At least five people have been killed and 35 wounded in nearly a week of fighting in the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon.
Two members of the Palestinian group Fatah were killed on Wednesday during clashes with other armed groups in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, according to medical sources.
The fighting began last Thursday after the leader of an armed faction sympathetic to the Bilal Badr group fired at the headquarters of the joint security force for the camp.
There are 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, home to nearly half a million people. Poverty is widespread and legal protections limited
— Imtiaz Tyab (@ImtiazTyab) August 23, 2017
Since then, fighters have clashed with the joint security force comprising the main Palestinian factions, including Fatah, which is responsible for the camp’s security.
The Bilal Badr group has been described by the Lebanese government as an “Islamist group”, with a number of factions supporting its wanted leader.
The fighting escalated on Wednesday, when gunfire wounded three people, including two Lebanese security personnel, outside of the camp, according to a security source.
ANERA is on the ground delivering urgent relief to 47 families displaced by the clashes in Ein El Hilweh refugee camp. pic.twitter.com/xiM2KHpJiv
— ANERA Refugee Aid (@ANERAorg) August 23, 2017
A witness told Reuters news agency that a war calm prevailed over the camp on Wednesday, with parts of the area suffering severe destruction. Houses were burned, and the camp’s water and electricity networks were damaged, other witnesses said.
Al Jazeera reported that the camp “is a very densely populated and poverty-stricken place that has seen violence consistently for many years now”.
Palestinians in Lebanon are not allowed to own land and are prohibited from many professions, leading to a “mix of uncertainty, unrest and poverty.”
— Action Group (@actionpal_en) August 22, 2017
Lebanon’s Palestinian camps, which date back to the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbours, largely fall outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services.
There are some 450,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps in Lebanon.
(AJE, PC, Social Media)