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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Israeli troops complete withdrawal from Jenin refugee camp – but Palestinians’ deep hatred has only hardened | World News

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Jenin refugee camp is a mess.

The Israeli soldiers have left, completing their withdrawal in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a 48-hour operation – the biggest in 20 years.

They’ve left behind a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank steaming with anger.

We watched the bodies of young men, celebrated as martyrs and carried to their burial at noon prayers, hands shielding their bare lifeless faces from the scorching sun.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said they only killed armed militants, but this has been disputed.

Diggers are clearing rubble on streets, many of which are still virtually impassable.

Electricity is still out and much of the camp is without running water.

The wreckage of blown-up cars straddles pavements.

Jenin - Bunkall eyewitness

Families who fled to safety are now returning to find their homes damaged by conflict.

We saw windows blown out by airstrikes, yards from where children were sleeping, glass still in the beds and cots.

‘Rocket landed by neighbour’s house’

Ala Walad lives in the Jenin refugee camp with 11 family members. They had to escape to a relative’s house nearby once the operation started.

She said: “A rocket landed by our neighbours’ house.

“Like you can see here the kids were sleeping on this bed. We tried in the fastest way possible to remove the kids and take them outside the house.”

Jenin - Bunkall eyewitness
Image:
Ala Walad

In other houses, holes have been knocked out to make Israeli sniper positions.

Some families show us the remnants of munitions that landed in their homes.

Jaber, his wife and young children were woken up when a rocket came through the roof of the kitchen. Their young baby was sleeping in his cot just metres away but was unharmed.

Jenin - Bunkall eyewitness
Image:
A rocket came through Jaber’s home

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‘The clean-up operation has begun’

‘No one helps us’

Outside, 13-year-old Sadeel burst into tears recalling the night she and her uncle had to leave their homes because of the fighting:

“They fired at people and forced them to flee. People were martyred, arrested, everything…

“Here in the Jenin camp we help everyone but no one stands with us. No one helps us.”

Drones still buzz overhead, a constant reminder that the Israeli military never completely leaves.

Jenin - Bunkall eyewitness

Read more:
Israel begins withdrawing troops from Jenin as Gaza is hit by airstrikes
Israel hopes its West Bank raid will prevent terror attacks but previous operations have failed to calm tensions

Dr Pele Serrano, from Doctors Without Borders, told us his staff had barely slept since the start of the operation treating gunshot wounds, and ambulances still cannot get proper access to the camp because of the blocked roads.

The medic said: “We don’t know how many casualties are still inside the camp.

“We cannot go inside the camp. We are planning to go but the streets are completely blocked. So, we don’t know if there are more wounded and dead people inside the camp.”

The Israeli operation might have achieved its military objectives – to kill militants, seize weapons and gather intelligence – but the successes will only be temporary.

The deep hatred here has only hardened.



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