After 48 hours of pounding the one square kilometre Jenin refugee camp, one thousand Israeli occupation troops from the most elite units equipped with helicopters, drones, bulldozers and more than 250 armoured vehicles retreated. They left behind a trail of death and destruction: 12 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 were wounded; 300 homes were completely destroyed and between 400 and 500 were damaged.
Israeli military and political figures declared that the military offensive on Jenin and its refugee camp was intended to kill or detain “terrorists” – Palestinian resistance fighters – who set off from Jenin to carry out attacks against Israeli targets in the occupied West Bank and the apartheid state itself.
They announced that one objective of the offensive was the destruction of “terror” infrastructure, including factories producing improvised explosive devices. The Israeli media said that two of the unannounced aims of the massive offensive were to reimpose the control of the Palestinian Authority security services over the territory (this was security collaboration between the PA and the occupation state at its most obvious) and get the Palestinian people to turn against the legitimate Palestinian resistance fighters.
The goals of the two-day Israeli “operation” in Jenin were “fully achieved,” claimed Defence Minister Yoav Gallant following the withdrawal. “We brought down the terror factory that was built in Jenin. These were many dozens of sites that hosted bomb workshops, labs, weapons caches, as well as security means guarding the entrances to the camp.” Bragging about the alleged achievements, he insisted that, “We have the capability to copy this to other locations [in order to counter] terrorism.”
Al Jazeera reported a spokesman of the Israeli occupation army as saying that, “The operation was difficult and complicated, but it achieved big results.”
The Palestinian resistance fighters disagreed. “The resistance is strong and the Israeli operation failed to achieve its goals,” they said in a joint statement. “The Israeli occupation forces failed to detain fighters who exchanged fire with them at point-blank range.”
In separate statements, the Palestinian political factions and their military wings also said that the Israeli occupation authorities failed to achieve their objectives, because the resistance fighters defeated the Israeli troops. In doing so they were backed by people across Jenin and its refugee camp, mainly in the areas that suffered the most destructive Israeli attacks.
It was not only the Palestinians who believe that Israel was the biggest loser in Jenin; many others do as well, not least Israeli analysts and media. The offensive against Jenin achieved nothing, Al Jazeera reported a leading Israeli newspaper as saying; the only surprise throughout the offensive was the use of lethal force by the Israeli occupation army.
However, said Haaretz, the resistance surprised everyone by its ability to be involved in a continuous exchange of fire that lasted for 48 hours, using new weapons that damaged Israeli military equipment. The fighters demonstrated their successful coordination and cooperation during the operation.
The newspaper also pointed out that the Palestinians were able to carry out resistance attacks at the same time that the offensive was taking place. This was a reference to an attack near the illegal settlement of Kedumim in the occupied West Bank, in which an Israeli soldier was killed, and another attack in Tel Aviv which wounded eight people.
“We have to say the truth,” admitted Israeli Channel 13 TV. “The problem of Jenin was not resolved… We failed to reinstate the sovereignty of the PA and its security services in Jenin… It is still the inspiration for fighters.” The Israeli media reiterated that the Israeli occupation army did not start the offensive before getting intelligence about the fighters, their potential movements and their weapon caches.
According to the Israeli reports, the army justified its inability to kill or detain as many fighters as it had planned by claiming that they either fled the battle or hid among civilians. However, hundreds of videos on social media showed fighters moving on the streets of Jenin.
Regarding the intention to incite the people against the resistance and the reinstatement of the PA, Foreign Policy cited anonymous Israeli “senior political sources” as telling reporters that the goal of the latest Jenin operation was “to prepare the ground for the return of the Palestinian Authority.” However, it added that, “In the wake of Israel’s withdrawal from Jenin, Palestinians seemed defiant, claiming victory, attacking the PA for its weakness and praising those martyred in the Israeli incursion.”
Reuters reported that the Palestinian fighters paraded in Jenin following the Israeli withdrawal and angry crowds confronted senior PA officials, accusing them of weakness, after one of the largest Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank in years. At a funeral of some martyrs, the crowds confronted PA officials, chanting: “Get out! Get out!” They forced them to leave under the protection of guards who used tear gas to push the crowds back.
A group of fighters taking refuge in one of the evacuated houses found a letter from its owners explaining the entry and exit points of the house; telling them where to find food and water, and even cash if needed. “I do not care about anything in the house,” wrote the owner, “I am only concerned about your safety. Feel free to do anything for the sake of your safety.”
According to the Deputy Leader of Hamas, Saleh Al-Arouri, “As usual, the Israeli occupation is losing. We do not count the victory with the number of fatalities and the size of damage, but with the inability of the Israeli occupation army to achieve its goals compared with the development of the Palestinian resistance and its capabilities.”
On the basis of the latter, it is obvious that the occupation state suffered a resounding defeat in the latest battle of Jenin.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.