December 12, 2022 | Flash Brief

Taming West Bank Chaos Remains a Challenge for Israel

December 12, 2022 | Flash Brief

Taming West Bank Chaos Remains a Challenge for Israel

Latest Developments

Gunfire killed a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, Jana Zakarna, late on Sunday during a fight that erupted when Israeli special forces entered the West Bank town of Jenin to detain terrorists. Palestinian authorities were quick to blame Israel, which acknowledged that its forces may have shot the teenager by accident and voiced regret. An initial investigation found that she was standing next to a gunman on a rooftop, and an Israeli sharpshooter may have confused the two in the dark.

Expert Analysis

“The alacrity with which Israel is ready to hold itself to account is commendable. Both its prime minister and defense minister offered public statements of remorse over Zakarna’s death. We would hope a U.S. president and defense secretary would do the same concerning a single collateral casualty in a conflict zone. Israeli leaders correctly have advocated for the morality and professionalism of their armed forces, whose overall precision in waging eight months of nearly nightly counterterrorism sweeps in Jenin and nearby Nablus is commendable.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“While the death of an innocent is tragic, the real question that should be asked here is why it hasn’t happened more often, given the tactical challenges facing Israel in the warrens of Jenin and Nablus. The answer is, clearly, the restraint of Israel’s special forces. But by all accounts, the challenges are only getting more acute, with troops facing more intensive gunfire and boobytraps with each raid. This should be no surprise: Jenin and Nablus are relatively small areas of operation, and the terrorists ruling them adapt fast. Israel should continue to assess the security benefits of Operation Breaking the Wave versus the risks posed to friendly forces and civilians.” Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Israel Does Not Deliberately Target Civilians

The incident, which follows the May 11 accidental killing in Jenin of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, coincided with a reporting visit to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip by Virginia Gamba, the United Nations special representative for children and armed conflict. Israel has reportedly briefed Gamba about Operation Breaking the Wave, the West Bank sweep it launched after a string of Palestinian terrorist attacks killed Israeli civilians in the spring. Israel says the Palestinian death toll since has included armed terrorists but also minors — some killed by accident, others actively involved in hostilities.

Palestinian Authority Is Losing Control of the West Bank

The Palestinian Authority has lost control of many parts of the West Bank. Iran-backed terrorist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) now dominate cities such as Jenin and Nablus, aiming to destabilize the Abbas regime. Terrorist activity in the West Bank rose throughout 2022, reaching a peak of 169 incidents just in the month of October. Since the spring, Israeli security forces have arrested more than 2,000 Palestinians and disrupted dozens of attacks.

Related Analysis

Analysis: West Bank Violence Trending Upward,” by Joe Truzman

Jerusalem Bombings, Jenin Body-Snatch Rock Israel,” by FDD Experts


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