April 1, 2023

Clashes erupted on Wednesday evening in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in southern Lebanon, one person was killed and several others were injured, a Palestinian official said on Thursday.

Major General Munir Mikda, a prominent leader of the Fatah movement, said clashes took place between members of Fatah, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Islamic groups in a camp near the coastal city of Sidon.

“One person was killed and seven were injured,” he told AFP, adding: “What happened is unfortunate and harmful to our people, who are fighting a heroic confrontation with the Israeli occupation. We are working with all Palestinian forces to end any fighting.”

He pointed out that “continuous meetings are being held to end the state of tension that is negatively affecting the inhabitants of the camp and its surroundings … The camp will not be an arena for interference in the security system.”

Clashes between rival factions in the Ain al-Hilweh camp, home to more than 54,000 registered Palestinian refugees, are frequent and have been joined in recent years by thousands of Palestinians fleeing the war in Syria.

An AFP correspondent reported that most of the shooting stopped in the wee hours; However, sporadic gunshots were heard later in the morning.

The situation remains tense as insurgents have spread through the streets of the camp and schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) have been closed.

The Palestinian camps in Lebanon are taking “self-defence” and the Lebanese security forces are not entering them by tacit agreement with the Palestinian factions. According to the security service, many criminals and wanted men took refuge in the camp, which, due to poverty and ubiquitous weapons, has turned into a hotbed of extremism.

More than 450,000 Palestinians are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, most of whom live in one of the 12 official refugee camps, often in appalling conditions, and face a range of legal restrictions, including those preventing them from being employed.

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