AP / September 13, 2023
BEIRUT – Clashes intensified Wednesday in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, leaving at least five people dead and more than a dozen wounded, Lebanese state media and security officials said. Scores of civilians have been forced to flee to safer areas.
The latest deaths bring to 11 the number of people killed since the fighting erupted again in Ain al-Hilweh camp near the southern port city of Sidon on September 7, despite multiple cease-fire agreements.
Stray bullets hit residential areas outside the camp, including several that struck a fire engine as firefighters were battling a blaze near an army post, the state-run National News Agency said. The blaze was not related to the camp fighting.
The fighting broke out last week after nearly a month of calm in Ain al-Hilweh between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group and members of militant Islamic factions.
Fatah and other allied factions had intended to crack down on suspects accused of killing a senior Fatah military official in the camp in late July.
NNA reported that among the five killed on Wednesday were three Fatah members. It said 15 people were also wounded in the clashes.
A top official with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Moussa Abu Marzouk, arrived in Beirut on Tuesday to push for an end to clashes with no success.
Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 55,000 people according to the United Nations, and is notorious for its lawlessness and violence.
Lebanon is home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Many live in the 12 refugee camps that are scattered around the small Mediterranean country. Ain al-Hilweh was established in 1948 to house Palestinians who were displaced when Israel was established.
Deadly fighting continues in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian camp
Al-Jazeera / September 13, 2023
Violence at Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp intensifies as ceasefire between Fatah and armed groups crumbles.
At least six people have been killed and more than a dozen wounded in clashes in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian camp, the Palestinian Red Crescent’s Lebanon branch said on Wednesday, taking the death toll to 15 since fighting broke out on September 7.
Clashes intensified on Wednesday as a ceasefire fell apart in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp on the outskirts of the southern port city of Sidon. Scores of civilians have been forced to flee to safer areas as multiple ceasefire agreements have failed to hold.
The refugee camp has been rocked by violence since last week with members of the Fatah movement, which controls the camp, fighting armed fighters, excluding Hamas.
Fatah and other allied factions had intended to crack down on suspects accused of killing a senior Fatah military official in the camp in late July. The first round of fighting then left more than a dozen people dead.
A top official with the Palestinian group Hamas, Moussa Mohammed Abu Marzouk, arrived in Beirut on Tuesday to push for an end to clashes with no success.
He met Palestinian officials, including Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad, late on Tuesday at the Palestinian embassy in Beirut, a joint statement said.
They had expressed their “full commitment to consolidating the ceasefire” and agreed to “work to facilitate the return of those forced from their homes”.
But the ceasefire collapsed on Wednesday, causing a mass exodus of residents fleeing bullets and shells.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has said the fighting has displaced hundreds of families.
Many have taken shelter in nearby mosques, schools, and the Sidon municipality building. UNRWA has relocated some 1,200 people to schools in the area from a mosque near the camp’s entrance.
Ain al-Hilweh – one of 12 refugee camps scattered around Lebanon – is home to some 55,000 registered refugees, according to the United Nations.
By long-standing convention, the Lebanese army stays out of the Palestinian camps and leaves the factions to handle security.
The renewed violence has prompted fresh concerns that the clashes could spill over into the adjacent city of Sidon.
Residents fear a similar scenario to the northern Palestinian camp of Nahr al-Bared, where Lebanon’s army waged a deadly 15-week onslaught to dislodge armed groups in 2007.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES