At least 10 Palestinian refugees were killed Wednesday in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, activists posting to a Facebook account for the camp reported.
According to media from the camp, 15-year-old Jalal Yousif Salih was shot dead by a Syrian government sniper near the Palestine Hospital in the camp. Photos of the victim were published before he was identified. Another victim identified as 10-year-old Fadi Alaa al-Masri was shot dead in the al-Zein neighborhood. Earlier, a body was found in the Black Stone neighborhood. The victim was later identified as Muhammad Shaaban.
An elderly man was also shot dead in the Deir Yasin neighborhood, according to activists. They identified him as 70-year-old Ahmad Abbas.
Syrian female refugees aged 14 and 15 who fled their country to Jordan and Iraq are being forced into “pleasure marriages” (Nikah al-Mut’ah) — a pre-Islamic custom allowing men to marry for a limited period.
Apart from being a cover for legalized prostitution (the marriage can last for as little as 30 minutes), Nikah al-Mut’ah deprives the wife of many rights.
No divorce is necessary in “pleasure marriages,” for instance, and the husband may void the marriage earlier than agreed.
What is most disturbing about this practice is not even whether or not the wife has rights, so much as that Muslim scholars and preachers have given the green light to their followers to exploit the plight of the poor and helpless Syrian girls.
Muslim men from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have in the past few weeks asked their embassies in Amman and Baghdad to help them find Syrian girls living in makeshift refugee camps in Jordan and Iraq.
This is happening at a time when the oil-rich Arab countries are doing almost nothing to help the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who are living in extremely difficult conditions.
Some Arab human rights activists have condemned the phenomenon, but their voice has thus far fallen on deaf ears.
Muslim preachers in a number of Arab countries have been encouraging their followers to engage in “pleasure marriages” with Syrian girls as a way of ridding them and their families of their misery. Some of these preachers have even issued fatwas [Islamic decrees] permitting the sexual exploitation of minors.
Many of these girls, according to reports in a number of Arab media outlets, are being returned to their families after hours or days of the temporary marriage.
Some of the victims are being sold by their desperate families to Muslim men in return for a few hundred dollars.
The Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustour revealed that Muslim men from the kingdom were also exploiting the plight of the Syrian refugees by targeting 14 and 15 year old girls.
According to sources in Amman, some Jordanian Islamists have even divorced their wives in favor of temporary marriage of minors.
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, expressed outrage over the “ugly exploitation” of Syrian girls who fled the war in their country.
“Exploiting the conditions of the girls in the refugee camps by marrying them temporarily is a form of rape that must stop immediately,” Atwan wrote. “Those responsible for this crime should be brought to trial.”
Yet Atwan’s condemnation seems to be a lone voice in the desert. No prominent Muslim figure or organization has deemed it necessary to denounce the sexual exploitation of the Syrian girls.
A new poll released at an international conference on Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries shows that a great proportion of Arab Israelis (54%) than Jewish Israelis (48%) believe issues pertaining to Jewish refugees from Arab countries deserve as much attention as those pertaining to Arab refugees from Israel’s war of independence.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told attendees, “The Arab world has neglected Arab refugees for decades and has used them as a battering ram against Israel, while Israel, which was just born as a nation-state, has absorbed and resettled the Jewish refugees from Arab countries and turned them into productive citizens.”
Before 1948, there were close to one million Jews living in the Arab world, while today only a few thousand still remain. During the four years following the establishment of the state of Israel, violent anti-Semitic riots broke out across the Middle East and restrictive government measures were put in place, which forced ancient Jewish communities, some thousands of years old, to dissolve. Driven from their homes and properties, 856,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries and Iran, fleeing mostly to Israel but also to the United States, Europe, Canada, and elsewhere.
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has launched a new campaign to mark this tragedy in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Ministry of Pensioner Affairs. Called ‘I Am a Refugee,’ the international campaign seeks to bring the forgotten and often overlooked stories of Jewish refugees from Arab countries to both Israel and the international community.
The campaign, led by Deputy Foreign Minister, Daniel Ayalon, whose own father’s family was forced to flee Algeria, aims to highlight the injustices that were done to the Jewish refugees, via Facebook and online sources. “The time has come to correct an ongoing historical injustice that has affected half of the population of Israel,” said Deputy FM Ayalon on the MFA website.
Jews living in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and Syria lost their legal status, properties and homes, which in many cases were seized by the government. On the I Am a Refugee Facebook campaign page, personal stories, photos, video documentaries, and documents have been uploaded of Jewish life and escape from these different Middle Eastern countries. In one pre-World War II photo, a class of Jewish youngsters can be seen in a Benghazi synagogue, while another photo depicts a Jewish wedding in Aleppo, Syria in 1914. In others, Iraqi and Kurdish Jewish refugees are seen arriving to Israel in the 1950s, while other photos show life in the Israeli transit camps that absorbed these refugees. An uploaded video documentary tells the story of a Jewish family’s exodus from Egypt.
According to MFA website, the personal stories that appear on the Facebook page will be presented at a conference in New York when the United National General Assembly convenes at the end of September.
Ayalon has asked Jewish refugees and their families to take an active part of this campaign via Facebook, to “tell the world your personal story, which is an inseparable part of the Jewish people and the story of the re-establishment of the State of Israel.”
This past June, the United Nations marked World Refugee Day, where only one group of refugees—the Jewish refugees from Arab countries– was noticeably absent, according to a recent Huffington Post article written by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Proser. “The historic Jewish presence in the Arab World must be recognized. The grave injustices inflicted upon them must be acknowledged,” Prosor wrote in response to the UN oversight.
The I Am a Refugee campaign aims to open the way to international acknowledgement and recognition of the Jewish refugee issue. This coming Monday, an international conference of jurists and experts on the refugee matter will be held in Jerusalem, to continue to advance this campaign.
SEPTEMBER 5, 1934 - Mrs. Stephen S. Wise, president of the Women’s Association of the American Jewish Congress, who has just returned from a visit to the German refugee centers in Europe, will be hostess this afternoon to 500 Brooklyn women who have pledged to support the establishment of a center in New York City for refugees from Nazi Germany.
The center, to be known as Congress House, is now being established at 50 West Sixty-eighth street, under the supervision of the Women’s Association of the American Jewish Congress.
This afternoon’s reception will take the form of a linen shower for the benefit of Congress House. Those who attend represent the Brooklyn division of the Women’s Association which has undertaken to supply all linens for the establishment. The affair is also in the nature of a preview to an invited list of guests, prior to the formal opening of Congress House later this month.
Mrs. Charles J. Turow, acting chairman of the Brooklyn Division, will lead the Brooklyn delegation. Mrs. Wise, who returned to the United States on Saturday, following a two-months trip abroad, will describe conditions among the refugees and relate the decisions of the Geneva world Jewish conference.
Congress House is designed to provide recreational, shelter and food facilities gratis for refugees from Germany. The institution is designed to ease the process of reorientation for German refugees.
Facilities for the establishment of Congress House were made available through the courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Institute of Religion, which turned over the West Sixty-eighth street building to the Women’s Association for this purpose.
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak on Thursday toured the Northern Command and the Golan Heights along with commanders stationed in the region and told reporters that the IDF is preparing for the possibility that waves of refugees will escape from Syria to the Golan Heights. “If required to stop waves of refugees, we will do so,” he stated.
Barak addressed recent occurrences in Syria, mainly the targeting of top security officials of Bashar al-Assad’s regime by oppositions forces. He said, “What happened yesterday in Damascus will greatly expedite the fall of the Assad family.”
Barak added that “those killed are closest to the regime. The blow is severe; it is severe to the radical axis, to the Iranians and to the Hezbollah terrorist organization, who are the only supporters of the Assad family.”
“The regime in Syria under the Assad family is weakening in front of our very eyes, and soon the Assad family will fall and nobody knows what will happen next,” added Barak. “We are concerned the disorder will bring to the downfall of sensitive systems: there are many chemical weapons in Syria, scattered throughout the country, and many weapons are possessed by civilians.”
The defense minister stressed that the IDF is following up on the possibility that once the Assad regime falls, the Hezbollah terrorist organization will try to transfer advanced weapons systems, heavy missiles and chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Israel’s Home Front Command, in conjunction with the various rescue and emergency bodies in Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel, conducted the largest home front drill ever held there. The exercise simulated hundreds of rockets striking the city, including direct hits on strategic buildings, most notably on Haifa’s Technion University, during which gas masks were distributed to residents in nearby areas.
Billboards with a series of maps that purport to show Israel’s continued and systematic expropriation of ‘Palestinian land’ have gone up at suburban New York train stations, including heavily Jewish populated Westchester County, the JTA reported.
The ads depict a succession of shrinking Palestinian territories in four maps and are accompanied by a statement that reads: “4.7 million Palestinians are classified as refugees by the United Nations.” The ad claims to cover “Palestinian loss of land” from 1946 to 2010.
The billboards were posted under the aegis of The Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine and funded by Henry Clifford, its chairman. The group describes itself on its website as “a diverse, community-based group dedicated to organizing activities and educational events that advance the cause of peace and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.” The group was also an endorser of the “Occupy AIPAC” weekend long ”policy summit.” Among its other initiatives is the “Be on Our Side: End U.S. military aid to Israel” campaign.
Clifford told FoxNews.com that he paid $25,000 to display the billboards at 50 Metro-North stations for 30 days. The billboards have reportedly been spotted in Scarsdale, White Plains, Mount Kisco, Tarrytown, and Chappaqua.
The Anti-Defamation League called the ads “deliberately misleading and biased.”
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex and cannot be summarized in a series of four maps,” Ron Meier, ADL New York’s regional director, said in a statement. “This ad campaign completely ignores the facts, including the history of land ownership prior to 1948, Israel’s repeated efforts to exchange land for peace, and the commitment of successive Israeli governments to achieving a two-state solution with the Palestinians.”
“There’s always room for discussion of different sides of every story, but there’s no room for discussion on fact,” Clifford told FoxNews.com. “Anyone who challenges these maps and the content of these ads, it’s they’re obligation to show that they’re historically wrong. The ball is in their court.”
Last month, the Coalition to Stop 30 Billion to Israel erected over 20 billboards across Los Angeles in a campaign to halt US military aid to Israel. But the billboards were removed shortly after due to pressure from the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs and U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.).
“Gaza is the largest Palestinian city, roughly 500,000 in the metro area, out of 850.000 altogether in the province of Gaza. In 2009 the total population of the Gaza Strip was estimated in 2009 at 1,600,000.”
We Google-translated the above from رحلة سياحية لغزة (Tourist Trip to Gaza), which is part of the Tourism section of a website belonging to a radio station named “Sun.” The section on Gaza encourages tourism to the city which has been associated in popular public opinion with images of starving refugees huddled in shacks under daily Zionist air raids.
Sun is a regular radio broadcast of the Arab minority in Israel since 2003. Its slogan is: “Free Radio, modern Radio.” It says it represents the generation that no longer accepts being second class citizens in Israel. It is open to liberals who dare to break all political or social taboos. It also works to challenge the institution of the state and at the same time to build bridges of understanding and co-existence between Jews and Arabs.
The “Visit Gaza” section is current, and offers stunning images of Gaza City, a beautiful and vivacious place that could easily compete with many Israeli beach towns, including my own gorgeous city of Netanya.
So, all we have left to do is to take you on a tour of Gaza, and for the fun of it, we’ll add to these fabulous images quotes from two sources about conditions in this lovely city by the sea, UNRWA and the PA. In the end there’s a video you don’t want to miss. Enjoy!
As the Gaza blockade moves into its fifth year, a new report by the UN’s agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, says broad unemployment in the second half of 2010 reached 45.2 per cent, one of the highest in the world. The report released today, finds that real wages continued to decline under the weight of persistently high unemployment, falling 34.5 per cent since the first half of 2006. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)
The report concludes that 90% of Gaza water is unfit to drink. The reasons behind this deteriorating situation, the writer of the report believes, are the racist policies of occupation, the latest war on Gaza , the siege, and the division and its impact on society and education, which resulted in 45% of unemployed graduates. (Gaza Under Attack, Refugees Deteriorating Conditions)
The Refugees’ Affairs Department of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) published a report detailing the conditions of Palestinian refugees, living in the Gaza Strip. The report compares the conditions of refugees in 2012 and 2006. The report writer, Ala’a Abu-Diaa, states that refugees’ conditions are deteriorating, in relation to housing and lands’ price, which doubled in the last five years. The rate of exports decreased 80% compared to the pre-siege period. Gazans found refuge, the report continues, in tunnels linking Gaza with Egypt. (Gaza Under Attack, Refugees Deteriorating Conditions)
The UNRWA report finds that the private sector was particularly badly hit compared to the government sector. In the second half of 2010 businesses shed over 8,000 jobs, a decline in employment of nearly 8 per cent relative to the first half of the year. By contrast, the Hamas-dominated public sector grew by nearly 3 per cent during the same period. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)
Human rights activists have criticized the international community for its silence on the flagging Gaza economy that has been shattered by the siege and the 22-day Israeli assault on the Gazans at the turn of 2009. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)
“These are disturbing trends,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “and the refugees, which make up two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population were the worst hit in the period covered in this report. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)
“Over a million refugees in Gaza live in hard conditions in several camps across the strip and are dependent on assistance provided by the UNRWA,” the report said. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)
The UN agency needs to build 100 schools and 10,000 housing units in addition to a number of health centers but these have been severely hampered by Israeli siege of the strip. (UNRWA: Gaza blockade anniversary report)
Successive UN human rights chiefs have slammed Israel’s illegal settlement plans, its Gaza blockade and the building of an apartheid wall across Palestinian territories in the occupied West Bank among other things. (UNRWA)
Refugees are still going through endless crisis, beginning with electricity and including fuel, which affect all walks of life in the besieged coastal enclave. The newly published report states that over 70% of refugees depend mainly on aid delivered by UNRWA.