Residents of the Jenin refugee camp are blaming the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for this week’s two-day Israeli military incursion, laying bare divisions within the Palestinian terrorist groups.
Significant numbers of Hamas operatives feel betrayed by their leaders in Gaza and have quit in anger. The aftermath also exposes a widening rift in the Strip between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
On Wednesday morning, after Israeli soldiers left the camp, the enormous extent of the damage became clearly visible. Dozens of overturned vehicles lay on the sides of roads and soot marks were visible on windows and walls.
Houses close to the al-Ansar mosque—where terrorists had barricaded themselves and where Israeli forces found tunnels and weapons—were significantly more damaged.
The destruction was clearly visible on the roads, the result of terrorists placing explosive charges under the asphalt. The Israel Defense Forces used armored bulldozers to clear away the improvised explosive devices.
Funerals for the 12 terrorists killed during the two days of fighting were already underway. No noncombatants were killed.
On Tuesday night, after Israeli forces withdrew from the camp, hundreds of residents came out and shouted slogans condemning Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a “traitor.” Residents accused the P.A. of not preventing the raid and even cooperating with Israel. A P.A. police station near Jenin was set on fire.
Anger was also directed at Hamas for not coming to the camp’s aid. During the two days of fighting, Hamas prevented Gaza terrorist groups from firing rockets at Israel. At least one of the thwarted launches was being carried out by Islamic Jihad.
On Tuesday night, as soldiers were leaving the camp, five rockets were fired from the Strip, drawing Israeli retaliatory airstrikes on two Hamas weapons-making facilities.
A significant number of Hamas operatives in the camp have quit the organization, feeling betrayed by the Gaza leadership.
They delivered an angry message to the Gaza leaders saying they no longer want to be seen as part of Hamas.
“Don’t use us for your propaganda purposes only, and don’t brag about the green ribbons [the organization’s color] we tie on our foreheads, because for months the Israeli army has been working against us, especially in the last few days, and you continue to be silent and silent in order to maintain calm in the Strip and give us false promises,” the letter said, according to sources.
Muhammad Jalamna, a prominent figure in Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Jenin, accused the Gaza leaders of “corruption and trafficking in the lives of the activists.”
Tensions that have prevailed between Hamas and Islamic Jihad since May have also been exposed.
In May, during a five-day military operation (“Operation Shield and Arrow”), the Israel Defense Forces struck Islamic Jihad targets throughout the Strip and killed six of the terrorist group’s senior commanders. Hamas did not join the fighting.
Islamic Jihad’s Secretary General, Ziad al-Nakhala is now demanding that Hamas allow its people freedom of action in the Gaza Strip.
“Hamas understands that they will not be able to continue to prevent the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel for a long time,” a Palestinian official said. “Mainly because both organizations rely on the same Iranian aid.”
Some 18,000 Palestinians live in the U.N.-administered Jenin camp.