It is no secret that Arab countries have long mistreated their Palestinian brothers and sisters, governing them with inhumane laws and imposing severe restrictions on their public freedoms and basic rights. Building a wall around a Palestinian community to prevent terrorists from entering or leaving, however, has raised the bar on such infringements.
This is precisely what is happening in Lebanon these days. The construction of a security wall around Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp (with a population of nearly 120,000), has drawn sharp criticism from Palestinians and revived memories of the abuse they regularly receive at the hands of their Arab brethren.
The Lebanese authorities say the Palestinians have left them no choice but to build the controversial concrete wall. The Palestinians, they say, refuse to cooperate against terrorists who have established bases within their camps. Yet that problem raises the question: “What has Lebanon done in the past half-century or so to help the Palestinians who fled to that country?” The answer: “Nothing.”
In fact, among all Arab countries, Lebanon has been arguably the worst in its treatment of the Palestinians. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are denied access to adequate housing and certain categories of employment. According to Amnesty International: “Over half of Palestinian refugees live in decaying and chronically overcrowded camps and discriminatory practices are permitted under personal status laws and nationality laws.”
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