Yarmouk: the culmination of the Palestinian Nakba

Yarmouk: the culmination of the Palestinian Nakba
Comment: Yarmouk in Syria was once a symbol of the Palestinian national project. But like that project, the camp has been turned to dust, says Nasri Hajjaj.

3 min read
14 Apr, 2015
Hundreds of thousands of residents have fled Yarmouk [AFP]

Yarmouk's destruction has not sparked the same worldwide outrage as previous tragedies to have befallen the Palestinians.

Only 15,000 people remain. The siege imposed on them for more than 600 days by the regime and its allied Palestinian and Lebanese gangs did not allow them to leave.

It is as if destiny made the "diaspora capital", as residents like to describe Yarmouk, the peak of a tragedy created by the Nakba, the catastrophe of the 1948 Palestine war.

The reason the residents of Yarmouk were different from the residents of other diaspora camps is their extremely emotional attachment to their camp.

Many of them are even more intensely and romantically attached to Yarmouk than to their original villages and cities in Palestine, although they named its streets after them.

Their love for their birthplace and their love for Syria overlapped. The Palestinians of Yarmouk integrated themselves into Syrian society in a way the Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries failed to achieve.

One of the features of Yarmouk's destiny is that the slogan launched by Palestinians expressing solidarity with popular activism against the regime - "The Syrians and Palestinians are one people, the Syrians and Palestinians have the same blood" - has become a cause for sadness.

     The Palestinians of Yarmouk integrated themselves into Syrian society in a way the Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries failed to achieve.

Yarmouk reached a state of chaos and a point of frustration due to the presence of different forces on the ground and the distortions created by fundamentalist forces of various ideological and intelligence backgrounds.

The slogan was a rally for forces that were supposed to stand by the residents of Yarmouk. They have instead punished the Palestinians for their pro-revolution slogan.

Even the Syrian opposition forces operating under the umbrella of the Syrian National Coalition and other groups did not show any kind of sympathy or launch a public initiative in support of those who offered their lives to the cause of the Syrian revolution.

It is as if that slogan, which burned with enthusiasm and honesty in the beginning of the revolution, has created a state of indifference toward the Palestinian situation in Yarmouk and the Palestinians' concerns about their fate in the post-war days.

The Palestinian tragedy in Syria mirrored the repercussions of the 1948 Nakba. The scene of Islamic State group fighters trampling and denoucning the flag of Palestine at the entrances of Yarmouk marked the peak of the manifestations of the defeat of the Palestinian national project.

These manifestations began years ago with the plans for a settlement with Israel, the emergence of the Islamic movements of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, the disintegration of the remaining factions, the ignorance and decline of the so-called Palestinian left-wing, and with the rest of the factions eternally throwing themselves into the lap of the murderous regime in Syria.

Yarmouk, a place where the Palestinian identity was formed over decades, is about to disappear. Only memories will continue to exist of a place residents had thought of as a platform to boost their national identity.

It is an identity that has been eroded, day after day, and is now turning to dust.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.