Violent confrontations have reignited in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, marked by intense gunfire and shelling that resulted in injuries to multiple individuals. This situation has forced both camp residents and those in the nearby vicinity to seek refuge and leave the area on Friday.
Several days of street battles had broken out in the camp, Ein el-Hilweh, between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ political group Fatah and extremist groups after Fatah accused the latter of gunning down one of their military generals on July 30. Those street battles left at least 13 dead and dozens wounded, and forced hundreds to flee from their homes.
An uneasy truce had been in place since August 3, but clashes were widely expected to resume as the extremist groups have not handed over the accused killers of the Fatah general, Mohammad “Abu Ashraf” al-Armoushi to the Lebanese judiciary as demanded by a committee of Palestinian groups earlier this month.
A committee of Palestinian factions in Ein el-Hilweh announced on Tuesday that their joint security forces would launch raids in search of the accused killers. Fatah officials said that the extremist groups had launched an attack Thursday night in an attempt to forestall plans by the joint security forces to clear militants out of schools they had been occupying in the camp on Friday.
The state-run National News Agency reported six people were wounded, including an elderly man, and transported to hospitals overnight. There were no immediate reports of deaths. The public Lebanese University announced it would close its branches in the city of Sidon, which is adjacent to the camp, and postpone scheduled exams in light of the fighting.
Officials with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA, could not immediately give information on the number of casualties or displaced.
UNRWA appealed last week for $15.5 million to repair infrastructure damaged in the last round of clashes in the camp, provide alternate education locations for children whose schools were damaged or occupied by extremists, and give cash assistance to people who have been displaced from their homes.