A Recap on the Israeli Raid into Jenin

Israel’s raid into the West Bank city of Jenin ended a number of hours ago after having gone on for 46 hours. The raid, termed by Israel as an anti-terror operation, led to significant clashes between the IDF and several Palestinian militant organizations from the West Bank. It additionally led to several casualties amongst Palestinians, and a number of arrests.

Anti-Terror Operation

In the early hours of the morning of May 21st, Israeli forces began to enter the West Bank city of Jenin, and the Jenin refugee camp. Footage shows columns of armoured vehicles and armoured construction equipment entering the camp, carrying a significant number of IDF troops inside them.

Shortly after the raid had began, clashes erupted between Palestinian militants and IDF forces. The militants were primarily from the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, a coalition of various smaller armed groups in the West Bank, as well as Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Militant forces engaged the IDF with small arms fire and explosives.

Israeli forces announced, several hours after the raid had began, that they were targeting “terror infrastructure” as well as individual suspects. Specifically, the IDF stated they sought to demolish the house of Ahmed Barkhat, a militant who had been killed in an Israeli airstrike two months prior to this raid, in March. According to Israel, Barkhat carried out two shooting attacks, one of which killed a civilian named Meir Tamari.

It is unclear if anyone still lived in the house or not.

The IDF published footage of the destruction of Barkhat’s house. In addition to the destruction of Barkhat’s house, locals filmed an array of IDF armoured construction equipment carrying out demolition work on a number of different streets, causing extensive infrastructure damage. Furthermore, IDF forces were filmed pushing vehicles out of streets, oftentimes destroying or highly damaging the vehicle.

The IDF has stated that this is done in order to search for IED’s planted in streets, and to prevent car bombs from striking IDF forces. One such car bomb exploded while being pushed by an IDF bulldozer in the West Bank town of Tubas the night before. Footage of the car bomb may be viewed below.

Palestinian sources often accuse the IDF of merely attempting to cause destruction by carving up the streets.

The length of the raid, particularly with much of it beginning and being carried out in the day time, is particularly rare. The IDF typically prefers to operate at night in order to hold the operational advantage, reduce the chances of being discovered, and reduce the chances of civilian interference.

The IDF has carried out similar raids in the past, some of which have lasted several days. One such particularly notable raid took place in July, in which Israeli forces invaded the city for over two days. During the raid, 12 Palestinians were killed with over 100 people injured. One IDF soldier was confirmed by the IDF to have been killed, and several of the Palestinians killed were confirmed to have been militants, primarily from the PIJ.

An injured Israeli soldier is evacuated on July 3rd, 2023, amidst combat operations in Jenin.

The raid in July saw the evacuation of thousands, and air strikes, drone strikes, and helicopter attacks by the IDF.

During this new raid, Palestinian sources have claimed that 12 people were killed, with an additional 24 people injured. Palestinian sources offer no distinction between who of those killed belong to militant organizations, however, four of those killed are reported to be children. The IDF claimed to have killed several militants, but offered no concrete figures except for stating that they’d killed “two terrorists who threw explosives at the forces.”

There is no word on any potential injuries suffered by the IDF, though as usual Palestinian militant groups claimed to have inflicted casualties upon them.

The IDF also stated they arrested a number of terror suspects, though they did not say how many.

Jenin, in particular the Jenin refugee camp, is a militant hotbed in the West Bank. As such, as previously mentioned, raids take place frequently in the city. According to the UNRWA, there are 23,628 refugees registered in the camp as of 2022.

Israel’s Policy of Infrastructure Destruction

Barkhat’s house being destroyed is nothing new.

Israel has had a longstanding policy to demolish the homes of Palestinians suspected of attacks against Israeli’s. Israel has claimed this particular policy to be a deterrent for terror, as individuals considering carrying out an attack will be forced to consider the potential destruction of their and their families home.

This policy was technically inherited from the British Palestinian Mandate, however was largely only enacted after 1967, when Israel seized Gaza, the West Bank, and the Sinai. Demolitions were carried out only in “exceptional circumstances” up until the beginning of the First Intifada in 1987. The qualifications for the policy became more lax, and was left up to regional commanders rather than having to have been ordered by Israel’s Minister of Defence.

Beyond demolishment being ordered as a punitive measure for attacks, it is also ordered often in cases where Palestinians either may not have had a permit for the construction, or the building is deemed to be not compliant with building codes and regulations.

Residents of the house are oftentimes not warned before demolition, and are given very little time to evacuate houses.

Over the time of the enactment of the policy, approximately 55,000 Palestinian buildings, mostly residential buildings, have been demolished.

The effectiveness of the policy as a deterrent is disputed. Some have claimed it is effective, and that the frequency of attacks has gone down after demolishment’s took place. In contrast, some studies on the matter have claimed that not only do attacks go up after demolishment’s take place, but the policy further fosters anti-Israeli sentiment.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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