4th August 2008.
Extraordinary developments in Gaza have given a new meaning to the term
‘Palestinian refugees’. As the Jerusalem Post reports, fierce fighting in Gaza
between Fatah and Hamas over the weekend, in which 11 people died and
dozens more were wounded, resulted in 180 Fatah refugees fleeing from what
they called a ‘war of genocide’ by Hamas against Fatah supporters.
And where did they flee to? Why, to Israel, of course — which allowed them in
and proceeded to treat 23 of them (some of whom were wounded by the Israeli
army after they approached the crossing into Israel) in Israeli hospitals. These
refugees say they cannot return to Gaza because they will be killed. How
fortunate, therefore, that their own Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, can give
them sanctuary in the West Bank!
But hang on – Abbas won’t let them in. Yup, with the exception of five
individuals whom he did allow in, he’s denied them all sanctuary. He says they
should go back to Gaza. And the invaluable Khaled abu Toameh tells us the
“PA officials explained that the reason behind their refusal to absorb the
new ‘refugees’ was their desire not to encourage other residents of the Gaza
Strip to leave. ‘Everyone knows that if we allow people to leave the Gaza Strip,
almost all the residents living there would try to cross the border into Israel,’
said a senior PA official.”
But there was also another reason:
“The last thing Abbas needs is another 180 bitter Fatah thugs from the
Gaza Strip patrolling the streets of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus and
imposing a reign of terror on the local population. Past experience has shown
that the Palestinians in the West Bank have never been enthusiastic about the
presence of their brethren from the Gaza Strip among them.”
So now Israel, with its iron commitment to human rights, is to hear a court case
today where it will be argued that Israel has a moral duty to grant asylum to
these Fatah men.
So let’s get our head round this: Palestinians committed to the destruction of
Israel fled from other Palestinians committed to the destruction of Israel into
Israel, which is providing them with sanctuary and medical treatment, while the
president of their putative state who bases his claim against Israel on its alleged
refusal to admit Palestinian ‘refugees’ refused to allow actual Palestinian
refugees fleeing Palestinian violence access to that same putative state, while
Israel agonises over whether to grant them permanent asylum.
Surreal, or what?
One of the Fatah men said that: “he too was wounded at the beginning of the
clashes. The father of three, who has undergone surgery in his leg, said he first
tried to go to a hospital in Gaza City, but was blocked by Hamas. ‘Hamas had
closed all the roads leading to the hospital. I wanted to go to Shifa Hospital [in
Gaza City], but Hamas did not allow any ambulance to enter our area. In the
end, my brother drove me to the Israeli border,’ he said. When asked if he
wanted to go back to the Gaza Strip, he replied: ‘It would be like a death
sentence for me. I hope they don’t force us to go back.'”
Closed the roads leading to the hospital… not allowing ambulances to enter the
area to collect the wounded…
When reading the coverage of these clashes later today in the British
press or watching and listening to it on the BBC, just consider what that
coverage would have been like if it had been Israel rather than Hamas that had
behaved like this.
The Jerusalem Post reports: “At least 12 of those who were wounded in
Saturday’s fighting were under the age of 15…”
What is that unfamiliar sound emanating from all those who routinely scream
that Israel kills Palestinian children? It is called silence.