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Refugee’s Anger: If Only I Was Israeli

Man in Syrian refugee camp: Israelis have someone looking out for them, but Muslim world ignores our plight.
By Dalit Halevy, Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/14/2014, 10:13 PM

Residents of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus return to their homes
Residents of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus return to their homes
AFP photo

A resident of the Al-Yarmouk “Palestinian refugee” camp in southern Damascus has accused the Muslim world of indifference – and has said that if those in the camp were Israeli, things would be different.

A video recently released from the camp showed residents, among them women and children, sharing their desperate situation. They spoke of severe hunger and even death from starvation among camp residents.

A man who spoke to the camera angrily expressed a desire to be an Israeli citizen. If just one Israeli child were in the camp, someone would have intervened to help, he argued.

Instead, he said, the camp’s residents have been abandoned. He accused the Palestinian Authority, and the entire Muslim world, of failing to provide aid.

Al-Yarmouk has been under siege since July 2013. Residents of the camp have been hit by both sides: the Syrian army has laid siege to the area, causing severe shortages, while anti-regime forces have executed locals on suspicion of collaboration with Syrian authorities.

The camp was previously home to an estimated 400,000 “Palestinian refugees,” descendants of Arabs who left pre-state Israel during the War of Independence in 1948.

Syria and Lebanon are among the Arab countries that declined to accept Arabs from pre-state Israel as citizens, insisting instead that they - and their children, grandchildren and all future descendants – remain known as “refugees” with the right to “return” to Israel.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has suggested that some 100,000 Al-Yarmouk residents who fled fighting be allowed to reside in Judea and Samaria.

He has also reportedly expressed support for calls to move the "jihad" war from Yarmouk to Jerusalem.