Clouds of smoke have been rising on the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank since July 3, and explosions have been heard. More than a thousand Israeli soldiers, backed by the air force, are officially carrying out a precision operation targeting terrorists. But footage from Western correspondents show a picture of burning houses and overhelming destruction. Even Germany, generally sympathetic to Israel, comments that Israel has the right to defend itself, but only bearing in mind the rule of proportionality.

The ground forces as well as the supporting warplanes targeted the Jenin refugee camp, claiming that it has turned into a Palestinian armed groups command centre. There are perhaps 12,000, perhaps as many as 18,000 Palestinians living in the camp. They are the descendants of those expelled in 1948, victims of the Nakba, or The Catastrophe, an ethnic cleansing that cast a shadow over the beginnings of the state of Israel. The camp is overcrowded, with a significant number of residents without jobs (and without perspectives to find any, given the state-imposed restrictions on movement). Many live in homes without the most basic comforts. Despair and frustration are inherited here from generation to generation. The Palestinian families keep the keys from their long-unexisting homes, children grow with the sense of unjustice in the air.

As long as the occupied territories remain occupied, there are people here who want to fight for a free Palestine with weapons. And when there are no weapons – at least with a stone to hurl at the occupants.

Western “arbiters of democracy” have been saying for years that this spiral of violence will only be ended, if the two-state solution is implemented. But words, as a Polish proverb says, do not cost anything. They will not secure freedom to Palestinians and peace in the Middle East. Words alone will never heal the wounds of occupation. The Palestinians know that; the young generation is taking the things in their own hands and this cannot be stopped.

For years we have not seen any serious multilateral diplomatic initiatives for justice in the Middle East. Instead, we continue to see the separation wall, crowded camps, Israeli settlements sprouting up in the occupied territories – in defiance of international law. We hear the aggressive language of the Israeli far right, which has become politically mainstream. Nevertheless, no one among the powerful worries about the quality of democracy or wonders whether the EU should trade with such an aggressive state. No one imposes sanctions.

Inside the Jenin camp.

Yesterday and today, refugees from the Jenin camp had to flee once again.

The camp was shelled from the air, then military vehicles entered. The water supply was interrupted. Barricades were erected between the burning houses, as some Palestinians decided to give a repulse, if only symbolically. The Israeli army repeats: this is only an anti-terrorist operation, we detain members of armed organizations and their weapons, and then we leave. Arguably, they will indeed leave, leaving behind the demolished houses in the camp and the humble possessions of their residents destroyed. They are probably aware that they will leave behind more anger, as well.

“This is a war crime,” says Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority presidency. The health minister in the PA government accused the Israeli army of preventing medical personnel from entering the refugee camp to take the wounded to hospitals, while the Palestinian Red Crescent Society called for the creation of a safe corridor to evacuate the wounded from the camp. Doctors Without Borders had also difficulties to access the location where people laid wounded.

By Tuesday afternoon, the number of wounded in the raid was already estimated at more than 100 people. There are also eleven dead, four were not even 18 years old.

“Israel wants to crush our soul, our people, our population, it wants to continue the military occupation, it wants to continue the illegal expansion of settlements in the occupied territory”,

comments the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the UK, Husam Zomlot, in an interview with the BBC.

He argues: the affiliation of young angry men from Jenin with armed organizations is a pretext. The intervening troops are also hitting civilian facilities, and it is the civilian population that will suffer the most.

Shortly after Zomlot uttered these words, soldiers sprayed tear gas in front of the entrance to the hospital in Jenin, where families of the injured and journalists had gathered. Even the fact that the act of violence would be recorded and immediately shown to the world on the Internet does not impress them. Israeli governments have gotten used to the fact that they can do anything, because their biggest ally in the United States, will always take their side. Now, too, he repeated the three magic words that justify displacement or house demolitions: the right to defend oneself. In the city of Jenin, the magic words once justified another armed raid: back in 2002, when the refugee camp inhabitants’ joined the Intifada, and the 10-day fighting ended with 53 dead Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers killed. It was also a defence, albeit going a bit too far, when world-known journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in the same city of Jenin.

There have been US presidents in history who also preached the right to self-determination.

Apparently we need to understand that they spoke in different times, bearing in mind different American interests. In the case of the Palestinians, self-determination does not apply. Israel, with such support from Washington, can pretend not to hear all other reactions to the Jenin action. Like the positions of Berlin and London, which point out that in addition to the right to defend itself, there is the principle of proportionality, a response adequate to the actual threat. Or the words of one of the spokespeople for the UN Secretary General, who told Al-Jazeera: “It is not acceptable for it to be armed attacks in areas of high population density and that’s the case. All parties need to abide by international humanitarian law”.

In Palestine, though, the humanitarian law is violated every single day.

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