Palestinian factions clash, then declare cease-fire in Lebanon's refugee camp

14:40 11.09.2023

In a devastating turn of events, clashes in Lebanon's Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp have resulted in the deaths of six people and left 50 others injured. The violence erupted on Thursday night after a period of relative calm, and it is believed to be the result of tensions between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group and militant Islamist factions within the camp. The fighting began when Fatah and its allies sought to crack down on suspects accused of killing Fatah military general, Abu Ashraf al Armoushi, in late July.

The clashes have taken a toll on the surrounding areas as well. Stray bullets and shells have hit residential areas in the country's third-largest city, Sidon, causing damage to buildings and vehicles. The Lebanese military has also been affected, with five soldiers being wounded after three shells hit an army checkpoint near the camp.

The violence has led to a humanitarian crisis, as hundreds of families have been displaced from the camp and have sought shelter in nearby mosques, schools, and the Sidon municipality building. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has called for $15.5 million to repair infrastructure, provide alternative education locations for children, and offer cash assistance to those who have been displaced.

Efforts to bring about a cease-fire have been made, but previous truces have only lasted for a few hours before fighting resumed. However, on Monday, an "immediate and lasting cease-fire" was declared after a meeting between a top Lebanese general and officials from rival Palestinian factions. The announcement was made by the General Security Directorate in Beirut, though it remains unclear if this truce will hold and if rival groups will abide by it. The cease-fire was accompanied by a call to hand over the suspects in the killing of Abu Ashraf al Armoushi to Lebanese authorities.

The situation in the camp is dire, with residents and local officials expressing their concern and frustration. Lebanese legislator Abdul-Rahman Bizri, who represents Sidon, described the suffering of both the residents of the camp and the civilians in the surrounding areas. He also noted that the fighting may continue for the coming days, with no clear winner or loser.

Ein el-Hilweh, home to approximately 55,000 people, has a long history of violence and lawlessness. Established in 1948 to house Palestinians displaced during the establishment of Israel, the camp has seen multiple outbreaks of violence over the years. This recent wave of clashes is just the latest in a series of conflicts that have plagued the camp.

As the situation remains uncertain, the international community and local authorities are working to bring stability to the area and protect the lives of those affected by the violence.

/ Monday, September 11, 2023, 2:40 PM /

themes:  Military  Israel

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