Israel withdrew troops from the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday but warned the two-day raid in the area was not a one-off. Thirteen Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were killed in the operation.
Residents of the Jenin refugee camp have emerged from their homes to find alleys lined with piles of rubble and flattened or scorched cars. Shopkeepers and bulldozers have started clearing the debris while thousands who had fled the fighting are returning.
The army claimed to have inflicted heavy damage on militant groups in the operation, which included a series of airstrikes and hundreds of ground troops. But it remained unclear whether there would be any lasting effect after nearly a year and a half of heavy fighting in the West Bank.
Ahead of the withdrawal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to carry out similar operations if needed.
“At these moments we are completing the mission, and I can say that our extensive operation in Jenin is not a one-off,” he said during a visit to a military post on the outskirts of Jenin. “We will eradicate terrorism wherever we see it and we will strike at it.”
The Jenin raid was one of the most intense Israeli military operations in the West Bank since an armed Palestinian uprising against Israel's open-ended occupation ended two decades ago.
Some of the scenes from Jenin, including massive army bulldozers tearing through camp alleys, were eerily similar to those from a major Israeli incursion in 2002, which lasted for eight days and became known as the battle of Jenin.
Both operations, two decades apart, were meant to crush militant groups in the camp and deter and prevent attacks on Israelis emanating from the camp. In each case, the army claimed success.