Death by a thousand cutsBy any yardstick, Palestinians in Lebanon have it worse than Arabs in the West Bank. And as this article makes clear, they certainly have more despair and frustration than those who live in Hebron or Ramallah.
Behind recent Palestinian protests is a profound despair that has pushed thousands to risk the maritime “journey of death”
In a barbershop near Burj al-Barajneh’s Furqan Mosque, NOW met camp residents who had participated in the recent demonstrations.
“Of course we’ll continue our protests,” said Abu Ammar, a father in his early thirties, telling NOW the issue had united the camp’s often feuding factions as well as youth activist networks. There were cases, he said, of people being asked to fork out as much as $30,000 for medical operations. Three refugees had already died, he claimed, as a result of their inability to make the necessary payments
The more Abu Ammar spoke, however, the more apparent it became that the healthcare changes were merely the latest in an accumulating series of setbacks for Palestinians in Lebanon, especially those, such as himself, who were previously based in Syria until fleeing the war.
“Last summer, we lost our monthly accommodation stipend of $100 per family,” he said – a stipend that UNRWA’s Lebanon Director Matthias Schmale described at the time as forming “the main source of income for over 95 per cent” of refugees, along with a monthly food allowance of $27 per person (which is still provided). On top of healthcare and accommodation expenses, Abu Ammar complained of the annual residence permit cost of $200, payable to the Lebanese government. How refugees largely barred from employment are expected to come up with such sums has never been clear.
Of all the statistics Abu Ammar and his friend, Abu Shadi, cited to demonstrate how much harder life in the camps has become, one alone perhaps conveyed more than all others combined: from a peak of as many as 60,000 in 2013, the number of Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon has since plummeted to 20,000, they said. What accounts for the dramatic difference? A mass exodus from the country via the now-notorious smuggling boats to Europe.
Hijra (“emigration”), indeed, is the new buzzword in the camp, mentioned repeatedly by every resident to which NOW spoke. Though fully aware of the enormous risks involved in what they themselves dub “the journey of death,” many describe it as their only remaining hope for a better life.
“If I had the money, I would do it tomorrow,” said Abu Ammar, explaining the total cost came to around $6,000.
“If I could pack myself into a tiny box and be put on one of the boats, I would,” said Nasir. “We see no other solution: emigration, or nothing.”
But we have been told incessantly by Western experts that the impetus for the stabbing, shooting and car ramming attacks is frustration.
So why aren't Lebanese being murdered by these frustrated victims? This is how oppressed Palestinians are expected to act! Even the UN Secretary General expects oppressed people to act violently - it is human nature! The mainstream media says every day that Palestinians are stabbing and shooting Jews because of frustration.
Yet instead of stoning, stabbing and shooting Lebanese leaders, Palestinians are silent - and save their protests for UNRWA. Instead of a Lebanese intifada, they dream of emigrating to Europe (which tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, have already done.)
Perhaps the reason is that they know that the Lebanese government would expel them in a minute if they caused trouble. Perhaps they know that if they stabbed random Lebanese, then Lebanese militias would invade their government-enforced ghettos and start slaughtering them.
Which is not really a worry under that horrible "occupation."
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