Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, August 2012
Assad Forces Are Also Slaughtering Palestinians
By Khalid Amayreh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 6, 2012
On Thursday, shortly before the Iftar meal, when Muslims break their day-long Ramadan fast, the Syrian army fired several mortar shells on the heart of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.
At least 20 people were killed and over 70 injured in the random shelling.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has no presence whatsoever at the camp as the camp's leadership maintained strict neutrality in the 18-month internecine showdown between the minority Alawite regime and its mainly Sunni opponents.
A few weeks ago, a bus carrying more than 20 cadets of the Palestine Liberation Army was abducted by the so-called Shabbeha or pro-regime thugs in central Syria. The bus was taken to a nearby glen were all the soldiers and their driver were summarily executed.
It is not exactly known how many Palestinians have been so far killed in Syria since the outbreak of the revolution against the Bashar el-Assad regime in the early 2011. However, conservative estimates put the number at a few hundreds.
The regime denies any responsibility for the murderous killings and accuses "armed gangs" of committing the atrocities.
However, Palestinian and third-party sources affirm the responsibility of the regime for the killing.
This writer has contacted "Ahmed," a resident of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp, who holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from a Western University and asked him who he thought stood behind the killing of the Palestinians in Syria.
The man, who asked for anonymity for his own safety said the following:
"What kind of question is this? Everyone knows the regime and its thugs are behind the killing. I have no iota of doubt that the murderers and cutthroats of the regime did the killing. Do you think those who wouldn’t spare their own people would spare the Palestinians?"
I further asked him "But what interests does the regime have in deliberately murdering the Palestinians?"
He said: "It is the sectarian dimension. The sectarian regime, which relies on the small Alawite minority for its survival, thinks that most Palestinian refugees in Syria are sympathetic to and supportive of the opposition; hence it is turning its guns at our people."
I asked him further "is this true?"
He said "well I haven't carried out a scientific opinion survey to establish the facts in this regard. But if you ask me about my opinion, I think the vast bulk of Palestinians here hate the regime and hope the FSA will finish it off sooner than later.
None the less Ahmed stressed several times that, officially and practically, the Palestinians of Syria maintain strict neutrality in the bloody confrontation between the regime and the freedom fighters.
In fact, not only the Palestinian refugees in Syria are maintaining neutrality in the current crisis in Syria. Nearly all Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad as well as the Palestinian Authority (PA) are also maintaining neutrality although a large majority of Palestinians in Occupied Palestine have their hearts decidedly on the side of the mostly Sunni freedom fighters struggling to rid Syria of more than 50 years of dictatorship and tyranny under the Assad dynasty.
I recently asked one prominent Hamas leader why Hamas was maintaining strict neutrality in the conflict in Syria although it was amply clear which side has the moral high -ground.
He told me this "It is not that we are morally callous and insensitive. We have eyes and ears and hearts and minds and know well what is going on in Syria. We just don't want to give the regime a pretext to massacre the Palestinians in Syria."
Yet, the regime and its supporters seem indifferent to the fate and lives of Palestinians as is evident from the latest massacre at the Yarmouk refugee camp.
A few weeks ago, Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic movement in 1948-Palestine led a demonstration in northern Palestine in solidarity with the Syrian people.
Salah was subsequently denounced as "Zionist, Wahhabi, and agent of America and Israel" by the pro-Iranian media and Hezbullah mouthpieces.
The Sheikh, who spent the prime of his life defending the Aqsa mosque against Zionist encroachment and who languished for years in Zionist jails suddenly became "a Zionist and Wahhabi" just because he dared to speak up against the genocidal killing of the Syrian people at the hands of a ruthless regime that murders innocent, women and children as if they were flies not human beings.
Similarly, in most mosques in Occupied Palestine, special supplication prayers are recited for the Syrian people at the end of the nightly Tarawih prayers.
I really hate to invoke the sectarian dimension with regarding to the wanton, pornographic killings taking place in Syria and Iraq.
In the latter, where the country's spiritual (Shiite leadership ) e.g. Ayatollah Sistani, issued a series of Fetwas or religious edicts prohibiting followers from putting up any resistance to the invading American troops, Palestinian refugees in the hundreds have been abducted, tortured and subsequently murdered by Shiite militias, mainly the Mahdi Army of Mugtada al-Sadr and other pro-government militias.
The estimated 40,000 Palestinians living in Iraq before the ousting of Saddam were repeatedly warned to leave the country or else they will be killed by Shia militias.
More than 1000 Palestinians are believed to have died at the hands of Shia militias since 2003, including at least 500 from the Baladiat area of Baghdad.
Many of the victims were tortured with electric drills before they died.
Interestingly, the Spiritual Shiite leadership in Iraq and Iran didn't utter a single word in condemnations of the murderous killings.
Instead, they continued to invoke the fight against Zionism and American imperialism as if the non-existing confrontation with Zionism and American imperialism justified murdering Palestinians and using electrical drills to make big holes into their heads to make sure they die a painful death.
Two weeks from now, on the last Friday of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Thousands of Shiites all over the world will mark the International al-Quds day, which was designated by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in solidarity with Palestine.
We hope and pray that our Shiite brothers will exercise some soul searching on this occasion and see for themselves the utter contradictions between highlighting their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just cause on the one hand and on the other hand the barbarian sectarian killings of Palestinians and Syrians at the hands of Shiites killers who make the obscene claim that they are doing the killings for the sake of Palestine and in order to expedite the fight against Israel, America and the "Wahhabis."!!!
We Palestinians have no special enmity toward Shiites as Shiites. We are not the Almighty to hold them accountable for their beliefs and practices. This is God's business, not our business.
However, the Shiite leaderships should never bring itself to thinking that we will be neutral between the victims and the murderers, especially when the victims happen to be our own brothers in both the ethnical and religious sense.
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