Apart from the reasons that prompted the Israeli army to carry out its military operation in Jenin, dubbed ‘Operation Home and Garden’, the fact that Israeli forces withdrew from the camp without achieving the goals they had set out raises many questions about who made real achievements in this round of confrontation.
The army has announced that it intends to eliminate resistance groups, cleanse the camp, restore its control over it and impose the presence of the Palestinian Authority in it. However, none of these goals were achieved, according to Israel. Israelis evaluations noted that achieving such goals would mean invading the camp at its depth, which would come at a heavy cost of human casualties for the Israelis, something the army has sought to avoid by targeting resistance fighters from a distance, using drones and not engaging with them face to face.
Resistance fighters fought hard against the army, with its various infantry, surveillance and elite units. This confrontation showed that the resistance possessed strong field combat capabilities. In spite of not venturing too deep into the camp, the occupation army suffered the loss of one of its soldiers only a few hundred metres into it.
It was clear from the start that the army was not going to risk throwing its soldier into the hornets’ nest, instead it followed the scorched earth policy and displaced thousands of the camp’s residents.
The army aborted its latest aggression against Jenin, albeit temporarily, without achieving its declared targets, for many reasons. The army was afraid of facing surprises prepared by the resistance, and worried that its soldiers would enter an unknown world of the resistance groups’ capabilities, realities and tactics, about which they know nothing. Israel’s worst nightmares are scenes of destroyed tanks, burning vehicles, mutilated corpses and dead or captured soldiers.
Since the beginning of the aggression against Jenin, it was clear that the resistance formed many combat units whose tasks were mainly to guard the areas subject to invasion. They were stationed for monitoring and surveillance, and most of their work was carried out at night and at the lines of contact with the occupation, and at camp entrances.
Members of these units await their turn to carry out combat missions when the opportunity presents itself. The units seemed to be armed in similar ways where each unit is equipped with side and ground grenades, some of which are fixed in position, while others are moved as needed. Members of each group carry different weapons.
Fighters were working round the clock and had shift rotations for each group, which was organised and difficult work. The main task entrusted to them was the early warning and response to any decision to invade, and in the event news about Israeli troops mobilising arrived, the news was communicated and circulated to all groups. Other groups are also alerted even if it’s not their shift.
The Israeli army did not hide that its forces faced fierce resistance from fighters in Jenin. Resistance fighters holed up in predetermined locations at the outskirts of the camp, to surprise the Israeli occupation army, inflicted losses among its troops, in a war of attrition that is difficult for Israelis to bear. This prompted the political and military officials to end the operation before it was too late.
After 48 hours of aggression on Jenin, Israeli officers and soldiers all believed that the resistance built strong, organised groups made up of military formations that cannot be underestimated. They noted a sudden and unpredicted development of the performance of its fighters, as they fought precise battles with the army and not suicidal engagements. They demonstrated a high capacity for steadfastness, challenge and daring, as if they had received advanced training.
With the end of the aggression on Jenin, albeit temporarily, the Israeli press began accusing the army leadership and the government of concealing what happened in the camp. Some leaked information said that the soldiers could not bear the resistance they faced. Meanwhile, the resistance kept issuing and publishing some of the accounts of its fighters who were in direct contact with the soldiers, and their testimonies of what they witnessed throughout the fighting on the front lines in the face of a heavily armed occupier.
The occupation army managed its aggression against Jenin in a manner that reduced casualties in its ranks, as the fears of its soldiers were many. Soldiers’ main obsession was that they would be subjected to sniper operations, explosives and booby-trapped homes, with their biggest fear being getting captured.
On the other hand, the resistance adopted new tactics based on carefully studied steps and not hasty reactions. This gave it a bigger margin of action and a better opportunity to protect its men, enabling it to activate its tools effectively and efficiently. By tracking field developments, it succeeded in maintaining its capabilities and paced its participating effectively, without giving Israeli planes, deployed heavily in the skies of Jenin, a chance to harm its fighters.
Therefore, the Israeli ground advance towards the camp appeared to be very slow. Military vehicles advanced a few metres every hour, fearing the explosive devices planted by the resistance fighters. The army believed that fighters in Jenin were inspired by the ideas of the people of Gaza who used to confront the occupation soldiers face to face and followed a professional tactic in confronting the incursions. Their tactic focused on devising a counter-incursion for the purpose of setting up ambushes for the occupation. They did so through openings in houses, moving through them and preparing ambushes for the army to surprise it.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.