” and ordered the destruction of its refugee camp as part of a military plan to reoccupy the major West Bank cities. The operation – dubbed “Defensive Shield” – started on 29 March 2002; it was the largest military operation since 1967.

Two regular infantry battalions of the Israeli army using 150 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, along with commandos and 12 D9 armoured bulldozers were involved in the battle of Jenin, which lasted more than two weeks. They killed 52 Palestinians, according to Human Rights Watch. Palestinian sources reported greater numbers. The Israeli occupation army lost 23 soldiers. By destroying the refugee camp, Israel declared an end to Palestinian resistance. Like a phoenix, though, it has risen from the ashes of Jenin.

Israel does not know how to deal with the Palestinian resistance. The Jerusalem Post’s senior military correspondent and intelligence analyst, Yonah Jeremy Bob, reported Israeli military strategists as saying: “We have no idea how to end the waves of terror,” and pointed out that the Israeli authorities fear that a bigger offensive might bring down the Palestinian Authority.

The unity of the Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank is crucial, as is the popular support it enjoys among the Palestinian people, despite the Israeli offensives and campaigns carried out by the PA against them. The Palestinians have international law and justice on their side. They have a legitimate right to return to and live in their land, and to resist those who occupy and colonize that land. Israel’s military offensives, with or without tanks and Apache helicopters, will never be successful in the long run. And Palestinians, through their determination and persistence, have shown that they are in this for the long run. •

This article first published on the Middle East Monitor website.

The Rebellious Youth of Jenin are not Terrorists

Everybody killed in the cycle of bloodshed – Israelis and Palestinians alike – are victims of the occupation.

Yesterday the army invaded with great force the city of Jenin and killed several of its inhabitants. Today (June 20), Palestinians took an act of revenge and killed Israelis in the West Bank settlement of Eli. The cycle of bloodshed continues to turn and claim ever more and more victims, of both peoples. The Israelis killed today in the settlement of Eli, like the Palestinians killed yesterday in Jenin, are all victims of the continued and aggravated occupation.

Those who deepen the occupation and build ever more settlements are guaranteeing the continuation of bloodshed. Those who call for a “major military operation” to defeat the Palestinians are perpetuating a dangerous delusion. It is enough to remember that this entire occupation, with its 56 years, resulted from what seemed the fastest and most decisive victory in the history of Israel, the defeat of three armies in six days. But all that this victory brought Israel was the perpetuation and deepening of the conflict with the Palestinians, with the army required to repeatedly reconquer the same places, repeatedly invade the same cities and villages – and for all that it did not succeed and will not succeed in defeating the Palestinian resistance.

Only a peaceful solution that will enable the Palestinians to live a sovereign life in their own independent state can bring a future of peace to Israel.

Gush Shalom Statement

This is not terrorism, the city of Jenin is rebelling against the oppressive occupation regime. The residents of Jenin fight and sacrifice their lives in a just struggle to be a free people in their country. Gush Shalom calls on the soldiers of the occupation army to refuse orders and fill the military prison.

The media reports tell of soldiers fighting against “terrorism.” The Palestinians who fight, with inadequate arms, against the most powerful army in the Middle East are stigmatised as “terrorists” and their killing is described as an “elimination” or a “liquidation.” This terminology is nothing but false and ugly propaganda. There is no terror in Jenin except for the terror that the occupation army tries to intimidate the city’s residents. Jenin is a rebel city, a city whose inhabitants have had enough of fifty six years of oppressive occupation and embarked on an all-out rebellion.

While masses of protesters against the Netanyahu government’s anti-democratic “reforms” coup crowd the streets of Tel Aviv, singing the Israeli national anthem and emphasize the words “To be a free people in our country,” a short drive away young Palestinians are ready to fight and sacrifice their lives in a justified struggle to be a free people in their own country. This is a battle that the State of Israel cannot and should not win.

What is happening today in Jenin is a sign of things to come. The day might not be far when also in Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah the occupation soldiers will encounter stubborn resistance and ambushes of explosive charges. The Palestinian Authority with its security forces would be forced to join the liberation struggle of its people, or it will be swept away and disappear.

In the later 1940s, when Jewish underground organizations were struggling against British rule, Chaim Weizmann – future President of Israel – said “a people do not get their liberty on a silver platter.” This later inspired a famous Israeli poem, often read on memorial ceremonies, where the fallen youths are commemorated as “The silver platter on which Israel got its statehood.” In the present moment, many young Palestinians are ready and willing to be the silver platter on which Palestinian independence will be presented to their people. However many acts of oppression will be perpetrated against them, they cannot be defeated.

Gush Shalom calls on the IDF soldiers who are required to attack Jenin and the other Palestinian cities to refuse these orders and fill up the military prison. The army gave its brand new military prison, established in the town of Kfar Yona, the name “Neve Tzedek” (Abode of Justice). Soldiers who refuse to take part in the dirty work of the occupation can expect little military justice there. But they can help do justice to the Palestinians who strive for their liberty. •