While the world’s focus is on Israel’s genocidal siege and bombing campaign in Gaza, Israel is also inflicting terror on Palestinians across the occupied West Bank. At least 186 people, including more than 30 children, have been killed there by the Israeli military and settlers since October 7. And nowhere in the occupied territories has seen more military aggression than the Jenin refugee camp, which to all intents and purposes has become a warzone.
Since 2018, the Brighton Trust, an English charity that I am part of, has been helping fund the Al Tafawk Children’s Centre in the camp. It is a place where children can go to learn, play and socialise. In recent weeks, many have sought refuge from Israeli bombing in the Centre, and have been sleeping there because their homes have been destroyed.
Like every corner of the overpopulated camp, the Al Tafawk Children’s Centre is currently under attack. In fact, it has been under attack for a long time.
In July this year, during their violent incursion into Jenin which killed 12 Palestinians, Israeli soldiers also raided the Centre and wrecked it.
They not only destroyed all facilities and equipment, including children’s books, but also punched large holes into the exterior walls of the building, leaving it barely habitable. Our charity, together with the British Shalom-Salaam Trust, had to raise money to repair the building and replace equipment.
Children eventually returned to the Centre, but it was clear that they were not safe there. The Israeli military was determined not to allow Palestinians in Jenin to have peace and quiet, even at a centre for children. And things got significantly worse since Israel responded to Hamas’s October 7 attack with a genocidal bombing campaign in Gaza and increasingly aggressive and deadly military operations across the West Bank.
A teacher at the Al Tafawk Children’s Centre wrote to me in mid-October about the horrific situation Jenin’s children have been in since the July incursion.
“We did not have one peaceful night since [July],” she explained. “When the attacks on the Gaza Strip started, the attacks on the camp became even worse. Life got so hard that it feels like we can’t breathe. The soldiers are threatening that they will do the same to us in Jenin, as they are doing to people in Gaza. Actually, they have already started doing it, but the world is too busy elsewhere, showing only the Israeli side of the story. We have only one wish today. To have just one peaceful night, without waking up with the news that a family member or an entire family got killed.”
She went on to tell me about the night soldiers entered her home and detained her family for hours as they tried to capture someone in the area.