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‘Cycle of violence has to end’: EU envoy slams Israel’s deadly Jenin raid

European Union representative to the Palestinian territories Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff speaks to reporters as he and a delegation of international envoys visit the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on July 8, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union's representative to the Palestinian territories Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff has censured Israel over the “proportionality” of force it used during the two-day military onslaught on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

“We are concerned about the deployment of weaponry and weapons systems which question the proportionality of the military during the operation,” he said of the raid in which at least 12 Palestinians were killed and approximately 100 others injured.

One Israeli soldier was killed during the raid on Jenin. Israeli troops finally pulled back from Jenin on Tuesday evening following a 44-hour-long incursion.

The European envoy made the comments on Saturday as he led a delegation of UN officials and diplomats from 25 countries to the camp.

“This cycle of violence has to end, it cannot continue. If there is no political solution to the conflict, we are going to stand here in a week's time, in a month's time, in a year's time, with nothing changed,” he said.

Members of an international delegation walk on a devastated road during a tour of the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on July 8, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

His remarks echoed UN chief Antonio Guterres, who on Thursday told reporters “there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces” in its 48-hour operation, the largest Israel has staged in the Palestinian territory since the Second Intifada (uprising) of the early 2000s.

Guterres also said Israeli forces had prevented the injured from receiving medical care and stopped humanitarian workers from reaching those in need.

“Israel’s airstrikes and ground operations in a crowded refugee camp were the worst violence in the West Bank in many years, with a significant impact on civilians,” Guterres said.

As the delegation toured the camp, residents peered out of holes left in the walls by Israeli rockets, and local authorities tested a new camp-wide alarm system to warn of future raids.

The camp's infrastructure was severely damaged during the raid.

Eight kilometers (five miles) of water pipes and three kilometers of sewage pipes were destroyed. More than 100 houses were damaged and a number of schools were also lightly damaged, according to the United Nations.

UN officials on Saturday made a plea for funds to help rebuild the camp.

“To restore services and scale up support to the children, we need cash ... our appeal is desperately underfunded,” said Leni Stenseth, deputy commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

“I would urge you to consider announcing your support for the work we are going to do here in Jenin camp in the coming weeks and months as soon as possible.”

A group of UN experts said on Wednesday that Israel’s military raids targeting the Jenin refugee camp “may prima facie constitute a war crime.”

“Israeli forces’ operations in the occupied West Bank, killing and seriously injuring the occupied population, destroying their homes and infrastructure, and arbitrarily displacing thousands, amount to egregious violations of international law and standards on the use of force and may constitute a war crime,” the experts said in a statement.

The statement condemned Israeli forces’ so-called “counterterrorism” actions as they had “no legal justification under international law”, and expressed “grave concern” about military weaponry and tactics deployed by Israeli forces at least twice over the last two weeks against Jenin’s population.

“[Palestinians] cannot be treated as a collective security threat by the occupying Power, all the more while it advances the annexation of occupied Palestinian land, and displacement and dispossession of its Palestinian residents,” the statement said.

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