JENIN, West Bank — Beneath a sign showing Saddam Hussein alongside various well-known shahids (martyrs), the residents of Jenin’s refugee camp are engaged in heated debate. At issue is whether to put up a banner commemorating the “shahid” Nashat Milhem, the Israeli Arab terrorist who killed three Israelis in a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv on January 1.
Jenin refugee camp became a violent symbol during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. It was here that the toughest battle against the Israeli army took place: 23 Israeli troops were killed, 13 of them in the single worst incident to take place during the operation, and dozens of Palestinians were killed. The residents of the camp have been seeking new heroes ever since, but not everyone is eager to accept the idea of the monument to Milhem.