The clashes that occurred in Jenin on Monday, resulting in seven Israeli servicemen being wounded, mark a significant escalation by Palestinian terrorists against Israel, and highlight the Palestinian Authority’s failure to rein in the growing lawlessness in the West Bank.
Over the past year, there has been a troubling erosion of the PA’s control and its willingness to contain the rising attacks. The perpetrators behind these attacks include armed gangs, terrorists, and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Exploiting the power vacuum caused by the authority’s lack of governance, as well as Palestinians’ frustration therewith, these groups have entrenched themselves in Jenin and outlying areas of Samaria and have exploited them to plot and carry out attacks against Israelis.
The consequences are well-known
The consequences of allowing this infiltration and entrenchment of terror infrastructure to persist are well-known. The fact that the Israeli Defense Forces had to resort to calling in a helicopter to open fire on Monday underscores the gravity of the situation. We are witnessing a rising wave of terror, reminiscent of the dark days of the Intifadas, and the IDF has been actively working to dismantle this threat.
Recent attacks near Hermesh in the West Bank, targeting Jews, serve as a stark reminder of how dangerous the situation has become. The increasing use of rifles by terrorists in these attacks further demonstrates their growing sense of impunity, which has been reinforced by the Palestinian Authority’s shortcomings. Two decades after Operation Defensive Shield successfully defeated terrorism, a new generation seeks to revive the threats that compelled Israel to take action in 2002.
Jenin has been a center of terror for decades. If PA President Mahmoud Abbas fails to take decisive action, Israel must act to confront this imminent threat. While the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority enjoys foreign backing and recently sought alliances with countries like China as the leader of a quasi-state, the reality on the ground contradicts these diplomatic efforts. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other groups have openly praised the attacks in Jenin. Israel’s incursion into the city on Monday aimed to apprehend two wanted suspects, but the IDF encountered a massive amount of fire and numerous explosive devices were hurled at them, even striking and seriously damaging an armored vehicle.
In the aftermath of these clashes, it becomes evident that despite a year of operations to quell the wave of terror, there is still work to be done. On the one hand, we must avoid an escalation that would lead to more devastating battles in Jenin, where many civilians reside. We have witnessed how previous clashes have resulted in unjust condemnations of Israel, as terrorists hide among civilians and deliberately operate in congested streets. In the past, they have sought to turn Jenin into an armed camp, only to later claim that clashes between gunmen and Israeli soldiers were “massacres.”
However, if the Palestinian Authority fails to take meaningful action and the international community is unable to prod it into restoring law and order, we must continue our efforts to contain and reduce the terror threat. We cannot allow Jenin and its surrounding areas to become another Gaza, where enemies stockpile weapons, build explosive devices, and pose other forms of threats.
It is crucial to continue highlighting this threat to our allies in the West. The PA’s recent outreach to China may be an attempt to secure new patrons. Therefore, it is important that regional allies, such as Egypt and the Gulf States, persist in their efforts to confront extremist threats and encourage the Palestinian Authority to rein in terrorist gangs. Simultaneously, we must work diligently to prevent Hamas and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad from benefiting from the situation. Iran clearly aims to exploit this turmoil to threaten Israel, while Hamas – one of its local proxies – has expressed support for the attacks that took place on Monday.
We now have an opportunity to focus on the recent events in Jenin and exert pressure on Abbas to take more decisive action in restoring stability to the region. This approach aligns with a strategy that will benefit those in the neighborhood who desire peace and reject further escalation.