Located in the northern West Bank, the city of Jenin (pronounced like the girl’s name Janine) has become a tinder box that could lead to the next Israeli war.
What started out as a territory, which belonged to the Israelite tribe of Issachar, and only 25 kilometers from Megiddo, the place which Biblical prophecy states will be the site of the last war to be fought (Armageddon), a battle is already taking place.
In 1950, the city was annexed by Jordan, with a refugee camp being founded by 1953. As a result of the Six-Day War, Jenin came back into Israeli hands but has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority, as a result of the 1996 Oslo Accords. Today, there are mixed reports as to how many refugees are in that camp, but some estimates place numbers as high as over 20,000 Palestinians.
The city has been dubbed, “The Martyrs’ Capital,” and is home to such terror groups as, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Tanzim, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Many suicide bombers, as well as terrorists, have been sent from Jenin to wreak carnage on Israeli citizens, and that is the reason that Israeli Defense Forces must regularly go in to fight these organized attackers whose sole existence is for the purpose of coming against the Jewish state.
Yesterday, one such operation was carried out, as IDF soldiers conducted a raid, in order to clean out this hornet’s nest. What ensued was an 8-hour battle, including an armored military vehicle being ambushed. It ended with seven Israeli servicemen being injured, five Palestinians being killed and another 91 reported wounded, although another account has put the numbers at 3 killed and 28 Palestinians wounded.
But the question is, what is the larger resulting consequence for what took place yesterday? Will Gaza react to this IDF operation? Will Israel conduct a more comprehensive incursion into Jenin? Will Israeli citizens become the victims of revenge attacks?
Probably the biggest concern is Iran’s pivotal part in all of this. According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, “Over the last few months, Iran has sought to threaten Israel from multiple fronts, with Iranian leadership recently meeting with members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
In this article, the case is made that Iran is purposely trying to ignite the West Bank. Iran, in its belief that Israel is in a weakened position, due to internal friction and unrest, stemming from ongoing protests against the present government, has suggested that this is the time for Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad to take advantage of that weakness and destabilize the country.
Although there is, indeed, a fracture amongst the citizens of Israel, it’s hard to make a connection as to why that would weaken IDF soldiers, in their ability to fight the enemy, because nothing has changed in terms of their military tactics, goals and methods.
Yet, yesterday’s attempt to go in and take out two terrorists, in particular, ended up being a much greater challenge than likely anticipated, because no one expected one of our tanks to be hit by an explosive device, causing damage, as well as the need for an IDF helicopter to fire on Palestinian gunmen from the air, a first in this type of incursion.
Consequently, discussions have taken place, exploring the need to conduct more frequent operations into Jenin, increase the number of soldiers, who are part of these attempts to deter terror attacks, bring in the Air Force, and, in general, change the strategy which, up until now, has not completely succeeded in putting an end to the ongoing problem.
While Iran is adding fuel to the fire, by daring our enemies to “strike while the iron is hot,” there is a fear that any escalation on the part of Israel will incur the wrath of the international community, and so it already has.
Criticism has come by way of the European Union, whose spokesperson has declared: “Military operations must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law.”
Joining that chorus was the United Arab Emirates, whose foreign ministry condemned the Jenin operation, blaming Israel for “exacerbation, tension and violence in the Palestinian territories.”
While the U.S. has, not yet, officially come out to express condemnation, of these West Bank operations, they have connected the recent Israeli government decision to continue expansion in already existing Israeli Jewish settlements in the area, causing U.S. State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, to warn that, “such unilateral actions…make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve and are an obstacle to peace.” He added: “The United States is deeply troubled by the decision to advance those plans and similarly concerned by reports of changes to Israel’s system of settlement administration that expedites the planning and approval of homes.”
Israel stands at a crossroads, as the new government seeks to move forward to further develop land, already in its control, knowing that the price could be a complete lack of support and even harsh criticism by those who barely back Israel during less hostile times. While it may legally and morally have the right to build more homes, is this the time to undertake such a project? That is a question that will have to be explored in the coming days.
One thing is for sure. Living with the status quo is not an option, because a potentially explosive tinder box, such as Jenin, will not improve if left to fester and grow. Israel’s first concern, even before housing expansion, within the territories, must be the safety and well-being of her citizens. In that regard, the military has an obligation to subdue hot spots which spawn and inculcate terror.
Not to do so would be irresponsible and a prophetic realization of Iran’s faulty evaluation of Israel’s strength and ability to defeat those who pose a threat to the Jewish homeland.
Jenin is one symptom of that threat, but if Iran has its way, that troublesome city could surely become the catalyst for a protracted war on several fronts because Iran has no qualms about using its proxies to do the dirty work that it’s not yet ready to undertake.
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.