Jenin’s ordeal: The motives behind Israel’s latest assault

Jerusalem (Caasimada Online) – On Monday, Jenin, a significant city in the occupied West Bank, grappled with a devastating scenario. The aftermath of a rigorous Israeli offensive saw large swathes of the city reduced to rubble.

The operation, one of the most severe attacks in recent years, claimed at least eight lives, leaving over 80 people wounded and the city’s infrastructure devastated.

Observers have drawn grim comparisons between the current assault and the Israeli offensive of April 2002, codenamed “Operation Defensive Shield.” Launched during the Second Intifada, this military action culminated in over 52 Palestinian deaths.

Over 150 tanks, fighter jets, and armed forces had swarmed over Jenin, resulting in a grim situation where the city’s inhabitants were cut off from medical aid and essential supplies.

Peter Bouckaert, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch investigating the 2002 attack, described it as “extremely serious,” suggesting that “some cases appear to be war crimes.”

Jenin Governmental Hospital’s spokesperson concurred, drawing parallels between the levels of destruction witnessed during the current assault and those from two decades ago.

The spokesperson shared that ambulances have been unable to reach casualties due to the devastation wrought on roads and buildings.

An altered strategy?

However, a Jenin-based journalist, Tariq Ziad, perceives critical differences between the 2002 attack and the current offensive.

“In 2002, Israel knew that invading would lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, and at the time, it wanted to eliminate the PA because it considered that Yasser Arafat was part of the resistance,” Ziad told Middle East Eye.

In contrast, he argued, the present offensive targets the burgeoning armed resistance in Jenin, notably the Jenin Brigades, rather than aiming to dismantle the Palestinian Authority.

Sari Abu Nasr el-Din, a writer and political analyst, also suggested that the Israeli forces sought to send a potent message to resistance groups.

He detailed the extensive damage to Jenin’s infrastructure, with disrupted electricity, water, and phone lines. He pointed out that homes used by the Jenin Brigades were explicitly targeted.

A City in ruins 

Footage from the recent operation captured hundreds of soldiers and armored vehicles raiding homes and arresting people.

The onslaught of army bulldozers was evident, razing homes and streets, leaving Jenin peppered with debris.

Yet, resistance amongst the city’s populace remains steadfast. Nasr el-Din posited that the offensive could backfire by bolstering morale amongst resistance groups.

“Israel’s offensive on Jenin will not end in it becoming a peaceful city under the Israelis,” he stated.

“What is more likely to happen is for other Palestinian cities to end up like Jenin. The people will continue to resist.”

Awni al-Mashni, an activist and member of the consulting council for the Fatah movement, echoed this sentiment.

He suggested that the assault on Jenin might ignite a similar spirit of resistance in other Palestinian cities.

Analysts have also expressed concern about potential reactions from Gaza and Lebanon.

Ziad hinted that the severity of the response would be contingent on the extent of bloodshed in the current operation, suggesting that these regions wouldn’t idly stand by if the violence escalated dramatically.

An Uncertain Future

There’s palpable concern about the repercussions of this military action as it continues unabated.

With no immediate signs of the tensions waning, some predict that the unrest might escalate and spill into other cities.

According to Almashni, a shift in power dynamics is likely, with the Palestinian Authority’s influence in the West Bank weakening and the resistance growing.

“In my opinion, this is the start of a changed behavior from Palestinian people, this is a normal reaction from them, and the occupation will not last long in the West Bank,” he concluded.

As Jenin copes with the traumatic aftermath of the Israeli offensive, its resilience is a stark reminder of the city’s indomitable spirit. Its future, however, remains uncertain as the situation on the ground evolves.