April 11, 2022
There is a reason Israel is insistent on linking the recent series of attacks carried out by Palestinians to a specific location, namely the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. By doing so, the embattled Naftali Bennett government can simply order another deadly military operation in Jenin to reassure its citizens that the situation is under control.
Indeed, on Saturday, the Israeli army stormed the Jenin camp, killing a Palestinian and wounding at least 10 others. However, Israel’s problem is much bigger than Jenin.
If we examine the events — starting with the March 22 stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba, which resulted in the death of four Israelis, and ending with the killing of three Israelis in Tel Aviv, including two army officers — we can reach an obvious conclusion: These attacks must have been, to some extent, coordinated.
Spontaneous Palestinian retaliation to the violence of the Israeli occupation rarely follows this pattern in terms of timing or style. All the attacks, with the exception of Beersheba, were carried out using firearms. The shooters, as indicated by the amateur footage of some of the events and statements by Israeli eyewitnesses, were well trained and acted with great composure.
An example was the March 27 Hadera attack, carried out by two cousins, Ayman and Ibrahim Ighbariah, from the Arab town of Umm Al-Fahm inside Israel. Israeli media reported the unmistakable skills of the attackers and the fact they were armed with weapons that, according to the Tazpit Press Service, cost more than $30,000.
Unlike Palestinian attacks carried out during the Second Intifada in response to Israeli violence in the Occupied Territories, the recent attacks are generally more pinpointed, seek police and military personnel, and are clearly aimed at shaking Israel’s false sense of security and undermining the country’s intelligence services. In the Bnei Brak attack on March 29, for example, an Israeli woman who was at the scene told reporters that “the militant asked us to move away from the place because he did not want to target women or children.”
While Israeli intelligence reports recently warned of a “wave of terrorism” ahead of Ramadan, they clearly had little idea of what type of violence to expect or where and how the Palestinians would strike.
Following the Beersheba attack, Israeli officials referred to Daesh’s responsibility — a convenient move considering that the group had claimed responsibility. This theory was quickly marginalized, as it became obvious that the other Palestinian attackers had other political affiliations or, as in the Bnei Brak case, no known affiliation at all. The confusion and misinformation continued for days.
A number of Palestinian workers were quickly rounded up in Tel Aviv on suspicion of being the attackers simply because they looked Arab, offering evidence of the chaotic Israeli approach. Indeed, following each event, total mayhem ensued, with large mobs of armed Israelis taking to the streets looking for anyone with Arab features to apprehend or beat senseless.
Israeli officials have contributed to the frenzy, with far-right politicians like Itamar Ben-Gvir leading hordes of other extremists on rampages in occupied Jerusalem.
Instead of urging calm and displaying confidence, Prime Minister Bennett on March 30 called on ordinary Israelis to arm themselves. “Whoever has a gun license, this is the time to carry it,” he said in a video statement. However, if Israel’s response to any form of Palestinian resistance was more guns, the Palestinians would have been pacified long ago.
To placate angry Israelis, the Israeli military has in the past raided the city and refugee camp of Jenin on many occasions, each time leaving several dead or wounded Palestinians behind, including many civilians. They include 15-year-old Imad Hashash, who was killed last August while filming the invasion on his mobile phone. The same scenario played out on Saturday.
However, it was an exercise in futility, as it was the Israeli violence in Jenin throughout the years that led to the armed resistance that continues to emanate from the camp. Palestinians, whether in Jenin or elsewhere, fight back because they are denied basic human rights, have no political horizon, live in extreme poverty, have no true leadership and feel abandoned by the international community.
The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas seems to be entirely removed from the masses. Statements by Abbas reflect his detachment from the reality of Israeli violence, military occupation and apartheid throughout Palestine. True to form, he quickly condemned the Tel Aviv attack, as he did the previous ones, making the same reference every time regarding the need to maintain “stability” and to prevent “further deterioration of the situation,” according to the official Wafa news agency.
What stability is Abbas referring to, when Palestinian suffering has been compounded by growing settler violence, illegal settlement expansion, land theft and, thanks to recent international events, food insecurity?
Israeli officials and media are, once again, conveniently placing the blame largely on Jenin, a tiny stretch of an overpopulated area. By doing so, Israel wants to give the impression that the new phenomenon of retaliatory Palestinian attacks is confined to a single place, which is adjacent to the Israeli border and can easily be “dealt with.”
An Israeli military operation in the camp may serve Bennett’s political agenda, convey a sense of strength and win back some in his disenchanted political constituency. But it is only a temporary fix. Attacking Jenin now makes no difference in the long run. After all, the camp rose from the ashes of its near-total destruction by the Israeli military in April 2002.
Israel’s problem is its insistence on providing short-term military solutions to a long-term problem, which itself results from these very military solutions.
The renewed Palestinian attacks speak of a much wider geography: The Negev, Umm Al-Fahm and the West Bank. The seeds of this territorial connectivity are linked to the Israeli war of last May and the subsequent Palestinian rebellion, which erupted in every part of Palestine, including the Palestinian communities inside Israel.
Israel’s problem is its insistence on providing short-term military solutions to a long-term problem, which itself results from these very military solutions. If Israel continues to subjugate the Palestinian people under the current system of military occupation and deepening apartheid, Palestinians will surely continue to respond until their oppressive reality is changed. No amount of Israeli violence can alter this truth.
- Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for more than 20 years. He is an internationally syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books, and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. Twitter: @RamzyBaroud
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