Jenin Invasion

Also known as Battle of Jenin. On April 3, 2002, Israeli forces attacked the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank as part of what it named Operation Defensive Shield, which was the largest military mobilization in the West Bank since the 1967 War. The Israeli military framed the invasion of the camp as a defensive measure against suspected militants, a response to six suicide bombings inside Israel in the two prior weeks that claimed 56 lives and injured hundreds. Allegations of a massacre in Jenin spread immediately after the operation. International media sources estimated casualties in the first days approaching the hundreds, and the final casualty numbers remain in dispute, hovering between 48 to 56 Palestinians, including civilians, and 23 to 33 Israeli soldiers. A large section of Jenin refugee camp was razed to the ground. Amnesty International reported that the Israeli military blocked humanitarian assistance to the camp and denied the Palestinian wounded medical assistance, and that the operation left 3,000 Palestinians homeless. Human Rights Watch criticized the Israeli military for destroying over 35 percent of the refugee camp. For Palestinians, the attack on the Jenin refugee camp quickly became an important symbol of Israel’s oppression and of heroic Palestinian resistance, while Israelis cite it as an example of baseless massacre allegations. See "Israel and the Occupied Territories Shielded from Scrutiny: IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus," Amnesty International, November 4, 2002; and "Jenin: IDF Military Operations," Human Rights Watch, May 2002. For a documentary film that follows several children from Jenin camp who became fighters during the invasion, see "Arna’s Children," by Juliano Mer-Khamis.

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