Since the beginning of 2023, twenty eight Israeli citizens were brutally murdered in Palestinian terrorist attacks. More than two hundred and seventy Israeli citizens were injured. The various methods used for attacking Israeli civilians included car rammings, drive by shootings, the launching of rockets, to stabbings. The common aspect is that they target uninvolved Israeli civilians, using innocent Palestinians as human shields, constituting a double war crime.
In this context, there was a sharp increase in the attacks emerging from Judea and Samaria and from Jenin in particular. The district of Jenin was responsible for more terror attacks than any other district in the West Bank.
Further manifestations of the Jenin terror machine, were additional incidents.
On May 26th two rockets were launched from the city of Jenin. The rockets fell short and exploded within the territory of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The rockets launched reflected an ongoing effort by terrorist organizations, operating in northern Samaria and Jenin, to upgrade airborne projectiles for attacking Israelis.
On June 19th, an IDF and Border Patrol’s operation to arrest terrorists in Jenin was met with heavy fire, including a large number of explosive devices, fired at the forces and placed underground ahead of time. This was further proof that the district known as the Jenin refugee camp – housing thousands of residents in a very densely populated area – had become an epi-center for terror activity.
For these reasons, the Israeli government launched a counter-terrorism effort in Jenin.
During this brief operation, twelve Palestinian terrorists were killed, and a large part of the terror infrastructure in Jenin was diminished. There were zero civilian casualties. Despite it being a densely civilian populated area, chosen by the Palestinians terrorists as their home base, Israeli forces made a conscious effort to avoid harm to innocent Palestinians, bringing civilian casualties down to zero.
A few points are worthy of stressing. Firstly, the Israeli forces have no interest in entering the Palestinian Authority areas. They do this out of necessity, to prevent the murder of Israeli citizens. It is incumbent upon every country to act in self-defense to prevent the murder of citizens. If there was no terrorism emanating from the PA, then there would be no Israeli incursions.
Israel makes a clear distinction between militants and innocent Palestinian civilians. Even while the operation was taking place, the entry of Palestinian laborers into Israel continued and the routine of civil activity throughout Judea and Samaria was maintained.
The current wave of terrorism reflects the weakness of the Palestinian Authority. The terrorist organizations, PIJ and Hamas, are taking advantage of the unstable governance of the PA and its refusal to act against the terrorist entities. These proxy forces are supported by Iran, which does not have the good interests of the Palestinian people or the PA at heart.
An additional point relates to the role of the media and some in the International community. While many recognize Israel’s right of self-defense, others do a disservice to regional peace, to Israelis and even to the interests of the Palestinian people. There is no moral equation between the Palestinian terrorist attacks and Israel’s actions of self-defense. Israel’s actions are not random raids. The blind support extended to the PA, and knee jerk opposition to Israeli actions, does not serve truth, justice or even the Palestinian interests. Rabbi Lee, who lost his wife and two daughters in a terrorist attack, wrote an article about the “silent Palestinians” who despise the terrorists and wish for their removal, just as much as the Israelis.
The citizens of Israel do query why the basic right of self-defense, extended to every country in the world, is questioned or denied in relation to Israel.
Those who truly aspire to co-existence in the Middle East, should draw conclusions from the Abraham Accords, signed between Israel and four additional Arab states. This normalization proved once again that the obstacle to peace in the Middle East has always been the rejection of Israel and the lack of willingness to come to terms with Israel’s existence as a state, in any borders. Once they were willing, we had normalization. That is also the key issue with the Palestinians. The problem is not Israel’s recognition of them, but their willingness to come to terms with Israel’s existence. The cry “from the river to the sea” is not a call for the two state solution, but for the annihilation of Israel.
Under the Oslo accords, the idea promoted was “territories for peace”. It failed, because Israel, time and time again, relinquished territories, yet received no peace. Due to endless blind support, pampering and indulgence offered to the Palestinians, they understood that there was no demand of accountability for their actions.
Those aspiring for peace and co-existence between Israel and the Palestinians, should encourage Palestinian acceptance of Israel as an entity in the region. They should join Israel in condemning Palestinian incitement, terrorism and PA direct and indirect support of violence.
It is time for the Palestinians to take responsibility, and for the International Community to demand such accountability.
Hillel Newman is the Consul General of The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles.