Our screens are filled once again with images of weeping women, children, and the elderly marching down the street with their hands raised or waving white garments from slow-moving vehicles. Palestinians have seen this before, having lived through a long history of expulsions from their homes and villages under the threat of fire.
The newest images came in last week during the Israeli invasion of the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Reporters and ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent, which struggled to reach the injured, were impeded by military obstacles.
At a Fourth of July event in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Israeli Army had attacked “the most legitimate target on the planet — people who would annihilate our country.” He was referring to months of armed resistance against Israeli settlers by young men in the Jenin refugee camp.
More than 20 years ago, another right-wing prime minister, Ariel Sharon, led an extensive military campaign against the same refugee camp. It was two years into the second Palestinian uprising. Palestinian suicide bombers, some of whom hailed from Jenin, had rocked Israeli streets. In response, the Israeli Army invaded the West Bank and ravaged the Jenin refugee camp, then, as now, a center of Palestinian resistance.
The two invasions unfolded in vastly different contexts. Between 2002 and 2023, the illusion of partitioning the land into two states disintegrated. It exists now only in diplomatic talking points, hollowed out of all meaning, and replaced by a consensus among international and Israeli human rights organizations, including B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, that Israel is practicing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians, vindicating what Palestinians have long believed.