Donate

The Great Palestinian Refugee Racket

Since its inception, as many have pointed out, the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has considered “refugees” not just Arabs who fled Israel during its War of Independence but also their descendants, thus deviating from the standard definition of the term used by the UN itself and international law more generally. UNRWA, which tends exclusively to Palestinian refugees while those of all other nationalities are the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner’s Office of Refugees (UNHCR), also insists on keeping its charges in a permanent state of refugeedom, often in “camps,” rather than integrating them into the countries where they have settled as is normal international practice. And these, writes Efraim Karsh, are only some of the special liberties taken when determining who is a Palestinian refugee:

The notion of refugees and displaced persons has been invariably equated with unprovoked victimhood. . . . Members of aggressing parties, including innocent civilians victimized as a result of their [own] governments’ aggression, have been viewed as culprits, undeserving of humanitarian international support.

Thus, for example, not only did the constitution of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) [the precursor to the UNHCR] deny refugee status to the millions of “persons of ethnic German origins” driven from their homes in the wake of World War II—thereby forcing West (and East) Germany to resettle them in their territories at their own expense—but it also singled out persons who had “voluntarily assisted the enemy forces since the outbreak of the [war] in their operations against the United Nations.” Moreover, it stipulated that Germany and Japan should pay, “to the extent practicable,” for repatriating the millions of people displaced as a result of their wartime aggression. . . .

In contrast, the Palestinians and the Arab states have never been penalized for their “war of extermination and momentous massacre,” to use the words of Arab League secretary-general Abdul Rahman Azzam, against the nascent state of Israel. . . . This unprovoked war of aggression should have ipso facto precluded the Palestinians from refugee status, should have obliged them to compensate their Jewish and Israeli victims, and should have made their rehabilitation incumbent upon their own leaders and the Arab regimes as with post-World War II Germany and collaborating parties. However, it did not. In addition, their designation as refugees also failed to satisfy the internationally accepted definition of this status in several other key respects. . . .

[Furthermore], 280,000 escapees in the West Bank, alongside 88,000 who had fled to Transjordan (east of the Jordan River)—i.e., a total of 368,000, more than 60 percent of those who had fled their homes during the war—became Jordanian citizens even before the area’s official annexation to the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. This, on its own, should have disqualified them for refugee status, as both the IRO constitution and the 1951 convention [on refugees] unequivocally deny this status and its attendant benefits to any refugee who “has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.” . . . Even less deserving of refugee status are the Palestinians who moved from the West Bank of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan to its eastern bank during the June 1967 war.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: International Law, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, World War II

Hamas’s Dangerous Escalation in Gaza

June 22 2018

As Hamas has stepped up its attacks on communities near the Gaza Strip—using incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons—Israel has begun to retaliate more forcefully. In response, the terrorist group has begun firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Yoav Limor comments:

What made Wednesday’s rocket salvo different is that ‎unlike previous flare-ups on the border [since 2014], this time it ‎was Hamas operatives who fired at Israel, as opposed ‎to Islamic Jihad or the ‎rogue terrorist group in the coastal enclave. ‎Still, Hamas made sure the attack followed most of ‎the familiar “rules”—only [firing] at night and only at the ‎ communities in the vicinity of Gaza, and apparently while also ‎trying to minimize any casualties, to avoid further ‎escalation. ‎. . .

The first reason [for the shift in tactics] is Israel’s own change of policy ‎with regard to kite terrorism. It took Israel far ‎too long to define the incessant waves of incendiary ‎kites sent over the border as actionable acts of ‎terror, but once it did, the IDF began ‎systematically countering them, including firing ‎warning shots at terrorist kite cells and targeting ‎Hamas assets in Gaza in retaliation.‎

The second reason is Hamas’s own frustration and ‎distress in Gaza. Since the border-riot campaign was ‎launched on March 30, some 150 of its operatives ‎have been killed and the Israeli military has ‎carried out over 100 strikes on Hamas positions in ‎the coastal enclave, all while Hamas has nothing to ‎show for it. ‎In this situation, Hamas is searching for [some sort of victory] by declaring that “bombings will be ‎met with bombings,” as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum ‎said Wednesday, in order to portray itself as defending Gaza from ‎Israel.‎ . . .

Hamas is banking on Israel opting against a military ‎campaign in Gaza at this time so as not to split its ‎focus from the [developments in Syria], but it is sorely ‎mistaken if it thinks Israel will simply contain ‎kite terrorism or shy away from action given the new ‎equation it has presented. ‎At some point, Israel’s patience will expire.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security