Wednesday, December 7th | 13 Kislev 5783

November 7, 2022 12:14 pm

Spotlight on Jenin: The Twin Terror Hubs of Jenin and Nablus

avatar by Chaim Lax


Palestinians in Jenin at the funeral of gunman Youssef Salah who was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces. Photo: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

Jenin, dubbed the Palestinian “terror capital” by observers, has been in the news for the past few months as Israel continues to carry out counter-terrorism operations in a bid to save Israeli lives and prevent the actions of those who seek to harm the Jewish state.

But while Jenin is constantly being mentioned in the media, how much do we really know about Jenin?

In this series, we will take a look at different Jenin-related topics and hopefully provide a multi-faceted understanding of the city at the center of the current rise in violence and terrorism. In this piece, we will take a look at the relationship between the two key Palestinian terror hubs of Jenin and Nablus.

Both Jenin and Nablus are located in the northern West Bank, with Nablus lying approximately 26 km (13 miles) south of Jenin.

Even before the State of Israel was created, there was a violent connection between these two cities.

During the Arab revolt of 1936-1939, when Arab brigands attacked both British forces and Jewish civilians, Jenin and Nablus made up two points of what was termed “the triangle of terror.”

Fifty years later, during the First Intifada (1987-1993), both Jenin and Nablus were used by Palestinian terror groups as launching pads for attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Similarly, during the Second Intifada (2000-2005), both cities became central hubs of Palestinian terror activity. Both Jenin and Nablus were responsible for the majority of suicide bombers during this time, with Jenin serving as the base for over a third of all suicide bombers.

In fact, due to their reputations for violence and terrorism, each city gained a nickname during the Second Intifada: Nablus became known as the “capital of terror” while Jenin was referred to as the “martyrs’ capital.”

Following the Second Intifada, a relative sense of calm and stability returned to both Jenin and Nablus. However, over the past couple of years, this relative quiet has been shattered and replaced with an atmosphere of terror and violence.

While there was a rise in Palestinian attacks against Israeli security forces in late 2021-early 2022, Jenin re-emerged as a prime source of Palestinian terrorism and violence in early-to-mid 2022, when Israel was struck by a wave of terrorism that it had not experienced in years. A number of these attacks, including the Bnei Brak and Dizengoff Street shootings, were committed by Palestinians from the Jenin area.

In addition to the rise in attacks emanating from Jenin and its surrounding environs, 2021-2022 also saw the emergence of a new terror group on the streets of Jenin, the Jenin Battalion.

The Battalion was established in May 2021 as an association between Palestinians belonging to different terrorist organizations — such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and Hamas — in an effort to better coordinate resistance against Israeli anti-terror operations in the area.

The Jenin Battalion is composed of small cells that are coordinated by a central headquarters, which alerts fighters to the location of Israeli soldiers via mosque loudspeakers and social media applications like Telegram.

Following the perceived success of the Jenin Battalion in resisting Israeli forces, several other Palestinian cities adopted the Battalion’s modus operandi. In Nablus, the Nablus Battalion — along with its successor organization, the Lions’ Den — has been particularly effective in recruiting members, engaging with Israeli security personnel, as well as attacking Israeli civilians.

Aside from influencing the establishment of the Lions’ Den, some residents of Jenin have established a sort of kinship with the Nablus-based terror group. During a recent Israeli raid on a Lions’ Den bomb factory, a number of Jenin residents drove to Nablus as a show of solidarity as well as to aid in the firefight with Israeli security forces.

The contemporary violent connection between Jenin and Nablus is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it stretches all the way back to the British Mandate period, when these two centers of terrorism first became bonded together. As Jamal Huwail, a Fatah member in Jenin, noted in the Arabic-language media, Jenin and Nablus share a “resistance relationship” that is based upon a “spiritual, moral and cultural unity.”

As long as these two cities continue to serve as primary sources of violence and terrorism in the region, they will damage future prospects for peace, will embolden extremists in both Palestinian and Israeli politics, and will ultimately harm both innocent Israelis and Palestinians.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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