Iraqi Refugees Held in Israel to Move to Palestinian Areas

The Palestinian Authority has agreed to absorb Iraqi refugees who have been held in Israeli jails since fleeing Baghdad.

More than 50 Iraqis are currently in Israeli jails, awaiting a country to grant them political asylum. But no country has made an offer.

Israeli Police Minister Moshe Shahal visited 30 Iraqis in prison Thursday.

He said Israel could not free them or offer them residence, but had proposed to Palestinian Authority official Nabil Sha’ath that the self-rule government take them in until a permanent arrangement is found.

“I asked him if the government in Gaza will accept them as free guests, until they find a place to accept them,” Shahal told Army Radio. “Sha’ath agreed.”

The Palestinians agreed to take in some 40 Iraqis. Of them, 14 agreed to accept the proposition, including one who fled Iraq more than a year and a half ago.

“I think we have no choice but to accept that,” the Iraqi refugee told Army Radio. “We feel despair, frustration and disappointment. But we still have a hope. Gaza is a city. The jail is a jail.”

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