The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began a large-scale operation Monday against targets in Jenin, a city in the West Bank that Israel claims is a “terrorist stronghold.” As of the time of this report, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has reported nine deaths and approximately 100 injuries as a result of the operation.
The IDF’s Jenin operation is a combination of ground raids by hundreds of IDF soldiers and arial strikes by drone. Some Palestinian fighters returned fire against the IDF troops in what one observer called, “[V]ery difficult.”
After the initial strike, Israeli bulldozers destroyed the surrounding streets to prevent movements of Jenin combatants. Critics say the destruction of roads prevents ambulances from reaching the wounded. Additionally, other videos show IDF vehicles blocking ambulances from using roads. This may violate Article 3.2 of the Geneva Convention, on conflicts not of an international character. Article 3.2 requires that “the wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.” Israel ratified the Geneva Convention in 1951.
The Times of Gaza also reported, “[F]ive journalists who were covering the invasion of Jenin were attacked by the Israeli occupation forces.” If true, this may violate Article 19 of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides the right to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds.” Israel is also a state party to the ICCPR.
However, the IDF says that false claims are being made against their operation. The IDF claims that they are only targeting “terrorist infrastructure” in Jenin. On their Twitter page, the IDF published a satellite image of Jenin. The map includes a site labeled as an operations center for the Jenin Brigade, a newly-formed armed group of Palestinian combatants. The site the IDF targeted is also located in a refugee camp, near a school and across the street from a medical facility.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, international spokesperson for the IDF, said, “[W]e are acting against their ‘safe havens,'” referring to the idea that terrorist organizations in Palestine use innocent civilians as human shields. According to the IDF, there was a moral imperative for Monday’s strike. They say, “[W]e will not standby idle while terrorists continue to harm civilians using Jenin Camp as a hideout.”
In a letter to the UN Security Council, permanent observer for the UN’s Palestinian mission Dr. Riyad Mansour condemned the attacks. Mansour wrote, “Is it not clear for all the world to see that Israel’s terrorism and aggression against the Palestinian people is escalating and becoming ever more brutal, invasive and hateful as it becomes ever more emboldened by the inaction of the international community.” Mansour went on to reference the mission’s previous 795 letters to the UN, including the most recent one from June 21, documenting the ongoing attacks between Israel and Palestine.
Previously, in January, UN and international non-governmental organizations condemned the rising violence in Jenin. More recently, on June 23, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called Friday for an “immediate end” to violence in the West Bank, citing the death of at least 126 Palestinians and 24 Israelis so far this year.