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One month under ISIS: Starvation, typhoid and the burning of musical instruments in Yarmouk

Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief on
Yarmouk refugee camp, April 2015. (Phot: Jafra Foundation)

After two years of siege and nearly one-year of rampant starvation, fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) and an al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, overran Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria on April 1st, 2015. The militants launched a surprise midnight attack and beheaded three Palestinians during their first raid. Today they control an estimated 80% of the camp. In this area arrests, killings, and even the burning of musical instruments—which are considered sinful under the austere salafi group’s interpretation of Islam—are common.

Yarmouk-based NGO chronicles week of ISIS attacks on the Palestinian refugee camp in Syria

Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief on
Funeral of two killed by shelling inside of Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, April 2015. (Photo: Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief)

On April 1, 2015 armed groups belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched an attack on Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, , which is the largest Palestinian refugee community in Syria. The Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief which operates on the ground in Yarmouk compiled this timeline of the attack from people who witnessed the unfolding events first hand.

In Their Own Words: Four residents of Yarmouk speak

Talal Alyan on
Palestinian residents of the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp line up to receive food supplies, March, 2014. (Photo: AP)

Four Palestinian residents of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria reflect on the state of the camp, what Palestine means to them now after what they have experienced and what they would want to say to Palestinians outside of Syria.

End the silence — Support Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk

Mariam Barghouti on
Yarmouk refugee camp. (Photo: Rami Al-Sayyed/UNRWA Archives)

The case of Palestinian refugees is a prevailing topic when discussing Palestine and liberation, but when Palestinian refugees are being besieged and slaughtered in Syria there is a piercing silence towards them. Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus has been under siege for nearly 550 days and counting. Over 1,020 Palestinians have died in the camp by torture in regime jails, execution, and bombing.

Hamas is ISIS for dummies

Philip Weiss on
Boteach ad in New York Times

As you are surely aware, the gruesome murders of American journalists by the Islamic state group in Iraq and Syria have been seized on by demagogues to argue that the US must go to war in the Middle East. Chris Matthews has championed a “nationalistic response” to the killings and faulted Barack Obama for not […]

Interminable Nakba: Syrian Palestinians return to the unknown

Ahmad Diab on

Before it was a refugee camp, Al-Yarmuk was long known as the battle that consolidated Syria under Arab rule after the landmark defeat of the Byzantine Empire in 636 C.E. From now on, however, it will symbolize a different event. Al-Yarmuk now stands between Tel Al-Za’tar – the Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut that was […]

The US charade in Egypt, Syria and Palestine

Marc H. Ellis on

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page. The Syrian talks went nowhere. As expected. Everyone knew they were show and tell. In Geneva, there was no breakthrough but there were accusations and yelling galore. Along with the fear of […]

Death toll rises in Yarmouk as siege and bombings continue

Allison Deger on

A week ago the world rejoiced when food trucks finally arrived to Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria to alleviate mass starvation, after nearly 200 days of siege and over 50 dead. Parcels of lentils, oil, sugar, rice and noodles were distributed. People gathered in the streets to cook a coffee-table-sized pot of soup. But an […]

Rejecting collective punishment from Gaza to Syria

Omar Chaaban on

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that Syria’s Assad regime does enjoy a considerable amount of legitimacy, and that their concerns of an armed insurgency designed specifically to advance Western imperial interests are acceptable. Let us also accept, for one second, that the revolution in Syria is the main bastion of extremism and […]

While you were neutral about Yarmouk

Talal Alyan on

While you were insisting on neutrality about Yarmouk, the Syrian regime dropped barrel bombs on it. Mohammad Al Far. Husam Abo Ahmad. Mohammad Tafori. Mohammad Suhaib Al Qides. Ala’a Fri’j. These men are all dead. Mohammad Taha would later die too when he, along with a larger demonstration, approached a regime checkpoint in frustration after the carnage rained […]

Cornell SJP responds to the situation in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp

Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine on

The situation in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, the ghost capital of the Palestinian Shatat, is intolerable. Over the last several months, the camp’s remaining Palestinians have been closed off from without and deprived of food by government troops, invaded from within by the Saudi and Qatari-armed insurgents whom the siege seeks to contain. […]

Are the Palestinians the losers of the Arab Spring?

Abdalhadi Alijla on

Reading the news of Hassan Hassan’s murder, the Palestinian actor and comedian, in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp, was like a bombshell. Hassan and his wife were arrested by Al-Assad forces three months ago; his wife and son were released two days later. However, he was detained until his family was informed to issue a death […]

The false analogy of Syria and Palestine

Jonathan Cook on

As with many of those who express a view in the continuing debate about the wisdom of launching yet another “humanitarian intervention” in Syria, I have found myself under attack from those calling for more war. The charge against me and many like me is one of hypocrisy. So where are my double standards? I […]

Is Rwanda the Israel of Africa?

Marc H. Ellis on

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page. Well it seems that the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, is on tour.  In the United States, Kagame will soon be hobnobbing with the chronicler of the Holocaust – and silencer of […]

Israel and its Middle East allies have embraced the three state solution

Marc H. Ellis on

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page. One State advocates are having a field day.  They deserve it.  After standing in the Two State shadow for decades, the mainstream media is running opinion pieces on the need for Israel/Palestine […]

‘Most Wanted’ poster of imperial Jewish life hypes attack on Syria

Marc H. Ellis on

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page. I can’t get it out of my head.  The poster came into my life last night as I surfed the net.  I awakened this morning with my head throbbing, wondering what the […]

Red Lines and Green Lights: Israel still angling for attack on Syria and Iran

Jonathan Cook on

President Barack Obama may have drawn his seemingly regretted “red line” around Syria’s chemical weapons, but it was neither he nor the international community that turned the spotlight on their use. That task fell to Israel. It was an Israeli general who claimed in April that Damascus had used chemical weapons, forcing Obama into an […]

How to get from Kigali to Syria via the Holocaust

James Schamus on

For some grim fun, read the following three links in order. First, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights in Rwanda: Rwanda has made important economic and development gains, but the government has continued to impose tight restrictions on freedom of expression and association. Opposition parties are unable to operate. Victoire Ingabire, president of the FDU-Inkingi, […]

Ilan Pappe weighs in on One State

Marc H. Ellis on

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page. The One State/Two State debate has ignited again with Ian Lustick’s, “Two State Illusion” in the Sunday New York Times.  Ilan Pappe has also weighed in on the subject in his essay, […]

Syrian chemical weapons deal puts pressure on Israel to sign weapons treaties

Annie Robbins on

John Kerry landed in Israel yesterday after meeting with with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva to iron out a deal over Syria’s chemical weapons disposal. Although the trip to Israel was hyped in some quarters as “a personal mission to try to achieve a long-elusive peace deal between Israel and the PA”, Barak Ravid reporting in Haaretz  zeros in on a topic […]

Our indigenous preoccupation

Marc H. Ellis on

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page. Yesterday on Yom Kippur, I underlined a statement by Franz Kafka’s biographer, Reiner Stach.  Stach was commenting on the underlying intensity of Kafka’s famous letter to his father:  “To identify deliberately with […]