Drone strikes in Jenin signal Israel’s new security strategy in the West Bank
The Israeli army, deployed on multiple fronts and focused on the war of attrition in Gaza, is largely responsible for mass arrests and air power in the West Bank, although there is a risk that the a strategy of dynamism for the militant groups that she is looking for. Nearly 400 Palestinians – fighters and civilians – have been killed across the region this year by soldiers and settlers.
Settler violence is destroying Palestinian communities in the West Bank
After another Israeli drone strike on a mosque in late October, Mohamed Fayyadh, a young fighter with scars on his hands, laid out the future for the camp’s residents as he saw it.
“In America children drink a cup of milk and go to school, but we don’t have that here. For the kids in the camp, it’s just the opposite,” he told The Washington Post on October 23, gesturing to the gun on his back, decorated with the flag of his militant group, God’s Army.
He said he was 19 and carried himself with teenage bravado. “We are ready for a strike to hit us at any time,” he said.
When asked if that bothered him, he smiled and shook his head.
The Jenin refugee camp was one of 19 established in the West Bank after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Today, it is a maze of unpaved streets and concrete houses. The residents have been neglected by the ruling Palestinian Authority and discriminated against by the occupying Israeli authorities, who preside over a regime that rights groups defined as apartheid.
West Bank militancy on the rise as Israel raids and arrests
Jenin’s reputation as a bastion of Palestinian militancy was sealed in 2002, at the height of the second intifada, when the camp was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the conflict. Pictures of slain fighters look out from the walls of almost every block, some faded, some new.
The camp has given rise to a new generation of fighters this year – who have launched attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians – and has been the site of increasingly bloody military raids. After a major operation by Israeli forces in July, which left at least 12 Palestinians dead and 100 wounded, the streets of Jenin had been remarkably quiet, experts said.
“The Palestinian Authority and Israel had co-opted, arrested or killed most of those [militants]and so for a while, you didn’t see guns everywhere,” said Tahani Mustafa, senior analyst on Palestinian affairs at the International Crisis Group.
With her latest attack, she said, “Israel has basically been able to restore a spark.
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In a statement, the IDF said it had used aircraft as part of its operation on November 9 in Jenin when ground troops entered the camp in search of explosives. “As part of the operation, terrorists fired and threw explosives at our forces who responded by firing at them,” he said.
Inside the city’s main hospital, a doctor said that Israeli forces had shot at paramedics as they tried to reach the wounded. In the ICU, a 31-year-old medic, Sabreen al-Rashad, drifted in and out of consciousness as her mother stood battered by her bedside.
Fayyadh was killed in the attack. The next day, his body lay in the Jenin hospital morgue, a green Hamas headband now covering a head wound. His best friend stood over him, his face tortured with emotion, his fingers gripping him.
“He’s the lucky one, he’s a martyr,” said the man, trying not to cry. “This is my wish too.”
The 18-year-old fighter spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his safety. “Most of the dead yesterday were killed by drones,” he said.
The apparent shift in Israel’s West Bank security strategy is a result of the escalating war in Gaza, where more than 11,000 Palestinians and 42 Israeli soldiers have been killed.
Israel’s operations here since October 7 have been marked by what authorities describe as arbitrary arrests for security reasons and the increased use of drone strikes in areas where terrorists operate, experts say. saying.
At least 1,570 Palestinians have been detained across the West Bank since October 7, according to the IDF. Rights groups put the number higher and describe many of the detentions as arbitrary.
The Israeli military “doesn’t want to stretch themselves thin,” said Joe Truzman, a research analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal. “If something happens in the north, they don’t want troops tied up in the West Bank that they might need.”
The drones, in particular, he said, are supposed to send a “message of prevention” to a place where flights were unheard of until recently. But in the affected communities, anger is rising and revenge is vowed.
“Israel is building its jobs, and that’s exactly what ended up reestablishing those jobs. [militant] groups,” Mustafa said. “It’s the same context, it’s so cyclical.”
By turning to drone strikes, Israel can avoid mass casualties, at a time when the country is still reeling from a Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people. In the July operation, an Israeli commando was killed by friendly fire.
“If all of Israel were to enter the camp, each of us could send down one battalion, so they launch missiles,” said Fayyadh’s friend.
He shouldered Fayyadh’s body on a stretcher through the city’s broken streets on Friday, a crowd gathered around him as he approached the family home. Female relatives were saddened when they saw him.
A 24-year-old fighter from the Islamic Jihad group said the camp has been prepared for Israeli occupation. More tar was hung between buildings to hide the view of Israeli drones and protect those below. Barricades, he said, have been packed with explosives.
“We close all the roads and seize the camp,” he said. “We have people with smart minds who can do things,” he said, referring to homemade explosives that have disabled Israeli military vehicles.
The fighter spoke on condition of anonymity, saying Israel wants him.
When Post reporters visited the camp in early November, the day after a smaller Israeli attack, a group of fighters gathered at a relative’s home. They all drank coffee. It was late afternoon, but no one had slept the night before. Israeli soldiers pushed up to the edge of the camp and launched at least one drone strike inside, killing three people, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Text message warnings from Israel to camp residents had become more frequent, they said, warning them to stay away from known fighters and avoid the area during conflict.
“This is for your safety and security,” one of the messages read.
Hamas saw deeper attacks, aimed at provoking Israel’s war
Hamas had hoped its Oct. 7 attack would trigger a wave of violent Palestinian aggression across the region, current and former intelligence officials and counterterrorism experts have told The Post. So far, there is little sign of a new outbreak in the West Bank. But fighters here say they are ready.
“From the Jenin camp, we send a message to Gaza,” said the Islamic Jihad fighter. “We are right with you and we will not forsake you.”
As Fayyadh’s family tended to his body, his friend was bleeding around outside. From time to time, he shot into the air between the black tarps above him.
There were cries from within, and the air smelled of gunpowder. He said he was angry. He missed his friend. “If I wasn’t in this situation, I would live happily,” he said. “We love life, don’t think we don’t.” I had a lot of ambition.”
He and Fayyadh had wanted to travel, he said, but Israeli restrictions had made it difficult to even leave the city. “If there is no security, there is no life. The only way to take that back is by force. “
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