The Palestinian Authority on Friday launched a large-scale military operation in the Jenin refugee camp to restore governance where chaos is rampant. The operation is expected to last several weeks, and the PA intends to arrest dozens of wanted persons in the camp, most of them described as drug traffickers and criminals. But if a few Hamas operatives are trapped in the net they probably won’t be thrown back in the water.
It is estimated that the Jenin camp has thousands of illegal weapons. In recent months, the camp, home to about 11,000 Arabs, has been a hotbed of growing tensions with the Palestinian Authority. The security operation is being conducted from Ramallah to strengthen the PA’s governance in peripheral areas. A similar operation was conducted by the PA in the Hebron sector. According to Ynet, this operation was planned for early 2020 was quashed because of the Corona.
In recent months, the Palestinian Authority has lost control over large parts of the province as a result of the rise in power of the armed gangs affiliated with Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and Hamas. These refugee camp-based armed gangs have been intimidating the city dwellers, unafraid to confront the PA security forces and police. They even fired several times on the PA local government compound in Jenin.
The increase in the power of these gangs has often led to heavy exchanges of fire with Israeli security forces entering Jenin, nearby villages, and the Jenin refugee camp to make arrests. In the past few months, every single IDF raid in Jenin has ended in an exchange of gunfire and occasionally deaths on the Arab side. During the operation to apprehend the six escaped terrorists from Gilboa Prison, the Jenin gangs issued a warning to the IDF forces that the gangs would open fire if they entered Jenin – where it was believed at the time that the prisoners were headed.
The Jenin province is a stronghold of the Islamic Jihad in Judea and Samaria, but Hamas also has a strong presence there. The loss of control in the city led PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas two weeks ago to replace all the heads of the security agencies in the rogue district.
The loss of control of the Palestinian Authority in Jenin has led to the establishment of local military squads that acted against Israel and planned serious attacks on Israeli civilians. Those squads were responsible for firing on the Gilboa crossing which separates Jenin and Israel and throwing explosives in its direction. In recent weeks, the gunmen have not been afraid to take to the streets of the city, demonstrating their power – most recently last week, during the funeral of Hamas senior commander in Judea and Samaria Wasfi Kabha who died of Corona.