Operation Defensive Shield

From Academic Kids

Template:NPOV Operation Defensive Shield (In Hebrew, מבצע חומת מגן) was a large-scale military operation conducted by the Israeli Defence Forces in April 2002. It was the largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.



In March 2002, more than 135 Israeli civilians were killed in terror attacks committed by Palestinian factions such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the "military branch" of Fatah). These attacks reached their peak on March 27, 2002, with the event known as the "Passover Massacre", in which a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 30 people at the Park Hotel in Netanya (28 straight off, then 2 more died from their injuries). Many of the victims were survivors of the Holocaust.

Within twenty-four hours, the IDF had issued emergency call-up notices for 20,000 reserve soldiers, the largest such call-up since the 1982 Lebanon War.


The stated goals of the operation (as conveyed to the Israeli Knesset by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 8, 2002) were to "enter cities and villages which have become havens for terrorists; to catch and arrest terrorists and, primarily, their dispatchers and those who finance and support them; to confiscate weapons intended to be used against Israeli citizens; to expose and destroy terrorist facilities and explosives, laboratories, weapons production factories and secret installations. The orders are clear: target and paralyze anyone who takes up weapons and tries to oppose our troops, resists them or endanger them - and to avoid harming the civilian population."


Since the conclusion of Operation Defensive Shield, the follow-on Operation Determined Path and the continued construction of the Israeli West Bank Barrier the level of terrorism in general, and suicide bombings in particular, has, according to some sources, dropped by more than 95% to less then five suicide bombings during the period from August 2003 to July 2004.

The Operation

By April 3, the IDF was conducting major military operations in all Palestinian cities with the exception of Hebron and Jericho. The major points of conflict were:

During the operation, strict curfews were placed on the Palestinian cities, resulting in complaints by human rights groups that essential medical attention was being denied to sick and elderly Palestinians, as well as complaints that Israel was practicing collective punishment, which is prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In some cities, there were scheduled breaks in the curfews. In others, curfews continued uninterrupted for a week or more. Throughout the two weeks of fighting in Jenin and for a few days afterward, the city and its refugee camp were under curfew.

The city of Bethlehem and its environs remained under curfew for five weeks, though there were periodic breaks, until an impasse involving gunmen within the Church of the Nativity was resolved.

In reply to these complaints, the Israeli army stated that the curfew was placed in order to prevent civilians from being caught in gunfights and get hurt. Palestinian ambulances were stopped for checks following the discovery of an explosive belt in a Red Crescent ambulance.

Notable events were the battle of Jenin and the siege of Yasser Arafat's compound. In the fighting in the Jenin refugee camp, there were allegations of a massacre of Palestinians by IDF forces which proved false. The events on the battle of Jenin are still sensitive issues for both sides.

The operation officially ended on May 10, 2002, although occupations and curfiews continued after that time, gradually tapering off. Shortly afterwards, Operation Determined Path was launched. A poll conducted after the end of the operation indicated that 86 percent of Israeli Jews thought that the operation contributed to Israel's security, but 54 percent thought the Operation has damaged Israel politically. However, in the final analysis, fully 90 percent of those surveyed asserted that the decision to launch Operation Defensive Shield was the correct decision. Views among Israeli Arabs are almost a mirror image of this consensus, with equally high numbers against the Operation.

External Links

bg:Защитен щит he:מבצע חומת מגן


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