Friday, September 8, 2023

20 wounded in violence at Lebanon’s largest Palestinian camp | TOME


Clashes in Palestinian Refugee Camp in South Lebanon Leave 20 Wounded

A recent outbreak of violence in a Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon has left 20 people wounded, according to official news agency NNA. The clashes occurred in Ain Al-Helweh, a camp located on the outskirts of the coastal city of Sidon. This is not the first time that members of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement have clashed with Islamist militants in the camp.

The fighting, which took place late Thursday, resulted in intermittent automatic weapon fire and rocket launchers being heard from within the camp on Friday morning. As a result, dozens of families with children fled from the northern end of the camp, where the clashes were concentrated. Some sought shelter in a nearby mosque.

Efforts are being made to restore calm, with “intensive contacts” being made between Lebanese and Palestinian leaders, according to NNA. Ain Al-Helweh is home to more than 54,000 registered refugees, who were displaced during the 1948 war coinciding with Israel’s creation. In recent years, thousands of Palestinians seeking refuge from Syria’s civil war have also joined the camp.

This recent outbreak of violence is the worst in years. In late July, five days of clashes resulted in 13 deaths and dozens of injuries in Ain Al-Helweh. The Lebanese army traditionally does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, leaving security matters to be handled by the factions themselves.

The July violence was triggered by the death of an Islamist militant, followed by an ambush that killed five Fatah members, including a military leader. A joint committee of Palestinian factions in the camp had given the Islamist group a deadline to hand over the fighters involved in the ambush, but they did not comply.

Lebanon is home to an estimated 250,000 Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). Most of them reside in one of Lebanon’s 12 official camps and face various legal restrictions, including limitations on employment.

The ongoing clashes in Ain Al-Helweh highlight the precarious situation faced by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The camps, once intended to be temporary settlements, have become bustling but impoverished urban districts. The lack of security and limited opportunities for employment exacerbate the already challenging conditions for the refugees.

The international community, including the United Nations, must continue to support efforts to find a lasting solution for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. This includes addressing the underlying causes of the conflicts within the camps and working towards improving living conditions and access to basic services.

Furthermore, it is crucial for Lebanese and Palestinian leaders to engage in dialogue and find peaceful resolutions to prevent further outbreaks of violence. The safety and well-being of the refugees should be a top priority, and all parties involved must work together to ensure their protection.

In conclusion, the recent clashes in Ain Al-Helweh highlight the ongoing challenges faced by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The international community and local leaders must work together to address the root causes of the conflicts and improve living conditions for the refugees. Only through dialogue and cooperation can a lasting solution be found, ensuring the safety and well-being of all those affected.

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