Washington, January 4 – The Iran-backed terror group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian faction Fatah, which politically controls Palestinian areas of the West Bank, have both rejected U.N. requests to accept some 150,000 Palestinian refugees fleeing the violence in Syria. Their refusals come as U.N. officials have raised the estimated death toll in the country’s ongoing war to more than 60,000.
The Palestinian groups cited reasons ranging from financial strain to ideological opposition, the latter revolving around Palestinian insistence that tens of thousands of refugees and their descendants must be permitted to overrun Israel. Hamas’s Gaza head Ismail Haniyeh, for example, reportedly told the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that accepting fleeing Syrians would be used by Israel to vitiate future Palestinian demands for Israeli towns and villages.
The PA, experiencing a major debt crisis, has begged regional Arab leaders for millions of dollars in loans.
A substantial number of Palestinians in Syria have already fled to Lebanon and Jordan, prompting concern that the three-way proxy war being waged in Syria – which has pitted Sunni-backed rebels against the Iran-backed regime against regional Kurdish groups – may spill over into a regional conflict.
Aerial attacks by troops loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, some of which have targeted decades-old Palestinian refugee camps, have become increasingly common over the course of the past 22 months. A December attack on the Yarmouk refugee camp, which housed more than 100,000 Palestinians, utilized fixed-wing aircraft.
An aerial attack Wednesday on a gas station outside the capital left scores dead, while a car bomb at a different gas station killed nine people. Gas stations in particular have become regime targets, since shortages require motorists to line up for hours to obtain fuel.