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Yousef Al-Helou is a Palestinian journalist and correspondent for The Real News Network based in Gaza-Palestine & London. His work has been featured in a variety of media outlets including BBC, GRN, CBC Radio Canada, TV New Zealand, UN Observer, Reuters Institute, Middle East Monitor, Press TV, Al-Etejah TV, Maan News Network, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, PNN among many others. Yousef is a Reuters journalist fellow and a UN fellow as well and took part in many speaking tours in the UK/Ireland about his work experience, reporting in a war zone. Yousef covered the infighting between Fatah and Hamas as well as the two Israeli wars on Gaza in late 2008/early 2009 and late 2012, arrival of siege-breaking boats and many other major events since 2006. Yousef runs Gaza TV News page on Facebook that has more than 49,000 followers. Currently he is working on his research about the rise of citizen journalists in Gaza and their impact of public perception of Palestine in the West.
YOUSEF ALHELOU, TRNN CORRESPONDENT, GAZA: Palestinians in Gaza have in recent days held many events to express solidarity with the Syrian people and voice their rejection against any planned U.S.-led military offensive on Syria. This comes as U.S. President Barack Obama has announced the decision to put the war on Syria on hold and give diplomacy a chance after two and half years of violence in the Arab country.People from different Palestinian political factions expressed their rejection to any foreign intervention in Syria.LOAI ABU MOAMMER, DEMOCRATIC FRONT FOR THE LIBERATOIN OF PALESTINE (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): Any attack on Syria is an attack on the whole Arab world. We call for a peaceful solution. We know the situation is very bad in Syria. We want to raise our voice that we are against imposing the American imperialism in the Arab world. The U.S. administration cares only about its interests and wants to divide the Arab countries.UNIDENTIFIED (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): We are here to stand by the Syrian people and leadership who supported our resistance against the Israeli occupation. It's our duty to show that we did not forget that support. We want an end to the bloodshed in Syria, but we are against any foreign intervention, any foreign interference in Arab countries is a neocolonization and will not solve problems but make it more complicated.ALHELOU: Such events made clear Palestinian sympathies lie with the people of Syria, even though like many in the region are divided on their support for the so-called Free Syrian Army and the Assad regime. But one common fact is not disputed: Syria, as a country with rich history, has been destroyed and gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011.ADNAN ASSAR, ARAB PALESTINIAN FRONT (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): We are here to say that we are totally against the massacres committed by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people. And we are also against any American or Israeli attack on Syria. The U.S. threats reflect their double standards, and we saw the example of their democracy in Iraq. So we do not want to see Syria divided and become another Iraq.YAHYA GHALBAN, POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): Any American attack on Syria is rejected. Any attack will only serve Israel. We are disappointed from the role of the Arab League that does nothing to defend Arab countries. It was complicit in the aggression on Libya, and it should stand against any foreign interference in Syria. Dividing Syria is not the solution. The diplomatic solution is the only solution. We are against any Western plans to destroy Syria in the name of democracy and freedom.ALHELOU: Given the contradictions and conflicts among Arab states, even at times of crisis, it's not strange to see Palestinians coming together to express solidarity with the embattled Syrian people.According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies--especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey--are supporting the militants operating inside Syria, while Iran and Russia are supporting Syria's Bashar Al-Assad. This has divided Palestinians over Syria but united them against Western intervention.UNIDENTIFIED (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): We are donating our blood for the brave Syrian people.Any attack on Syria will only serve the interests of the Zionists and the Americans. The Syrian crisis is an internal problem, and we reject any foreign intervention. And we tell the Syrian people, save what is left from your country.UNIDENTIFIED (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): We are ashamed of the role of some Arab countries in the region that fuel the tension in Syria and support one side against the other. Also, any foreign intervention, whether it is by the U.S. administration, Israel, or some Arab countries, is rejected.ALHELOU: The war rhetoric against Syria first gained momentum on August 21, when the militants operating inside the Middle East country and its foreign-backed opposition claimed that over 1,000 people had been killed in a government-led chemical attack on suburban Damascus. The Syrian government rejected the accusation. Nevertheless, a number of Western countries, with the U.S. being at the forefront, quickly started campaigning for war.The UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, estimates that the homes of 44,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria have been damaged by the turmoil that started about two and a half years ago, and that half of the approximately 500,000 Palestinian refugees in the country are now displaced either in Syria or neighboring countries, and at least 1,000 Palestinians have been killed.Palestinians political factions have accused the United States of a double-standard policy towards Israel, which used white phosphorus in civilian areas during the 2008-2009 war on Gaza.For its part, Hamas-ruled Gaza has voiced opposition to a military attack. Syria had expelled Hamas leaders from the country following their refusal to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against the rebels and warned that the West was seeking to divide Syria into several enclaves to weaken "resistance" against Israel.There is a general consensus among Arabs, including Palestinians, that a military strike in Syria would be harmful to all Arabs and would only benefit Israel, and that a political solution is the only possible solution, and any U.S.-led war will make a political solution even more difficult to reach.Yousef Alhelou in Gaza for The Real News Network.
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