Fierce clashes rock Palestinian camp in Lebanon
Fierce clashes rock Palestinian camp in Lebanon
The clashes first broke out Thursday when gunmen from the small Islamist Badr group opened fire on a position of Palestinian security forces inside Ain Al-Hilweh camp, a Palestinian source said.
Two people were killed in that fighting.
An AFP reporter said the clashes eased on Friday before intensifying again on Saturday, forcing dozens of families to flee the camp and seek shelter in Sidon mosques.
The sound of fierce gunfire and rocket fire could be heard outside the camp as black smoke billowed over Ain Al-Hilweh, said the reporter.
The fighting shook the Al-Tiri district a few meters (yards) away from a Lebanese army position.
By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, leaving the factions themselves to handle security.
The Islamist group is linked to Bilal Badr, a militant wanted in connection with “terrorism” who has refused to surrender, according to a Lebanese security official.
In April, his supporters also clashed intermittently for a week with Palestinian security forces, in violence that left nine dead and more than 50 wounded.
A joint Palestinian security force, comprising members of the key Fatah and Hamas factions, has for months strived to rein in Badr fighters.
Ain Al-Hilweh — the most densely populated Palestinian camp in Lebanon — is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in neighboring Syria.
Several armed factions including extremist groups have a foothold in the camp which has been plagued for years by intermittent clashes.
Tortured, persecuted, deported: a tribe’s ordeal at the hands of Qatar
- The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani
- Another member of the tribe twice lost his job at Qatar Petroleum, in 1999 and 2003, simply because he was a member of the Al-Ghufran tribe
GENEVA: Members of a prominent tribe told an audience in Geneva on Thursday how they were stripped of their nationality and suffered torture, forced displacement and deportation in a 22-year campaign of systematic persecution by authorities in Qatar.
“My story is about wanting my rights, and I hope my story reaches your hearts,” said Hamed Al-Ghufrani, whose family was forced to flee Qatar for the UAE in 1996.
Another member of the tribe twice lost his job at Qatar Petroleum, in 1999 and 2003, simply because he was a member of the Al-Ghufran tribe, and had his nationality revoked in 2005.
His 14-year-old son spoke of being a “stateless person” and called on the UN to end the persecution so he could return to Qatar.
The press conference at the Swiss Press Club, organized by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, came two days after the Al-Ghufran delegation staged a protest in front of the UN building in Geneva during the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.
About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.
“They have taken away our social, political and economic rights,” said
Jabir bin Saleh Al-Ghufrani, a tribal elder. “The Al-Ghufran tribe has been subjected to unjust treatment.
“I left on a vacation in 1996, and now I can never go back to my country. I can go to any place on this earth, but not my home, not Qatar.”
Members of the delegation produced passports, certificates and other documents to show that their right to Qatari citizenship was being denied.
“I ask for my rights. Our people have been asking for our rights for a very long time now and no one has even explained to us why this is happening to us,” said Hamad Khaled Al-Araq.
Jaber Hamad Al-Araq, the tribe member fired twice by Qatar Petroleum, said: “The consequences of revoking our citizenship came in waves. They took away health care, education and public services. They took away all the tools that would allow us to live in Qatar with dignity, as human beings.”
Many of the tribe have suffered from depression and other medical conditions as a result of their ill-treatment. “I was rejected many times for jobs because of the injustice we face,” said Jaber Mohamed Al-Ghufrani. “They would reject me, the interior ministry office would reject me, just for being from the tribe. We are marginalized, without value, and left on the sidelines in our own country.
“I am responsible for my family, consisting of my wife and children, and we have faced many injustices that led us to have psychological trauma. We have suffered enough.”
Abdul Hadi Jaber Al-Ghufrani, another member of the tribe, told the press conference: “All members of the Al-Ghufran tribe without exception suffered from the decision to revoke their nationality.
“Those who remained in Qatar are unable to work, travel, or act like normal human beings, they cannot trade, they cannot even give their identity.
“Those who were expelled and forcibly displaced live in exile. They cannot apply or work in any job where they can get money for they basic needs, and most of them have no official identity papers. They can no longer see their families and loved ones.
“We are here to demand our rights and we will not stop until we get our rights. From today for the next 20 years, we will not stop.”
The youngest member of the delegation, Mohammed Ali Amer Al-Ghufrani Al-Marri, 14, said: “My nationality was revoked when I was less than one year old.
“I did not have the right to grow up in my own country, I was not given the right to stay there. I wish to return to my country and enjoy my rights as a citizen.”