BEIRUT: The security situation at the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon went out of control after the armed clashes were renewed between the extreme Islamist militants and gunmen from Fatah party after it started last Saturday, the last day of President Mahmoud Abbas’s official visit to Lebanon.
Arab News reporter visited the largest and most-populated camp in Lebanon, where militants used machine guns, rockets as well as snipers leading to the death of the 18-year-old Maher Dahsheh and wounding 10 civilians, clashes also have occurred in Sidon on top of which the camp is located. Many families have been displaced and schools near the camp were shut down.
Palestinian and Lebanese sources said the deteriorating security situation in the camp is due to the lack of decisiveness of the Joint Security Committee of the Palestinian factions. In addition, extremist groups have established security areas in the camp and prevent access to them.
The Lebanese Army has taken security measures at the camp’s entrances and closed off the roads leading to the eastern area of the camp after snipers attacked it.
A nearly five-hour meeting held to reach a cease-fire took place at the Palestinian Embassy.
It was held by Palestinian Ambassador Ashraf Dabbour with Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmed, Secretary-General of the PLO factions Fathi Abu Al-Aradat, and Secretary-General of the Palestinian Alliance Abu Imad Al-Rifai. However, they failed to end the violence.
Ein El-Hilweh is notorious for its lawlessness and disrepair, with the Palestine Liberation Organization and rival militants controlling different parts of the camp. The UN says more than 50,000 Palestinian refugees live inside the camp’s confines of less than 2.5 sq. km.