Photo Credit: Shir Torem/Flash90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an army base near Jenin, on Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority is currently facing a severe and deepening crisis, prompting significant criticism within Palestinian society regarding corruption and its failure to address the economic and social needs of the Palestinian people. Compounding this crisis is an internal power struggle within Fatah, the backbone of the Palestinian Authority, which further weakens the PA’s effectiveness.

Exploiting the Palestinian Authority’s crisis, Palestinian Islamic organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Palestine (PIJ or IJIP), who are ideological and political rivals of the PA, seek to increase their control in various areas within its territory. They also aim to launch attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and Israel, with the objective of creating chaos that undermines the Palestinian Authority. These organizations are financially and militarily supported by Iran and harbor a violent agenda aimed at eliminating Israel.


The Jenin refugee camp has long been a focal point for launching terrorist attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and Israel. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have gained control over the camp and have turned it into a base for launching attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets.

Israel’s military operation called “House and Garden,” launched on July 3, is a continuation of the IDF’s ongoing efforts to exert military pressure on the terrorist infrastructure within the camp. The Israeli operation aims to inflict significant damage on the terrorist infrastructure, recognizing that complete eradication may not be achievable. Therefore, ongoing military pressure will likely be necessary, with varying levels of intensity. Additionally, the operation seeks to establish a deterrence posture to counter the assumption held by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which believe that Israel would avoid engaging them in the West Bank to avoid simultaneous confrontation with Gaza. Israel intends to prove this assumption wrong, demonstrating its willingness to take military action against these organizations in the West Bank, even if it means confronting Gaza.

The Israeli operation has triggered a call for Palestinian unity, but it has also revealed significant internal divisions within the Palestinian community. There is a heated debate taking place regarding the issue of violent resistance against Israel, with certain segments of the Palestinian public endorsing the militant and uncompromising stance of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This support arises from frustration and disillusionment with the limited progress in agreements and solutions with Israel, ideological alignment with these groups, and a feeling of empowerment and pride linked to their narrative of resistance.

However, there are also growing segments within the Palestinian public that distance themselves from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Their disassociation arises from the realization that the extremism of these organizations, as demonstrated in the Gaza Strip, leads to destruction and a lack of hope. Additionally, ideological opposition to the Islamic agenda of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, as well as their association with Iran, contribute to the opposition against them. The Iranian regime, with its own hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East, fuels the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, using the Palestinians as pawns in order to portray itself as the defender of their cause. Many Palestinians are aware of this manipulation, resulting in criticism of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad for sacrificing their own people to serve Iran’s interests.

As I write this piece on Tuesday, the second day of the operation, it has been reported that thousands of Palestinian civilians are fleeing the Jenin refugee camp. These reports would suggest that it is expected to expedite the conclusion of the operation, which, based on all indications, was projected to be short anyway. Second, from a broader perspective, the sight of Palestinian civilians leaving the camp further amplifies the criticism from Palestinians and Arabs toward the violent approach adopted by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine.

It is worth noting that the city of Jenin, adjacent to the camp, along with other Palestinian cities, has remained relatively calm. This fact reinforces the assessment that most Palestinians in the West Bank do not want to see a replica of the model of the Gaza Strip under Hamas rule. However, Israel and the Palestinian Authority must quickly and practically promote a policy of constructive cooperation aimed not only at addressing the socioeconomic needs of Palestinians in the West Bank but also outlining a political roadmap that strengthens the camps within the Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab world which aspire to promote settlement and compromise. However, an objective and realistic examination of the current Palestinian and Israeli political environment leads to the unfortunate conclusion that either side’s ability to advance such a roadmap is limited today and into the foreseeable future.

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Avi Melamed is a former Israeli intelligence official who went on to serve as deputy and then as senior Arab affairs adviser to Jerusalem Mayors Teddy Kollek and Ehud Olmert, operating as a negotiator during the first and second intifadas. He is the author of "Inside The Middle East | Entering A New Era," and his latest docuseries, "The Seam Line," available on the IZZY streaming platform, focuses on Jerusalem's flashpoints and his work during the intifadas.