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Palestinian rivals in Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh agree truce

Palestinian rivals in Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh agree new truce
2 min read
15 September, 2023
With violence raging in the Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in recent days, mediation involving a range of Palestinian groups and Lebanese political figures has led to a new truce,
Deadly violence has rocked the camp over the last few months [Getty]

Palestinian fighters agreed a new ceasefire on Thursday after more than a week of deadly violence in Lebanon's largest refugee camp, two Palestinian officials told AFP.

At least 17 people have been killed and around 100 wounded in the fighting in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, on the outskirts of the port city of Sidon, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent's Lebanon branch.

The clashes have pitted fighters of president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement, which controls the camp, against  so-called hardline Islamist militants.

"The two parties agreed to implement a ceasefire... starting today at 6 pm (1500 GMT)," Palestinian camp official Fuad Othman told AFP by telephone.

A Palestinian official close to Fatah confirmed the agreement, requesting anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the press.

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The agreement came after the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, met separately with Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmad and Hamas's Mussa Abu Marzuk on Thursday.

Hamas is not involved in the fighting but is in contact with the Islamist hardliners, Othman said.

Previous ceasefires had collapsed when the warring parties failed to honour commitments to hand over fighters wanted by the other side, he added.

An AFP correspondent in Sidon said the camp was calm after the truce took effect.

Five Fatah fighters who died in the clashes were buried on Thursday, he added.

Lebanese army chief Joseph Aoun visited a Sidon brigade on Thursday and was briefed "on the missions carried out in light of the clashes" inside the camp, the army said.

By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army stays out of the Palestinian camps and leaves the factions to handle security.

Ain al-Hilweh is home to more than 54,000 registered refugees and thousands of Palestinians who joined them in recent years from neighbouring Syria, fleeing the civil war there.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has said the fighting has displaced hundreds of families.

Five days of fighting in the camp in late July killed 13 people and wounded dozens.

Rivals Fatah and Hamas are the most prominent Palestinian factions. Fatah dominates the Palestinian Authority, based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, while Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.