The tragic events of the past few days in the West Bank, where Israel invaded a refugee camp in Jenin, once again demonstrate the importance of addressing the root causes. Without an end to the inequality and occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel, the cycle of violence will continue. There is also an important role to play for the Netherlands and the European Union. Words and condemnations are not enough. Measures and concrete action are essential to stop the dynamics of violence.
Jenin Refugee Camp
On July 3rd, a thousand Israeli soldiers entered the refugee camp in a self-proclaimed counterterrorism operation, supported by airstrikes, tanks, and bulldozers. Jenin is located in the northern part of the West Bank. The invasion has had devastating consequences, particularly for civilians. Of the approximately fourteen thousand refugees in the camp, three thousand have fled once again. Now that the operation is over and people are returning, they are facing a massive devastation with streets, houses, and cars completely destroyed. Civilians are once again victims of retaliatory actions, including an attack in Tel Aviv, rockets from Gaza, and new bombings in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu threatens new “security operations.” The extreme right-wing and nationalist Minister of National Security, Ben Gvir, during interviews calls on the Israeli population to carry weapons and advocates for simplifying rules for gun ownership. This will only contribute to more violence. Furthermore, further repression and oppression do not contribute to the security of Israel.
Addressing the root causes
The Israeli army operates in a context of impunity. Human rights and international law are constantly violated. Images from Jenin have emerged showing Israeli soldiers shooting at journalists, which painfully reminds us of the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh more than a year ago in the same refugee camp. Despite all the international attention, no one has been convicted for this murder.
Netherlands and the European Union must intervene. For example, the Netherlands can do so by ending cooperation with the Israeli army. This includes collaborations in knowledge exchange and the use of each other’s training facilities. Currently, a new cooperation agreement is even awaiting approval in the Senate. Peace organization PAX calls on the Netherlands to stop military cooperation with Israel. The Netherlands can also impose a visa requirement for settlers living in illegal settlements in the West Bank. They are often instigators of violence, as evidenced by the recent attack on the Palestinian village of Huwara.
PAX urges the Dutch government to look in the mirror and reflect on its own responsibility to break the cycle of violence.