Wednesday, October 31, 2012

  • Wednesday, October 31, 2012
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Ma'an:

The Gaza camp in Jordan, near the northwestern historical ruins of Jerrash where the Greco Roman Empire once flourished, was set up by the UN as an emergency measure in 1968.

During the 1967 Arab-Israeli War war, about 12,000 refugees fled from Gaza to this area. It now has a population of about 30,000 Gazans.

Hidden in the outskirts of Jerrash, connected to the rest of civilization by a single neglected dirt road, most tourists have no idea about the camp. Locals are known to respond to visitors' inquiries with a suspicious: "Why do you want to go there?!"

Some tourists wonder if Jerrash municipality wants to keep foreigners out, to hide the dilapidated squalor that is so close to a bustling tourist attraction and well kept city.

Living conditions at the Gaza camp have been described as the worst in Jordan.

Surrounded by an empty desert, its streets are filled with children playing near sewage and trash. The pathways are cluttered with discarded food, old recyclables and other materials, which are burned frequently because garbage collection is unreliable.

It is a wonder that children playing football across sewage drains do not seem to notice the offensive smell.

The solution is expensive. Residents pay exorbitant fees in comparison to other Jordanian cities to have this sewage intermittently dumped outside of the city.

Water for bathing and drinking is also sporadically available every two weeks, and sometimes mixes sewage and drinking water as a result of the scarcity of functioning modern pipes.

Further, the living quarters are squalid, antiquated with cracks in the concrete walls, and teeming with residents. Sometimes 10 people can be found in a room of a windowless metal-roofed apartment. There are known cases of 25 residents living in one house.

Others live in roofless apartments or outside in tents where they are exposed to the challenges of the extremely cold seasonal weather. The infrastructure also lacks recreational areas like parks for children and a functioning road system.

Most camp residents possess neither an ID nor passport. Like visible ghosts, after five decades of living and giving birth in Jordan, their families are not recognized. They cannot work, receive government benefits, have full access to education, own a car, nor travel freely. Unemployment tops at 50 percent, school dropout rates are high and life expectancy is much lower than regional averages.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has tried to remedy these conditions. It provides education at four schools up to the 10th grade, as well as a food distribution center. Some of these displaced Gazans receive financial assistance from the United Nations.

The health conditions of the residents is horrifying. Volunteers report the presence of many diseases that are easily preventable with access to Western medicine. There are instances of diabetes, nervous disorders, cancers, high blood pressure and others, which go untreated.

Amid the huge flow of curious guests looking for enlightenment at Jerash's ancient ruins, the Gazan refugees living next door feel forgotten.
The article doesn't mention some crucial facts.

Israel did not drive anyone out of Gaza in 1967. Tens of thousands of Gazans (and many more West Bankers) chose to flee to Jordan voluntarily because they did not want to live under Jewish rule. They are not refugees according to any definition, even UNRWA's.

Jordan used to automatically give citizenship to any Palestinian Arab, but they did not do so for Gazans who fled in 1967. So they are the victims of a deliberate Jordanian policy of discrimination.

This discrimination includes barring Gazans from many jobs. As in Lebanon camps, it is illegal for Jerash residents to build new buildings.

In other words, ordan is practicing apartheid against Arabs born in Gaza as opposed to citizens of any Arab country.

Many of them would like to return to Gaza, and were hoping to do so after Israel's withdrawal. Even though Arab governments and the PA and Hamas all insist that the "right to return" is sacred, not a single one is lifting a finger to insist that these Gazans in Jordan return to Gaza!

There is nothing stopping Jerash residents from deciding to travel via Egypt to Gaza. Except the laws in Jordan, Egypt and Gaza!

So the residents of Jerash teach us that the "right of return" is not anything Arabs really care about - when the "return" is not to territory that Jews live in. It is a facade for the eventual destruction of Israel disguised as a "right." G

Gazans in Jordan can rot away - the Arabs don't care because they cannot contribute to the relentless campaign to delegitimize Israel.

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