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Palestinian Officials Warn of Potential Gaza-like Massacres in West Bank Camps

Posted On: 30-05-2024 | Politics , National News , Human Rights
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Jenin / PNN / Munjed Jadou  

A number of Palestinian officials have warned that ministers from the extreme right-wing government led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are seeking to replicate the massacres carried out in Gaza in the refugee camps of the West Bank, particularly in the northern camps. They called on the international community to fulfil its responsibilities in stopping the continuous daily killing, demolition, and shelling in the northern West Bank.

In discussions with PNN, Palestinian officials described Israel's war as a systematic targeting of Palestinian refugee camps. They believe these camps are at the heart of the conflict, which Israel aims to resolve militarily after failing to end the issue through long years of negotiations with the Palestinian side during the peace process, which did not achieve the minimum of Palestinian national rights as enshrined in international covenants and norms.

Palestinians affirm that the war Israel is waging against Palestinian camps carries multiple dimensions, most importantly targeting centres of Palestinian struggle and resistance. These camps are seen as fortresses of revolutionary and militant activities, as the core of the Arab Israeli conflict is the Palestinian refugee issue. Israel aims to eradicate the idea of continued Palestinian resistance by targeting these camps.

Statistics from the Palestinian Ministry of Health indicate that the number of martyrs in the West Bank has reached 514 since October 7, including 127 from Jenin camp, with the highest numbers from Balata camp in Nablus and Nur Shams camp in Tulkarem, due to ongoing targeting of the camps.

Jenin Camp: The Most Targeted
Mohammad Al-Sabbagh, head of the Popular Committee for Services in Jenin Camp, noted during discussions with several ministers from the new Palestinian government who visited the camp, as posted on the committee's Facebook page, that Israeli targeting is increasing. The continuous aggression on Jenin city and its camp in recent days has led to the fall of martyrs and injured, and has caused extensive damage to roads, infrastructure, public facilities, commercial stores, and private properties.

Al-Sabbagh briefed the Palestinian ministers and all visiting entities on the destruction and devastation inflicted on the camp's infrastructure, public facilities, and residents' homes during the recent Israeli incursion. This incursion resulted in the martyrdom of 12 Palestinians, raising the number of martyrs in Jenin camp to 127 in recent months, in what he described as a recurring and ongoing Israeli massacre against all that is Palestinian – people, stones, and trees.

He stressed that Israel's repeated incursions aim to cause severe damage to roads, infrastructure, public facilities, commercial stores, water and electricity networks, and private properties.

Al-Sabbagh mentioned ongoing efforts to rehabilitate streets and restore water and electricity services to the camp residents, carried out by Jenin municipality teams in collaboration with equipment and machinery from nearby municipalities and village councils, and in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works, Civil Defence, the Electricity Company, and other partner institutions. However, he noted that every time there is an effort to restore normalcy, the occupation forces come and destroy everything again.

He confirmed that this deliberate and systematic destruction in Jenin city and its camp, as well as in other Palestinian cities, villages, and camps, is part of the continuous Israeli war of extermination on the Gaza Strip.

"We hope the government provides all possible support and resources to rebuild what the occupation has destroyed and to strengthen resilience amidst the unprecedented escalation by the extremist government," Al-Sabbagh added.

PLO: International Community Must Protect the Camps

Dr. Ahmed Abu Houli, head of the Refugee Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents the Palestinian people, believes that the Israeli attacks on West Bank camps are part of the ongoing targeting of the Palestinian people. This is a result of the devastating war in Gaza, the targeting of camps, and the incitement and assaults on UNRWA in Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank, affecting the lives of refugees in the five regions.

Dr. Abu Houli explained that the camps are experiencing difficult conditions due to increasing needs and repeated Israeli attacks. He emphasised that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is mandated to work with refugees and provide them with services in health, education, protection, and empowerment, as per Resolution 302.

Thouqan: What's Happening in Northern West Bank Camps Mirrors Gaza

Nancy Thouqan, Director of Northern West Bank Camps in the Refugee Affairs Department, stated that there is targeted Israeli aggression against camps in general, with a particular focus on those in the north due to their large Palestinian refugee population. She noted that these repeated systematic attacks occur across various stages, especially in the northern camps, due to their size and symbolic significance as centres of nationalism and resistance, representing the right of return and the legacy of the Nakba.

Thouqan told the Palestine News Network (PNN) that this systematic targeting exacerbates the difficult economic conditions faced by the refugees, making their lives even more challenging. The economic situation post-war is dire, especially with salary cuts, lack of employment in the occupied territories, and high unemployment rates within the camps. The occupation's actions and incursions further complicate the situation, forming part of an Israeli strategy to target the camps.

Thouqan asserted that the primary goal of this systematic targeting is to depopulate the camps and displace their residents, which also includes targeting UNRWA. For instance, the Jenin camp clinic has been repeatedly attacked by Israeli forces, rendering it non-operational and depriving thousands of refugees of essential health services.

She emphasised that all components of UNRWA are being targeted in a bid to shut it down and erase the right of return, which symbolises Palestinian refugee status. UNRWA stands as a witness to the Nakba and the ongoing plight of Palestinian refugees.

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