Palestine: Jenin operation marks violent half-year for Israel’s government

Published 06. Jul 2023
Israel’s incursion into Jenin refugee camp marks six months during which Israel’s government has matched the record for killing Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have employed unwarranted lethal force, forcibly displaced Palestinians and destroyed their homes with impunity.

This year is on track to be the deadliest year in the occupied West Bank since the UN began recording casualties in 2005. Since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power late last year, conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory have rapidly deteriorated. At least 152 Palestinians, including 28 children, have been killed in the West Bank, matching last year’s record. The majority of those killed were shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition.

“Settlement expansion, home demolitions and violence perpetrated by Israeli forces and settlers are increasing humanitarian suffering and fuelling further tensions across the West Bank. Third states must demand that Israeli authorities respect and protect the rights of Palestinians, abide by the provisions of the law of occupation and applicable rules on the use of lethal force, and work to de-escalate the ongoing violence,” said Caroline Ort, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director for Palestine.

This week, at least 12 Palestinians, including at least four children, were killed and over a 100 injured during Israel’s incursion into Jenin refugee camp. More than 3,500 refugees have fled the camp and become internally displaced as Israeli airstrikes and bulldozers damaged homes, roads and other civilian infrastructure, including electricity and water supplies.

“Less than 48 hours of Israeli attacks on Jenin camp have caused death, displacement and destruction. Using air raids on an overcrowded refugee camp is beyond any acceptable level of use of force,” said Ort. “The never-ending cycles of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory are a clear sign of the collective failure of the international community to uphold accountability and protect Palestinians.”

This year is also on course to surpass 2022’s record-setting year for settler attacks and demolitions by Israel in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

At least 447 Palestinian structures, including 61 that were funded through international aid, were demolished or seized by Israeli forces during the first six months of 2023. The number included homes, water and sanitation facilities, agricultural structures, and a school. Last year, 391 structures were demolished during the same period.

“Israeli demolitions have displaced 685 Palestinians this year. Three communities have also been forcibly transferred due to ongoing settler violence and demolitions,” said Ort.

The UN has documented more than 441 settler attacks in the first half of this year, compared to 343 during the same period last year. Attacks have ranged from physically assaulting Palestinians to damaging property, including in multiple large-scale attacks in which dozens of settlers have rampaged through Palestinian communities attacking civilians and causing widespread destruction. Israeli authorities have also promoted more than 13,000 new settlement housing units so far this year - another record number.

Settler violence is often overlooked by Israeli forces and even encouraged by officials and ministers in the Israeli government. The attacks are rarely investigated by Israeli authorities. Sometimes they are perpetrated under the protection or with the assistance of Israeli forces.

Israeli authorities must protect Palestinians and prevent any military or settler-perpetrated attacks and take appropriate measures to hold accountable those violating international law.