Israeli Forces Withdraw From Refugee Camp, Leaving Widespread Destruction

Israel attacked the Jenin refugee camp this weekend in what some are calling the biggest navy operation within the occupied West Financial institution in 20 years. Israel claims to have attacked militants within the camp, however camp residents say they have been focused by airstrikes and floor troops. Palestinian well being officers say the large two-day navy offensive killed 12 Palestinians and injured at the very least 140 extra. This continues a sample of escalating violence by Israel towards Palestinians, together with assaults by settlers towards residents of the occupied West Financial institution. We converse with Mustafa Sheta, normal supervisor of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, who shares his firsthand account of the assault and describes it as an effort “to finish the idea and the concept of resistance in Palestine.” Amjad Iraqi, senior editor at +972 Journal, describes Israel’s doctrine of “mowing the garden” in Palestine and calls this weekend’s occasions a part of “the upkeep of an apartheid regime.”


It is a rush transcript. Copy might not be in its closing type.

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinians within the Jenin refugee camp are dealing with widespread destruction after Israel withdrew troops as we speak following what some are calling the biggest navy operation within the occupied West Financial institution in 20 years. The Jenin refugee camp is residence to round 11,000 individuals. Israel attacked what it mentioned have been militants within the camp with drone-fired missiles and floor troops. Palestinian well being officers say the large two-day navy assault killed 12 Palestinians, injured at the very least 140 extra. The pinnacle of Jenin Hospital experiences many of the wounded have been shot within the head and chest. The Israeli navy claimed it was focusing on militants, however residents of the camp say they have been focused by airstrikes and nonstop floor hearth. Israeli bulldozers destroyed roads out of the camp and left only a single street for ambulances to evacuate the wounded. Medical doctors With out Borders mentioned Israeli troops fired tear fuel a number of occasions right into a hospital. Immediately, hundreds are participating in a funeral procession for the victims. Jenin’s mayor lamented the U.N. has, quote, “failed us,” and accused Israel of battle crimes.

That is 63-year-old refugee in Jenin Jihad Hassan.

JIHAD HASSAN: [translated] This jogs my memory of the 1948 Nakba. Individuals left their homes due to worry. Immediately additionally, individuals left due to worry, but additionally due to the bombs, which goal civilians and others. The Israeli military doesn’t differentiate between armed and unarmed. …

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The distinction in 2002 and as we speak is the navy machines. Immediately, the navy artillery is stronger and heavier. Now they use drones. Earlier than, they used Apache weapons. I used to be injured in 2002 by shrap steel from a rocket in my leg. However this time the navy artillery is stronger and heavier.

AMY GOODMAN: In the meantime, Israel launched airstrikes on Gaza earlier as we speak in response to rocket hearth from the besieged enclave.

Days earlier than raiding Jenin, the far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ultranationalist authorities introduced Israel would purchase 25 F-35 stealth fighter jets from america at the price of $3 billion.

In response to the raid, the White Home defended what it referred to as Israel’s, quote, “proper to defend itself.” Palestinian American Congressmember Rashida Tlaib condemned the operation and mentioned, quote, “Congress should cease funding this violent Israeli apartheid regime,” Tlaib mentioned.

All of this comes amidst greater than 450 assaults on Palestinians by settlers this 12 months alone and as hundreds of Israelis protested Monday towards Netanyahu’s plans to overtake and severely curtail the powers of the judiciary.

For extra, we’re joined by two friends. In Haifa, Amjad Iraqi is a senior editor at +972 Journal, the place his newest piece is headlined “In Jenin, Israel is unveiling the following part of apartheid.” And in Jenin, Mustafa Sheta is with us, the overall supervisor of The Freedom Theatre. He wrote a piece for Mondoweiss titled “’The gravity of the state of affairs can’t be understated’: an eyewitness account from the Israeli assault on Jenin.”

We welcome you each to Democracy Now! Mustafa, let’s start with you, contained in the refugee camp. Are you able to describe what came about over these final two days?

MUSTAFA SHETA: The truth is — thanks for internet hosting me on this assembly.

The truth is, over the last two days, we confronted actually a horrible and troublesome state of affairs by this Israel large navy assault of Jenin, which began by rocks that focused the center of Jenin refugee camp. We speak about one kilometer. They focused the individuals, the refugees in Jenin refugee camp. They’re round 15,000 individuals. All of them stay there. They usually focused them. And till — underneath this title, they got here right here to scrub the yard, they usually need to finish the idea and the concept of resistance in Palestine via Jenin refugee camp.

It was a extremely troublesome state of affairs for the individuals the place they’re residing in a tough situation with out electrical energy from the primary time of this invasion, with out water. They destroyed the infrastructure of the Jenin refugee camp and in Jenin metropolis. They usually tried to enter and to make a siege across the camp to make it alone and to place all of the individuals underneath this assault from the primary time. We contemplate that it’s like collective punishment towards any particular person in Jenin, towards something, towards the theater, towards the bushes, towards the partitions. They destroy the automobiles. They destroy the homes. It’s like — as what I mentioned, it’s like collective punishment towards the individuals. Already they’re stand, they usually assist the resistance, they usually assist the fighters in Jenin refugee camp. So, it was actually onerous, actually troublesome for the kids, for the ladies, for the previous individuals, and together with the conventional individuals in Jenin basically.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mustafa Sheta, why has Jenin emerged in recent times as such a spotlight of Israeli repression and assaults? What’s specific concerning the Jenin camp that Israel is so involved about?

MUSTAFA SHETA: We’re stay, in reality, in political space. I imply, all of the individuals right here, they’re refugees. They’ve political id. They’ve difficulty till this second after 75 years. Till this second it’s not solved. They ask for proper of return. They’re stay in areas, it’s not for them — I imply, for the refugees.

The thought, it began from not simply from 2002, began from very long time, from the primary day of established the camp in ’54. After that, the totally different resistance, from the First Intifada in ’87, the place is the refugees, they’re concerned for liberate Palestine, and in 2002, within the large invasion occur in Jenin, the place Israel assume by their utilizing the onerous energy, after they assault Jenin and large invasion occur in 2002 and killed the individuals. Discuss 53 individuals have been killed in Jenin. They destroyed the core of Jenin refugee camp. They assume, by that method, they finish the concept of the mind-set about resistance and revolution. However they don’t know. The brand new era, actually, they’re born in 2002. They’re now lead this resistance in Jenin refugee camp. And by this manner, it’s not cease right here.

I imply, on a regular basis, why Jenin? As a result of we’re nonetheless in the identical feeling about injustice. And the individuals right here, they assume on a regular basis they have to be concerned in this sort of resistance, as a result of they shield their dignity and their widespread id concerning the idea of refugee, the idea of proper of return and liberate Palestine and finish the occupation.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You’re the overall supervisor of The Freedom Theatre. Might you discuss concerning the significance of the work that you simply do, and whether or not your theater was focused, as properly?

MUSTAFA SHETA: The truth is, The Freedom Theatre, we’re fortunate as a result of now we have like a singular story. The thought of The Freedom Theatre began with a Jewish girl — her identify, Arna Mer-Khamis — when she got here to Jenin throughout the First Intifada and established the Childhood Middle in Jenin metropolis and Jenin refugee camp. And that’s why that, to supply the house for kids to expression and speak about themselves. Later, Juliano, her son, will rejoin to her mom, they usually established collectively the Stone Theatre in the midst of Jenin refugee camp. It was the primary theater in Jenin.

The thought of set up already theater right here, it’s about discover the house simply to speak concerning the story from Jenin and Jenin refugee camp and the way we are able to put the individuals, already they’ve like actual story and necessary story concerning the Palestine case, the Palestine query, within the gentle.

So, after that, in 2002, throughout the invasion, the Stone Theatre destroyed by Israel. And Juliano himself, he made his movie, an necessary movie. It’s referred to as Arna’s Youngsters. It’s a speak about what’s the core of this dispute and battle and the occupation in Palestine.

Later, in 2006, when now we have The Freedom Theatre by Juliano and Zakaria Zubeidi, when now we have the theater once more, we contemplate it’s a part of resistance. We raised the concept and the idea of cultural resistance right here, the place we offer the house for and create and lift the crucial and courageous voice right here. That’s necessary for our individuals, and that is one in every of our affect work with our individuals, the place we offer the house for when the kids, they don’t already — they’ve any yard or any house on this one kilometer to play, to recreation, the place we’ll present the house for the expertise from the camp to return right here and to be like — not simply to be skilled actor, to be like social chief, imagine in freedom. And once we speak about the entire idea of freedom, freedom finish the occupation, freedom of pondering, freedom of selecting. All of that, we shield that and put it in our curiosity, in our focus, in our objectives, too.

So, now we have this affect, they usually have this sort of relationship. The individuals in Jenin refugee camp, they contemplate The Freedom Theatre is admittedly necessary for them, as a result of already now we have like this bridge between what’s the fact occurred right here and the worldwide and the individuals outdoors of Palestine, as a result of we’re speak about Palestine via this artistic language, via theater and the performing arts.

AMY GOODMAN: I need to additionally usher in Amjad Iraqi, senior editor at +972 Journal. He’s chatting with us from Haifa. Amjad, you’ve gotten mentioned the Jenin operation, the Jenin assault, is being carried out within the context of Israel’s, quote, “mowing the garden” doctrine as a way of sustaining its apartheid regime. Are you able to clarify? And speak about who precisely is behind it and the importance of, the day earlier than the assault, the U.S. approving extra weapon gross sales to Israel, bringing their complete of planes to — what? I believe it was 75 assault planes.

AMJAD IRAQI: Thanks, Amy, and to Democracy Now!, for having me.

So, in a nutshell, the concept of mowing the garden is a doctrine that has been promoted by the Israeli navy for fairly some time and is generally related to Israeli military coverage vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, significantly focusing on the political group Hamas and Islamic Jihad and different militants. And the concept of mowing the garden or mowing the grass is basically this concept that the Israelis have that if there isn’t a everlasting answer to essentially eradicate these Palestinian militant teams, then the concept is that you simply’re in a relentless cycle to mainly undercut their capability briefly till the following spherical. And that is what we’ve been seeing put in full power, particularly because the starting of the blockade of Gaza in 2007.

Now, you’ve seen variations of this navy coverage practiced in lots of respects, however what we’ve been seeing up to now few days in Jenin is that doctrine being performed out in full power. I imply, this operation itself will not be occurring in a vacuum. For the previous 12 months and a half, the Israeli military has been specializing in cities like Jenin and Nablus within the northern West Financial institution, the place it’s been actively focusing on Palestinian militants and their weapons. However, in fact, as Mustafa was describing, this has come on the full punishment of the populations over there, particularly the refugee camps, very a lot in the identical type of methodology as what we’re seeing within the Gaza Strip. And as these confrontations have escalated between militants each towards the military and towards settlements, and typically towards cities inside Israel, that the military is coming underneath increasingly strain to really go in as a floor invasion. And even two weeks in the past, we noticed, as you described, the primary time that they returned to air energy via Apache helicopters, which I imagine have been provided by america, after which, two days later, via a drone strike, and, mainly, these being the primary airstrikes within the West Financial institution for the primary time because the Second Intifada, though they’ve in fact been very a lot the modus operandi within the Gaza Strip.

So, that is that manifestation that we’re seeing. That is the philosophy that’s taking part in out mainly as the upkeep of an apartheid regime, that features Gaza and the West Financial institution, and that that is the answer that the Israeli authorities are seeing, from the political echelon to the navy institution.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Amjad Iraqi, might you place what’s been occurring there over the previous couple of weeks and months within the context of probably the most excessive right-wing authorities that Israel has had in its historical past and the choice of the brand new Netanyahu authorities to start to speed up increasingly settlements within the West Financial institution?

AMY GOODMAN: I believe we’re going to —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oh, yeah, I believe we could have misplaced the audio. Let’s return to Mustafa Sheta. Mustafa, your response to that very same query? The choice by the Netanyahu authorities to start as soon as once more to speed up settler growth on the West Financial institution, to what diploma has this contributed to the rising tensions there?

MUSTAFA SHETA: I believe, you recognize, Netanyahu, he and his authorities, in reality, they’re actually failed. They’re actually failed in what’s occurred in Jenin. And I believe they need to ship the necessary messages to their individuals. I believe it’s for — like, we are able to say it’s like political advantages there. They attempt to say, “We’re nonetheless robust. We’re nonetheless can management.” After the navy operations occurred in Jenin and in West Financial institution, earlier than that, in — earlier than ’til days — we’re in the identical situation for 2 years, in reality. And there are — nothing modified. I imply, they’re nonetheless persevering with to punish us, to assault us. And I believe this sort of insurance policies, it’s not simply how — not the Israeli individuals or not the federal government and, for positive, not the Palestinian. They’re nonetheless in the identical situation, and with out — we are able to say, with none advantages for any particular person, any occasion.

So, I count on this authorities will fail, and perhaps it won’t proceed. Within the first day of this authorities established, I mentioned I don’t count on there’s one thing good will include it. It is going to be worse and worse, particularly for the Palestinian. I don’t know should you heard about Netanyahu’s assertion and speech when he mentioned he don’t imagine in two states now. We’re two — don’t imagine in two states on this situation. We’re imagine in a single state. That state, it is going to be Palestine sooner or later, as a result of all this situation, it’s like Israel eat itself now on this time.

AMY GOODMAN: Mustafa Sheta, as we wrap up, should you can reply to the likelihood the Israeli authorities is saying that they reserve the precise to return into Jenin to proceed this assault, and likewise the importance of the hundreds of individuals, Israelis, who have been within the streets protesting, however they have been protesting towards Netanyahu dismantling the Israeli judiciary? Had been there Israeli protests towards the assault on the Jenin refugee camp, the place you’re, Mustafa?

MUSTAFA SHETA: The truth is, I count on Israel, they may return to Jenin, perhaps after two days, two weeks or one month. We don’t know. We all know they don’t obtain their objectives till this second.

The protests in Israel, the demonstrations in Israel towards Netanyahu, it’s not begin from now. It’s not nearly what’s occurring in Jenin. They’ve a whole lot of inside downside, like with the Israeli regulation, too. However I don’t count on there’s something will get modified in Israel with the Israel insurance policies. The individuals already elect — they elect Netanyahu and the precise wings. They’re nonetheless management for the political seats in Israel, with Ben-Gvir and all these right-wing events. So, I don’t count on there’s something large adjustments with Netanyahu insurance policies, particularly he will get assist from U.S. U.S. authorities, they mentioned they’re assist Israel to guard themselves. U.Ok. authorities, they are saying the identical. They mentioned, “We’re assist, and we perceive, we settle for how Israel shield themselves.” However in the identical time, nobody speak about what’s occurred or what’s occurring with the world individuals, with the conventional individuals in Jenin refugee camp or for the individuals in Palestine, already they struggle for to get their rights and get their liberation.

AMY GOODMAN: We need to thanks for being with us, Mustafa Sheta, normal supervisor of the Jenin Freedom Theatre and chatting with us from the refugee camp, and Amjad Iraqi, senior editor at +972 Journal, chatting with us from Haifa.

Subsequent up, we go to France to take a look at what’s driving every week of protests over the police killing of Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old teenager of North African descent. Stick with us.

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