Lebanon: Shaky truce after clashes in Palestinian refugee camp

Lebanon: Shaky truce after clashes in Palestinian refugee camp
Violent clashes continued overnight in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon amid fears of a repeat of the Nahr al-Bared battle scenario, but a third truce announcement may hold.
2 min read
25 August, 2015
Smoke billows from Ain El-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon, Lebanon [Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images]

Violent clashes continued in a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon overnight into Tuesday, spoiling a third attempt for a cease fire, which was announced at midnight between Fatah and Islamic groups, most notably Jund al-Sham.

However a truce was enforced on Tuesday early in the afternoon.

The violence in Ain al-Hilweh camp led many residents to flee the camp towards the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.

Machine guns and rocket propelled grenades have been used in the fighting and medical sources have said that at least 2 people had been killed and more than 20 were wounded. The injured had been taken to hospitals in Sidon.

The Lebanese Army has strengthened its positions around the camp and responded by firing at several sources of fire. Rumours also spread among Fatah circles that the Lebanese Army and authorities are backing them in their battle against "Islamists".

Hamas' representative in Lebanon, Ali Baraka, had announced on Monday night a third cease fire in Ain al-Hilweh camp. Palestinian and Lebanese politicians and Lebanese Army Intelligence were in contact before announcing the truce that was preceded by two announcements that weren't adhered to.

A failed assassination attempt targeting a Fatah official in Ain al-Hilweh camp on Saturday had triggered the clashes and Fatah has reportedly called for reinforcements from other camps.

Rumours escalated with the intensification of the fighting and calls for evacuating the camp spread. Some Palestinian groups considered evacuating the camp to be a national crime in fear of a repeat of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp experience, when the camp's evacuation was followed by prolonged heavy bombardment of the camp by the Lebanese Army who was fighting against Fatah al-Islam, an extremist Islamist group.

Fatah and Islamic Jihad exchanged accusations for the responsibility over the deteriorating situation in Ain al-Hilweh.

Islamic Jihad's representative in Lebanon, Imad al-Rifai called on Fatah to be reasonable and the press officer of the Palestinian embassy in Lebanon, Hassan Chechna said that the battle is "between a propagandist project represented by dark forces and a national projected represented by Fatah, which is a battle that is similar to the Nahr al-Bared war in 2007."