After a tragic raid in the West Bank led to rocket fire between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories stayed tense but peaceful. However, things did not get better.
According to a statement from the Israeli army, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) went into the Jenin refugee camp around 7 a.m. local time (5 a.m. GMT) on Thursday. They did this because they had information that a group linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad was planning to attack soon. The Jenin refugee camp is in the north of the area that is being occupied.
Several groups of Palestinian terrorists have taken credit for the deaths of two civilians and seven men who died in the intense firefight that followed. Residents of the camp said that the recent violence was the worst they had seen since the second Palestinian uprising in the 2000s. Since the UN started keeping records in 2005, the raid’s death toll is the highest in a single Israeli operation that has been linked to Israeli forces.
The events that happened in Jenin on Thursday caused the Palestinian Authority, which has limited power in the West Bank, to say that it would stop working with Israel on security. Also, the events in Jenin led to fights in other places. During protests that turned violent at checkpoints near Ramallah and in East Jerusalem, soldiers shot and killed two more Palestinians.
Six rockets were fired from the Islamist-controlled Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Friday night. Four of the missiles were stopped by the Iron Dome air defense system. As a response, the Israeli Defense Forces bombed what they said were two military installations in the middle of Gaza. Both the fire from Gaza and the fire from Israel seemed to be small, and there were no reports of injuries from either side.
Friday, at a rally in Gaza City that drew thousands of people, the leader of Islamic Jihad said that the attack that started in Gaza was their fault. The group Islamic Jihad is more violent and has less power than the government of the strip, which is run by Hamas.
It looked like the efforts of foreign mediators to ease tensions were successful, since there were no obvious signs of a conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip like the ones that have happened many times since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007.
Even though there were a lot of Israeli police around during Friday prayers, the holy al-Aqsa mosque compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which is often a spark for violence, stayed calm.
Concerns that the conflict that can’t be solved could get out of hand again haven’t been put to rest much, though. Israeli troops have been going after Palestinian groups in Jenin and the nearby city of Nablus for the past nine months as part of a military campaign. The events of Thursday took place against this background. This campaign was started because of a wave of terrorist attacks by Palestinians that killed a lot of people in the spring.
The number of people who died in 2022 was the highest it had been since 2004. More than 250 Palestinians and 30 Israelis were killed in the West Bank. According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, another 49 people were killed when Israel bombed Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip without warning in August. Three days were spent fighting. 31 Palestinians have died so far this month, as of today.
A poll that was just released shows that support on both sides for the stalled peace process is at an all-time low. People are worried that the recent election of the most right-wing Israeli government ever will make things even worse.
Antony Blinken, who is the Secretary of State for the United States, will go to Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank in the next week to take part in talks there. In a statement released Thursday, the US Department of State said it was “deeply alarmed” by the violence and asked all sides to stop making things worse.
Palestinian officials say that the UN, Egypt, and Qatar have all called for calm in similar ways, and that the UN Security Council will meet on Friday behind closed doors to discuss the worsening security situation.