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On April 3, 2002, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) launched a major military operation in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin, home to some fourteen thousand Palestinian refugees. The Israelis' expressed aim was to capture or kill Palestinian militants responsible for suicide bombings and other attacks that have killed more than seventy Israeli and other civilians since March 2002. A Human Rights Watch team of three experienced researchers spent seven days in Jenin between April 19 and April 28, 2002 to establish a credible, impartial and detailed record of the fighting. Human Rights Watch found that a number of ranking Palestinian militants from the Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade lived in the refugee camp, but noted that the vast majority of the population in the camps were civilians who had nothing to do with terrorist activities. HRW found that during their incursion into the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting prima facie to war crimes.

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