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Palestinians 'in constant anxiety' after Jenin massacre

Palestinians in Jenin live in 'constant anxiety' after Israeli massacre
5 min read
West Bank
01 February, 2023
"The general impression is that Israeli raids are becoming only more violent and bloody and that they will continue, which has forced people to live every day at the edge of fear, expecting the next raid and the next victim," said a resident.
Isralei forces have killed 20 Palestinians including 6 children in Jenin since the beginning of 2023. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp live in "a constant state of anxiety" almost a week after an Israeli raid killed nine Palestinians in the camp, last Thursday, said residents.

On Sunday, a 24-year-old Palestinian, Omar Saadi, died of wounds from Israeli gunfire during Thursday's raid, bringing the total killed in a single Israeli raid to ten.

Jenin city and its refugee camp have been the focus of Israeli raids for more than a year. Since the Israeli escalation began, more than 40 Palestinians were killed throughout 2022 in Jenin alone.

Since the beginning of 2023, Israeli forces have killed 36 Palestinians, of whom 20 were killed in Jenin, including 6 minors under the age of 18 and a 61-year-old elderly woman.

"The general feeling expressed by people in the camp is one of constant anxiety and fear," Mustafa Shita, director of the Jenin Freedom Theater, told The New Arab.

"People feel anxious because the raid on Thursday was the most violent in years, to the point that it brought back memories of the 2002 invasion," said Shita.

"The general impression is that Israeli raids are becoming only more violent and bloody and that they will continue, which has forced people to live every day at the edge of fear, expecting the next raid and the next victim," he said.

"The anger is because residents feel that they are vulnerable, at the receiving end of Israeli aggression, only reacting to it, and many people are asking how long will this situation continue," he added. "This has motivated most residents to grow support to the idea of resistance and to the fighters who confront the occupation forces at every raid, and this support is at its highest in years."

Since the beginning of last year, Palestinian fighters in Jenin have organised into several groups, mainly the "Jenin Brigade", linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ), and the "Hornets Nest", which gathers fighters from all political affiliations.

Palestinian fighters have also been increasingly confronting Israeli raids with gunfire.

"Fighters in the camp and from around Jenin region are mostly very young, and they have become used to the occupation's raids that they no longer have any fear," Najat Butmeh, director of the women and children's centre in Jenin and a school teacher, told TNA.

"But the fear is felt by the rest of residents, mainly parents and older people, because the occupation forces do not only kill fighters," she added.

Many of the victims of the Israeli violence in Jenin have been unarmed civilians.

On Thursday, 61-year-old neighbour Majida Obeid was killed by an Israeli sniper as she came out to look from her balcony. Earlier in January, 58-year-old Jawad Bawaqneh, a teacher, was also killed while helping the wounded by Israeli fire.

"The social bounds between people make the entire community feel and react to every loss, and the burden on the population has grown too heavy," said Butmeh. "Mourners from across Jenin continue to pour into the houses of the victims' families, trying to provide support."

"At the same time, the population is trying to improve readiness, like at the women's centre where we have already requested a first aid course for women to be able to treat the wounded at home," she added.

Israeli forces' massacre in Jenin on Thursday was followed by a wave of protests in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Israeli forces countered protests by shooting live and rubber bullets and tear gas in several places, killing one 26-year-old protester in Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem.

Israeli forces continued to raid the Jenin region through the beginning of the week, attacking the towns of Fahmah and Arraba, southeast of Jenin on Tuesday. No casualties were reported.

The Israeli escalation in the West Bank continued in the midst of US secretary of state Anthony Blinken's visit to the country.

On Tuesday, Blinken concluded his visit by meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Following the meeting, Blinken said that the US opposes Israel's settlement expansion and home demolitions, as they make the two-states-solution "more difficult".

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On Monday, Blinken met with Israeli prime minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where he called on Israelis and Palestinians "to take steps to calm tensions rather than inflame them".

Blinken also condemned the two shootings in Jerusalem, carried out by Palestinians, that left at least seven Israelis killed and many wounded.

Blinken expressed "sorrow" for Palestinian victims of Thursday's massacre in Jenin after the number of its casualties had risen to 10 with the death of 24-year-old Omar Saadi of his wounds, saying that Palestinian casualties "were quite regrettable".

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The New Arab Staff & Agencies