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Fighting in Lebanese refugee camp: Palestinians the losers, whoever wins

By Paul Wallis     Jul 14, 2007 in World
The Lebanese army has continued its siege of the Nahr el Bahred refugee camp, with no sign of progress. Reuters reports 219 deaths, with at least 98 military deaths and 76 insurgents.
The camp was abandoned by nearly half of the resident Palestinian refugees, 18,000 of them, who fled the camp to worse privations elsewhere. A few get out when they can, but it's risky. They protested at their conditions, and were fired upon by Lebanese police and troops, causing several casualties. The Palestinians and Lebanese have clashed before, and a lot of mutual ill-feeling exists.
It’s more than a bit of a myth that the Palestinians are persona grata throughout the Arab world. In some places they outnumber the locals, and the imbalance hasn’t improved relations. Palestinians aren’t allowed town property in Lebanon, nor are they citizens. They are only permitted to perform laboring jobs, and their living conditions, never good, have deteriorated as the siege has gone on.
In what must be one of history's more hideous ironies, being forced into ghettos, denied citizenship, and not being allowed to conduct some forms of business is how the Jews were treated in Europe for centuries. In Central Europe they weren't even allowed their traditional surnames. It's a sickening indictment of the modern world that people's rights can still be abused like that even now. That the Palestinians are being treated like that by their Arab "friends" simply defies comment.
The Palestinians accuse the Lebanese army of torture and various forms of violations of their rights. Unfortunately their protests have come at the wrong time, as the Sunni and Christian Lebanese support their army as an antidote to the Hezbollah forces in the south.
Nor are they getting much sympathy from the Lebanese concerning their current plight. The Palestinians suspect that the militants were previously ignored because they were Sunni. As usual in the Middle East, not much is as it seems to be, and what is, is usually something pretty awful.
SBS Australia Dateline Palestinian background story: page opens a transcript.
More about Palestinian, Lebanon, Refugee camp