Account of a deadly Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp, the bloodiest in two decades in the West Bank

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Palestinians carry the bodies of victims of an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank on January 26.

Nine dead and at least twenty wounded. The Jenin refugee camp suffered, Thursday, January 26, the most violent raid carried out by the Israeli army for two decades in the West Bank. Israel-led attack on Islamic Jihad militants caps month during which more than one Palestinian died every day, killed by the army or settlers. It marks an acceleration of the military operation launched in the spring of 2022, supposed to crush an incipient armed insurgency, which has evolved into massive repression across the entire West Bank.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, largely helpless in this sequence, announced the rupture of the security cooperation agreements which bind him to Israel. A gesture with serious consequences, if applied. In the night from Thursday to Friday, rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in retaliation, prompting in return Israeli strikes against a camp of Hamas Islamists and a rocket manufacturing center.

In Jenin, where the army has been intervening every week for a year, the only element of comparison shared by everyone is the destruction of the camp by the army, during the second Intifada, in 2002. An operation which cost the life to 52 Palestinians, including some 20 civilians, and 23 Israeli soldiers. On Thursday, the first shots rang out around 7 a.m. Discreet Israeli elite units were already present in the camp. The Jenin Brigades, a formation that brings together all the local armed factions, spot one, aboard a blue truck from the Jneidi dairy. In the Hawasheen district, next to the Khalil-Suleiman hospital and in the city center, a lookout from these brigades was killed. Ezzeddin Salahat, a 22-year-old member of the military police, had been publicly active in the resistance for a month, according to his older brother, Ammar. His father, a non-commissioned officer in the presidential guard in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, regretted that he had taken up arms against Israel, but he let it happen.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Chronicle of a week of repression and violence in the occupied West Bank

Israeli snipers

The armored vehicles then penetrate behind at least one bulldozer, which releases the horses of frise laid out during the night by the brigades across the streets. They make their way to the heart of the camp. Rare fact: the army may constantly enter inside, it is reluctant to engage in the depths of these alleys, where the resistance continues to densify.

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The tanks climb a sloping alley, pass under the high sheets that the fighters have stretched to block the sight of the Israeli snipers. These take position first on the roofs, around a house located in the foothills of the hill against which the camp leans. The Palestinian fighters are pouring a quantity of black oil down the slope, supposed to hinder the military vehicles. After they leave, they will mop up by pouring sand.

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