Israel's rising attacks on Nour Shams refugee camp spark concerns among Palestinians

Israel's rising attacks on Nour Shams refugee camp spark concerns among Palestinians

Palestinians in refugee camp fear Israel would carry out wide-scale military operation

By Qais Abu Samra

TULKARM, Palestine (AA) – Fears have grown among Palestinians in the Nour Shams refugee camp in the occupied West Bank that the Israeli army might carry out a large-scale military operation similar to what happened in Jenin city and its camp last month.

Claiming to be pursuing gunmen, Israel launched a military operation in Jenin on July 3, the largest in 20 years. At least 12 Palestinians were killed and 140 others injured in the operation that lasted about 48 hours.

Israeli forces occasionally conduct brief military operations in the Nour Shams camp near Tulkarm city, saying that they are pursuing "wanted" individuals.

On July 24, Israel conducted a military operation in Nour Shams, which lasted for approximately six hours, causing significant damage to infrastructure and homes.

Several residents were arrested during the operation, which encountered strong resistance by the Palestinians who retaliated with live ammunition and explosive devices.

Residents shared their concerns at a cafe near the camp's entrance, expressing that their peaceful lives are disrupted by Israeli military actions. They did not dismiss the possibility that the army could replicate the experience from the Jenin camp in their own.

Various Palestinian factions have active militants in the Nour Shams camp, most of whom are aligned with the Islamic Jihad Movement.

- Specter of fear

Taha al-Irani, head of the People's Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Nour Shams camp, is working to restore the camp's streets after they were destroyed by Israeli vehicles on July 24.

"The Israeli army destroyed approximately three kilometers of the camp's streets and left destruction in homes, shops, a youth center, and a mosque, attempting to replicate the Jenin camp experience," al-Irani told Anadolu.

"Everyone here fears a repetition of the Jenin camp ordeal," he said. "Residents endure a challenging life with high unemployment rates and no resolution in sight for the conflict."

The camp has a population of around 11,000 people, who live in an area not exceeding 232 dunums (equivalent to 1,000 square meters).

- Jenin scenario

"Israel is replicating the Jenin camp's experience here in Nour Shams," said Suleiman Al-Zuhairi, a resident of Nour Shams and acting chairman of the board of trustees of Khadoori University in Tulkarm.

Al-Zuhairi, 65, told Anadolu that "residents are genuinely concerned that the Israeli army may conduct a large-scale military operation in Nour Shams camp. In recent months, the army has executed military operations in the camp, resulting in arrests, injuries, and deaths."

Addressing the "national situation" in the camp, he emphasized the resemblance and interconnectedness between Jenin and Nur Shams camps.

"Both camps originated from the Haifa region within the 1948 lands. After the Nakba, camp residents resided in the Janzour area near Jenin until 1951. They were subsequently divided between Jenin and Nur Shams, fostering family ties and relationships. This integration is evident in their resistance against Israel," he explained.

- Proliferation of gunmen

During the night, all entrances to the Nour Shams camp are barricaded with iron barriers, and armed ambushes are set up. During the day, armed men are deployed throughout the camp's streets and alleys.

Most of the gunmen are affiliated with the Nour Shams Brigade of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement. However, gunmen from other factions also participate in resisting any Israeli incursions.

A masked member of the brigade told Anadolu that they are a group of young men who have taken up arms to defend their camp "in response to continuous Israeli atrocities and widespread settler activities."

"The Israeli army aims to enter the camp without facing resistance. It disregards sanctities, perpetrates killings and arrests, but the situation has changed," he said.

Asserting the camp's readiness to repel Israeli aggression, he said: "We stand united against Israel. We cherish life. The occupation compels us to take up arms. Each house with a detainee, wounded, or martyr inspires us."

In July, Palestinian resistance fighters detonated an explosive device under an Israeli military vehicle in the Nour Shams camp.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, associated with Hamas, declared that their fighters are active in the camp, responding to Israeli army incursions with explosives.

On Aug. 3, the brigades released a video showing their fighters in the alleys of Nour Shams, admitting for the first time having fighters in the camp.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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