|Syrian Rebels in Homs (R370).(Photo by: Yazen Homsy/Reuters)|
'Increase in Gazans joining rebel forces in Syria'
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Number of Palestinians traveling to Syria is on the rise, according to 'Al-Quds' newspaper; most members of Salafi, Jihadi groups.
The number of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who are traveling to Syria to
join the anti-regime forces is on the rise, Palestinian sources revealed
In the first year of the crisis, only a few Palestinians headed
to Syria through Turkey to join the fight against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad,
the sources said.
Recently, however, there has been an increase in the
number of Palestinians who left the Gaza Strip to join the anti- Assad rebel
forces, the sources added.
The sources told the Palestinian Al-Quds
newspaper that most of the Palestinians who have joined the rebels in Syria were
members of radical Salafi and Jihadi groups in the Gaza Strip.
the Palestinians used to belong to Hamas and its armed wing before joining the
more radical Islamist groups, according to the sources.
The last two
months saw a sharp increase in the number of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip
who headed to Syria, while many others have expressed their desire to join the
rebels, the sources said.
Abu al-Ayna al-Ansari, a leader of one of the
Salafi groups in the Gaza Strip, confirmed that many of his supporters had
joined the Syrian rebels. Ansari said that the Palestinians left the Gaza Strip
to join the “mujahideen [warriors] of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting against
the criminal regime in Syria.”
Established in January 2012, Jabhat al-
Nusra was recently designated by the US as a terrorist
Ansari said that all the Palestinians who headed to Syria
did so voluntarily. He refused to say whether the men had been sent to Syria as
part of pre-planned coordination with the Syrian Free Army.
out that some of the Palestinian militants who headed to Syria had been
previously detained by Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip.
the involvement of Palestinians in the fighting in Syria surfaced six months ago
when Nidal al-Eshi, 23, of the Gaza Strip, was killed in the Syrian town of
Eshi fled the Gaza Strip 18 months ago after being accused of
launching a terror attack on a vehicle belonging to the International Committee
of the Red Cross in the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza.
Palestinian court sentenced him in absentia to seven years in prison, but he
managed to escape from the Gaza Strip.
Last December, another Palestinian
man, Mohamed Kunaita, 32, was also killed in fighting between the Syrian army
and the rebels. Kunaita was also from Gaza and had served as a military
commander in Hamas.
In a separate development, some 70 Palestinian
families that fled from Syria have arrived in the Gaza Strip, Al-Quds
The families came from Palestinian refugee camps near Damascus,
which have become the scene of fierce fighting.
Over the past three
months, tens of thousands of Palestinians have fled from Syria to Lebanon,
Jordan and Egypt.