RAMALLAH, August 13 (JMCC) - Many Palestinians have sought to steer free of the growing violence in Syria that pits a determined regime against an increasingly-armed opposition movement, reports McClatchy.
But more and more, otherwise stateless Palestinians are finding themselves the victims of the fighting, forced to flee and unable to find support elsewhere.
[Abu Abed] doesn't know what he'll do. He fears that the fall of the Syrian government, which he expects to take place in the next six months, will only lead to a wider civil war as various militias vie for power in the vacuum.
Lacking a Syrian passport, he's applied for a Palestinian one, but few countries recognize the document. He tried to register for assistance or protection with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but because he's Palestinian, he was referred to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which administers aid programs for Palestinians in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
"They said there was nothing they could do for me," said Abu Abed, who used a pseudonym that means "father of Abed" to shield his identity.
So now he's an illegal immigrant to Lebanon, which has been granting Palestinians no more than two-week stays. According to Syrians in Lebanon, a number of Palestinians from Syria were arrested last month and face deportation to Syria.
Syrian activists in Lebanon say that at least 200 Palestinian families have come here. Others have attempted to flee illegally to Jordan, only to find that they're separated from other Syrian refugees and sent to a different camp. Human Rights Watch has reported that some Palestinians attempting to flee to Jordan have been turned back.
Before the rebellion against the government of President Bashar Assad began, Palestinians in Syria enjoyed a better quality of life than Palestinians did in any other place in the Middle East. They were given most of the same rights as Syrian citizens. They couldn't get Syrian passports, but travel documents from the government were easily obtained.
But after the unrest started last year, it wasn't long before Palestinians were involved. Abu Abed blames Assad for encouraging Palestinians to demonstrate in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in May 2011.
"It was to make Israelis and the international community understand that if the regime goes, the situation will be bad for Israel," Abu Abed said. "The regime for the first time in 60 years opened the borders."
In June 2011, Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinian demonstrators in Golan, killing more than 30. The event turned some against the Syrian government.
"Palestinians began to feel used," Abu Abed said.