analysisIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

The IDF is dismantling Jenin’s terror infrastructure

The Israel Defense Forces has set a new precedent of intensified yet focused security operations, which it can now repeat.

IDF bulldozers enter Jenin as Israel begins a major aerial and ground offensive in the city, July 3, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
IDF bulldozers enter Jenin as Israel begins a major aerial and ground offensive in the city, July 3, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Yaakov Lappin
Yaakov Lappin
Yaakov Lappin is an Israel-based military affairs correspondent and analyst. He is the in-house analyst at the Miryam Institute; a research associate at the Alma Research and Education Center; and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is a frequent guest commentator on international television news networks, including Sky News and i24 News. Lappin is the author of Virtual Caliphate: Exposing the Islamist State on the Internet. Follow him at: www.patreon.com/yaakovlappin.

The Israel Defense Forces’ intensified security operation in Jenin entered its second day on Tuesday, and looked to be on track to achieving its goal of shattering the concept of Jenin as a terrorist haven out of reach of the Israeli military.

The operation exposed some of the systems set up by terrorists—consisting of local operatives as well as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas members—that had made Jenin so challenging for ordinary Israeli security missions recently: War rooms where operatives received video feeds and radio communications from across the city, and coordinated the activities of gunmen; hundreds of weapons, large quantities of explosive devices hidden in underground bunkers; and the beginnings of a rocket production industry.

These threats, collectively dubbed by the defense industry as “terror infrastructure,” are being systematically eliminated by a brigade-sized IDF force comprising mostly special units, backed by unmanned aerial vehicle firepower, that moved into the city overnight Sunday.

Some 10 Palestinian combatants had been killed by Monday noon, with the majority of the remaining hundreds of terrorist gunmen choosing to go underground and avoid clashing with the IDF, which surprised them with its entrance into the city from multiple directions. Dozens of terror suspects have been arrested.

Dozens of IEDs and other bombs were found and neutralized by special forces, as were bomb-making labs.

IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari stated on Sunday evening that precise intelligence enabled the launch of the operation, which is focused on “dismantling terrorist infrastructure, seizing weapons, apprehending terror suspects and preventing future attacks.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were no reports of noncombatant casualties, and the IDF has enabled civilians to evacuate Jenin Camp during the operation. Hagari stressed that air power was used in a minimal manner, precisely, to protect IDF units on the ground.

According to IDF figures, some 50 terror attacks targeting Israelis over the past 18 months can be traced back to Jenin. Twenty-five Israelis have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks since the start of 2023.

The first airstrike, which occurred after 1 a.m. on Monday, targeted a terrorist headquarters located next to an UNRWA facility, a school and a medical center.

Due to the small-diameter munitions employed in the strike, none of the civilian sites were damaged.

A mosque in Jenin camp was found later on Sunday to have been used as a cover for terror activity, with a tunnel dug underneath it and a weapons storage center placed there, according to Hagari.

No less importantly, some 2,000 residents of Jenin traveled to work in Israel on Sunday, and more than 100,000 Palestinians from Judea and Samaria worked in Israel, as goods continued to arrive in the city, and no curfew was placed on it.

As such, the IDF’s precedent for stepped-up security operations has now been established. Once intelligence and conditions are ripe, the IDF will be able to repeat this action—though it will be hoping that the Palestinian Authority regains some of its ability to rule northern Samaria instead. 

So long as the power vacuum in the Jenin and Nablus sectors continues, PIJ, Hamas, Iran and local terror factions will be sure to fill the space, necessitating further such action. 

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