TEL AVIV, Israel – Contrary to some news media reports, President Obama did not authorize Palestinian “refugees” to migrate to the U.S. as part of emergency assistance following Israel’s 22-day war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
On Jan. 30, Obama signed an order issuing an emergency contribution of $20.3 million for “urgent relief efforts” in Gaza. He approved the aid, which was to come from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund, one day after the U.N. launched a flash appeal for $613 million to help Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled territory rebuild infrastructure following Israeli antiterrorism air raids.
Several media outlets wrongly reported Obama had approved the emergency migration of Gazans to the U.S.
Canada Free Press, for example, released an article titled, “Obama opening floodgates by inviting Hamas to ‘migrate’ to the U.S.A.?”
Also, the New Media Journal featured a piece by author Paul L. Williams with the screaming headline, “Pres. Obama invites Hamas terrorists to America.”
An e-mail containing an article titled, “Obama Decrees: Massive Immigration of Hamas Refugees from Gaza To U.S.” has been circulating with the byline of CNN’s Lou Dobbs. However, WND has learned Dobbs did not pen any such piece. The article was simply posted on the reporter’s website forum and later falsely attributed to him.
WND received a number of e-mail requests from readers asking the news organization to investigate the stories.
Michael Hammer, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, confirmed to WND Obama did not authorize the migration of any Palestinians to the U.S. A State Department spokesman provided the same comment.
Officials from both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority told WND they are not aware of any plans to bring Gazans to the U.S.
Perhaps the text of Obama’s executive order left the matter open for interpretation.
The order stated the money was to be used for the “purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs.”
It continued, however, by stipulating the funds were to be used for “distributing emergency food assistance, providing medical assistance and temporary shelter, creating temporary employment, and restoring access to electricity and potable water.”
The authorization includes $13.5 million for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, $6 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross and $800,000 to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
While some civilians were killed and wounded during Israel’s operation in Gaza, Israeli forces focused on Hamas’ terrorist and government infrastructure. Hamas tactics, however, likely increased civilian casualties.
Gazans detail being used as human shields
More tales are emerging of the ways Hamas utilized civilians during Israel’s campaign, including accounts from Gaza residents who accuse Hamas of using them as human shields.
In one case, after engaging with terrorists holed up inside a civilian apartment complex, the Israel Defense Forces seized an Arabic-language note left behind, addressed to one of the apartment’s occupants.
“Greetings, honored residents of this house,” reads the note, obtained by WND. “We, your brothers, holy war fighters used this house and some of the things in it. Our apologies.”
Earlier this month, the Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Muhammad Shriteh, a Gaza-based ambulance driver, who complained Hamas would “lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.”
He told the paper his ambulance company “coordinate[d] with the Israelis before we picked up patients … so they would not shoot at us.”
Shriteh recounted one instance when he was called to an emergency in the Jabaliya camp in the northern Gaza Strip only to find Hamas terrorists waiting inside a civilian apartment complex, hiding from Israeli fire.
“They were very scared, and very nervous,” he said. “They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away.”
Shriteh stated he refused to help because, he believed, if the IDF saw him transporting Hamas gunmen, he would not be able to pick up any more wounded people. He recounted one of the Hamas operatives putting a gun to his head, but he still refused and then they allowed him to leave.
He said at one point Hamas attempted to hijack the ambulances at one of the main hospitals in Gaza City.
“You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you,” Shriteh said. “So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone.”
Also, in a piece entitled “Parsing Gains of the Gaza War,” the New York Times quoted a source it said was close to Hamas, describing how the group “fired rockets in between the houses and covered the alleys with sheets so they could set the rockets up in five minutes without the planes seeing them. The moment they fired, they escaped.”
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera similarly published an article translated into English by Israel’s Center for Special Studies quoting Gaza residents accusing Hamas of shooting from their homes and then preventing the residents from fleeing when Israel returned fire.
WND broke the story that Hamas took out dozens of apartments from within civilian complexes where it currently bases its new government infrastructure: including Hamas’ interior ministry, court system, ministry of transportation, education, police, health services and scores of other official institutions.
Hamas sources claimed the group had no choice but to open their offices within civilian apartment complexes, since their previous government buildings were mostly bombed by Israel.
Also, IDF Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, who fought in Gaza, charged Hamas sent civilians, including women and children, to transfer weapons to gunmen engaged in battles with Israeli forces, and he accused Hamas of booby-trapping many of the civilians’ homes. He labeled Hamas’ alleged use of civilians as “monstrous” and “inhumane.”
Similar reports were provided to WND during previous Israeli battles with Hamas. During one battle focusing largely on the Hamas infrastructure in the city of Jabaliya, about one mile into the Gaza Strip, an Israeli commander said Hamas drew Israeli forces into populated civilian areas, shooting at Jewish fighters from occupied civilian homes while women and children were inside.
In another case, Israel’s Haaretz daily quoted an Israeli commander describing how Hamas sent a 10-year-old boy into the battlefield in full view of the Israeli military to remove a gun from a felled terrorist and then pass the weapon to another terrorist. The commander at the scene said he ordered his troops to halt their fire as the Israeli military watched.
Another commander speaking to WND said Hamas snipers used the windows of a Jabaliya house that was clearly occupied by women and children to shoot at his unit.
“The aim is to draw us into killing civilians to bring about international pressure to end our operation,” the commander said.
The international community and much of the world media constantly berated Israel for purportedly killing more than 1,250 Palestinians during the conflict.