Conflicts & War

Israel cannot justify increase in aggression: Jenin governor

By Sara Gómez Armas

Jenin, West Bank, Mar 25 (EFE).- There is no justification for the increased Israeli aggression in the occupied West Bank, which has led to the deaths of 40 Palestinians in Jenin alone, the city’s governor has said.

Akram Rajoub spoke with reporters at his office in the city that has become a flashpoint for deadly Israeli raids in the region.

“There is no possible justification, nothing that Israel could say to justify its aggression, the rising number of raids and deaths in Jenin,” he said.

“The forces are unmatched. Even if there are weapons or militants who resist their (Israel’s) presence, this does not justify their actions. We are not in equal conditions, they have sophisticated weapons, tanks and missiles,” Rajoub, who is also a major general of the Palestinian security forces, said.

Jenin, a city of 350,000, is home to one of the biggest refugee camps in the region. Since the Second Intifada, the camp has become a bastion for militant Palestinian groups, which thrive on the lack of hope among the population.

Some 50% of the camp’s inhabitants are minors and the unemployment rate runs at 70%.

“These youngsters and adolescents have grown up seeing these violent Israeli incursions. They have witnessed death, all these families have several martyrs, and they have lost hope. The most dangerous thing is to have people who have lost everything, including hope,” Rajoub added.

For Israel, the Jenin camp is a hotbed for terrorism and Israeli raids on the camps to arrest suspects often descend into deadly clashes.

Of the 87 Palestinians killed in the West Bank so far this year, some 40 were in Jenin. At least 15 Israelis have also been killed in the unrest in what is the deadliest start to the year since 2000.

“Israel offers us nothing. There is no political solution. For these youngsters the only way to act is to take up arms. It is Israel that is pushing us towards armed resistance,” the governor added.

Rajoub criticized Israel’s “excessive use of force” and pointed to the raid carried out on January 26, which left dozens injured and at 10 dead in the most violent incursion into the camp since the Second Intifada.

“Only four bodies had weapons on them, which means they killed six unarmed civilians, including an old woman who came to her window to see what was happening when shots were fired.

“There are many cases where children and women, unarmed civilians, have been assassinated by Israel,” the governor said, referring to last month’s killing oa 15-year-old girl who was allegedly shot by an Israeli soldier while playing with her cat.

The deadly events of January 26 seem further and further away. The Israeli raids, which almost always take place at night, are ceaseless.

Six killed two weeks ago, four killed last week, another three last month.

“It has become a routine in the last year and a half,” Rajoub said.

“One day they killed three people in less than a minute,” he added, accusing Israel of fueling radical groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“The presence and influence of Hamas — which de facto governs the Gaza Strip — is clear and palpable,” said Rajoub, a member of the secular Fatah party, which controls the Palestinian National Authority and is at odds with Hamas.

Israel does not maintain direct contact with Hamas but it does with the PNA to coordinate security policies that benefit both Israel and Palestine. EFE

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