Motasem A. Daloul
Middle East Monitor / July 5, 2023
In a pre-dawn series of airstrikes carried out shortly after 1 am on Monday, the Israeli occupation forces began a wide-scale offensive on the northern West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp, which, top Israeli occupation officials claim, have been giving a headache to Israel for years.
With over 1,000 Israeli occupation troops equipped with more than 250 armoured military vehicles and tens of tanks, military bulldozers and aircrafts, senior Israeli military commanders say the offensive aimed at getting rid of the Palestinian armed groups allegedly standing behind several attacks on Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers in several areas across the Occupied West Bank and in Israel.
Israeli generals reported by Hebrew newspaper, Maariv, said the offensive will continue as planned and will not end without achieving its declared goals, pointing out that the sought goals are getting rid of arms and factories of explosive devices. This offensive, the Israeli military claimed, is built on previous ones.
“This operation does not stand on its own. This day does not stand on its own,” Chief of the Central Command in the Israeli Army, Major General Yehuda Fox, said. “There is a series of operations here, just like we were here a week ago and two weeks ago, we will finish this operation, and we will come back in a few days or a week, and we will not allow this city to be a refuge for terror,” Fox added.
For his part, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “In recent months, Jenin has become a haven for terrorism — we are putting an end to it,” citing the killing of several youths claiming they were gunmen. He claimed that the Israeli occupation army destroyed a host of weapons and bomb-making facilities during the offensive.
Netanyahu claimed that the operation would change “the equation against terrorism”, comparing it to the recent Israeli occupation offensives on Gaza, during all of which the Israeli occupation army mostly killed civilians, including children and women, as well as destroying civilian facilities including homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, water networks and electricity grids – the same thing the Israeli occupation army is doing now in Jenin.
Since the start of the offensives, the Israeli occupation forces have killed 11 Palestinians, including four children. All of them are aged between 16 and 23. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 100 Palestinians have been wounded, including 20 in critical condition. At least 5,000 Palestinians have fled their homes. Israeli occupation officials say the offensive is to continue at least until Thursday. However, it ended on Tuesday evening.
But is this offensive really aimed at ending the Palestinian Resistance in Jenin? Apparently, yes, but actually, not! How? Israeli military and political officials have declared it is aimed at ending the Palestinian Resistance, but do tens of Palestinian fighters with light automatic guns need more than 1,000 well-trained Israeli army soldiers with hundreds of armoured military vehicles on the ground and tens of military and spying aircraft in the sky? Of course not.
I believe this offensive is not more than a large propaganda show that Netanyahu and his far-right government needed in order to pass their own extremist agendas on the Israeli, Palestinian and international levels. They want something big but, at the same time, well-calculated and successful, in order to let the Israelis, Palestinians and the world get busy while they, in the background, carry out their colonial plans.
Netanyahu and his team want to tell the Israelis that they are carrying out a fateful operation against the “terror haven” in the Occupied West Bank so that they get their support, or at least reduce their fierce opposition to the ongoing judicial overhaul that aims to turn the judiciary in the country weaker than the religious authority held by the far-right parties.
The negotiations between the government coalition and the opposition have been on hold for weeks, while the Knesset and its committees are going on in the legalization process of the right-wingers’ plans. The right-wingers want to tell the serving and reserve army officers, who keep protesting against the judicial overhaul plans, that the country needs them now so that they have to stand up for their duties. This way, they will get busy in the offensive at the times the Knesset is busy carrying out Netanyahu and his coalition’s agenda.
At the same time, this operation gets the Palestinians busy in their support and solidarity with Jenin, and Netanyahu and his coalition’s colonization agenda are going on in the background. They will not get the wide media coverage because all journalists and mass media will be covering the offensive on Jenin.
The same is happening with the international community. The Arab and world leaders will stop criticizing settlement expansion, and they will condemn the Israeli offensive on Jenin. They will condition their support and cooperation with Israel on the cessation of fire in Jenin, and this will happen soon while settlement projects will continue without any more condemnation.
Regarding the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has been under fire over its security coordination with the Israeli occupation, this offensive is its lifeboat. Its criticism of the Israeli violence and its claims of ceasing the security operation will occupy the headlines, while it is serving the occupation in the background.
While the Israeli occupation is attacking the Palestinians in Jenin, the PA security services detained tens of Palestinian fighters, attacked Palestinian homes in the city of Al-Bireh and detained one of the Palestinian fighters wanted by the Israeli occupation. The pogroms in Jenin deviate the eyes of the Palestinians from the PA’s violations.
The same thing happened with the international leaders, who stopped criticizing the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and creation of new illegal outposts in the Occupied West Bank, and started to issue statements in support of Israel’s security, while expressing concerns about the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli occupation forces in Jenin.
This way, the Israeli occupation succeeded in its propaganda show that concealed its colonial projects, covered up its ongoing judicial overhaul plans and whitewashed the PA’s security coordination with Israel.
Motasem A. Daloul is Middle East Monitor’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip