This article first appeared on the Gatestone Institute site. The author, Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.
More than 2,500 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria three years ago, according to a report published this week by the Working Group for Palestinians in Syria. It revealed that 2,596 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in that country in 2011.
But this is a news item that has hardly found its way into mainstream media in the West. Even Arab media outlets have almost entirely ignored the report about Palestinian casualties in Syria.
The reason for this apathy, of course, is clear. The Palestinians in Syria were killed by Arabs and not as a result of the conflict with Israel.
Journalists covering the Middle East do not believe that this is an important story because of the absence of any Israeli role in the killings.
Blind Eye to Arab War Crimes
Arabs slaughtering, executing and torturing Palestinians is not sensational enough to grab a headline in a major Western or Arab newspaper. That is why most Middle East correspondents have chosen to turn a blind eye to the report.
According to the report, the victims include 157 women who were killed in the fighting between Bashar Assad’s army and various opposition groups in Syria. It also said that 268 Palestinians were killed by snipers, while another 84 were summarily executed. Another 984 Palestinians were killed when their homes and neighborhoods were shelled by the Syrian army and the opposition groups.
The report also reminded the international community that the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus has been under siege by the Syrian army for the past 547 days. Approximately 160 residents of the camp have died as a result of the siege, the report said.
It also pointed out that the camp has been without electricity for more than 620 days. Camp residents have also been cut off from water for the past 117 days, the report added.
In addition to the deaths, some 80,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in Syria due to the ongoing conflict. Nearly 15,000 have crossed the border to Jordan, while another 42,000 have fled to Lebanon, the report disclosed.
Torture and Executions in Syria Go Unreported
As if that were not enough, last week Muslim terrorists executed six Palestinians from Yarmouk camp after finding them guilty of “blasphemy.”
A senior PLO official in Syria, Anwar Abdel Hadi, said that the Palestinians were executed by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated An-Nusra terror group.
Abdel Hadi said that only 15,000 Palestinians remain in the refugee camp, which until three years ago was home to some 175,000 people.
Another report published recently revealed that 264 Palestinians have died as a result of torture in Syrian government prisons over the past few years.
The most recent deaths in Syrian prisons occurred last month, when three more Palestinians died after being tortured. The three were identified as Bila al-Zari, Mohamed Omar and Mohamed Masriyeh.
These Palestinians were arrested by the Syrian authorities on suspicion of helping anti-Assad forces in different parts of the country.
The stories of the Palestinians tortured to death in an Arab prison have also failed to win the attention of the Western media. Had any one of them died in an Israeli prison or in a confrontation with Israeli soldiers, his story and photo would have appeared on the front page of many newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
By contrast, when a top Fatah official, Ziad Abu Ein, recently died of a heart attack after an altercation with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, his story immediately caught the attention of the international media and human rights organizations. Many foreign journalists covering the Middle East covered the story of Abu Ein from every possible angle and conducted interviews with his family members and friends.
But the Palestinians who are being killed and tortured to death in Syria and other Arab countries have never received the same attention from the same journalists and human rights activists. Nor have the EU and UN, which called for an investigation into the death of Abu Ein, deemed it necessary to tackle the plight of the Palestinians in Syria.
Obsession with Israel
And who has heard of the case of Zaki Al-Hobby, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot and killed last weekend by Egyptian border guards? The Palestinian teenager was killed because he came too close to the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Witnesses said he was shot in the back and died instantly.
Once again, Al-Hobby’s story has hardly received any coverage because Israel was not involved in that incident. Had he been shot by Israeli soldiers on the other side of the border, the EU and UN would have called for an international commission of inquiry. But the teenager was unfortunate because he was shot by Egyptian soldiers, making his story “insignificant” in the eyes of the international community and media.
That Palestinians are being killed by Arabs does not seem to bother even the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders are busy these days threatening to file “war crimes” charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court. As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned — and the media, the EU, the UN and human rights groups — the only “war crimes” are being committed by Israelis, and not by Arabs who are killing, torturing and displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians. And all this is happening while the international community and media continue to display an obsession only with everything connected to Israel.