Palestinians in Iraq Under Attack

A recently released report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled Nowhere to Flee: The Perilous Situation of Palestinians in Iraq” (September 2006) warned that Palestinian refugees in Iraq are particularly vulnerable. There has been an increase in “targeted killings by mostly Shi`a militant groups and harassment by the Iraqi government.” Militant groups, including Ministry of Interior officials have “arrested, beaten, tortured, and in a few cases forcibly disappeared Palestinian refugees.” Entire Palestinian refugee communities have received death threats, and dozens have been killed.

HRW has urged surrounding countries to open their borders to Palestinian refugeesat risk, and the international community to respond to the crisis  by “providing financial assistance to the host countries and third-country resettlement opportunities on a humanitarian basis.” “Jordan and Syria have provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens fleeing Iraq, but they have closed their borders to Palestinian refugees from Iraq,” Whitson said. “When neighboring countries reject Palestinians fleeing serious threats in Iraq, they are forcibly returning them to persecution.”

Israel has refused two requests by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to allow Palestinian refugees from Iraq to return to the Gaza Strip. Based on the right of return of Palestinians, Israel should facilitate the return of Palestinian refugees and their families to their homes or minimally, allow them to seek temporary protection in the occupied Palestinian  erritories.
There are an estimated 34,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. Since that time the Ministry of Interior has imposed harsh registration requirements and forced Palestinian refugees to constantly renew short-term residency requirements. Instead of being given entitlements due as refugees  ormally recognized by the Iraqi government, they are the subjects of ongoing political, sectarian and minority harassment. Palestinians have been targeted more than other minorities ecause of “resentment of the privileges Palestinians received during Saddam Hussein’s rule, and suspicions that they are supporting the insurgency.”

Human rights groups called on Iraq, the United States and other members of the multi-national forces, to take immediate steps to improvethe security of Palestinian refugees in Iraq and end the discriminatory and abusive practices by Iraqi officials. In a follow-up report published on October 6 titled, Iraq: Palestinians Targeted With Death Threats. Iraqi Government Must Protect Besieged Community, HRW again urged the Iraqi government and multi-national forces to investigate continued death threats and provide greater security to Palestinians in Iraq.
A leaflet obtained by HRW and bearing the name of the Al-Bayt Revenge Brigade - Rapid Response Units warns “our swords can reach your necks” and urges Palestinians to leave within 72 hours to go “fight occupation in your own country.” According to Baghdad residents, trucks with loudspeakers passed through the al-Dura neighborhood on September 25 and September 30 issuing death threats against Palestinians.
Excerpts taken from Human Rights Watch report: titled “Palestinians Under Attack, But Unable to Flee. Regional Countries Must Open Borders to Palestinians Fleeing Threats in Iraq