Eight hundred and eighty-five Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar Assad erupted nearly two years ago, Lebanon's Daily Star, citing a Hamas spokesman, reported Friday.
According to the report, based on Hamas figures, a further 20,500 Palestinian refugees from Syria remain trapped in Lebanon, including at least 3,500 who fled last month following a fierce outbreak of violence in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus.
Syria hosts an estimated half a million Palestinian refugees, and both Assad's government and the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels have enlisted and armed Palestinians as the uprising has developed into a civil war.
According to a January 3 Yediot Ahronoth
report, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have rejected a
UN request that they take in Palestinians fleeing Syria.
claimed that Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh refused the appeal
on ideological grounds, saying the absorption of Palestinian refugees
into Gaza and the West Bank could be used by Israel to undermine the
Palestinians' so-called "right of return" to the Jewish state.
The PA reportedly rejected the request due to its ongoing severe financial crisis.
Meanwhile, the Daily Star reported earlier this month that Palestinians refugees from Syria were being forced to pay a visa fee to enter Lebanon.
Hoda Samra, a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told the Star that although the visa fee is standard for Arab tourists, refugees were being turned away at the border because they cannot pay.
Reuters contributed to this report.