Residents of Yarmuk queue for food (AP, UNRWA) (AP, UNRWA)
Mideast Syria Islamic State


While there was no reaction by world leaders, Hamas slammed PA President Mahmoud Abbas for failing to prevent ISIS from killing Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.

As ISIS seizes control of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Palestinian infighting continues. There have been reports of summary executions and arrests over the past several days. Hamas has accused the PLO of abandoning Yarmouk’s residents despite the PLO’s successful efforts in evacuating 400 families.

As of Sunday, ISIS had taken over 90% of Yarmouk. Reports have emerged from the camp that ISIS fighters have carried out executions, both by beheading and by shooting, and arrests. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented 26 deaths since last Wednesday. Among the deceased is senior Hamas operative Sheikh Abu Salah Taha. A Hamas-affiliated group of 200 fighters, called the Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis Brigades, has been combatting ISIS despite the official Palestinian position of neutrality in the Syrian conflict. Officials inside the camp have indicated that the Brigades’ forces have been reduced to merely a few dozen.

Before the attack on Damascus, Yarmouk housed 18,000 persons, around 2,000 of whom have been evacuated with the cooperation of the PLO, the Red Cross, and UNRWA. “Around 400 families, approximately 2,000 people, were able to leave the camp on Friday and Saturday via two secure roads to the Zahira district, which is under army control,” said Anwar Abdul Hadi, a PLO official.

Hamas accuses the PLO of inaction

The dire situation in Yarmouk has not been sufficient to put a halt to Palestinian infighting. Hamas and the PLO are not cooperating to

alleviate the suffering of the residents of Yarmuk, and Hamas has even accused the PLO of inaction in the face of ISIS’s onslaught. “The role of the Palestinian Authority has diminished in managing the latest crisis,” said Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, Ali Barakeh, to the Hamas newspaper, al-Risalah.

The Yarmouk refugee camp housed a mixed Syrian and Palestinian population of 160,000 persons before the war. For the past two years, the camp has been under siege by the Syrian Army. In that time, at least 200 residents have starved to death, despite a humanitarian agreement between the PLO and the Assad regime.