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Israel lights up Palestinian refugee camp violence in Lebanon

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator

Fierce and deadly clashes between rival factions in Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon have killed two children and 10 others, while at least 56 have been wounded according to sources at Al Hamshari Hospital. 

The extremist groups Jund al Sham and Shabab al Muslim have been facing off against Fatah fighters in the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, near the city of Sidon, close to the Israeli border.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has reported that more than 2,000 people were forced to flee in search of safety since the beginning of the clashes.

The camp was formed in 1948 to shelter Palestinian refugees fleeing the formation of Israel, where they had been forced from their homes, lands and businesses in a program of ethnic cleansing, which is ongoing in the Jewish State of Israel.

The fighting broke out Saturday night, and into Sunday morning, while a cease-fire was reached late Monday, but broke down as new clashes erupted on Tuesday.

The violence began when an unknown gunman attempted to assassinate Mahmoud Khalil, but killed his companion instead.  In retaliation, militants assassinated Abu Ashraf al Armoushi, a Palestinian military general from the Fatah group and three escorts.

Israeli Defense Forces Chief of staff Herzi Halevi and President Isaac Herzog made separate trips Wednesday to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon amid heightened tensions. 

Ousama Saad, Member of the Lebanese Parliament, blamed Israel for the violence. Saad said, “The Zionist enemy is escalating against Lebanon and Palestine, and we must not help it by fomenting sedition inside Palestinian camps, which is in the Israeli interest.” 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a huge domestic political crisis which threatens civil war after a judicial reform bill passed in the most religious extremist government in Israeli history. Netanyahu often has resorted in the past to creating violence among Palestinian groups in an effort to unite his domestic Jewish citizens. However, this time it might backfire on him, as many Israeli military personnel have pledged to not report for duty as a personal form of protest to the law which many say has taken away democracy from Israel. 

Palestinian resistance groups in the Occupied West Bank have been carrying out operations to resist the occupation of their land, and the lack of human rights and dignity at the hands of the brutal Israeli military.

On Sunday, factions blazed away with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers and lobbed hand grenades in the refugee camp as ambulances zoomed through its narrow streets to take the wounded to the hospital.

Lebanese reaction

Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabbour met with the commander of the Lebanese army, Gen. Joseph Aoun, on Wednesday to discuss developments in the camps and attempts to secure a new cease-fire.

Some sniper bullets and shells crossed the outskirts of the camp into the nearby neighborhoods in Sidon city, and a “B7” shell exploded near a point where several photographers and media staff were stationed, but no injuries were recorded.

Many Lebanese soldiers were deployed in the area, and Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi stressed that “the army is carrying out all its duties in this region, as in others, despite all the difficult circumstances.”

The Lebanese army said in a statement that a mortar shell hit a military barracks outside the camp and wounded one soldier, whose condition is stable.

Some residents in Sidon neighborhoods near the camp fled their homes as stray bullets hit buildings and shattered windows and storefronts.

UNRWA said two of its schools that serve some 2,000 students were damaged in the fighting, and it had suspended all its operations in the camp.

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, condemned the clashes. “We call on the Palestinian leadership to cooperate with the army to control the security situation and hand over those meddling with security to the Lebanese authorities,” Mikati said in his statement.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

This article is originally published at Mideast Discourse


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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August 17, 2023

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