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10 killed at Ain al-Hilweh amid Lebanese-Palestinian meeting

Lebanese and Palestinian officials meet over Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp clashes as death toll rises to 10
3 min read
11 September, 2023
Lebanese and Palestinian officials will meet on Monday to discuss clashes in the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp which have killed at least 10 people in recent days.
Smoke rises as clashes continue at Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, Beirut on September 08, 2023. [Andaolu Agency]

Ten people have been killed and dozens wounded in renewed violence between the Palestinian Fatah faction and hardline Islamist groups in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, with a senior Palestinian official flying in on Monday amid fears the bloodshed could spread.

The camp has been rocked by factional clashes since late July between the Palestinian mainstream movement Fatah and Islamist fighters. The first round left more than a dozen people dead.

Political and security meetings between Palestinian and Lebanese officials will take place in Beirut on Monday to address the ongoing clashes.

The interim head of Lebanon’s General Security, Brigadier Elias al-Baysari, will meet Palestinian factions, as well as the Joint Palestinian Action Committee in Lebanon.

Azzam Al-Ahmad, the member of Fatah's Central Committee overseeing Lebanese affairs will arrive in Beirut to take part in the discussions.

The commander of Palestinian security in Sidon, Abu Iyad Shaalan, told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that clashes have begun again with extremist groups within various sectors of the Ain al-Hilweh camp.

"Heavy weapons, including automatic guns and missiles, have been used, especially in areas like Al-Tayra and Al-Ras Al-Ahmar. Intermittent clashes continue in other areas, including the Barracks' reconstruction area. We have made significant progress in the Hittin district," Shaalan remarked.

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"Decisions resulting from today's discussions are up to our political leadership. We act according to the instructions provided to us, but for now, the clashes continue," added Shaalan.

The warring factions in the camp earlier said in a statement published Sunday by Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency that they planned to abide by a ceasefire.

Renewed clashes between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and Islamist groups have rocked southern Lebanon's Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp since Friday.

Fatah and other factions in the camp had intended to crack down on suspects accused of killing one of their military commanders in late July.

Ain Al-Hilweh hosts some 55,000 people according to the United Nations and several armed Palestinian factions have a presence there. It was established in 1948 to house people who were displaced during the Nakba - the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by Zionist militias when Israel was created.

The camp has been the scene of violence and conflict before.

Several days of street battles in the Ain Al-Hilweh camp between Fatah and members of the extremist Jund Al-Sham group erupted earlier this summer, leaving 13 people dead and dozens wounded. It ended following an uneasy truce in August.

Those street battles forced hundreds to flee their homes. However, clashes were widely expected to resume as the Islamist groups never handed over those accused of killing the Fatah commander to the Lebanese judiciary, as demanded by a committee of Palestinian factions last month.

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.

Reuters contributed to this report.