JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday following a devastating Israeli offensive last week, marking his first visit to the camp since 2005.
The visit came at a time of simmering discontent among Palestinians in the West Bank with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, the autonomous government that administers parts of the West Bank but whose forces have largely lost control of several militant strongholds in the region. including Jenin.
Abbas’s leadership has been criticized for the lack of security coordination, endemic corruption and the absence of any progress towards independence.
The Palestinian leader’s visit to the Jenin refugee camp came a week after Israel launched a massive two-day military operation, the largest in the West Bank in nearly two decades, which killed at least 12 Palestinians, forced Thousands of people fled their homes and left large swaths of the camp in ruins.
An Israeli soldier was also killed in the operation, which the Israeli military said was necessary to suppress Palestinian militant groups following a series of recent attacks.
The Palestinian Authority has long drawn resentment over its security cooperation with Israel, which allows its security forces to crack down on rival militant groups such as Hamas, but the Jenin raid has further damaged its reputation with Israel. many Palestinians.
Abbas’ visit came after a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office that his government would take steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, but gave no details on what steps it would take.
Since taking office in December, several ultranationalist ministers in Netanyahu’s government have called for the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu leads one of the most radical governments in Israel’s history, made up of ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox factions along with his ruling Likud party.
Over the past year, Israel has intensified its raids in Palestinian areas in response to deadly Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis over the past year.
More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of the year, while at least 26 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis.