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Palestinian Authority Security Forces, Residents Clash in Jenin Camp (VIDEO REPORT)
Gunmen belonging to various armed Palestinian factions pose for a group photo at a square in the Jenin camp for Palestinian refugees in the northern West Bank late on August 18, 2021. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images)

Palestinian Authority Security Forces, Residents Clash in Jenin Camp (VIDEO REPORT)

Camp residents say that they are neglected by the PA, and that Ramallah is intentionally targeting them

Violent clashes erupted in the Jenin refugee camp on Friday evening when Palestinian Authority security services attempted to enter the camp while chasing what it described as a “dangerous” and “wanted” man suspected of several shooting incidents. The Palestinian man is a “fugitive from justice,” who served within the PA security apparatus and sought refuge in the camp, according to official sources.

Several people were injured in the confrontation, including the suspect.

Incidents like this have increased in recent times in the Palestinian territories, between the PA security force and what it labels “outlaws” within the Jenin camp being at the forefront of these shooting incidents.

Many consider that the storming is an attempt by new security leaders to assert themselves after what they claim is the failure of previous officials.

There is a state of indifference to the increased tension in the Jenin camp.

Every time the Israeli army storms Jenin, located in the northern West Bank, a major confrontation breaks out with the camp youth. The situation is so concerning to the PA, that PA President Mahmoud Abbas, ignoring the chaos and violence among major Palestinian clans and armed gangs in Hebron, announced a week ago a total change of high-ranking security officials in Jenin.

“This is to protect Israel, antagonize the people, kill the political situation, dry up the resistance, in order for the PA to play its role as a security company working for Israel,” Mahmoud, an activist in the camp, told The Media Line.

The activist pondered the motive and timing of Abbas’ decision to replace top security officials in the city, while the PA does “nothing to protect the people in Hebron,” he said.

Jenin is one of the most well-known Palestinian refugee camps. The camp, which sits on an area no larger than one square kilometer, is home to roughly 17,000 people.

Hasan Awwad, an expert on Palestinian affairs at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, told The Media Line that a “general state of frustration prevails in the Palestinian street due to the absence of any political horizon.”

Jenin has been a major source of headaches for Abbas and his security forces. There is a growing sense of frustration brewing in the West Bank city, and camp residents say that they are neglected by the PA and that Ramallah is intentionally targeting them because they defy PA orders.

Tension spiked in the city of Jenin and the refugee camp in September when six Palestinian prisoners escaped from an Israeli prison; the last two prisoners, who were captured two weeks after the escape, later sought refuge in the camp and the city.

This is to protect Israel, antagonize the people, kill the political situation, dry up the resistance, in order for the PA to play its role as a security company working for Israel

The ability of two Palestinian prisoners who escaped an Israeli top security prison and hide in Jenin camp while they were on the lam infuriated Abbas, who ordered the dismissal of several top PA security officials in Jenin over the incident.

But the current tension also was fueled by another recent event in the northern West Bank.

This is the massive public participation in the funeral earlier this month of Hamas’ most prominent leader in the West Bank. Its green flags were flying over the heads of thousands attending the funeral for former PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs Wasfi Qabha, who died of COVID-19.

The Media Line recently interviewed a camp resident and one of its leaders, Jamal Hwail, who spent 11 years in an Israeli prison. He said that there is a general state of frustration prevailing among the camp youth due to the depressed economic situation inside the camp, which is creating an environment ripe to spiral out of control and “explode in everyone’s face.”

“The camp residents are refugees, and when there is no political resolution, other problems will emerge from this. We live in overcrowded neighborhoods, there’s a lack of jobs and no real source of livelihood, the economic situation is bad, and poverty is the best incubator for drugs and extremism,” Hwail said.

Many residents of the city and camp accuse the PA of marginalizing them and leaving them out of the authority’s economic plan. While many cities saw economic growth in the last decade, Jenin residents have seen very little come their way.

Abdul Rahman Faraj, 21, was arrested by the Israeli army and spent eighteen months in prison. He says he was released without any charge.

Faraj told The Media Line that he doesn’t have a job, and he says he’s struggling as work opportunities at the camp are almost nonexistent.

“I want to get married and have a car. I have no ambitions. At any moment I could be martyred,” he said. “There is no future. We are here in the camp waiting for how and when we will die. There are no jobs, we don’t work, and we don’t have responsibilities. We live without hope.”

Raafat al-Saadi’s story is no different from many others in the refugee camp; he was also wounded and spent nine months in the hospital, undergoing eight operations.

“I am one of many young people who were injured in the camp. Ninety-nine percent of the camp were injured, killed or captured. This is camp life. I got three bullets in my body,” Saadi told The Media Line.

He accuses the PA of not doing enough to help him and the residents of the refugee camp.

“A message to the Palestinian presidency and the world: I invite them to come to see the camps, especially Jenin camp, which presented the martyrs and the wounded, and to see the suffering that we live in,” he said.

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