Is Palestinian resistance ramping up?

Is Palestinian resistance ramping up?

 Is Palestinian resistance ramping up?

Israel faces casualties in Jenin raid

The Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank have become routine, but the recent invasion of Jenin and its refugee camp has brought about unexpected consequences. With the emergence of new Palestinian armed factions, Israel now needs to carefully consider its military operations in the West Bank, particularly in Jenin and Nablus.

During the operation in Jenin, Israeli forces faced resistance and engaged in a fierce firefight, resulting in the death of five Palestinians, including a child, and injuries to over 90 others. Journalists and medics were targeted, and ambulances were damaged. The Israeli convoy attempting to withdraw from the camp was trapped and attacked by Palestinian gunmen, causing injuries to Israeli troops.

Apache helicopters were called in for support, marking the first use of such helicopters in the West Bank in over 20 years. The intensity of the battle and the use of sophisticated explosive devices by the resistance indicate a new reality for the West Bank. The operation in Jenin sparked protests and clashes throughout the West Bank, and retaliatory actions occurred. Palestinian factions condemned the Israeli raid and emphasized the determination to continue the resistance.

The use of Apache helicopters highlights the growing strength of the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli government’s desperation in dealing with it. The tactics employed in Jenin have drawn comparisons to Hezbollah’s strategies in the past, raising concerns for Israel’s future. The use of excessive force by Israel has only strengthened the Palestinian resistance, and experts predict that it will lead to more challenges for Israel in the long run.

Why is Israel raiding Jenin

Established in 1953, the Jenin refugee camp was created to provide shelter for Palestinians displaced during the Nakba in 1948, when around 750,000 people were expelled from their homes to make room for Israel’s establishment. The camp has a history of unrest and suffered severe destruction during an Israeli ambush in 2002 during the second Intifada, resulting in numerous Palestinian casualties.

In recent years, Jenin has witnessed escalating Israeli attacks, particularly since 2021, as it has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance alongside Gaza. Israeli forces are increasingly concerned about the growing number of young Palestinians in Jenin and other areas taking up arms due to the pressures of occupation and disillusionment with the Palestinian Authority’s effectiveness.

The presence of armed fighters from different factions in the Jenin refugee camp leads Israel to view it as a hub for what they term “terrorist” activities rather than legitimate resistance. Some Israeli politicians, such as Avigdor Lieberman, advocate for large-scale military operations to eradicate Palestinian resistance and seize weapons.

There has been pressure within Israel for a broad offensive, with the Shin Bet security agency reportedly changing its stance to support such action due to the use of sophisticated roadside bombs by Palestinian resistance groups. However, it is doubtful whether a military offensive of this nature would bring an end to Palestinian resistance. The Israeli occupation forces already employ modern firepower in their fight against the resistance, but they face increasing quantitative and qualitative opposition in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

By branding legitimate resistance as “terrorism,” the Israeli government seeks to garner sympathy and support from pro-Israel Western governments. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant asserts that there can be no compromise in combating terrorism, and Israel will maintain an offensive and proactive approach in areas like Jenin, Nablus, and Gaza.

Is Palestinian resistance ramping up?

Many signs point to the increased unity and popularity of Palestinian armed resistance to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

In the past, Palestinian militant groups primarily acted as the armed factions of political parties like Hamas and Fatah within the Palestinian Authority (PA). These groups operated with the aim of supporting their respective parties’ political goals. However, during the second intifada, there was a notable increase in lone-wolf attacks, deviating from the traditional model. In the aftermath of the uprising, many established groups experienced a decline in their ranks and a collapse of their organizational structures, largely due to pressure from Israeli intelligence. This led to the emergence of a decentralized approach to resistance, characterized by the dominance of small cells and breakaway factions in the militant landscape.

Since 2022, fighters from different traditional factions have started collaborating under newly formed umbrella groups. Numerous young men, who grew up witnessing the entrenchment of Israel’s occupation, frequent bombings of the Gaza Strip, and the expansion of Israeli settlements, have taken matters into their own hands. They have become disillusioned with the Palestinian Authority, whose political strategies have not produced tangible results during their lifetimes.

Among these new groups, the largest ones are the Nablus-based “Lions’ Den” and the “Jenin Brigade.” Additionally, smaller cohorts such as the Balata Brigade in the Balata refugee camp and the “Hornets’ Nest” Battalion in the Jenin camp have emerged. Managing and controlling all these groups has proven challenging for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

According to Khaldoun Barghouti, a Palestinian analyst specializing in Israeli affairs, the “Lions’ Den” in Nablus and the “Jenin Brigade” pose a security threat to Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Israel is concerned about the potential emergence of similar groups in other Palestinian cities or refugee camps, which could lead to an escalation of the situation in the West Bank.

A recent Palestinian poll conducted by the independent think-tank Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research revealed that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians now support armed resistance against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank. This sentiment arises from Israel’s increasingly right-wing policies that result in frequent and deadly violence in the occupied Palestinian territories. In addition, Israel’s abandonment of the two-state solution has further fueled Palestinian support for armed groups.

The poll, which interviewed 1270 adults in 127 randomly selected locations, showed that 71% of Palestinians expressed support for groups like the “Lions’ Den” and the “Jenin Brigade” based in Nablus. It also indicated that 86% of Palestinians opposed the Palestinian Authority’s practice of arresting members of armed groups. Furthermore, 58% of respondents anticipated the proliferation and expansion of such groups in the West Bank.

Hazem Zahab

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