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Feature: Palestinian refugees in Syria worried over Gaza escalation

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By Jia Xiaohua, Gu Kang

DAMASCUS, Jun 28, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- "Anxiety and fear control us, ... we look forward to the day when we can return to Palestine, but how can we go back as fighting among the sons of one country continues?" somberly asked Umm Ibrahim, a Palestinian refugee living in the Yamouk refugees camp south of Damascus.

Ibrahim, 68, a citizen from the Gaza Strip, told Xinhua on Thursday that she was deeply concerned over the infighting between Hamas and Fatah, rebuking their ongoing fight for power as " shameful."

"My relatives in Gaza and the West Bank are suffering from a stifling economic blockade and they run short of food, water and medicine because of the security chaos," said Ibrahim, a mother of five children.

Palestinian refugees here like Ibrahim, profoundly worried by the deteriorating situation in their homeland, keenly demanded leaders from Hamas and Fatah to return to the negotiating table to resolve the crisis.

The Palestinian issue was rushing into a "dark tunnel" and the current Palestinian scene was affecting all the Palestinians negatively, said Fayez Abu Eid, a 37-year old Palestinian refugee here, who is a journalist working for the Syrian Freedom magazine.

"The situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank affects the Palestinians directly and badly both at home and abroad," Abu Eid said.

"The infighting, which sows sedition among the Palestinians themselves, only serves Israel's interest," he added, noting that it was the Palestinian people who are paying the price of the fighting with the siege imposed upon them.

Hajj Abu Abdullah, aged 75 who came from the West Bank city of Ramallah, said that he had never seen such a desperate situation on the Palestinian arena.

"The enemy is Israel which occupies our land," asserted the old man, accusing the United States and Israel of supporting one team to confront the other in order to gain advantage from the Palestinian plight.

"The Palestinians want a government that can bring the Palestinians together and prepare them to return to their land," said Abu Abdullah, sitting in front of a small shop.

Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, seized control of the Gaza Strip on June 14 following days of bloody infighting with Fatah, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who in turn dissolved the Hamas-led unity government and sworn in an emergency replacement in the West Bank.

As a result of the Fatah-Hamas fighting, the geographically- divided Palestinian territories have been politically split into two parts --with Hamas controlling Gaza and Fatah holding the West Bank.

Syria is hosting about half a million Palestinian refugees who are treated with no discrimination with regard to employment, health and education.