Why is Jenin a focal point of conflict in the occupied West Bank?

Israeli forces have launched the largest military operation against the Jenin refugee camp in two decades.

The Israeli military operation against the Jenin refugee camp is the largest since the 2000-2005 Second Intifada, a mass Palestinian uprising against Israel’s decades-long occupation.

At least eight Palestinians have been killed so far in Jenin, including two children. Israeli forces also shot a ninth Palestinian dead near Ramallah.

Here’s what you should know about Jenin, a focal point of conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

Refugee camp

  • A city in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jenin houses a crowded refugee camp by the same name with a population of some 14,000 people.
  • Residents of the Jenin camp are descendants of Palestinians dispossessed of their land and homes when the state of Israel was created in 1948.
  • Jenin has one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty among 19 refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).


  • In 2002, Israel launched a major assault on the Jenin refugee camp, which was the scene of some of the worst violence during the Second Intifada.
  • A UN report issued in August 2002, said 52 Palestinians were killed in Jenin, with as many as half being civilians.
  • Israel lost 23 soldiers in Jenin.
  • The report listed more Israeli than Palestinian abuses, especially Israel’s refusal to let humanitarian workers enter the camp. But it also said Palestinian fighters were located in civilian homes.
  • More than 400 homes were destroyed during the Israeli assault and more than a quarter of the population was left homeless, according to UNRWA, which coordinated and implemented the reconstruction of the camp.

Renewed violence

  • Jenin has emerged as a flashpoint during a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has convulsed the occupied West Bank for more than a year. Deadly confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters in the area have been a regular occurrence.
  • Last month, Palestinian fighters and Israeli troops waged an hours-long battle in Jenin in which six Palestinians were killed and more than 90 wounded.
  • Seven Israeli soldiers were wounded.
  • Four Israelis were later killed near a Jewish settlement and settlers attacked Palestinian towns, torching houses and cars.
  • In January, Israeli forces killed seven fighters and two civilians in a raid in Jenin. The following day, a gunman killed seven people near a synagogue in an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem before being fatally shot.

  • Several armed groups have a presence in Jenin, including Islamic Jihad. Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the armed wing of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction also have a presence.
  • Fighters in the refugee camp operate under the umbrella of the Jenin Brigades.
  • Al Jazeera’s veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was shot and killed by Israeli forces while covering an Israeli raid on Jenin last year.
  • Abu Akleh’s family believes she was killed deliberately by Israeli forces and witnesses to the incident have said there were no Palestinian fighters firing in the area where she was standing.

Source: Reuters