In the last few years, innocent Israeli civilians have been the target of countless terror attacks, many of which have been orchestrated from Jenin.
In one such attack, a terrorist opened fire on civilians on a night out in Tel Aviv, murdering three and injuring several others.
On another occasion, an assailant massacred five civilians, one of whom was walking his two-year-old son in a pushchair, in Bnei Brak. Tragically, such attacks happen all too often.
Elite: IDF troops in Jenin (Photo: Getty Images)
Jenin has become the main sanctuary for terrorism. In the last year alone, 50 terrorist attacks have been orchestrated from there.
The city is now home to the “Jenin Battalion” — a sinister militant group of armed Palestinians.
This umbrella organisation consists of members from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Brigade, radical Islamist groups that seek to destroy the State of Israel and who fundamentally oppose Western values.
These terrorist groups cynically embed themselves within the local population in Jenin and use civilians as a human shield, from behind which they are becoming increasingly entrenched and harder to combat.
They hide their infrastructure in dense public areas, place improvised explosive devices (IEDs) under drain covers on public roads, and store weapons in mosques.
They are turning the city of Jenin into a battleground and are putting Palestinian civilians in the firing line.
Their fortifications in civilian areas have been providing them with shelter and protection from where they orchestrate brutal acts of terror throughout Israel and the West Bank.
As a result, they have been bolstered by a growing sense of impunity, and since September 2022, at least 19 terrorists are known to have fled to Jenin after committing attacks.
If the Palestinian leadership undertook to counter threats originating from Jenin, then Israel would have no interest in operating there. But this is far from the current reality. Instead, Israel has no option but to act.
We know too that Iran has increased its influence in Jenin, transferring more funds to its proxies.
Over the past two years, funds sent to terrorist cells in the West Bank have more than doubled, a growing proportion of which ends up in Jenin.
Just two weeks ago, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad delegations visited Tehran and met the Supreme Leader and other security officials to receive their instructions for carrying out more attacks in Israel.
There, the Supreme Leader said that the “growing power” of Palestinian groups was “the key to bringing the Zionist enemy to its knees”. Iran’s overreach should concern us all, including everyone in the UK.
We only have to think back to its attempted assassinations of British or UK-based individuals last year.
The Palestinian people are in a complex and difficult situation.
But the ungoverned spaces that exist inside the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), due to years of neglect and a leadership that preferred to invest in terrorism instead of investing in education for peace, has fostered a new and dangerous environment that has allowed terrorists to thrive.
The horrific recent car ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, in which nine people were injured, one of whom was a pregnant woman who subsequently lost her child, is yet another reminder of the necessity to do everything we can to protect our population from harm. And Israel is doing what any other state has to do.
Despite this, Israel is careful to act with precision and takes every measure to mitigate harm to civilians.
Beyond that, we are trying to help Palestinians as much as possible economically by increasing the number of work permits in Israel, even during the last military operation.
Hundreds of thousands of households from the West Bank and Gaza make a living out of being part of Israel’s diverse industries.
Of course, Israel wants peace. It has proven such with the Abraham Accords, a historic partnership with several of our Arab neighbours. Israel has no quarrel with the Palestinian people.
Unfortunately, as long as the Palestinian leadership chooses to invest in terror, incitement and incentives to carry attacks against Jews, we will not be able to move forward and will have to continue to protect our citizens.
Only when the Palestinian leadership acknowledges that Israel is an integral part of the Middle East will there be a genuine chance for peace.
Tzipi Hotovely is Israel’s ambassador to Britain