By Sarah L, Hope for Israel Staff Writer, July 4, 2023
This past week, the IDF executed its biggest military operation in Judea and Samaria since the Second Intifada (a Palestinian uprising against Israel between 2000-2005, characterized by numerous suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.) This week’s Operation Home and Garden began with dronestrikes on terror targets in the Palestinian city of Jenin as ground forces from several elite IDF units moved into position. Sadly, at the end of the operation, an IDF officer was killed by gunfire. Otherwise, the operation went smoothly and achieved its goals, IDF officials say.
Jenin was once a hub of shopping and night life for Israeli Arabs. However, over the last year and a half, the Palestinian Authority (or PA, a “temporary” body of governance formed during the Oslo Accords) has gradually lost control of northern Samaria, where Jenin sits. This has allowed for the infiltration and proliferation of terrorist networks, which have since gained de facto control over the area. This power shift began in 2020, when the PA announced a freeze on security coordination with Israel in protest of the Trump Peace Plan, which offered less land than previously promised to a future Palestinian State.
The emergence of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crash accelerated Jenin’s drift towards extremism. Many thousands of young men found themselves desperate, with no work and nowhere to go. This was especially the case in Jenin’s refugee camp, the epicenter of most of the terror.
At this point, Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, offered a “solution” for these teens and young men in the form of terrorist activity. Militants are offered money, purpose and a sense of belonging. In the years since COVID, over 50 terror attacks have been perpetrated by residents of Jenin and the surrounding area.
In light of this situation, Israel had two options. Either it could wait, allowing the terror infrastructure in Jenin to grow until it was strong enough to attack Israel unilaterally (as opposed to organizing affiliated lone-wolf attacks), or it could enter the city and attempt to regain control over the situation. The best option was to eliminate the growing terrorist infrastructure and restore deterrence.
During the two-day operation, IDF troops on the ground seized numerous terrorist assets, including massive weapons caches, some of which were hidden in tunnels under a mosque; around 1000 improvised explosive devices and an improvised rocket launcher, which were destroyed; chemicals for bomb making and hundreds of thousands in cash. IDF forces also arrested around 300 wanted individuals. 12 Palestinian terrorists were killed in the fighting. Tragically, an IDF non-commissioned officer was killed in a gun battle as Israeli forces withdrew from the city. Another IDF officer was slightly injured.
There has been radio silence from Western governments regarding the operation, despite Palestinian calls to condemnIsrael. This silent seal of approval shows Western recognition of Israel's right to self-defence and the necessity of the present mission.
Western media outlets, however, tend to show the Palestinian, more than the Israeli, side of the conflict. The most extreme example of this so far is by the BBC, which quoted, without qualifiers, a Palestinian minister’s claims that Israel was deliberately bombing Palestinian hospitals.
This is not only a major distortion of the events but also in direct opposition to the IDF’s iron-clad emphasis on the value of human life. Islamic militants in Judea, Samaria and Gaza have a history of hiding their terrorist assets in highly populated residential areas, often nearby or under schools, hospitals and mosques. In other words, in order to take out terrorist assets, the IDF often has to harm civilian infrastructure, making it easy for Palestinians to cry “war crimes!”
Many of the weapons caches discovered by Israeli forces during “Home and Garden” were hidden in mosques. As a result, some of the most intense battles of the operation occurred around and inside mosques. This shows the Palestinians’ lack of respect for their own holy places; they would rather blame Israel for harming a mosque than actually protect it.
During the IDF’s withdrawal from Jenin, they were attacked outside a hospital by Palestinian militants. Israeli forces used tear gas (which is fired from a gun in small canisters and does little to no long-term damage), to beat back the assault; the aforementioned Palestinian minister turned this into an opportunity to accuse Israel of bombing a hospital. It is difficult not to wonder whether the battle’s location was a coincidence or a PR stunt.
Two terror attacks have occurred in response to the operation. On Monday, a Palestinian teen carried out a stabbing attack in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak. He injured one man, who was evacuated to the hospital. The terrorist was neutralized.
A second, more injurious terror attack occurred Tuesday afternoon when a Palestinian man in his twenties from the city of Hebron entered Tel Aviv. He proceeded to ram into at least seven people, after which, he exited his car and began stabbing the victims. The terrorist was neutralized by an armed civilian on site and the victims evacuated to the hospital, one in serious condition.
5 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli border communities as the IDF withdrew from Jenin. All 5 were intercepted by Israel’s aerial defense system, the Iron Dome, although shrapnel from one caused some damage to Israeli property. Israel responded by striking two sites in the Gaza Strip which are used by Hamas for the production of rockets and other weapons.
In response to calls by the PA as well as France, the UAE, China and Brazil, the United Nations Security Council will hold a closed door meeting to discuss Israel’s actions in Jenin. The UNSC is known for singling out Israel for alleged human rights abuses while simultaneously appointing bad actors such as Venezuela, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to its Human Rights Council.
The situation is still developing in real time, so much of the fallout remains to be seen. Please keep Israel in your prayers!
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