(August 8, 2018 / JNS)
A recently published report by the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria, a human-rights group, documented 3,840 cases of Palestinians who have been killed since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011. The causes of death ranged from artillery shelling to shootings or torture in the regime’s infamous prisons across the country.
In addition to this report, the Syrian regime released for the first time a list of names that included the identities of 548 killed Palestinians—without noting the causes of death. Rights groups, however, agree those Palestinians died as a result of being tortured, starved and deprived of adequate medical treatment.
The AGPS said that 1,682 Palestinians are still missing, their fates unknown. According to some assessments, these Palestinians were either killed at some time during the bloody civil war or in the “best case” scenario are still in prison. Therefore, at least 5,522 Palestinians have either been killed or have gone missing since 2011.
Along with those killed or missing, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Syria have lost their homes and employment. For example, the Yarmouk refugee camp, which was home to thousands, was utterly demolished over the course of the war. Before the camp was destroyed, the Assad regime had laid siege to it. During that time, images of emaciated Palestinians began emerging in Syrian opposition media outlets. Despite these horrors, not one official in the Palestinian Authority publicly condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad or his brutal hegemony.
This is incredible. Where is the outcry from the Palestinian Authority, Arab and global news outlets, rights groups, Palestinian and Arab politicians? Where is their denunciation of Assad’s war crimes against the Palestinians? Why isn’t every single Arab lawmaker in Israel excoriating the Syrian dictator?
When a Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorist from Gaza is killed by the Israel Defense Forces while trying to plant a roadside bomb or cut a hole in the border fence, the Arab and Western worlds are apoplectic. The Arab League issues its familiar condemnation; consistently hostile Kuwait denounces Israel at the United Nations and tries convening the Security Council; P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas requests international protection for the Palestinians; and these reactions are covered around the clock by the Arab and Western press.
When Palestinians are killed by other Arabs, evidently no one cares—not in the Arab world and not among the Palestinians themselves, whether the P.A. or Hamas. Everyone is silent. Palestinian blood in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is far more valuable than Palestinian blood in other parts of the globe. To be sure, Palestinians who are killed by IDF fire can be used as a tool—whether by Arab countries or the Western world—to undermine and weaken Israel. Human-rights groups in the West and in Israel, too, invest most of their energies and attention on the Palestinian issue in Israel. The equation is plain to see: When Israel or the Jews can’t be blamed for killing Arabs, it’s not interesting.
Throughout the war in Syria, Abbas’s silence on the plight of Palestinians in Syria has been deafening. He has never repudiated Assad or Iran for killing Palestinians there. He sought the best of all worlds: support from Iran and from the Arabs. It appears he has been successful.
During the atrocities perpetrated in Iraq several years ago, a downtrodden Yazidi woman held a placard that said: The tragedy of the Yazidi people is that the Jews aren’t their enemy.
Dr. Edy Cohen is a researcher at the BESA Center and author of the book “The Holocaust in the Eyes of Mahmoud Abbas” (Hebrew).