Fifty Palestinians have traveled from Lebanese refugee camps to Syria to partake in “Jihad” against the regime of Bashar Assad, Fatah’s representative in Lebanon said Thursday.
Munir Al-Maqdah, who resides in southern Lebanon’s Ein El-Hilweh refugee camp, told the Lebanese daily An-Nahar that 13 of the Palestinians who left for Syria reside in his refugee camp, and eight have already returned.
Numerous reports over the past months have indicated that Hezbollah operatives entered Syria to fight with the Assad regime, but little has emerged about a Palestinian contingent fighting alongside the rebels.
According to Maqdah, 40,000 Palestinian refugees have entered Lebanon from Syria since the outbreak of civil war in the country in late 2011, with some 10,000 arriving at Ein El-Hilweh, the largest of Lebanon’s refugee camps, numbering some 80,000 residents. Some 500,000 Palestinian refugees are registered in Lebanon, deprived of citizenship and the right to work and own property. The influx has created a new strain on the already impoverished refugee population, Magdah said.
“They are experiencing difficult humanitarian conditions, with seven family members often residing in one room,” he told the daily.
Maqdah denied that the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front had infiltrated from Syrian into Lebanon’s refugee camps, but acknowledged that Jihadist ideology existed in the camps.
On Tuesday, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle, visiting the UNRWA offices in Lebanon, pledged 30 million euros to Syrian refugees flocking to the country. Five million of that sum was earmarked to Palestinian refugees.
Last Friday, two Palestinians were publicly hanged in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp, south of the capital Damascus, where fighting between government and opposition forces has been waging for months. UNRWA, a UN body responsible exclusively for Palestinian refugees, said in a statement that it was “shocked and distressed by these killings and the manner in which they were carried out.”
“UNRWA particularly deplores the increased levels of fear and trauma these deaths will generate among Palestine refugees across Syria,” the statement read.