I wrote to you last month about Jenin Refugee Camp, where a major attack by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) was carried out under the guise of a military operation targeting militants. Beginning on July 3, a two-day raid began and resulted in the murder of 12 Palestinians, including four children, over 100 wounded, and 3,000 forced to evacuate by the IOF’s indiscriminate violence. The assault was executed using weapons from US arms deals, including the Boeing-made Apache helicopter.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited Jenin, over a month since the attack. Still, there were signs of the invasion everywhere, forcing Palestinians to relive this violence daily. Streets that were destroyed by the IOF remain inaccessible, homes torched by drone strikes are haunting, bullet holes marked almost every home I passed by. The local showing me around, a resident of Jenin Refugee Camp, informed me that the IOF struck the streets first so that movement would be restricted. The IOF deliberately destroyed the streets of a densely populated refugee camp before attacking it from ground and air.
I witnessed two especially devastating sights that day: Shireen Abu Akleh’s memorial covered in bullet holes, a testament to the relentless violence perpetuated in Jenin, and the graves of the martyrs that this attack produced. The 12 graves were gathered on a small patch of land, with flowers planted on top of them. Some included pictures of the martyrs, revealing how young these so-called “militants” were. I could feel the collective grief in the air. Two young boys were visiting them when we arrived, and those passing by exclaimed “May God have mercy on them.” The invasion failed to destroy Jenin’s spirit of resistance.
We’ve discussed how arms sales to Israel violate Biden’s Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) policy before, but here’s a quick recap: Biden's Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) policy, prohibits authorizing arms transfers if the recipient is likely to use them for "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949," including violence against children. The Jenin attack resulted in the death of 4 children, and over 35 children have been killed by Israel this year, yet these deals continue.
Biden’s CAT policy was just released February of this year, specifically to include tighter restrictions on arms deals, but somehow Israel is evading accountability yet again. It begs the question, are policies written in a way to allow exceptions where it benefits US interests? The US government is given more than enough proof that Israel uses US weapons to commit atrocities when the IOF targets and murders children and the former prime minister Naftali Bennett confirms and defends this on BBC. It is clear that even the US’s own policies cannot stop them from aiding ethnic cleansing abroad.
That does not mean that all is hopeless. If it’s one thing being Palestinian teaches you, it’s that there is always room to resist, because our personal power is our greatest tool. As US citizens, and citizens of the world, we all have the responsibility to use our personal and collective power in every capacity we can. If the US writes a subjective policy perpetuating oppressive structures abroad, it is our job to do everything we can to pressure that subjectivity in favor of the oppressed. During my visit to Palestine, the Palestinians there emphasized how important international support is, especially in the US. It is our duty to honor that by demanding better from Congress.
Nour and the entire CODEPINK team