Clashes in Lebanon Palestinian camp kill two: medics

Smoke rises during clashes in Ain Al-Hilweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2017

Clashes in Lebanon Palestinian camp kill two: medics

SIDON, LEBANON: Palestinian factions battled an extremist group in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Saturday in a second day of clashes that have killed at least two people, medics said.
The clashes erupted on Friday night as a security force of leading Palestinian factions in the Ain Al-Hilweh camp deployed under a new security plan, a source in the Palestinian Fatah faction said.
“It came under fire from a neighborhood under the influence of extremist Islamist groups, which oppose the security plan of the factions and their deployment,” the source told AFP.
Palestinian factions in the camp accused a small militant group linked to an extremist Islamist of firing on the security force after demanding that the deployment not extend to its area of influence.
“The security force will be deployed throughout the camp to bring security to it, and there is no other solution,” Lebanon’s official National News Agency quoted a Fatah commander as saying.
Medical sources told AFP that the clashes killed two people and wounded 21, with at least one member of the security force among the dead.
An AFP correspondent on the outskirts of the camp said fighting was continuing on the narrow streets of its residential neighborhoods, with the sound of machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades audible in much of the surrounding city of Sidon.
A resident of the camp’s Tireh district, where heavy clashes were ongoing, said the fighting had set at least seven houses alight and trapped dozens of families.
The fighting prompted the Lebanese army to take security measures at the entrance of the camp, including shutting the highway next to it.
And Lebanon’s health ministry announced it was evacuating patients from the Sidon governmental hospital adjacent to the camp and moving them to other facilities.
An AFP photographer saw members of the Lebanese Red Cross wheeling a baby in an incubator on a stretcher from the hospital into the back of an ambulance for transfer.
Ain Al-Hilweh is home to multiple armed factions, and has been plagued by intermittent clashes between them as well as against smaller extremist groups.
In February, fighting erupted after Fatah pulled out of a joint security committee, prompting clashes that lasted days and killed one person.
By long-standing convention, Lebanon’s army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, where security is managed by joint committees of Palestinian factions.
Ain Al-Hilweh is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in Syria.


US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

Updated 18 November 2019

US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

  • The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians
  • The move is the latest by the Trump administration seen as favoring the Israeli position over the Palestinians

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade position that they were “inconsistent with international law.”

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians who say the settlements are the main barrier to their future state.

The shift in US policy follows the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem last year, a move seen as undermining Palestinian claims to the eastern half of the city as a future capital.

Pompeo said US statements about the settlements on the West Bank - which Israel captured during a 1967 war - had been inconsistent, saying Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law and Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981 said he did not view them as inherently illegal.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, drawing criticism from a senior Palestinian figure even before his announcement.

“Another blow to international law, justice & peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, said on Twitter ahead of Pompeo’s statement.

The announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states even before unveiling its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

In 2017 Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel before opening the embassy in the city. US policy had previously been that the status of Jerusalem was to be decided by the parties to the conflict.

In March, Trump recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights in a boost for Netanyahu that prompted a sharp response from Syria, which once held the strategic land.

Trump's move might have been designed to help Netanyahu as he struggles to stay in power. Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Former military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both leaders have struggled to put together a ruling coalition.

*With Reuters