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UAE pledges $15m to help rebuild occupied West Bank camps hit hard by Israeli offensive

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UAE says it will provide $15m to help rebuild Jenin refugee camp in occupied West Bank

TEL AVIV, Israel — The United Arab Emirates on Thursday pledged $15 million to help rebuild the Jenin refugee camp following Israel’s fiercest military campaign in the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades.

The funding pledge came after a two-day offensive destroyed the camp’s narrow roads and alleys. The operation was aimed at cracking down on Palestinian militants following a spate of recent attacks against Israelis that caused thousands to flee their homes. Twelve Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were killed in the fighting.

Israel invaded violently this week, with bulldozers tearing through the streets to clear the way for the deployment of hundreds of soldiers. Israel withdrew its troops on Wednesday, revealing a scene of devastation.

The densely populated area, home to about 24,000 people, had roads damaged and piles of broken asphalt, stones and rocks strewn along the roadside. Cars were smashed, charred, and some overturned on the side of the road.

UNRWA said some of its own facilities were damaged, including windows and walls in health centers and roads leading to schools.

At a donor conference last month, UNRWA fell short of the $300 million it said it needed to continue aiding the Palestinians, with countries pledging just $107 million. The funding shortfall came even as the UN secretary-general said UNRWA was “on the brink of financial collapse”.

Israel on Monday launched an incursion into what has long been known as a bastion for Palestinian militants, saying the goal was to destroy and confiscate weapons. It launched airstrikes and deployed hundreds of soldiers in an operation reminiscent of a bloody period two decades ago known as the Second Intifada, the Palestinian uprising against an indefinite Israeli occupation.

Some of the scenes in Jenin, including large military bulldozers tearing up camp alleys, are eerily similar to scenes from Israel’s massive 2002 invasion, which lasted eight days and became known as the Battle of Jenin.

The operations, separated by two decades, were aimed at suppressing militant groups in the refugee camps and deterring and preventing attacks on Israelis. In each instance, the army claimed success, only to be dragged into a new wave of military raids and Palestinian attacks.

Many Palestinians see the gunman’s actions as the inevitable result of the 56-year occupation and the lack of any political process with Israel. They also noted an increase in settlement construction and violence by extremist settlers in the West Bank.

The massive raid comes amid a surge in violence that has lasted more than a year, posing a challenge to the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His coalition, dominated by ultranationalists, has called for tougher action against Palestinian militants, only to see the fighting worsen.

More than 140 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank this year, and Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed at least 25, including a shooting that killed four settlers last month.

In the 1967 Middle East War, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The territories are sought by the Palestinians to establish what they want as an independent state.

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