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Hamas’ Double Standard On Syria

Al-Arab, London, June 23

About eight kilometers from downtown Damascus is a large refugee camp by the name of Yarmouk. Established in 1957 to house Palestinian refugees, the camp quickly transformed into the epicenter of the exiled Palestinian community living in Syria, as well as other displaced populations. Sadly, it also has suffered massive destruction. In April 2015, Islamic State forces entered the camp and launched an assault against rebels from the Free Syrian Army who were positioned at Yarmouk. Within a few days, the camp was completely taken over by ISIS fighters, who began executing citizens in the streets. Over 10,000 Palestinians are estimated to have fled the camp, while hundreds of others were killed. The camp was placed under siege for months. This is one of the biggest tragedies in Palestinian history, one that calls for widespread condemnation and denunciation. Yet the world, and even the Palestinian leadership, has remained silent. Worst of all is Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who went so far as to describe the Syrian regime as a “guardian of Palestinian rights.” In making such a shameful statement, Haniyeh revealed that Hamas does not care at all about the rights of Palestinians. Even more troubling, if Hamas is not bothered by the condition of Palestinian refugees abroad, why should it care about those living in the Gaza Strip? Indeed, since Hamas took over Gaza a decade ago, it has done nothing to improve the living conditions of the population it controls. The only thing the people of Gaza have experienced under Hamas’ rule is increased misery and isolation. Hamas chose to align itself with Iran and Syria, thereby cutting off the Gaza Strip not only from the West Bank, but also from the rest of the world. Hamas’ division with the Palestinian Authority, coupled with its insistence on affiliating with the worst regimes in the region, has only brought death and destruction upon the people of Palestine. Instead of pretending that the Syrian regime is loyal to Palestinians, Haniyeh should begin to stand up for his own people. The displacement of Palestinians is wrong and devastating wherever it happens, be it in the Occupied Territories or in Syria. To understand the despair of the people of Palestine, Hanieyh should take a stroll through the streets of Gaza.  –Kheir Allah

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