More deaths as truce falters in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camp

Fighters take position on the rooftop of a building in the Ein El Helweh camp on the outskirts of Lebanon's southern city of Sidon on September 13, 2023. (Photo/AFP)

Seven people have been killed in clashes as a ceasefire fell apart in Lebanon's largest Palestinian camp, the Palestinian Red Crescent's Lebanon branch said.

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

The Ein El Hilweh refugee camp, on the outskirts of the southern city of Sidon, has been rocked by violence since last week.

The clashes have pitted fighters of the Fatah movement, which controls the camp, against Palestinian fighters, excluding Hamas.

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 on Tuesday at Palestine's 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 Nakba [Palestine's Catastrophe] that accompanied the creation 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.

Ein El Hilweh 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 the camp 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 a Palestinian fighter, 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 governs Gaza besieged by Israel from land, sea and air.


Source: TRT