JENIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank, Palestine — In the aftermath of the recent attack on the Jenin refugee camp, a leading European Union envoy strongly condemned Israel on Saturday, asserting that the force employed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) was disproportionate and violated international law. The envoy, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, led a delegation of UN officials and diplomats from 25 countries on a tour of the camp in the northern West Bank, aiming to assess the situation following the raid and gather firsthand information, reports Al-Jazeera.
The statements made by Kuehn von Burgsdorff echoed the concerns raised by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who on Thursday expressed his belief that “excessive force was used by Israeli forces” during the 48-hour attack. This attack, the largest of its kind in years, involved airstrikes and armored bulldozers tearing up streets in the camp. While Israeli authorities claim that all those killed were combatants affiliated with terror groups, some of the injured were non-combatants, according to the IDF. One Israeli soldier lost his life during the operation.
Jenin has long been, according to Israel, a hotbed of activity for various Palestinian militant groups, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to label the refugee camp a “terrorist nest.” Kuehn von Burgsdorff expressed his concern about the deployment of weaponry and weapons systems during the operation, which raised questions regarding the proportionality of Israel’s attack. The EU representative emphasized that the military attack, with its significant human cost, constituted a violation of international law and urged Israel to put an end to the ongoing conflict.
“This cycle of violence has to end; it cannot continue. If there is no political solution to the conflict, we are going to find ourselves here in a week’s time, a month, or even a year, with no tangible changes,” Kuehn von Burgsdorff stated, emphasizing the urgency for a resolution.
While the delegation toured the camp, residents peered out through holes left in the walls by Israeli rockets. Local authorities also took the opportunity to test a new alarm system designed to warn residents of potential future raids, further highlighting the tense atmosphere prevailing in the region. Over the past year and a half, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have remained high throughout the West Bank, with the military conducting near-nightly raids in response to a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.
The recent operation in Jenin marked the most significant military incursion in the West Bank since the Second Intifada of the early 2000s. The infrastructure within the camp suffered extensive damage during the raid, with the Israeli military claiming that it targeted terrorists responsible for multiple attacks in the West Bank in recent months, according to The Times of Israel. As a result of the operation, approximately eight kilometers (five miles) of water pipes and three kilometers (two miles) of sewage pipes were destroyed, as reported by the UN. Moreover, over 100 houses sustained damage, and several schools were lightly affected.
The Jenin refugee camp is renowned for its impoverished conditions and high population density. In an urgent plea for funds, UN officials emphasized the pressing need to rebuild the camp’s infrastructure and enhance support for its residents, particularly the children. Leni Stenseth, the deputy commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, stressed the dire situation, stating, “To restore services and provide crucial assistance to the children, we require immediate financial contributions… Our appeal is severely underfunded.” Stenseth called upon the international community to swiftly declare their support for the reconstruction efforts in Jenin camp, which are expected to commence in the coming weeks and months.
In response to the devastation caused by the Israeli attacks, Algeria announced a $30 million contribution aimed at assisting in the rebuilding of the Palestinian city of Jenin, reports Agenzia Nova. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates, which established diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020, pledged $15 million towards the reconstruction efforts, underscoring the international community’s recognition of the urgent need for humanitarian assistance.