JENIN, West Bank — Ramadan nights in this Palestinian city were normally spent staying up late watching drama and comedy series during what is peak TV season, praying or drinking coffee and smoking hookah pipes at all-night cafes.
But this year in Jenin, amid a widespread Israeli military operation throughout the occupied West Bank, residents were staying up late waiting for the next military raid in their city.
“We’re exhausted,” said Israa Awartani, 32, who works at a theater. “We start to think: When will it be my turn? When will it be my son or another family member?”
Over the course of a week last month, Israeli forces carried out a widespread campaign of raids into towns and cities across the West Bank, killing at least 14 Palestinians, in a response to a wave of recent Palestinian attacks inside Israel that killed 14 people. The Israeli authorities imposed temporary economic sanctions and arrested dozens of people.
Israel said the stepped-up military activities were a counterterrorism effort to prevent further attacks, and that it focused them on the hometowns and villages of the recent attackers. However, Palestinian residents and critics say the operation amounts to collective punishment and is counterproductive, as it will only further stoke the cycle of hatred and bloodshed.
“The objective is always to increase pressure but it never works. If it worked you wouldn’t see the same cycle of violence we see annually,” said Tahani Mustafa, a West Bank analyst with the International Crisis Group.