Seven dead as ceasefire failed in Lebanon Palestinian camp

AFP , Thursday 14 Sep 2023

Seven people were killed in clashes as a ceasefire fell apart on Wednesday evening in Lebanon's largest Palestinian camp, the Palestinian Red Crescent's Lebanon branch said.

Smoke billows after a projectile lands in the south of the Ain al-Helweh camp for Palestinian refugees, during renewed fighting between members of the Fatah movement and hardline Islamist militants, on the outskirts of Lebanon s southern city of Sidon on September 13, 2023. AFP


The Ain al-Helweh refugee camp, on the outskirts of the southern city of Sidon, has been rocked by violence since last week.

The clashes have pitted members of the Fatah movement, which controls the camp, against hardline Islamist militants, excluding Hamas.

The renewed fighting on Wednesday killed seven people and wounded 16, Imad Hallak from the Palestinian Red Crescent's Lebanon branch told AFP over the phone.

The latest deaths bring to at least 16 the number of people killed in the fighting since it broke out on Thursday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said. Around 100 have also been wounded, it said.

Senior Palestinian officials, including Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmad and Hamas's Mussa Abu Marzuk, met late Tuesday at the Palestinian embassy in Beirut, a joint statement said.

They had expressed their "full commitment to consolidating the ceasefire" and agreed to "work to facilitate the return of those forced from their homes".

But the ceasefire collapsed on Wednesday, with an AFP correspondent in Sidon reporting violent clashes in the evening.

Bullets and shells fell on different parts of Sidon, he said, adding that he saw dozens of Palestinian families fleeing the camp.

 Hundreds displaced 

The camp, Lebanon's largest, was created for Palestinians who were driven out or fled during the war that accompanied the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948.

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

Fatah's Ahmad also discussed the situation with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and other officials on Wednesday.

Ain al-Helweh 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.

On Monday evening, a ceasefire was announced by Lebanon's General Security agency after a meeting between its director and Palestinian security officials, but Tuesday saw brief clashes.

Five days of fighting in Ain al-Helweh that began in late July killed 13 people and wounded dozens, in the deadliest outbreak of violence in the camp in years.

That fighting erupted after the death of an Islamist militant, followed by an ambush that killed five Fatah members, including a military leader.

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.

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