Lebanon army ‘detains several hundred Syrians’ in raids on camps

Lebanon’s army from time to time sweeps down on Syrian refugee camps, especially those in the east of the country. (Reuters)
Updated 29 November 2018
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Lebanon army ‘detains several hundred Syrians’ in raids on camps

  • Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrians, many of whom live in the east of the tiny Mediterranean country
  • Since the start of the year, around 8,000 Syrians have gone home from Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s army has detained around 400 Syrians in raids on refugee camps in the eastern Bekaa valley, mostly for overstaying their residence permits, a military source said Thursday.
Almost eight years into Syria’s war, neighboring Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrians, many of whom live in the east of the tiny Mediterranean country.
On Wednesday, the army in the Arsal area detained “33 people with arrest warrants, 56 people without identity papers, and 300 others over expired documents,” it said in a statement.
The military source said all were Syrians, and that those with no or out-of-date documents had been handed over to the security forces.
Those arrested had “committed an action against the law,” they told AFP, without providing any further details.
Lebanon’s army from time to time sweeps down on Syrian refugee camps, especially those in the east of the country.
Tens of thousands of Syrians live there, many from towns and villages on the other side of the Syrian-Lebanese border.
Arsal mayor Basel Al-Hojeiri said that some of those who had been detained on Wednesday were then released overnight, complaining that the way in which the raids were carried out was “not right.”
“They come to arrest a certain number of wanted people, and end up detaining 400,” he said.
“They detain this huge number to then determine which ones are wanted among them, when it would be much better if they directly arrested those they wanted without bothering everybody else,” Hojeiri said.
Last year, the army detained dozens of Syrians in mass raids on camps in Arsal, sparking a controversy after it announced four of them had died in custody.
Images circulated on social media showed dozens of bare-chested men lying down on the ground under the scorching sun with their hands tied.
Rights organizations demanded an investigation into the cause of their deaths.
Many Syrians live in tough conditions in Lebanon, and depend on international aid organizations for their survival.
Since the start of the year, around 8,000 Syrians have gone home from Lebanon, according to an AFP tally of official figures.
Lebanese security forces however claim tens of thousands have taken part in these returns, which are coordinated between Beirut and Damascus.
They waive late fines for those whose residency papers have expired if they agree to return to Syria.
The Syrian conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and forced millions from their homes since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.


Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

Updated 14 December 2018
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Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

  • The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians
  • Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third

AMMAN: Israel was accused on Thursday of humiliating Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by placing Ramallah on virtual lockdown amid a 24-hour outbreak of violence in which five people died.

The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians suspected of earlier attacks. Salah Barghouti, 29, was accused of shooting seven Israelis on Sunday at a bus station near the Ofra settlement. Ashraf Naalwa, 23, shot two Israelis dead in the Barkan industrial zone settlement in October.

Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third when he opened fire at the Ofra bus station.

Israeli forces chased the gunman into Ramallah, where they set up road blocks, launched raids and placed the town under virtual siege. In the hunt for the gunman, a Palestinian was shot dead in Al-Bireh neighborhood of Ramallah.

Abbas Zaki, a leading Fatah official, told Arab News Palestinian frustration was being fueled by Israel. “They barged into Ramallah in violation of existing agreements and came very close to the home of President Abbas.

“What more do people need to see to let them give up on a process when Israelis are willing to humiliate in such a way the father of Palestinian peace?”

Abbas himself condemned the anti-Israeli attacks but blamed Israeli raids as a potential cause.

“The climate created by the policy of repeated intrusions into the cities, the provocations against the sovereignty of the president and the lack of a horizon for peace are what led to this unacceptable violence that we condemn and reject,” he said.