According to news reports, on July 3, 2023, a brigade-size force of approximately 2,000 soldiers carried out an operation in the Palestinian Jenin camp in the West Bank. Military drones conducted a series of strikes to pave the way for ground forces. While Israel has conducted isolated airstrikes in the West Bank recently, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli army spokesperson, proudly stated that these strikes represented an escalation unseen since 2006, marking the end of the Palestinian uprising.
Many analysts argue that the unwavering support and assistance from the United States are enabling and encouraging Israel’s right-wing government to carry out repeated brutal attacks on Palestinians. Despite thousands of Israeli troops raiding the densely populated refugee camp of Jenin on July 3, 2023, and a subsequent series of airstrikes, the White House denied any involvement. Israel claims its right to “self-defense.” In a brief statement, the White House’s National Security Council expressed support for Israel’s security and its right to defend its people against the activities of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups.
This situation raises questions about one of the main principles of US foreign policy, which is to protect human rights worldwide. It is also a priority in US Middle East-centric politics. However, the recent response from the White House to Israel’s brutal military campaign, its closest ally in the Middle East, indicates President Joe Biden’s reluctance to rein in Israel. Meanwhile, the Israeli offensive in Jenin has intensified, causing growing concerns.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Daniel Levy, president of the think tank US/Middle East Project, stated, “I think, as we have seen in the past, we will see the same thing again and again in the future.” He suggests that the US administration will continue supporting Israel from behind, allowing the Israeli government to act as it pleases. The Washington administration is unwilling to risk its very close relationship with Israel by taking action. Consequently, the situation in Palestine has gradually worsened.
While Israel conducts its largest military operation on the Jenin refugee camp since 2002, resulting in the deaths of Palestinian civilians and displaying callous disregard for their lives, the Biden administration continues providing aid to Israel, as noted by Ahmad Abuzanaid, director of the advocacy group US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
The deadly attack on July 3 claimed the lives of seven Palestinians and left over two dozen injured, three of them critically. In response, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian president, declared, “Our Palestinian people will not kneel, will not surrender, will not raise the white flag, and will remain steadfast on their land in the face of this brutal aggression.”
The audacious online message posted in March 2019 by Israel’s then-prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… but rather the nation-state of the Jewish people and only them,” adds to the situation’s complexity. The White House’s National Security Council reiterated its support for Israel’s security and right to defend its people against the activities of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups.
While Israel wages its largest military operation since 2002 on the Jenin refugee camp, resulting in the massacre of Palestinian civilians and a callous disregard for their lives, the Biden administration responds by continuing to provide aid to Israel, according to Ahmad Abuzanaid, director of the advocacy group US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has based its identity as a Jewish homeland on the demographic equation of achieving a Jewish majority in historic Palestine. However, this equation is increasingly implausible considering the existing demographic realities. There are 6.3 million Jews and 5.9 million Palestinians in Israel Proper and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).
Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen, praised the military’s efforts during an address to foreign journalists and accused Iran of funding Palestinian militant groups behind the violence. Israeli authorities claim that due to the funds received from Iran, the Jenin camp has become a centre for terrorist activity, justifying further targeted operations against Palestinians.
Palestinians reject these claims, asserting that the violence is a natural response to 56 years of occupation since Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war. Jenin has long been a stronghold of armed struggle against Israel and was a major flashpoint during the last Palestinian uprising.
Retired Israeli Brig. Gen Avivi, president and founder of the hawkish group Israel Defense and Security Forum, stated that the size of the force involved in the attack on the Jenin camp on July 3 suggests that the operation could last not just a few hours, but potentially a few days.
This raid took place two weeks after another violent confrontation in Jenin and following the military’s report of rockets fired from the area, which landed in the West Bank. Although the rockets caused no damage in Israel, they marked an escalation that raised concerns.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank this year, contributing to an extended period of violence that represents some of the worst bloodshed in the area in nearly two decades. Israel claims these raids are necessary to counter militants, while Palestinians argue that such violence is inevitable without any political process with Israel, compounded by increased West Bank settlement construction and extremist settler violence. Palestinians view the intensifying Israeli military presence as further entrenchment of Israel’s occupation of the territory.
The pillars of Israeli apartheid are the Law of Return (1950) and The Citizenship Law (1952), which grant Jews the freedom to immigrate to Israel and gain citizenship but deny the same right to Palestinian refugees, as guaranteed by United Nations Resolution 194. According to Azmi Bishara, an exiled Palestinian-Israeli politician and scholar, this constitutes a meta-form of apartheid, in which forced separation is upheld through decrees that prohibit the return of Palestinians to their lands.
Land confiscation for Jewish use within Israel Proper began in 1948 when the state was established and continues to this day. This expropriation is facilitated by various laws, including the Absentee Property Law of 1950, which designates all lands fled from in 1948 as State Property. When considered in the context of the Law of Return, the Law of Citizenship, and the denial of UN Resolution 194, the Absentee Property Law cynically conditions land expropriation on abandonment while systematically barring the entry of the land’s Palestinian owners, effectively enforcing abandonment.
Between 1948 and 1953, Israel established 370 new settlements exclusively for Jews, with 350 of them located on confiscated “absentee” property. Since 1978, settlement policies within the State have focused on settling Jewish populations in areas outside greater Tel Aviv, particularly in the Galilee, in an attempt to manipulate local demographics.
Land expropriation began in the Occupied Palestinian Territories after Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War. Since then, Israel has systematically confiscated Palestinian land in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank for settlement expansion. The situation is particularly severe in Jerusalem, where Israel has pursued a “Judaization” campaign by disproportionately favoring its Jewish residents.
It is imperative to exert pressure on Israel to make the Israeli public reconsider their government’s atrocities. Currently, Israel lacks the incentive to work towards peace since it controls all the land, resources, and enjoys immunity from criticism by Western governments, as well as the support of its Jewish population.
Where are the International Human Rights organizations (IHROs) like Amnesty International, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) Capital Punishment Justice Project, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, The Advocates for Human Rights, and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), the UN, and others? Their voices should be raised louder to put an end to Israel’s cruel system of domination over the Palestinian people and its crimes against humanity. Or will they choose to remain silent and serve as boot-lickers to superpowers and Israel?
We strongly condemn all Israeli violent actions in Palestine, which are often unprovoked and hostile. The international community, IHROs, and the UN must take decisive action to prevent Israel from using firearms against Palestinians in such a trigger-happy manner.