Daily Israel Report

Syria's Yarmouk Refugees New Threat to Israel?

Some 100,000 Syrians have escaped the Yarmouk “refugee camp” that is a suburb of Damascus. Are they headed to Israel?
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 12/20/2012, 8:22 AM

Members of family that fled Yarmouk
Members of family that fled Yarmouk
Reuters

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus that began as a refugee camp for Arabs who fled Israel during its various wars and their descendants.


Some half a million of those Arabs are still referred to as Palestinians, however, even though today they call Syria home. Activists have said that more than 700 of them have been killed since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.

Now there is a campaign to bring those Arabs to the Palestinian Authority territories, and possibly to Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the PA, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah, has appealed to the United Nations to force Israel to allow the Syrian refugees to enter Judea, Samaria and Gaza to escape the fighting.

Abbas made the appeal Wednesday after some 100,000 refugees fled the fighting in Yarmouk. Earlier in the week, dozens from the camp were killed when Syrian Air Force fighter jets fired missiles at Yarmouk.

The Syrian government explained its actions by saying hundreds of “terrorists” had entered Yarmouk over the past several days. The Assad regime refers to opposition forces as “terrorists” in its media statements.

Conditions in Yarmouk are indeed abysmal; Syria, as has other Arab nations, refused to allow the refugees to integrate and instead forced them to forever remain apart.

Now, as the regime of President Bashar al-Assad faces the same revolution that brought down decades-old rulerships in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, fierce fighting has reached the capital. It has also reached Yarmouk, home not only to refugees, but also to Palestinian Authority and other terrorist groups that have infiltrated over the years.

The Communist-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has already thrown in its lot with the Assad regime, and is fighting the rebel forces. The Gaza-based Hamas faction, whose political bureau was for years based in Damascus, fled the city and is now based in Qatar. Lebanon-based Shi'ite Muslim Hizbullah terrorist fighters have been dispatched by Iran to bolster Assad's forces as well.

Sources say that less than ten percent of Yarmouk's population remains. Some 90 percent of its Arab residents have fled. The question is: where are they headed?