Political conflicts and regional interference obstructed the implementation of a ceasefire in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, where violent clashes between the factions continued for the fourth consecutive day.
The use of rocket-propelled grenades and medium machine guns have forced civilians to flee the area.
Fatah sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement was fighting to prevent the emergence of an “Islamic state” in the camp, and to “face attempts to remove the PLO from the Palestinian equation in Lebanon.”
The violence began on Saturday when an unknown gunman tried to kill Palestinian militant Mahmoud Khalil but instead fatally shot his companion. Full-blown clashes erupted Sunday when Islamic militants shot and killed a Palestinian military general from the Fatah group, Abu Ashraf al Armoushi, and three of his escorts.
Around 500 fighters from both sides participated in the clashes, according to field sources in Ain al-Hilweh, using rocket-propelled grenades and medium machine guns.
Sources from Fatah stressed that the organization “is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” adding that the movement “has taken upon itself the security of the camps, and will not accept that they turn into hotbeds of extremists.”
The sources also called for the need to hand over the killers of al-Armoushi to the Lebanese judiciary for trial.
“There is a plan to weaken the PLO and find alternatives to it, through regional and international interventions. This is something that has begun to be implemented within the camps, through financing by unknown sides, and the creation of auxiliary institutions,” the Fatah sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Two ceasefire initiatives have so far failed to be implemented. In addition to the efforts of the Lebanese authorities, the Joint Palestinian Action Committee met in Lebanon and stressed the need to prosecute the perpetrators and commit to the ceasefire.
It also called for the immediate withdrawal of militants from the streets, and for providing a safe environment for the return of all families who were displaced from the camp.