The jihadists hordes of the Islamic State (ISIS) have captured most of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, driving out thousands of Palestinian residents and brutally slaughtering many.
According to both Israeli and Palestinian media, fewer than 16,000 Palestinians now remain in the once bustling suburb. Those who remain have pleaded in vain for help from an international community that seems so engaged with the Palestinians, at least when Israel can be painted as the aggressor.
“Today I ventured out into the bombed-out streets searching for food for my children,” a 30-year-old Palestinian named Mahmoud told Israel’s Yediot Ahronot daily newspaper via telephone. “Yesterday, my neighbor was shot by snipers. Today we buried him. We are living in hell. The whole camp is surrounded and we have nothing to eat.”
Mahmoud went so far as to beseech Israel for aid. “Israel is more merciful than the Arabs,” he said.
Another Palestinian living in Yarmouk said in a telephone conversation with the Israeli news portal NRG that local residents are left praying hopelessly for salvation while trapped between invading jihadist militias and the forces of the Syrian regime. “ISIS has begun beheading Palestinians,” he said.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and his representative in Syria, Anwar Abed al-Hadi, have repeatedly stressed that they can do little to help the Palestinians suffering near Damascus. Still, some have wondered why the Palestinian leadership has not taken the case of Yarmouk before the International Criminal Court, the UN or the EU, as it did concerning Gaza after last summer’s war.
It is believed that the Palestinian leadership is fearful of directly confronting the Sunni jihadist groups, which could retaliate against additional Palestinian populations. As such, Abbas and al-Hadi have gone only so far as to ask ISIS and the Syrian regime to spare Palestinian lives.
“If Israel was acting toward the Palestinians as jihadists are now, they would have dragged Israel before the international community long ago,” a Palestinian journalist from Nablus told Israel Today. “In fact, you would have been charged even for things unworthy of indictment.”
While the journalist was speaking cynically, what he told us is a tragic fact.