The objective of the overnight operation launched on Monday, as defined by IDF West Bank Division Commander Brigadier General Avi Bluth, is to establish a new and enhanced level of operational security in the northern West Bank, specifically in the city of Jenin.
Jenin has emerged as a hub of terrorism, with the IDF confirming over 50 shooting attacks perpetrated by terrorists originating from the Jenin area this year alone, out of a total of more than 200 attacks within the past year and a half.
Since September of the previous year, 19 terrorists who were involved in attacks against Israelis have sought asylum in the refugee camp adjacent to Jenin. In response, the IDF has demolished ten homes of terrorists in the Jenin area who were directly involved in attacks that resulted in the loss of civilian lives or soldiers over the past year.
According to assessments by defense officials, there are believed to be over a thousand firearms solely within the Jenin refugee camp. Over the years, the camp has transformed into a heavily fortified stronghold due to the lack of enforcement by the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus.
In addition, dozens of relatively high-quality explosive devices have been produced in laboratories scattered all over the Jenin refugee camp over the past year.
Although they are homemade, these devices have caused significant damage, such as a recent incident where the IDF's large and state-of-the-art Panther armored personnel carrier was immobilized by such an explosive device while heading out of the city, leaving injured soldiers trapped inside.
Many of these explosive devices, connected to gas canisters, were discovered in booby-trapped apartments that awaited IDF forces that entered to clear the city as part of the operation's opening phase.
The Jenin refugee camp has transformed into a bona fide fortress as IDF operations in the city have intensified. It now operates an alarm system that alerts militants of the arrival of IDF forces when they are identified from a distance.
A tightly woven network of screens obstructs the army's reconnaissance drones, and there are booby traps at the entrances to the refugee camp. All of these elements are combined with determination and audacity that have also spread to other places in the West Bank, such as the casbah of Nablus and the Nur ash-Shams refugee camp near Tulkarm.
However, the IDF does not hesitate to once again take action in broad daylight within the densely populated refugee camp, which spans just over 120 acres. Approximately 19,000 people reside there, most of them between the ages of 15 and 44.
Since Israel’s disengagement from parts of the northern West Bank in 2005, the city of Jenin and its refugee camp have become relatively isolated areas with little to no movement of Israelis.
The dominant terrorist group in Jenin is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, dating back to the days of the Second Intifada. About a quarter of the city's population and its refugee camp are affiliated with the organization. The leaders of the organization in the Gaza Strip constantly work to provide funding, training and combat resources to the Jihad cells in Jenin, while Hamas also operates to strengthen its infrastructure in the city. According to the IDF, approximately 20% of Jenin's residents identify themselves with Hamas, which controls Gaza.
However, new armed groups have emerged within the refugee camp itself, some of which are not affiliated organizationally with either Hamas or Islamic Jihad. They have banded under various banners, such as the Jenin Brigade, and have received significant protection and popularity among the Palestinian population in the northern West Bank, thanks to videos circulated on TikTok in which operatives film themselves engaging in long-range shootings at settlements or soldiers, and launching homemade rockets.
In order to weaken and deter these terrorists who have gained full control of the refugee camp, the IDF embarked on its largest operation in Jenin since Operation Protective Shield in 2002.
The goal is to bring about a tangible shift in the operational landscape in the northern West Bank, addressing concerns voiced by residents regarding the erosion of normalcy and security.