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February 23, 2023 2:52 pm

German Court Convicts Former Palestinian Commander for Syria War Crime

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ILLUSTRATIVE: Internally displaced children stand on snow near tents at a makeshift camp in Azaz, Syria February 13, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Khalil Ashawi.

A court in Germany on Thursday convicted a former Palestinian military commander of a war crime committed in Syria during 2014.

The defendant, named only as Moafak D., was sentenced to life imprisonment with little prospect of parole.

The district court in Berlin found that on March 23, 2014, Moafak D. launched a grenade from an anti-tank weapon into the crowd in the Yarmouk district of Damascus, killing four people and seriously wounding two others. The defendant had served as a commander with a group affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command (PFLP-GC), an extremist organization that backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime during the country’s civil war.

Yarmouk — an overwhelmingly Palestinian neighborhood many of whose residents are registered with the United Nations Releif and Works Agency (UNRWA) — suffered a brutal siege that began in 2012, when Assad’s forces attacked fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who had established themselves there. The siege lasted until 2015.

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Moafak D. told the court that he had acted out of revenge against civilians in the district after his 25-year-old nephew was killed two days earlier by shots fired by opponents of the Assad regime.

The court noted that that defendant had been a  the commander of a checkpoint for a Palestinian group, probably the Free Palestine Movement, and on the day in question also was supposed to be overseeing a distribution of food packages supplied by UNRWA, an agency dedicated solely to the descendants of the Arab population that fled during Israel’s 1947-48 War of Independence.


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