Following fifteen years of relative quiet, Jenin has again become a “focal point for militant organizations competing for status,” write Shany Mor and Joe Truzman. This is in part because of the anticipated demise of the “ill and aged Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.” Mor and Truzman outline the recent history of the city and the particular threat it poses today.
In the world of Palestinian militancy, Jenin is regarded as the bastion of Palestinian “resistance” in the West Bank, both past and present. It serves as a hub for several U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, along with other Islamist organizations.
During the second intifada, from 2000 to 2005, terrorists used Jenin as a launch point to carry out numerous suicide bombings inside Israeli cities and communities. Due to repeated terrorist attacks originating from the West Bank in 2002, the Israeli government authorized the Israel Defense Force to enter Jenin as a part of a broad military operation to remove the threat.
That battle left its scars on all sides. For the Israelis, it was mostly remembered for the high number of combat losses, including an ambush that killed thirteen reservists, by far the IDF’s biggest setback during the entire 2002 offensive. Indignation and frustration with foreign media and human-rights organizations reporting on a “massacre” that hadn’t actually happened permanently cemented a skepticism about global public opinion that had until then been a province of parts of the [Israeli] right alone.
For Palestinians, the battle left memories of effective resistance.