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How Israel’s raids on Jenin most effective gasoline Palestinian resistance | Israel-Palestine warfare Information


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

The 25-year-old videographer was working with three Palestinian colleagues – all visibly identified as press.

The Israeli army fired at them.

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

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

Musara said Israel routinely shoots at journalists across the West Bank.

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

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

“There was no danger [for the Israeli soldiers] around us. There were no resistance fighters.

“They just shot at us.”

Patterns of violence

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

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

Last week, several undercover Israeli soldiers pretending to be Palestinians came into Jenin and took up positions among the homes to survey the camp.

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

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

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

Israel has raided the Jenin refugee camp over and over for years, ostensibly to root out an umbrella organisation of armed groups known as the Jenin Brigades, which opposes Israel’s occupation.

A Palestinian takes pictures at the spot 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 typically destroy entire neighbourhoods, claiming they are harbouring fighters. Civilians are punished in the process – killed, arrested or made homeless, residents and activists told Al Jazeera.

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

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

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

Resistance

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

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

“These groups [in Jenin] started as a community defence mechanism, so the more violent Israel’s raids got and the more systemic [they got], the bigger these groups grew,” Mustafa told Al Jazeera.

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

The PA has engaged in security cooperation with Israel as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which it was born out of.

Some senior Fatah officials in the PA back and finance some Fatah factions in the Jenin Brigades to increase their leverage in any future power struggle to control the PA, Mustafa added.

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

Mustafa said others in 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 the Americans and Israelis, the idea was to use the security forces as a way … to disarm radical [fighters] and give them jobs in exchange for laying down their weapons,” she said.

“Now, obviously in the context of the occupation, that isn’t going to work. A lot of these guys have  jobs – a monthly salary – but still engage in resistance.”

‘Die with pride’

Some young men join armed groups to receive a salary. The PIJ pays its members from $1,000 to $3,000 a month, Mustafa said.

The financial incentives have drawn young men from outside the camp.

Palestinians look at the damage following an Israeli airstrike in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Saturday, May 18
Palestinians check their homes destroyed in an Israeli air strike in the Jenin refugee camp on May 18, 2024 [Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo]

“What we have seen since last July is that a lot of these guys are coming from other localities, … which then creates a contentious relationship because it is one thing if you are [a civilian] dying for [the actions] of your brother or son.

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

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

In July, a substantial Israeli operation against the camp led to the displacement of 3,000 people, according to the UN.

Those who stayed in the camp faced an acute lack of services after Israel deliberately destroyed water pumps and electricity grids.

Shuabi believes that Israel’s strategy is backfiring.

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

“Families of martyrs – even if they are feeling pain – understand why their brothers [or sons] or other family members are getting involved in the resistance,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Even if they’re not a member of the resistance, they’re being targeted. They figure that they might as well die with pride by being a member of the resistance.”

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