Eye on the Middle East Jul/Aug 2002
When the Israelis decided to go into the refugee camp at Jenin in order to ferret out terrorists and their weapons-making factories, a fateful decision was made. Instead of using massive, indiscriminate bombing campaigns as the United States used in Afghanistan, Israel decided to place a premium on safeguarding innocent Palestinian civilians. Consequently, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists moved slowly through the crowded alleys, going from door to door, searching each house for weapons.
“It was a soldier’s nightmare: every step was booby-trapped,” wrote two Jerusalem Post reporters. “The Israeli army was amazed at the sophistication and quantity of weapons and bombs found in Palestinian terrorists’ lairs.”1
They discovered and destroyed literally tons of weapons, plus bombmaking factories and the materials used to create a multitude of death-dealing paraphernalia. “‘If you saw the laboratories,’ said an IDF soldier, ‘you would understand how many bombs they can produce, [which is about] as many as they want.’”2
But there was a price to pay. Destroying the arsenals with carpet bombs or helicopter gun ships could have been accomplished in minutes, with no loss of Jewish life. But the agonizingly slow and dangerous process of going house to house was a different story. Wherever IDF reservists discovered bomb factories and weapons supply houses, they destroyed them. This was done in a relatively small area of the city. Twelve reservists died when booby-trapped houses in a narrow street were detonated and sent crashing down to bury them alive. In all, twenty-three Israelis lost their lives.
The Israelis had long known that the Jenin refugee camp was a Palestinian base for making weapons and harboring terrorists. It also produced more suicide bombers (twenty-three) than anywhere else in the Palestinian-controlled sector.
When the incursion ended, Israel had saved perhaps hundreds of innocent Palestinian lives in an operation that, given the fierce fighting, resulted in few casualties on either side.
But that was not the way the Palestinians, UN anti-Israel forces, and much of the media portrayed it. Immediately charges of a massacre began to fly. The Palestinians alleged that more than five hundred people had been systematically murdered by IDF troops. The UN took up the theme and voted a before-the-fact resolution condemning Israel for what amounted to war crimes violations.
Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority saw their golden opportunity to conjure up images of Lebanon and what happened in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps when Lebanese militia went in and slaughtered scores of people. If the same charge can be pinned on Ariel Sharon and the Israelis, the tide of international public opinion can be turned permanently in our favor, they thought. For a time, their charge stuck. Before any investigations were held, the “war crimes” vendetta made the rounds, inflaming the media and government offices, particularly in Europe. That was before anyone took the time to look.
When human rights agencies and officials went in to assess what actually happened, another picture emerged. There was no massacre. This fact was stated emphatically by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and a number of other human rights groups. Indeed, nothing even remotely resembling a massacre had taken place. Try as they might, the Palestinians were only able to produce some fifty-six bodies, most of them wearing military gear. Only a few were civilians. Israelis had accomplished their objective with extreme precision.
As is often the case, however, by the time the truth was out, the damage had already been done. Israel had once again been vilified for protecting its people and sparing innocent Palestinian lives. One wonders why there exists an almost frantic desire to slander Jewish people and Israel with false accusations and then attempt to dignify the smear tactics in ways that will endure. In the end, there can be only one answer. There is, in fact, a conspiracy to condemn. It is the same satanically inspired mania that fueled the crusades, pogroms, and the Holocaust. Israel is God’s Land. His land is the land of the Jewish people. Satan, his legions, and human coconspirators will never tolerate that reality.
Should true, godly believers stand with the Jewish people and their God-given rights to a secure homeland? What happened in the Jenin refugee camp is but one more reason to do so.
- Matthew Gutman and Robert Daniel, “This is really war,” The International Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2002, p. 3.