Why is there a "refugee camp" in Jenin?
The city has been under Palestinian Authority control for nearly three decades. The residents live in "Palestine, so they aren't refugees or even the grandchildren of refugees. They live in the land they claim as their own, under Palestinian rule. There is no definition of "refugee" in the world that would call these people refugees.
Yet they live, rent free, in a cramped "refugee camp" and the world pays for their housing, as well as their schooling and their medical care - all services way beyond what real refugees receive.
One can see from a satellite image the clear outlines of the Jenin camp. The structures are much smaller than in the surrounding town and the roads, such as they are, are narrow.
In 2002, after the IDF went into Jenin and destroyed the terrorist infrastructure in fierce fighting with heavy casualties on both sides, the Israeli housing minister offered to rebuild the camp elsewhere where residents could have larger houses and wider roads - to live like normal people in their land.
The idea was vehemently rejected.
One of the self-appointed leaders of the camp said that the Israeli offer to rebuild everything better was really a plot "to erase the camps from existence, because these camps as a political reality constitute living testaments to the Nakba of the Palestinian people." (source, page 128)
That's exactly it. The camps are considered an important symbol of "resistance," not a place where human beings actually live. When UNRWA wanted to rebuild the camps and widen the roads, the same self-appointed leaders again opposed the plan, because wider roads meant the IDF could more easily enter. UNRWA and the committee remained at an impasse for months before the actual camp residents got their own committee together and said they wanted the UNRWA plan. The residents committee head said:
If we left it to debate we would have needed another five years. We agreed with the UNRWA plan. The families I meet now are happier and they are happy with the roads. If the Israeli army uses the road once (a day), we use it 100 times a day.
This is the way things have been since 1948. Ordinary Palestinians are stuck with leaders who actively want to use them as "symbols" of misery - by keeping them miserable.
These leaders choose to keep hundreds of thousands of people in "camps" - places that are ideal for terrorists to flourish, where the leaders can cry to the TV cameras about how Israel is bombing these densely populated areas and where they really, really hope that civilians die.